Sunday, April 24, 2011

Southwest Airlines and Their Lack of Customer Service

I went out of town for my birthday this past week. I flew Southwest. I was impressed with their ability to be on time and their decent customer service. However, when I returned to PDX, my boyfriend asked "did you realize you're missing a wheel?" I said that I hadn't and that we needed to go talk to Southwest. It just so happens that a Southwest employee was right behind us and he walked us over to their desk.

The Southwest employee, Josh, said that it isn't likely I will get anything from Southwest. Exterior damage isn't covered by their policies. He got my information and handed me a Damage Report Receipt form that essentially said that they have no intention of covering my damaged bag.
Josh even went as far to claim that if they covered all damaged bags that Southwest would be broke and I stated "well that isn't true". He admitted it was an exaggeration. I pointed out that the cost of losing a customer is a lot more than the cost of covering damaged luggage. Nothing I said swayed him and he made it clear that it is a policy that he has no control over. The Damage Report Receipt begins with:

Southwest airlines would first like to apologize for the inconvenience that this situation may have caused you. Based on the information you have provided, and in accordance with Southwest Airlines' Contract of Carriage and Company policy, it appears that Southwest Airlines is not liable for your loss. You may view Southwest Airlines' Contract of Carriage by visiting

Searching for "Contract of Carriage" on Southwest Airlines' websites led me to this pdf:

On this document, it states under Limitations of Liability (I edited it for wordiness and removed details that aren't relevant to my situation):
The liability, if any, of Carrier for damage to Checked Baggage and/or its contents, is limited to the proven amount of damage or loss, but in no event shall be greater than $3,300.00 per fare-paying Passenger...
Carrier will compensate the Passenger for reasonable, documented damages incurred as a direct result of the damage to Baggage up to the limit of liability, provided the Passenger has exercised reasonable efforts and good judgment to minimize the amount of damage. Actual value for reimbursement of damaged property shall be determined by the documented original purchase price less depreciation for prior usage.

However, if you continue reading, it states:

Normal Wear. Carrier assumes no responsibility and will not be liable for loss of or damage to protruding parts of luggage and other articles of Checked Baggage, including, but not limited to, wheels, feet, pockets, hanger hooks, pull handles, straps, zippers, locks, and security straps. Furthermore, Carrier assumes no liability for defects in Baggage manufacture or for minor damage arising from normal wear and tear, such as cuts, scratches, scuffs, stains, dents, punctures, marks, and dirt.

Does the damage look minor to? The damage isn't just to the protruding parts. The wheel isn't just gone, there is a good-sized hole where the wheel once was. I am very fortunate that no small items were in the bottom of my bag.

I've completed the first step that passengers must complete for a damage luggage claim. Josh did attach my baggage claim check to the document he printed for me. The rest of this is wordy but includes the steps that I have to take (I only edited it to shorten the document to relevant info):
(i) Passenger must notify Carrier of the claim and receive a Baggage report number not later than four hours after either: the arrival of the flight on which damage is alleged to have occurred or receipt of the Baggage; and,
(ii) In all cases, Passenger must submit  a written correspondence that includes the Baggage report number to the Carrier not later than 21 days after the occurrence of the event giving rise to the claim...
The Damage Receipt mentions that if I believe that the local office (i.e. Josh) made a mistake then I have 21 days to appeal it. I need to mail the Damage Receipt document, baggage claim check (Southwest attaches it to the envelope that holds your ticket), airline ticket receipt, and any other information I want to include.

On Monday, I intend to make a copy of the Damage Report Receipt, print photos of the damage, and mail it with delivery confirmation.

Part 2 Southwest Airlines: My Letter

Part 3 Southwest Airlines: Their Reply

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kickstarter - Funding for Artists

Kickstarter is an ingenious concept for funding creative projects. Artists submit a project that needs funding and Kickstarter provides the avenue for funding. An artist submits their video and project, then backers make donations and receive rewards. If the project doesn't reach its goal, then the backers pay nothing and the artist gets nothing.

Portland musician, Kelli Schaefer, reached her goal and received funding to release a full-length album.

With this artist, I am hugely biased because she is my sister. However, I know she is a talented artist and her eco-friendly stationery is of a high quality. She needs to reach her goal by Sunday night to receive funding for her new product line.

Kickstarter is a great idea and useful for artists seeking funding. It would be fantastic if they branched out to fund other, entrepreneurial projects. Entrepreneurs need to stick together and help each other out.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Job postings that aren't what they seem

In the past week, I've received numerous emails from Career Network

The first email stated:

Hello Bethany,

I have recently reviewed your resume online and believe you would make a great addition to our company.  We are currently looking to hire an individual in the Beaverton area who has previous human resources experience. If you would be interested in applying for the position please fill out the application at the link below:

Human Resources Position

The position requires that you have advanced computer skills, can communicate information in a clear and simple format and have the ability to solve problems in a timely manner.  The expected starting annual income is $35,000 and up.

Thank you,

Beth Lynch
Regional Hiring Manager
This seems like a perfectly legitimate email but I have no idea who this person is and there is no mention of the company that is hiring. The email made me wary and I googled the company name followed by the word "scam". The fact that there were numerous results made it clear something was fishy. I went back to look at the email again and noticed that below the signature (where most of us don't really look) was the following:

This is a Career Network Feature Job which acts as a job aggregator for one or more positions. Please refer to the feature job link on the application for more details.
If you look at the job posting carefully, you'll see that it is called a "feature job". What does that mean according to their terms and conditions?

Feature Jobs.  The job description appearing on the prior screen is a description of a Feature Job. A Feature Job is not an actual job. Rather, it constitutes a representative description of actual jobs contained on the Career Network's web site that you can apply for once you have completed Career Networks' Job Application. Upon completion of the Job Application screens, you will be taken to a screen that contains job descriptions of employer posted jobs, and you will be able to elect which jobs, if any, you want to apply for. You application will automatically be sent to the employer whose job is listed.

I have not determined whether there are any real job postings if I submit my application. I don't feel comfortable applying to a company that has job postings that aren't real.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to handle layoffs: Employees

As an employee who has been laid off, I know the impact of a lay off on the bank account and emotional state. Here are tips on how to handle being laid off.
  1. It's not you. In this economy, great employees are getting laid off. Do not assume that your being laid off is your fault, it isn't.
  2. Don't take it personally. The economic status of the country is impacting everyone (including the people who claim that it isn't impacting them) and it isn't just you.
  3. You are not your job. Men tend to take a lay off harder than women because they are more likely to intertwine their job and self worth (this is based on a study somewhere and isn't based on my opinion alone). I know my ego took a hit when I was laid off.
  4. Don't burn bridges. Keep in mind that you need good references and do not burn bridges. Don't start complaining about the company or gossiping about employees. Try to keep your head held high.
  5. Ask for references. Directly ask for references from your supervisor, their boss, and coworkers... or anyone else you worked with. Ask for a phone number and email address. Make sure you know their exact job title.
  6. Ask for letters of recommendation. At the least, ask your direct supervisor for a letter of recommendation. They might say no but there is no harm in asking.
  7. Stay connected. You don't want to lose the network you've created at the company. They might know about open positions within the industry.
  8. Immediately request for unemployment. Do not assume you will immediately get a new job and end up searching for months and months without unemployment. Signing up for unemployment doesn't mean that you failed, it's just designed to help while you look for a new position.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Do's and Don't's of Business Wear: women

Business professional:
  1. Wear a suit. Business professional means that you should wear a suit. This can either be a skirt set or pant set.
  2. Suit colors - black, grey, or khaki. Color options are limited with the color of the suit but the blouse or shell underneath can be nearly any color. There is also the option of a navy suit but it looks a bit outdated to me.
  3. Conservative vs. modern. For a more conservative look then stick with the common styles but if you want something a bit more modern there are wide variety of options. Just be cautious with more modern looks, so as to not lose the professionalism.

Business Casual:
  1. Blazer or sweater. Always wear either a sweater or a blazer. There is always the option to remove this layer at work, if your blouse underneath is work appropriate. A blazer always makes an outfit more professional. Even on hot days another layer may be necessary due to excessive air conditioning.
  2. Keep shoulders covered. I'm a believer in keeping your shoulders covered. This removes any issue of your bra straps showing. There is also the concern of showing your bra in the underarm area. More casual offices may be more lax on this. If you choose to wear anything that is sleeveless, then it is necessary that you have a sweater or blazer available. 
  3. Clothing options - trousers, skirts, or dresses. Business casual allows for a greater variety of clothing options. If you want a more clean look, then choose clothes with clean lines that are well tailored. In other words, flowy summer dresses are less professional.
  4. No miniskirts. Skirts and dresses should reach the knee or meet right above the knee. You shouldn't be worried about your underwear showing at work.
  5. No cleavage. There is a time and a place for a bit more risque clothing but that is not at work. There are a variety of camisoles available that can be layered underneath most clothes. It's also a good idea to wear camisoles under a blouse. I recently went to a job interview and realized, afterward, that my blouse was see-through in certain lighting. Oops.
For more ideas on business wear, visit my Polyvore account:

    Are you ready for spring?

    A little bit of spring in businesswear

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Business Communications: Online (part 2)

    Emails and online correspondence are becoming more common everyday. As with all communication, there are rules that need to be followed. A person should be constantly aware of what image they are presenting in all business correspondence.

    1. NO SHOUTING. Typing in all capital letters is considered shouting. It should never be used in any business correspondence, unless it is an abbreviation. Acceptable example: ASAP. Unacceptable example: TURN THAT IN NOW. It is simply considered rude.
    2. Avoid chatspeak/netspeak. Business correspondences should not include terms that were invented in chat rooms or for texting. It is unprofessional and may confuse or offend your recipient. All correspondences should use correct grammar and sentence structure. Unacceptable example: lol, gtg, omg. 
    3. No smiley faces. Smiley faces fit under the last category but sometimes sending a smiley face can be considered friendly. One should only be sent when the person is a peer or subordinate. Don't send one to your supervisor, unless they send you one first. Avoid using anything beyond a basic smiley face. Even a wink can be misconstrued at the workplace and a digital one leaves a paper trail. Occasionally, acceptable example: :) Unacceptable example due to possible sexual connotations: ;)
    4. Reply promptly. Digital correspondences should be replied to within 24 hours. I've been known to fall behind in my replies and if this occurs, then begin your reply with an apology for your delay.
    5. Sleep on it. If you are angry with someone, then this is the one time it is acceptable to wait to reply. Do not wait more than 48 hours but give yourself time to cool down. Angry emails often sound even angrier than we intend.
    6. Include a greeting. Always begin with a greeting. Even a simple hello goes a long way. This tiny bit of extra effort goes a long way.
    7. Keep it short. Ever heard of "tl;dr"? It means "too long, didn't read". It's often said online because people do not like reading huge amounts of information online. Try to be succinct in your emails.
    8. Break it up: Paragraphs. This fits with the last tip. If you do need to send anything that fills over 1/4 of a page, then break it up into smaller paragraphs. This helps prevent any details being missed.
    9. Proofread. Before clicking "send", read over your email one last time.
    10. Reply all vs. reply. "Reply all" should be used on any team efforts. Everyone should be included in all the emails. Just double check which one you are clicking. Assume that your boss will see every email you send and use discretion in all work emails (this includes personal emails at the workplace).
    11. When in doubt, be professional. If you are unsure of the rules regarding correspondence, then err on the side of caution and be professional.
    My personal tip: When I write business emails with any important data, I first write it in a word document. When completed, I copy and paste it into the email. It's a great way to check my spelling. This also helps avoid any loss of information if my internet goes down or the page times out.

      Business Communications (part 1)

      There are certain rules to follow at all times when communicating within the business world.

      1. Double check names. Always make sure you are spelling and pronouncing names correctly. That includes business names and personal names. This seems obvious but it is often missed. When on the phone, don't be afraid to ask how to spell someone's name even if it is a common name.
      2. Unknown salutations. As business is becoming more globalized, it is becoming more difficult to tell what someone's gender is. There are also names that make it unclear, such as, Jessie. The work-around is to simply use the first and last name. Example: Dear Jessie Smith.
      3. Contact information. With the advancement of technology, there are numerous options of methods to contact people. I prefer providing both an email address and phone number on all correspondences. This allows the recipient to decide which method to reply with.
      4. Professionalism. Keep all correspondences professional. It's one thing to have small talk, but it's another to include possibly offensive material. Avoid topics regarding any protected classes or that might be construed in a negative light. In other words, pretend your conservative grandmother is going to read it. If she would turn red or consider putting soap in your mouth, then it isn't appropriate.

      Who am I? Why do my opinions matter?

      My name is Bethany and I'm a recent graduate from Portland State University. I have three bachelor degrees: human resource management, general business management, and psychology. Does that make me qualified to speak about business? That's for my readers to decide.