Archive for March, 2009

The state income tax rate varies a lot across the US, from as little as 0% up to 10% or more. I live in Illinois, which has historically had one of the lowest personal income tax rates: 3%. However, the new governor insists they need to raise the income tax rate to 4.5% in order […]

I’ve been having an occasional problem with my TiVo, so I decided to research the issue online. A web search quickly brought me to the official forums at, where numerous other people have experienced the same issue. Basically, the TiVo will sometimes record a gray screen instead of the program, and it doesn’t even […]

While waiting on hold with some random call center, I noticed something strange: I’ve actually become more patient over the past few months. Normally, I would have been rather annoyed with a 15 minute delay, but this time I didn’t mind. “They must be really overwhelmed,” I thought to myself, figuring that the company had […]

With all the recent fraud in the financial services and real estate sectors, it’s sometimes hard to believe the US has any reputable companies at all. Yet we have firms like Southwest, Trader Joe’s, and Amazon that seem to universally excel in treating customers and employees right, while still producing huge revenues. Why don’t we […]

I wonder if the way that an organization handles customer suggestions is a good predictor of its long-term success. Suggestions come in many forms: written on a comment card, sent via email, or just spoken verbally to an employee on the front lines. It can be a huge task to make sure that all of […]

Although online pioneers like Amazon provide very detailed emails after you complete a transaction, some companies are going the opposite route. Rather than telling you what took place, they just send an email with a generic message, e.g. “We completed your transaction — please log in to the website to view the transaction details.” This […]

Catching a taxi in the city is a fairly haphazard affair. You have to get the cab driver’s attention, make sure they take the payment method you want to use (e.g. credit card), and then verify that your trip isn’t too short or too long for where they’re willing to travel. To streamline this process, […]