Waking up in a Libertarian US of A

Tossing and turning in a fever induced dream state, I dreamt that the US had become the Libertarian Utopia that I have read about. This is the summary:

Joe Conservative wakes up in the morning and goes to the bathroom. He flushes his toilet and brushes his teeth, mindful that each flush & brush costs him about 43 cents to his privatized water provider. His wacky, liberal neighbor keeps badgering the company to disclose how clean and safe their water is, but no one ever finds out. Just to be safe, Joe Conservative boils his drinking water.

Joe steps outside and coughs–the pollution is especially bad today, but the smokiest cars are the cheapest ones, so everyone buys ‘em. Joe Conservative checks to make sure he has enough toll money for the 3 different private roads he must drive to work. There is no public transportation, so traffic is backed up and his 10 mile commute takes an hour.

On the way, he drops his 12 year old daughter off at the clothing factory she works at. Paying for kids to go to private school until they’re 18 is a luxury, and Joe needs the extra income coming in. Times are hard and there’re no social safety nets.

He gets to work 5 minutes late and misses the call for Christian prayer, and is immediately docked by his employer. He is not feeling well today, but has no health insurance, since neither his employer nor his government provide it, and paying for it himself is really expensive, since he has a precondition. He just hopes for the best.

Joe’s workday is 12 hours long, because there is no regulation over working hours, and Joe will lose his job if he complains or unionizes. Today is an especially bad day. Joe’s manager demands that he work until midnight, a 16 hour day. Joe does, knowing that he’ll lose his job if he does not.

Finally, after midnight, Joe gets to pick up his daughter and go home. His daughter shows him the deep cut she got on the industrial sewing machine today. Joe is outraged and asks why she doesn’t have metal mesh gloves or other protection. She says the company will not provide it and she’ll have to pay for it out of her own pocket. Joe looks at the wound and decides they’ll use an over the counter disinfectant and bandages until it heals. She’ll have a scar, but getting stitches at the emergency room is expensive.

His daughter also complains that the manager made suggestive overtures towards her. Joe counsels her to be a “good girl” and not rock the boat, or she’ll get fired and they’ll be out the income.

His daughter says she can’t wait until she’s 18 so she can vote for change or go to the Iraq War.

They get home and there’s a message from his elderly father who can’t afford to pay his medical or heating bills. Joe can hear him coughing and shivering.

Joe turns on the radio and the top story is a proposal in Congress to raise the voting age to 25. A rare liberal opinionator states that it’s an attempt to keep power out of the hands of working class Americans. The conservative host immediately quashes him, calling him “a utopian idealist,” and agreeing that people aren’t mature enough to make good choices until they’re at least 25.

Joe chuckles at the wine-swilling, cheese eating liberal egghead and thinks, “Thank God I live in America where I have freedom!”

Fortunately, I awoke and the world was normal.

Powerpoint HELL

Powerpoint HellNext week we have a sales meeting, and I have three hours of presentations scheduled (since I had control of the schedule, I was able to not do 15 hours of presentations in 3 days like the last meeting). Naturally, I am way behind on preparations. This is no surprise. So I am working the weekend.

But why is it that it takes at least 15 – 20 hours to prepare the slides for 3 hours? I swear it isn’t so much that I have to create from whole cloth, but most is repurposed, and reused. But it still takes five to seven times the time it takes to present to prepare.

Sigh, the life of a mid level product marketing person.

Service Review – Capitol Honda

This is the email I sent to Capitol Honda in response to their badgering me to rate my service experience excellent. I thought I would share it. I already posted it as a review on Yelp.

Perhaps you should not have emailed me.

Having recently moved from Arizona to California, and needing a minor service, as well as obtaining a smog test to register my S2000, I booked an appointment at your dealership. While my car is long out of warranty (and even the extended warranty), in Arizona I had great experience with the two dealers I went to, Dobbs Honda in Tucson, and San Tan Honda in Gilbert.  My experience at Capitol Honda was not so shining.

Going in for a minor service, something I have come to expect to be in the $75 range, I was shocked at the first estimate shown by the service advisor. Still, I needed service so I just signed the form. If I recall, the initial estimate with the smog check was on the order of $275. I can’t say exactly what it was, because I didn’t get to keep a copy of that estimate. I was told to expect the service to be done around 9:30. A little longer than I had become accustomed to, but not an issue. I had also mentioned that the keyless remotes for my Honda factory security system (installed shortly after I bought the car) were non functional, and that I would like the system fixed. I was also told that there would be a 10% discount applied to the total.

About 9:00 while I was waiting in your “lounge” my cell phone rang. It was the service advisor, who was urging me to change transmission fluid, and differential fluid.  I was a little hesitant, but he was insistent. I should point out that since the day I bought my S2000, it had been takes solely to a Honda dealer, and had the recommended service done at every interval.  Additionally, he mentioned that there was some leakage on the battery, and that it would cost $60.00 to clean up. Not quite sure how a little water and baking soda, plus a dab of petroleum jelly and 5 minutes of work justifies $60, but by that time I just wanted to be done with the experience. The service advisor then advised me that the normal troubleshooting of the remotes failed to identify any obvious issues (like dead batteries). If I was interested in the technician diagnosing it, it would be $125 an hour.  I declined that.

At about 11:30 I get the call that the work is done. The total was a little over $580, and numbly I paid.

The real disappointment, and the reason why I will not be returning to your establishment, EVER, is around the security system. The service advisor mentioned that since there was another S2000 in the shop, the technician programmed and verified that those key fobs worked. I was stunned, because he should know that the Honda factory alarm system uses different remotes, that are tied to the central unit, and that while the standard fobs would still lock and unlock the doors, they are not activating and clearing the alarm. The conclusion by your technician and your service advisor was that I just needed new remotes. Oh, and for a mere $307 each, plus a small programming fee, they would be happy to supply them to me. Of course a simple internet search shows that I can buy them for $120 each, and programming them is trivial, so the price quoted, even with the promised 10% discount is a complete rip-off.

As if this wasn’t enough, to find out that Capitol Honda doesn’t have a car wash facility on premise, and that the customer (who just spent close to $600) is given a voucher for a local carwash, I can tell you it was a challenge to not laugh in the service advisors’ face. Additionally, I would like to comment on the “lounge”. I do not expect Honda to have the opulence that you expect in a Lexus dealership, but clearly, Honda doesn’t have standards of what is expected of dealers. In Arizona, the lounges were large, with plenty of comfortable seating, some private work areas, coffee and fresh pastries. In general, they were places you didn’t mind spending a couple of hours at.  Your lounge, is small, uncomfortable, and lacking comfortable seating. It is almost as if you do not want people to wait for service, and to push them to your shuttles or the local businesses.

For these reasons, I can assure you that I will never set foot into your dealership again. Clearly I had become spoiled by dealers in Arizona who felt compelled to offer as good of service as the independent shops, and to compete on price, yet differentiate with amenities. I guess I will be looking for a quality independent shop. Fortunately, the S2000 club tells me of several outstanding local shops who will take as good, or better care of my S2000.

To add the icing on the cake. On Sunday afternoon, I received a phone call from the service advisor to “remind me” to rate him excellent. Bothering me on a weekend is an unforgivable sin.