Category Archives: Business

Trust me – I’m Honest!!!

If you have to say it, then it is probably not true…
This BLOG is to describe the epitome of double standards…….and yes, I am saying all the things out loud that are usually whispered……..

Have you ever called a second hand book seller? First words out of their mouths, ‘bring the box to me and leave it, so we can look at it and make a decision’….seriously!?!??
Let me understand, you want me to drop off 100 undocumented books, not be given a receipt, and TRUST you to pay me???
Would you EVER allow me to leave your shop with one unpaid book?? I think not.

In the endless clean out of my offices and house, I have uncovered some of the most unpleasant, dishonest, and condescending shop keepers in the city.
Unfortunately, I know I am not the only one to have experienced this unpleasantness, but I am the one exposing the practice.

The used record & CD shops, book sellers, antique shops, high end Vintage Clothing shops, Vintage jewellery, ….where does it end??!

Local art gallery?? …… horrific.

In that particular case, I was trying to help promote an amazing young artist to exhibit his works. Thankfully the gallerist stood me up and never returned my calls.
THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

Same gallerist is being pursued by artists who she has not paid, and will neither return their calls nor their works. I am SO THANKFUL she stood me up, as I would feel dreadful having given her this gentleman’s works.

Is there no honour among thieves??!!

From high end Vintage Consignment shops who try to convince unsuspecting consignors to ‘’just drop off your bags of goods so we can inspect them’, then claiming they were never received, to saying that articles were sold for a fraction of their true sale price, to, my absolute favourite, claiming to have given my high end designer clothes to charity. In conversations with innumerable others who unfortunately had the same experience, it emerged that the clothes are labeled, stored in the shop’s basement, only to be put back out for sale months later as belonging to the shop owner. Cute trick.

Problem is, people talk, and we ALL know who you are.

Then, of course, are the high end antique shops. One smooth operator would take his unsuspecting female consignors out for a ‘nice lunch’ gossip endlessly over too numerous glasses of wine, and conveniently never give them a consignment sheet. No proof, no cash.
The number of fleeced consignors escalated to a point so extreme, the dealer in question moved shop a couple of times and subsequently left the city. I must know a dozen of the denizens he fleeced, all far too embarrassed and humiliated to come forward publicly.

One of the female consignors however, did have a receipt, and was not about to allow it, so she actually stalked him, waiting outside his hidden second floor gallery to see when he arrived, then calling to see if he would answer and acknowledge he was there. Each time she confronted him, each time she was not paid. He used soo many excuses it was extraordinary, “I have to pay tax, I have a meeting, someone is waiting for me in the car, I don’t feel well…..”
The last time she went, she was not alone, and told him they would detain him if he did not pay her, and they would call the police.
He finally wrote the check, grudgingly.

Another of the so-called most reputable high end antique dealers came to my house to look at certain articles I was seeking to sell. He offered me LESS than 10 cents on the dollar for period antiques and French Bronzeworks.
He had forgotten that I had been in his shop numerous times and taken photographs of items he had for sale, in many cases, not as good as my possessions. Once again, endless excuses for his transgressions……..”he has to earn a living, he has overhead costs, and on it went..”
I found it truly offensive, particularly after seeing his retail prices and his lack of willingness to negotiate prices. I told him so as I was escorting him to the door, and out he went, complaining vigorously, that he really wanted to purchase all my French Bronze curtain pieces…he truly could NOT comprehend why I unceremoniously threw him out.
I promised him that for every dollar he tried to steal from me, I would make him lose 10, and I assure you I have done precisely that. Anyone who asks me about his shop will be told about his intense greed and lack of ethics.
When one friend was contemplating making a purchase from him, I suggested offering 10 cents on the dollar, given that is what he pays!!! Apparently the negotiations did not go so well!!!

High end Vintage Jewellery??? Same problem.
Visit the shop and be told how exclusive, how valuable, how original, how fabulous the piece is.
Try to sell it?? All of a sudden it is only worth the value of scrap metal.

One friend told me to treat jewellery like shoes. Wear it to death, and do not care if it carries any value.
Great advice!!
Wish I had been given it much earlier……..

Buying is easy, selling the goods that you have been oversold is not.

So, be smart, be wise. Make sure you know who you are dealing with. Do references, then do more.
Make your purchase understanding that you may never be able to resell it.
So Love it, Use it, and pass it on……..

Vote for Moi!!!

The Municipal elections are upon us with a vengeance, we are besieged by posters on every lamp post with smiling faces of wannabee candidates promising endless good things from lower taxes to improved services.

They ring the doorbell, stop us at the grocery store or on the street, with huge smiles emanating from the intoxicating scent of power and all its incumbent perquisites. The promise of endless cocktail parties, gallery openings, fame and fortune, access to people and places previously inaccessible….they want you to believe all the wonderful things they will do, JUST FOR YOU!!!…..the perception they are bestowing upon the naïve and uneducated..
But, the truth is, if they are unable to say , ‘thank you’ to all those who helped them during this or previous campaigns, how can we trust them to work for their constituents and not only for themselves?

How many politicians are working for the public good as opposed to a hidden agenda?
How many are accessible? Are they polite? Condescending? Arrogant? Understanding?
Can they actually relate to the problems faced by many of their constituents??

Do they understand finance? Have they actually worked in a serious business? Run a business? Multilingual?? Highly religious??
Look at their body language, facial expressions, micro expressions, eyes, clothes….can they actually listen or are their eyes searching the room for someone more important? Do they have a vanity project?? …..far, far too many of those around…..just think about how few local Mayors do NOT have a vanity project……

SO, before you cast your vote, STOP, ask yourself these questions, if you can’t answer them about your choice of candidate, it is the wrong candidate!!

Disruption

The latest excuse for business failure….

…..disruption….everyone is shopping online….

…..we can’t find suitable staff….

……too much competition…..

….we can’t keep abreast of the technology….

Retailers are closing at a terrifying speed, and blaming everything and everyone for their lack of vision.

Senior executives are sitting in their posh corner offices living lavish lives while their shareholders lose their investments.

Whatever happened to ‘managing while walking around’??

Are they only listening to the carefully delivered rhetoric by a few hand picked yes men?? And more importantly, can they be trusted??

Does anyone actually know what their employees are doing ?? Do executives even know who they really ARE any more?? There are so many people working in companies today with hidden agenda’s that having superficial interviews and references are simply not enough. How many times has someone been referred to me only to find out that who they profess to be bears no resemblance to reality?!

Companies are using agencies to do references, and they are only calling the references provided. But REAL, in depth references often bring a stark reality to the true person.

People are inflating their titles, salaries, successes, and more importantly education.
Did you know that there are 800 fake universities out there?? Really.

So, the ‘back door’ reference often tells a very different story.

Doing references is an art form, questions often can be directed in such a way as to elicit extraordinary responses. Using a list of pre-established questions does not leave much to the imagination. Furthermore, depending on exactly how the question is asked, the answers can go from one extreme to the other.

So, making sure you know who you are hiring is important. Getting rid of them is extremely expensive.

I am fascinated by companies offering services to the public, be it banks, grocery stores, fashion stores…etc.
No one appears to understand business 101 any more.
There is no common sense. No thought …no reason.

The person you are rude to, may be the same person your company is pursuing to acquire their business. Take banks for example, if start-ups are the driver of the economy, has anyone considered that having ‘preferred vendor’ lists is removing any chance of them growing, and how detrimental this is??
It hurts the bank’s future business, and the economy as a whole.

The arrogant clerks who think they are saving money for the corporation by limiting the number of suppliers are actually hurting the very same company and the economy as a whole, and they are limiting creativity. If you only deal with the same handful of suppliers, and lock out anyone else, how can you possibly know if someone has a better, more imaginative product??!!

How many times as a business owner have I been pursued for my custom by the very company who has refused to do business with us because we are not ‘big’ enough??
Does big mean better?? From what I have seen, the answer is NO.

Do you really want to pay a 300 – 400% markup on the same independent Consultant as I can give you???
Do you REALLY think that the big firms have all these people just waiting for your call??

Catch 22, or Economics 101, or , utter lack of common sense.

Or the rude clerk in a grocery store or high end retailer insulting the wife of an executive that is being pursued by the same company?? If your wife comes home from shopping and speaks of the disrespect she has suffered, do you think the executive will then give you his business??

Courtesy and business go hand in hand.

Companies today do not appear to invest in training. They speak publicly of their corporate code of ethics, but what is really happening within their walls??

If certain individuals within these companies only do business with companies who give them a kick back, then how can we possibly give any credence to their so-called ‘code of ethics”?? … but is anyone actually checking?? The answer is NO.

If the management team lies, how can they expect the staff to do anything else??

If the Senior Executives receive millions in bonus’, fly on private jets, eat in the most exclusive clubs and restaurants, at some point the individuals actually doing the work and earning pennies in comparison are going to find a way to compensate themselves.
In NO way am I justifying dishonest behaviour, I am simply pointing out fact.

If the cornerstone of growth in the economy is small business, who are the largest creators of new jobs, then doesn’t it make sense to do business with them instead of systematically closing them out??

Over the last couple of weeks, dinner table conversations have repeatedly reverted to the discussion of on-line shopping versus in store.
Most of the people around the table actually enjoy the sport of shopping, yet in every case, due to the extraordinary unpleasantness they experienced with rude or inexperienced staff, or worse, staff who were not knowledgeable, and gave inaccurate information with an attitude, EVERYONE, each time admitted they found themselves shopping online as they had walked out of an unpleasant shop.

SO, is the problem actually technology based? ie, disruption, or is it human?

Certainly from my own experiences, it has been 100% human.
If I have walked into your store with cash in hand on 5 separate occasions and your staff has been unwelcoming or unpleasant, and I absolutely KNOW my size, why on earth would you think I will return??
If I can make a purchase on line, often for a reduced price, which will be delivered to my door by a delightful man……why should I come back to your store?
Why should I give you my cash?
Why on earth should I recommend you??

There are certain shops in Westmount, in London, I go out of my way to visit…why??

  • Extraordinary Service
  • Knowing I am appreciated
  • Because I am greeted with a hug and a smile, and always leave smiling
  • And YES, I am absolutely prepared to pay more to shop there if necessary.

How do people feel about YOUR business? …. Are they welcomed or humiliated??

Time to go back to mystery shoppers, time to go back to ‘managing by walking around’ , time to go back to the time where clients and suppliers were treated with respect, not as commodities, time to make sure your employees are not running their own fiefdoms within your walls, time to make sure that executives are actually doing what they are being paid to do, time to ensure that plans are in place to ensure your long term survival.

 

Civility and Dignity, rapidly disappearing…..

There is an escalating breakdown in civility and the treatment of others with dignity.

Everyone is in such a hurry to show the world just how UNIMPORTANT they are, no, NOT a typo, extraordinarily bad manners really show the extraordinarily bad manners exhibited by certain people.

In meetings and speaking with a myriad of people from all walks of life, certain disturbing trends in bad behaviour increasingly come to the forefront of conversation.

One actually wonders if there are any corporations monitoring the day to day behaviour of their employees? I am not speaking of call centers where all calls are recorded, but of daily interactions. Methinks not.

From shops with surly cashiers not only refusing to speak to clients in their own language, but actually INSULTING them to their face, assuming (perfect usage of the word!!) they do not understand, to restaurant employees being so discourteous as to actually laugh in the face of their customers, also, assuming they do not understand….in this case, a Chinese restaurant, with the waiters speaking Cantonese, and forgetting the white Gweilo female customer just spoke to them in Cantonese, or the fact that the other white female is the one who invited a group into the same restaurant ……remember ?? she is the one who will decide the tip!!

The bad behaviour in this restaurant towards white clients has escalated to a point where the waiters often laugh at the clients in their face, and laugh at them using chopsticks.
Have they forgotten these white clients tip double what Chinese clients do??? To be insulted???!!!!!

Have they forgotten just how quickly word gets around these days?? In the blink of an eye in the digital world, everything can change.

Representing companies today in any type of marketing role has become an invitation to be insulted.
Ring up certain individuals today, complete with proper introduction, and be screamed at, and have them hang up on you.

Or, after a polite call, complete with referral, have the individual …get this….aspiring to an open VP position within his company, call back, speak for a couple of minutes, give the name and phone number of his secretary to set up a meeting.
Call the secretary, book the meeting, send a follow up note to the aspiring VP and an Invitation to the meeting as requested.

Turn up for the meeting, after spending 2 hours in traffic crossing the entire city, wait over 40 minutes, only to have an arrogant secretary come down to say that the aspiring VP never heard of the individual, never spoke to them, and is a VERY BUSY IMPORTANT MAN!!

But wait a minute!! He GAVE THE NAME AND PHONE NUMBER OF HIS SECRETARY TO SET UP THE MEETING!!!

Call back to set up a new meeting, no apology from anyone, be told by the arrogant secretary that the aspiring VP has no recollection, and mention AGAIN that he was the one who provided her contact information.

As per the request of the secretary, send off digital proof of the phone calls, emails and invitation only to receive a rude email that the aspiring VP is not looking for any new suppliers. SO why book the meeting in the first place???

SO, he made someone lose an entire day in traffic, lost revenue, cost of travel, and instead of being gracious and APOLOGIZING, slams the door in their face. HUH???

I ask you, what does that say??……..in my mind, he is probably dirty, or just so arrogant he does not think anyone will hear about it……guess what??!! …They already have, and once this BLOG goes live, others may wonder…..

Or, help a senior individual who has been unemployed for months, with his terrible resume, only to have him send it all over on his own, and never return the new finished product. Well, the Executive Position for which he was interviewed is now totally beyond his reach, as his dishonesty ensured that we will not represent him. To answer your question, the position pays more than he has ever earned. He will NEVER know who the client is, and he is STILL unemployed….ah….shucks!!!

Or, another cutie, a certain individual sent their CV for a position in Sherbrooke, but lives in Montreal.
They were invited to come for an interview for a certain position.
Drove to Sherbrooke, 2 hours, lost a day’s work, were interviewed for a totally different position, shown the door with NO thank you for coming to see us, NOTHING.
Then the poor interviewee gets to drive back to Montreal in heavy traffic, another 2 hours lost, gas and car expenses.
No follow up on behalf of the rude company. Please someone, explain to me what that was all about?? Even if you did not like the person, can you not at least say THANK YOU for coming and losing your day???

Is this the new normal??

What happened to honesty, decency and civility??…what happened to treating people the way YOU wish to be treated……..
What happened to all this so called AUTHENTICITY??

Speaking to someone managing a retail store and hearing the horrors of what occurs in the dressing rooms is enough to make you lose your lunch.

What I find so extraordinary, is that ALL these offenders are simply EMPLOYEES, and can be fired at the pleasure of their employer. They are so arrogant, so contemptuous, so inconsiderate, one questions where this comes from.

It is time that corporations pay more attention to the behaviour WITHIN their walls, instead of blaming the changing business landscape. Bank cashiers, store cashiers, wait staff in restaurants, receptionists in Companies, lower level managers, all seem to think they are somehow allowed to behave in a rude, insulting fashion.
They all seem to forget that they do NOT OWN the companies.
The little fellow in the T shirt and sneakers may be a billionaire.
The Blond woman in jeans could be a company President.
Appearances today are EXTREMELY deceptive.

Been to Sears lately?? No need to wonder why they are going out of business. RUDE. RUDE. RUDE.

Bye …bye!!!

In Palm Beach Florida, on more than one occasion, someone has received absolutely awful treatment by someone in a shop or restaurant, and has turned around and purchased the business simply to have the pleasure of FIRING the people who were rude.

Today appearances ARE deceptive. My clients certainly are a great example of that.
The young man with a man bun, unshaven, in sneakers and jeans has a Master’s Degree, owns his own airplane, and is earning in excess of $300 US per year.
Totally shy, very sweet, and unassuming.

More than ever, the louder, flashier, and more outspoken the individual, the more likely they are broke.

Can you really afford to allow your staff to treat your suppliers and clients like trash?? In an increasingly competitive world where information travels in nanoseconds??

Open your eyes folks!!!

IS THE GLASS HALF FULL??

We have our own histories, realities, perceptions, interpretations and opinions based upon our own life history, optics, and experiences.

Some people, like moi, tend to question, and are, by certain individuals, considered to be cynical, others simply accept whatever is thrown at them as the truth.

Society today, bombarded with the faces and manufactured stories of the rich and famous, clamour to be part of that experience. Life is lived instantaneously through images captured and posted online to make the perpetrator feel somehow more important, connected. Some people, like myself, were brought up NOT to brag, not to ever use the name of another to promote ourselves, are somehow lost in the wind…and forced, unwittingly to do some level of self promotion otherwise we are perceived as weak, or somehow, losers.

Remember when the elegant Society Queens said there were only 3 times in ones’ life that your name should appear in the newspaper?? Birth, Engagement and Death. Period.

Today if your name is not plastered everywhere in social media, you are somehow considered to be ‘out of it’ not ‘with it’ . Unimportant. Passe…..

Women in particular, were brought up to gush positivity, never say anything negative about anyone, and smile. Unfortunately, today, people lie incessantly, and promote themselves ruthlessly. From the Social Pages with the gushing social editor ranting endlessly about all these Fabulous people and their equally fabulous lives and careers, to those who have carefully crafted  public personae, to worse, those who pay a fortune to PR’s to spin their fabulousness, and ensure they are invited to the BEST parties, and photographed …..

One acquaintance brags incessantly about her fabulous life, her international business….to hear her speak one would believe she is earning millions. Reality is a far cry from the rhetoric. She is broke and seriously in debt.

Another scratching social climber  from a poor immigrant family, is nauseatingly sweet to those who she feels will promote her pretend fabulousness, while ruthlessly destroying the reputation of anyone in her path.  Over the last few years I have unfortunately found myself increasingly distancing myself from both the self-promoters and the believers. The believers feel that having the self-promotors in their lives somehow makes them more complete, part of the ‘in crowd’ whatever that is.

They describe these individuals as brilliant, kind, exceptional, whereas others of us can’t get far enough away from them. Watching from a safe distance, however, is an absolutely fascinating experience. From speech patterns, eye movements, body language, being an observer as opposed to a participant is amazing.

There is one particularly pushy individual putting on airs and speaking with a fake English accent, trying to convey his British Upper-Class status. Unfortunately, both his actual behaviour and speech patterns convey the exact opposite.

The vocabulary is wrong, and most importantly, anyone from an important British family would NEVER publicly humiliate someone else ……it is simply NOT done. This individual is famous for it. Cross him in any possible way and be screamed down, with absolutely no consideration as to who is watching…..

There are several older socialites who continue to scratch and claw their way up the social ladder, utterly ruthless as to destroying anyone who is not helping them reach whatever heights they are seeking. One publicly exclaimed that she no longer speaks to those not in her social class….Seriously?!??!  she comes from nothing, and by making this statement, it speaks volumes to the fact she has zero class.

Go to London, associate with the powerful and find a totally different reality. They are incredibly polite and speak  to everyone.

I am always fascinated by elderly women still wearing Princess garb to balls at 70 years old. The description of ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ comes immediately to mind, scratching to reach some mysterious place which continues to elude them.

But true civility and elegance are timeless, and anyone watching from afar simply sees them as sad.

Another of my favourites are those who speak with soft kittenish voices, trying to show their current prey how sweet, kind and considerate they are.

In truth, most are pure poison.

From trying to lure a potential  man to the shop-keeper trying to elicit the secrets of those around her, with this fake sweet, ‘do come sit with me and tell me all about it’

But do something to cross these women and experience the most vicious attack ever, and the sweet soft voice immediately becomes loud and vulgar and seriously cruel.

If, in life, something appears too good to be true, then usually it is precisely that. From the investment yielding profit margins that exceed anything on the market, to Real Estate deals……. remember the old jokes about buying swamp land in Florida??

It is increasingly difficult today to know what is real.

From company web pages extolling their incredible success, and international reach, then find out the business is in someone’s basement and the so called successful President with the incredible resume has been fired from every job he has ever had. …but the web page is extraordinary, impressive. If you are a believer you will be taken in, and it will cost you dearly.

A certain politician has now been documented with 440 lies. …this is mind blowing. Many of those who voted for him, still believe in him, and will not be convinced that he lied.

They believe the rhetoric, drank the kool-aid, still do not doubt even though the truth is in front of their eyes.

True believers.

So, one could argue either way, cynic or realist?? Doubter or believer??

Many people do not wish to question, they are safe and content and unthreatened in their ignorance. It is easy. Safe.

How many times does someone need to say they are honest, kind, generous, popular, successful before others blindly embrace this false truth?? That you have been lied to, used, and nothing was real.

Is the glass half empty???

Shoplifting – The Latest Expression of Entitlement

Some of us have had to do a myriad of jobs to support ourselves, one of my summer jobs was store detective for the opening of a new department store. How I ended up there is a whole other story!!

It turned out to be an absolutely fascinating experience.

First, we were told about the various motivations which drive people to steal. The most obvious is extreme poverty, driving a need for food, but unfortunately, it is not the critical driver. Most people steal for the thrill, and many of them steal inconsequential, really small items which they not only can easily afford, but in many cases, have no need for the item.
We were then given extensive training in comportement, which included kinesiology, or body language. As someone who is highly visual to start with, it was brilliant.
A total life and career change later, the ability to instantly recognize a shoplifter is still very much a part of my awareness.
Over the  period of 5 days, recently witnessed two blatant examples of shoplifting, and was subsequently served by a very teary young lady who had just been obliged to call the police over a shoplifter, and was extremely upset, so she was thrilled to have someone with whom to share her experience. The thief was an older woman well known to the police. When she was informed that she had to stay in the shop under supervision to wait for the arrival of the police, she calmly sat and read a newspaper. The sales clerk was in tears.  The police arrived and not only recognized her, but remembered her name and all the shops she had robbed.
The sales clerk was devestated at having to arrest this old woman, and the thief was totally calm. A huge tell about them as individuals.
The previous week in this same shop, they had made a $500 sale to another older woman, only to witness her on camera stealing another $60 worth of merchandise on her way out of the store. When confronted at the door, she exclaimed that she had ‘paid them enough, and she deserved it’ .. Once again, the police were called. This one was not so calm about being obliged to wait.
In this particular store, which is a very high end craft and decorative item shop, the clerk told me that they had to install cameras throughout the store due to the increasingly high incidence of theft, and that almost ALL those stealing were older  women who could easily afford to pay for the merchandise.
The Palm Beach Post recently posted an article about a young girl being caught stealing $454. From Sephora. Her excuse was that she wanted to give it to her best friend for her birthday. She is a student at the University of Florida, and should know better.
She now has a criminal record which will hamper her career for life. Brilliant!!
In their idiotic drive to reduce plastic shopping bags, which in my mind is utter insanity  as everything is in styrofoam and shrink wrap, heavy plastic, or plasticized cardboard, the incidence of shoplifting in pharmacies and grocery stores has skyrocketed. We see people dragging zippered trolleys which are overflowing with stolen merchandise. Pay attention next time you are in a grocery store which does not give out plastic bags.  People walk around with their shopping cart and their trolley. One cheap item in the shopping cart, when they think no-one is looking, one expensive item into the trolley. I was told that the item stolen the most is expensive steak. They go to the till, and pay for the items in the shopping cart, which is but a small percentage of the value of the items which made their way into the trolley. Virtually  NO cashiers have asked to see what is in the trolleys.
At a lingerie store, clients often walk in with 10 items to try on, then make sure they take long enough that the sales clerk has wandered off, only to exit and hand off 3 items, wearing 7 items cleverly hidden under their clothes. Do you REALLY want to make people strip??!! ….    For merchandise which costs $.50 to manufacture in southeast Asia??
Standing in line at a high end organic grocery store, we watched a woman pay for all the articles in the top tray of her trolley. The bottom was full. She was on her way out the door when I pointed it out to the cashier who called her back and made her pay for it.
She was absolutely furious, and it was clear through her body language that this was a regular occurrence  but  this was the first time she was caught. She clearly knew where the cameras were and cleverly avoided having her face picked up when she was obliged to pay. She was hunched over with her head down.
Any normal person making this mistake would have been horrified, and would have expressed their utter embarrassment, and apologized. She was angry at being caught.
How would you have reacted??
An older man at a pharmacy rudely rushed everyone in the queue  out of the way and ran with  a shopping cart filled with merchandise out the store. Non of the coloured tags to indicate it had been paid for were on any of the merchandise. He ran through the parking lot to his car on the other side of the lot. From what I could see, non of the articles in the cart were life necessities, but luxury items such as potato chips, soft drinks, bottled water, candy bars, toilet paper, etc.
We are ALL paying for this in increased prices, and the cost of increased surveillance.
A certain Westmount socialite living in a multi-million dollar home and with ample funds to attend black tie galas dressed in expensive gowns has stolen from every single one of her friends, and many of their friends.
At first someone thought was an accident, until by fluke one evening, someone mentioned that they had a sense when she had been in their home that things conveniently disappeared. Heads bobbed up and then everyone joined in mentioning they had all been robbed, and never wanted to mention it. Jewellery, Hermes gloves, scarves, cashmere scarves, and more jewellery and cash .
Interestingly, as this woman is popular and her name regularly appears in the social columns as being someone fabulous, the assumption was that she couldn’t possibly be stealing, but as the conversation ensued, it became clear that no one was safe from her. Worse, when they recognized things on her, they were under the assumption that they had been given as gifts. It was not a particularly pleasant evening as it became clear that this ‘fabulous’ woman was a serious kleptomaniac. Then came the stories of shopping in her presence, and being afraid of being caught as she was equally light fingered in stores, mostly taking inconsequential items such as lipstick, candy bars and the like.
As there are no coincidences in life, I decided to go educate myself, so I went to the Westmount Police Station 12, and spent an interesting hour with a lovely police officer who was kind enough to discuss this with me.   The big question was about shops who do not persecute shoplifters.
What I learned was that several companies do not prosecute, for the simple reason that the cost of merchandise versus the cost of 1-2 employees spending a day in court, and their expenses was not justified.
The other compelling reason for not stopping shoplifters was the safety of their employees.
For the majority however, as soon as someone was seen pocketing merchandise, they were stopped and escorted to a private locked room by 2 security guards while awaiting the police.
So, it was not my imagination, the police officer confirmed my sense that shoplifting was seriously on the rise.
By the end of our chat, I had him in hysterics when I mentioned how obsessed I am about never doing anything which could effect my Security Clearance, and described a funny incident at the Toronto airport when I gave the blond customs official a paper with $3000 in purchases written on it. She could not believe anyone actually wanted to do that, same explanation, and she understood why I was pleased to pay, and charged me a very fair amount.  He said the police congratulate me and wish there were more like me as we are an anomaly.
Neither of us can understand why someone would risk their career and reputation to steal an item valued under $10.
So, be vigilant, and be careful.
You are indeed being watched.

More telephone madness…..

It never abates, just gets worse.  Clearly our company falls into this category, but it is intentional. After having a published phone number and address for ever, and having to tolerate incredibly rude people actually turning up at the door, and in some cases being threatening, others trying to sell a myriad of unwanted products, and far too many looking for jobs, and having been told by ‘Outplacement Firms’ that turning up at someone’s door unannounced is wise, it has been a choice, and in our case, as our Company has operated ‘Word of Mouth’ from the outset, yes, we are difficult to find.

I have been screamed at by SO many rude sales people calling and insisting on speaking with the President, and calling me every possible name imaginable, when I have politely inquired ,
‘how may I help you’ ??
What they ALL missed, was that they WERE speaking with the President, and were RUDE, RUDE, RUDE.
This is not the case of the corporations where I tried to reach people over the last few weeks. They were ALL FORTUNE 500 companies, listed on the stock exchange, and with thousands of employees.
The latest in the list of corporate insanity, is saving money by eliminating a central phone number and receptionist.
Google their head office phone number, and find a 1-800  customer service number, and a customer service email address, along with a diatribe about their ‘preference’ for email.
Are they for real?!!
When I advised a Vice President of one of these companies about it, he emailed me back and announced that he was also unable to find one and would look into it.
Several weeks later, still no published phone number, in 2 cities.
These companies are ostensibly running businesses for profit,
They have shareholders.
They have customers.
They have employees.
They require NEW customers.
Unless I am seriously missing something, if you can’t EVER reach a human being, why on earth would you ever want to do business with them?  And the bigger question , which is actually the point of this BLOG, is just exactly WHAT HAPPENS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY?
Are you supposed to email an anonymous address may only be read by or answered by someone thousands of miles away in an offshore call center??  It could take days or weeks before someone actually responds, and they are clearly not in any position to do anything.
SO, if someone is walking on the street and sees something happening, there is absolutely NO WAY to contact the company about it, other than to run into the lobby and grab a security guard who probably couldn’t care less.
If there is a crisis at someone’s home, and a neighbour tries to call someone at work to notify them, it is impossible.
Clearly in the rush to automate and save money, the concept that humans actually make up a company has been missed.
My favourites include companies with a central phone number with an automated voice telling you to leave your message in general delivery. Attempts to reach an operator result in the call being
terminated.
The other stroke of genius is when one calls a company only to be rudely interrogated by some snippy receptionist who insists on knowing the reason for your call, and why you do not have the person’s personal mobile number. If she is unsatisfied with your response, she will hang up on you.
I asked one incredibly rude woman if she was actually paid to insult people before hanging up on her. She was seriously incredulous she was so rude.
This is a common complaint from people I know in numerous industries.
Is anyone listening??
Does anyone care??

Security Experts

Low tech or High tech – can you trust yours??

Just to make things interesting, we will start with lower technology, i.e., burglar alarms and work our way up from there.

Several years ago I was seeking a reputable burglar alarm company for my home. Spending as many as 5 months away made the concept become more of a necessity. It is not difficult to see uncut grass and hedges, and no footprints in the snow over an extended period of time.

Being a blonde female sole homeowner made things more than unpleasant.

I approached over 16 companies on the telephone, many were eliminated immediately when they insisted on speaking with my husband. No second chance on that as you know the service will be terrible.

Round two of those who were actually invited to visit after getting through the initial phone screening. Same issue, usually 10 minutes into the visit, when the proverbial question of when they could meet ‘the man of the house’ . A couple of them were formally introduced to my male cat, and rapidly escorted out of the door.

The level of incompetence and arrogance encountered in this process was extraordinary. One mind numbingly rude woman proclaiming herself as an ‘EXPERT” ….oh…how I just LOVE these people…..somehow made it through the initial screening and visit, but then came back with a drawing of the layout of my house and her ‘expert opinion’ of how to alarm the house. The price was absolutely over the top, and the lack of vision was terrifying. She kept pushing me over and over to sign the contract…….all in French, as she claimed she could not speak English, or more importantly, didn’t choose to, She droned on and on at how she was an ‘EXPERT” and at the top of her trade. I walked her into the middle of my back garden and insisted she look at my house in the bright daylight and asked if she noticed anything. Blank Stare. No Comment. Asked again. Was blasted with her physical signs of agitation at my disrespect, she clearly had NO idea what I was referring to.
Shook my head in disbelief, only to be met with a look of total condescension. Seriously?? This is how you close a sale for in excess of $10,000??? …..just saying……..

I pointed out the dining room window off in a secluded dark corner, then the shed leading to the basement door, also in a dark corner, then the basement windows under the deck which were enclosed with lattice work. And asked whether or not she had considered them as potential points of illicit entry.
She huffed and puffed and exclaimed that they could be added to the original quote. Really??? No apology, no explanation, just changes and more charges.
Once again, in the back door, and rapidly out the front door she went, becoming increasingly unpleasant along the way.

I guess we stupid blonde women need to be bossed around by ‘EXPERTS” like her. The concept that I might actually know something was beyond her comprehension.
She probably thought my husband gave me the house in a divorce. ABSOLUTELY NOT THE CASE. House was purchased by me, with my money, earned by ME. PERIOD.

An altogether unpleasant experience and appalling waste of time. The time lost is seriously galling, as it is time not spent on my business.

The last person to come was strangely from up North, and was actually my last resort. After going through all the ‘BIG BRAND’ alarm companies and being totally disgusted by them all, he had been recommended by a friend. He arrived with a smile, and a wonderful sense of humour. What a pleasure. After a house and garden tour, he looked at me and suggested that he felt I knew more about my house than him, and perhaps we should do the design together. What a concept!!! Along the way, he admitted that he had missed 2 key points of entry which I did not. He got the contract!!!
Many of the new alarm companies are pushing cellular technology as it is cheap and easy to install. DO NOT DO IT.

There are simply too many people driving around with devices to hack into these systems, it is just too easy.
Make sure that you TOTALLY understand the critical entry points and security issues regarding a system as well as the security of your person and your possessions. Not much point having a system if the most expensive article in the house is not properly covered. From roof entrances, to basements, back doors, windows and garage windows, ensure they are totally covered. Simply having the door from the garage monitored does not prevent someone from getting in and waiting for your arrival. Your life may depend upon it.

Also, make absolutely sure that the technicians and installers coming into your house have had proper Security background checks and that the company has certified this in writing. Some installers have been known to have criminal records and you do not want them to have access to your system or your home.
HIGH TECH

We constantly read about huge technology hacks where the confidential information of as many as 500 million individuals has been compromised. Unfortunately many very large well known corporations are unwilling to make the investment into proper Security Professionals, for both the data and the physical site.
They are constantly seeking ways to save money on infrastructure costs, and look to outsourcing as a way to save money. The only problem is that no one knows who has access to your data.
Senior Security Professionals are expensive, ideally with a Master’s degree in Cyber Security, and knowledge of penetration testing and physical security. Hiring some kid out of university in an entry level position is like advertising your utter disrespect or the critical data of your clients.
Think about it, travel companies have your date of birth, credit card numbers, a scan of your passport cover page……….shall I continue???
Retailers have similar information, including your shopping habits, and locations…….
Financial Companies have your personal information including such private information as Mother’s Maiden Name and passwords……
Credit card companies even more information including education, job history, locations of previous and present home……..and then the awful Credit agencies………

I hope I am frightening you………..
The big question, of course, is whether this whether or not this data is protected at all, or is easily available for a good hacker or unethical employee to access……

One ‘Security Expert” in a large retailer bragged to all his friends that he had ALL the confidential information on all the key executives in his firm, and all the client credit card numbers and pin codes……..He went on from there to a large Financial Institution, and on to his current gig where he is now considered the ‘RESIDENT CYBER SECURITY EXPERT”…….all through rabid self promotion on Linkedin and Security blogs. But, wait for it……….he continues to BRAG about the information he gathers…………albeit to a much smaller audience………and much more discreetly.

Several well known hackers have been offered high paying positions in large companies who feel they are well protected by these clowns, unfortunately, I do not share this trust or optimism. Once a thief, always a thief, and unless you know what trigger put them over the edge in the past, you certainly cannot foresee the future.

I will stick to only working with individuals with clean pasts and ideally a high level of Security Clearance.
If you are running a large infrastructure, complicated networks, and security, it is up to YOU to protect the data. PERIOD.

So, dear readers, be careful what information you share and where you share it.
Someone is always lurking around the corner trying to obtain it.

Friendship

Friendship or a business arrangement? Sometimes it is hard to tell.

If one is reasonably sociable, there are always new people to meet, and as the holiday season approaches, endless cocktail and Christmas parties. Some people are absolutely incredible at walking up to total strangers, extending their arm and introducing themselves, and often, this is also where you discover their true motives.

Some kind souls are truly out there to meet new and exciting people, such as moi, others are only soliciting business, some overtly, others more sneaky. If you have met as many people as I have, and are slightly cynical, which I have unfortunately become, it usually does not take long to ascertain their true motives.

One aspiring social climber, with no career, no education, and little to talk about except her children, and how totally ‘AMAZING” they are, has been slowly bouncing from one charity organization to the other to try and meet new people she deems to be socially ‘acceptable’. Other than being nice to look at, she is so boring you want to cry, and clearly, as her looks do absolutely nothing for moi, I am thrilled to report that I did not make the grade!!! Not wanting to be cornered to hear about her children was probably the clincher!!

Then there is the incredibly rude, pushy woman who grew up in the east end of the city from a working class family. Some of her school contemporaries speak of not being allowed into their living room at all, the the plastic wrap covering the sofa’s in case someone ‘important’ should come to visit.
She got an excellent education, promptly married an up and comer in the firm where she went to work, and quickly retired to have children and social climb. She acquired a nice address, but not the best, and with his money she now considers herself the arbiter of who is ‘in’ in social Montreal. What she does not understand is that wearing a ball gown and attending balls to be seen does NOT a nice person make. Class and manners still count, and she has neither. Her very aggressive social climbing really took off about 10 years ago, to the extent that she now has, WAIT FOR IT…….a fan club of women she has publicly offended as she deems them to be “ below her” . To her friends are simply ‘stepping stones’ which are quickly acquired and discarded once their usefulness has expired.
NOTE to SELF……..PEOPLE DO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!!!

Another woman I met who owns a PR Firm and has a reputation of being a nightmare to work for, calls people she has met, and invites them for lunch., to see if they have the social clout to be her ‘friend’, translation, ‘who can you introduce me to’ !??! Unfortunately, this resulted in a lunch where, surprise, surprise, we split the bill for lunch, it was NOT an invitation as previously indicated, and it came to a fairly rapid end when I told her I would not share my contacts with her on Linkedin or any where else. In polite company, inviting someone to lunch implies that YOU are going to pay, and NOT split the bill…..If you haven’t gathered from my commentary, it was NOT a particularly fun experience.

Another quasi-socialite, who proclaims loudly about how she wishes to ‘age gracefully’ is by far one of the most ungracious women I have met. She is an absolute embarrassment to be seen with in a restaurant.
Several years ago we ran into one another in London, and she mentioned that she would love to go out for a meal, we discussed restaurants and she mentioned one that I frequent, and the fact she had never been able to get into it. I offered to make arrangements to go the following evening as I know the owners and have been a regular there for years. So, we met there, and placed our orders. As always it was lovely, and I ran into several people I know, much to her surprise. Not being a name dropper, there are many people who have absolutely no idea where I have been, who I know……
We had a pleasant evening until the bill arrived. Then the tone of the evening changed drastically. She is SUCH an embarrassment I wanted to crawl under the table. She examined the cheque and studied each entry to ensure that she did not pay for anything that she did not consume, arguing about her alcohol consumption, then counting out her contribution, practically down to the penny, and leaving the equivalent of pennies towards the tip. THIS RESTAURANT WAS CONSIDERED THE PLACE TO BE ‘SEEN” in London for over 30 years and she was unable to get in until she came with me. Did she offer to pay for dinner? To pay the tip?? ABSOLUTELY NOT. So, needless to say, guess who found herself leaving the entire tip, which was 20% of the total, and NO, this is not a restaurant where one skimps on gratuities…….The taxi ride home was equally unpleasant, she asked to be let off first, and contributed 2 pounds to the ride, guess who got to pay the balance………and it certainly was NOT 2 pounds!!

Once before in Montreal we had been to dinner and as she has no vehicle, I found myself being the chauffeur, no, let me rephrase that, the driver, because the chauffeur is at least paid. SO, my gas, as it was MY car, I got to pay for parking, and she was delivered door to door. The unpleasantness with the cheque was the same, the only difference is the amounts were significantly lower.

Naively I thought this was a one time event, but as I learned in London, this woman is anything but gracious, and certainly not a friend. Did I mention she lives in a MILLION DOLLAR condo on Sherbrooke Street???!!!

We all meet people and become friends with them, sometimes we are extraordinarily lucky and they stay for a lifetime, I am extremely fortunate, and certainly have my share of those, they are scattered to every corner of the world, come in all shapes and colours, the sign of a true friendship is when you speak to someone you haven’t seen for a year and the conversation and comfort level continue as if you were with them an hour earlier. If it is painful, then it is probably a sign the friendship is over.

Friendship is not a business relationship. Friendship is not taking advantage of the kindness of others. Friendship is not being a cruel gossip in the back of someone.
Friendship is a mutually beneficial relationship between 2 people which, at times can be unbalanced, but over the years in a true friendship it balances out, and there is an implicit understanding that each party is there for the other during good and hard times. To be comforting when they are depressed or sick, to offer a shoulder to cry on, to give them a hug when they are sad, to come and bring them a small thoughtful gift when they need cheering up, not to be critical or judgemental.

To be UNSELFISH.

TO SHARE.

TO LOVE.

Anything else is a business arrangement.

MUCH too cool for moi!!

This seems to be a recurring theme. It is rude, frustrating and incredibly arrogant.

Once again, I tried to reach a friend by telephone. He recently joined a growing internet company. When I got nowhere with his mobile, it has been acting up a lot lately, I rang up his wife who suggested that I text him, and ensured me the number is still good. He has been having a lot of problems with the phone for a while. No, she did not have a new office number for him.

Not being overly patient, and preferring to actually speak with people, I figured, why not just call him directly at his new job. Logical thought. …!!??? Apparently NOT.

After spending 10 minutes ‘googling’ his new employer in Montreal, and finding no phone number whatsoever, I found one in Toronto and reached a chirpy, up-talking receptionist who proudly announced that no one in the company has a phone or phone number, and that one is required to either contact people on their personal mobile phones, and NO, they do not give the numbers out, or but everyone can be reached by email. Well that is all well and good, but I have no idea how you are supposed to acquire this information other than calling. I inquired as to his email, and was pleasantly given the information.

My question, is how is one to do business with a company with no phone number, and mysterious email addresses?? According to their website, one sends a request which is handled by a call center in INDIA, and with any luck someone will actually get back to you. Maybe not.
Certainly not the way I wish to do business. Being terribly old fashioned, and actually WANTING to speak to people, this is not for moi.

Having said that, OUR Company has NO website, absolutely NO Digital presence, and ours is a clear message. Due to the nature of our business, which is HIGH END IT Consulting and Search, we do NOT welcome unsolicited resumes. We work exclusively on a word of mouth basis, and are not interested in being inundated with useless resumes. Somehow some seem to get through, but they are not welcome.
As we are ALL industry practitioners with extensive experience, usually someone can find us within 2 phone calls. OUR clients are provided with numerous phone numbers as well as email, and are actually welcomed to call us after hours, at THEIR convenience.

I am mystified at how a relatively new company selling products can hide behind a website and call center in India, making it virtually impossible to identify or contact a human being. So if you are having problems, it goes to say that you will be totally ignored. Call India and hope that the recipient of the call actually understands what you have said and takes an action. If you have been paying your bills online as well, good luck.

Interestingly, I have several clients seeking service providers of this nature. They recognize the changing business landscape, and understand that by having an on-line presence, one has a global reach to sell their products. However, the other side of this equation, is that in a number of cases, these are individuals who are older, well established businesses, who actually expect the service provider to come and see them to discuss their needs. They will NOT do business with a company which does not understand this business model.

It is fine to try and be the ‘cool’ kid on the block, and reach out to millennials, however, there are an enormous number of successful business owners in their 50’s and 60’s who wish to be treated with respect, and be able to interact with actual humans, so these ‘funky, cool’ companies will NOT see their business, and it is HUGE.
These are the same baby boomers who are currently inheriting TRILLIONS of dollars from their families, and in many cases, looking to upgrade their homes and businesses.

If one is purchasing a generic item on line, and one can seek the same article from numerous suppliers, and price shopping is fine, but entering into a long term service oriented business agreement where it is virtually impossible to either identify or reach a real person is short sighted, and frighteningly arrogant.

They are mission out on BILLIONS. SO NOT COOL after all.