August 9

Pet Peeves: Liars, Cheats and Thieves!

I’m not a negative person. At least I try not to be. But, every once in a while, things get to me and, lately, there’s been a lot of little things getting to me.

Things are tough right now. The economy is struggling, people are struggling and I know some businesses are struggling, too. What makes me angry is the widespread lack of integrity that is destroying the trust of people everywhere.

  • Banks manipulating transactions to maximize the amount of fees they can collect regardless of the financial hardship caused to the consumer
  • CEOs lavishing bonuses on themselves while laying off thousands of workers and begging for handouts from taxpayers.
  • Fake Debt Collectors scamming people out of money, leaving them broke and still stuck with the original debt.
  • Legitimate debt collectors bullying people into paying amounts that are grossly inflated above the amount of the original debt.
  • Credit card companies manipulating consumers in order to saddle them with unfair fees and interest hikes.

These are only the tip of the iceberg. These days it seems like there are people everywhere looking for a way to scam you out of every cent they can.

A few months ago, my washer stopped working and, like any normal person, I called a repair company. They came out, briefly looked at my washer and gave me an estimate of $350 to fix it. I was stunned. I don’t know a whole lot about washers but it didn’t feel reasonable to me. So, I called my step-brother to see if he had any handymen friends who might be able to help me out for less. Instead, he stopped by my house to take a look at it himself.

After a quick look, he knew exactly what I needed. He left the house and returned about 20 minutes later with a part he’d purchased for $30 bucks. And that INCLUDED the taxes. He tilted the washer back, had me hold onto it so it wouldn’t fall over, then reached under, removed the old part and replaced it with the new one. In less than 10 minutes, I was doing laundry with a washer that ran like new.

I called the original repair place and let them know I had purchased the part for $30 and questioned them on their inflated estimate for the repair when the part was so cheap. They tried to tell me it was a complicated repair and the bulk of the charge was for labor. When I mentioned that my step-brother had made the “complicated” repair by himself in about ten minutes, the guy became tongue-tied. He knew he’d been caught. He quickly apologized for the “miscommunication” and ended the phone call.

In the past few weeks, I’ve found overcharges on two of my utility bills. In both instances, when I contacted the company in question to get the charges removed, the customer service person on the other end did everything in their power to NOT help me. I swear, these people are trained to talk in illogical circles for as long as possible in order to¬† completely confuse and aggravate the customer. Probably because too many customers just give up and pay the bill. I often wonder how much profit they make by doing this.

In both cases, I had to become completely irate and demand to speak to a manager. Within minutes of getting a manager on the line, they “found” the error, admitted to the mistake and corrected the problem. In both cases, the call ended up being longer than it needed to be and, instead of leaving me satisfied that it was corrected, it left me feeling angry and frustrated because I had to go through so much to fix a simple problem.

There have been a few other issues this week as well. Any one of them alone would not be a big deal, but the combined effect of them all together has left me wondering if there’s anyone left to trust.

Businesses, big and small, need to learn that integrity is the most important thing they have. If they sacrifice that, they may earn a few extra dollars for a little while, but in the long run, they lose so much more.

Okay, rant over!

Any pet peeves bothering you lately? I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to use the comment section and rant away!

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July 19

To Hell With Niches, Blog Your Passion!

Have you ever read something or been told something that sucked the life right out of your dreams?

I seem to get that a lot, especially from well-meaning friends and family members who think they’re sparing me a lot of wasted time and hard work. Or maybe they think a little disappointment up front will hurt a lot less than a big failure down the line. Whatever the reason, I get sick of hearing it.

Something else I get sick of hearing about is niches, especially from bloggers who encourage you to pick a niche, just not their niche.

I recently came across this post, Blogging About Blogging: Fair Warning, where the author linked to and commented on another post, Stop Blogging About Blogging Already. The point of both posts was to discourage new bloggers from blogging about blogging, a niche they claim is saturated and much too difficult for a new blogger to break into. Ironically, both of these bloggers happen to blog about blogging and if you take a few minutes to read through some of the content on each blog, you’ll quickly find that they each write pretty much the same thing, as do many other bloggers on blogging.

The funny thing is… I like and subscribe to both sites. I also subscribe to Problogger and many others, all blogs about blogging, even though they say a lot of the same stuff. Why? Because they each have a different voice, a different way of presenting the same thing and I like being able to compare ideas, to read different viewpoints. The blogger’s personality draws me in as much or more than the content itself. That’s what keeps me coming back. That’s what I love about blogs. They’re not just information dumps. They’re people. Fascinating, exciting people.

According to Ambrose Bierce “there is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.” There are also a lot of wonderful voices we haven’t yet heard. Yours is one of them.

My advice to new bloggers is to find your passion and blog about it. If you’re passionate about blogging, love blogging more than anything in the world and want to pass that passion on to others, than blog about it! Don’t worry if your niche is saturated. Put your voice out there and be heard. You might have to work a little harder than you would in another niche, but if you’re passionate about it, it won’t matter. You’ll be doing what you love and that passion will show through on your blog.

Be who you are and don’t let anyone steal the life out of your dreams.

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July 12

Book Review: Blogging For Fame and Fortune

Blogging For Fame and Fortune CoverHave you ever tried to read a book and been stopped, not by poor content, but by poor editing?

That’s the problem I’ve had with reading Blogging for Fame and Fortune by Jason R. Rich. I’m about halfway through chapter 4 out of 14 chapters and I just can’t seem to get into it. I’ve leafed through it quite a bit and there appears to be some great information there. I just can’t read it. There are too many spelling and grammar errors. I’ve found as many as four of them on a single page.

The name of the publisher is Entrepreneur Press. I’ve looked at their website and they seem to have a variety of books published, but not having read any of them, I have no idea if the editing issue is a problem with this book alone or an issue with the publisher in general.

All I know is a potentially great book has been ruined by poor editing and it’s a shame.

If, unlike me, you’re the type of person who can read a good book in spite of poor editing and you’re interested in starting a new blog or improving an existing blog, you might find this book very helpful. There is plenty of information on how to get started, how to drive traffic to your blog and how to start making money.

One thing this book does not promise you is a quick trip to fame and fortune. The author makes it clear that blogging for fame and fortune takes time and hard work. I give the author credit for that. There are too many books and other information products out there promising instant internet fortune without lifting a finger. It’s refreshing to find an author who tells you the truth about what it takes to succeed without crushing your dream of getting there.

If you’re going to read this book, that’s a pretty good reason to do so.

I’d like to hear what you think.

  • Have you read this book? Did you like it?
  • Do you have trouble reading books with lots of errors?

I’ve told you What Ven Thinks. Please leave a comment and tell me what YOU think.

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June 19

Blog Review: Blogging Without A Blog

Reading blogs on the internet is a lot like panning for gold. You have to sift through a lot of grit and sand to find the good stuff. If you don’t give up, you’ll find a lot of gold flakes that make the search worthwhile. Every once in a while, you get lucky and find a gold nugget.

Blogging Without A BlogBlogging Without A Blog is one of those gold nuggets.

The blog is written by Barbara Swafford. She describes herself as a wife, mother and grandmother who created the blog as a place to record the lessons she’s learned from blogging. In the process, she has built so much more. She has created a community of wonderful people who come there, not only to learn from Barbara, but to share their own thoughts and lives as well.

Although I recognize the WordPress theme used for the design, it is a perfect fit for her site. It flows well and is laid out to make it easy to find whatever you are searching for. Anything not found on the front page can be found by using the search bar on the pen in the upper right corner or via the links along the top of the page.

Best of all is the content. Barbara’s posts are both informative and thought-provoking. They are well written and posted often enough to keep you coming back for more yet far enough apart to give you time to think about and respond to each one. The “assignments” at the end of each post encourage her readers to do just that. I have yet to find a post that wasn’t followed by a lively discussion between Barbara and her followers, all of them insightful and informative on their own. It is obvious that Barbara cares about each of the visitors to her blog.

I was somewhat disappointed to find it no longer possible to post your blog to her blog registry, since the comments section for posting has been closed. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve found just as many wonderful blogs from links in the comments as I would have by looking in the directory, maybe even more so. Reading the comments allows me to see the writer’s personality, peaking my curiosity, much more than a simple directory listing would.

Thanks to Barbara’s wonderful site, I’ve found many wonderful blogs to read. Now if I can only find the time to read them all!

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