She's Spoken

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Archive for opinion

Customer Service?

I remember growing up that when my mother and I went shopping customer service was important. The employees at the establishments we frequented were decimated to helping their customer base, they smiled and greeted us and they were genuine in their interactions with us. Now, I am not sure if anyone knows what customer service really is. As consumers we have be taken advantage of, lied too, left in hold for 20 minutes at a time, over charged and the list goes on. Recently Verizon was hit with a huge a fine in the realm of $50 million according to some reports. Money they owe their customers for mis-billed data charges. The fact that the number even reach that much means that the mis-billing took place over a period of time.

Having ben a former Verizon customer I am aware of many of the issues that riddled that company. So, what I want to do is this: I am creating a list of the top four companies that have delivered repeatedly poor customer service and I will detail how they failed to make the mark. If you have companies please feel free to comment and add them along with the details.

1.) Verizon – Long Hold Times. Over Billing. Uninformed Customer Service Representatives.

2.) T-Mobile – Huge Account Errors. Long Hold Times. MIsinformed by Representative. Service Interruption Errors.

3.) Citibank -Clueless Representatives. Malicious Account Restrictions. Failure to Provide Service. Lied to by Representative.

4.) Wal-Mart – Ignored by Associates. Long Lines. Failure to Complete Transactions. Clueless and Unwilling Associates. Misinformation Given.

 

Death of Interpersonal Communiction!

It’s 7:52am and I can guarantee you that at least 75% of the school aged kids with cell phones have texted, update their status or played a game on their phone or other mobile device already. The sad reality is that as parents we are buying them these devices that allow them to ignore their educational instruction, preoccupy their time with gossip and nonsense, and that promote the decline of interpersonal communications. Our children are learning that instant is the way to go. These adolescences are bashing each other via text message, or spill intimate and hurtful details about one and other via Facebook and MySpace updates. They are exposing their personal information and depicting inappropriate pictures and information about themselves to people they don’t know.

Even more disturbing is the number of inappropriate and compromising photos of girls, and in some cases young boys that are posted on these social networking platforms. Even sadder than that is the number of you parents who have no clue what your child is really up too. Is there really a need for the cell that you bought them to do anything more than place a call? Is there a reason that the MP3 player’s that you’re buying them have to do anything more than play music? I don’t think so. We are giving our children way too much free reign. We are widening the area of public exposure to predators and lessen out safety nets by giving the access to all this instant content and these social networks. We have rules in my house, we have boundaries and we have family time. When was the last time you had a dinner that was text message free, IPod free? Or even altogether as a family unit? Think about it, I’ll wait….Really people we are helping to incite the decline of the family unit and promoting harmful and distasteful social behaviors? Get to know your children, ask those questions, check text messages, check up on them, use parental controls to limit their internet access, and more importantly spend some time with them. Get them a real hobby, something like sports, music, drama, band, volunteering, or a summer job.

Stop giving them so much alone time, so much cyber-time, and stop promoting physical anti-social behavior. It is our job to protect our children and to teach our children and we can’t possibly be teaching them anything that is valuable or productive when they spend an average of 6-8 hours a day Facebooking, MySpacing and text messaging. Where is there room for anything else?

How large is your child’s Social Networking Footprint?

I have read a few a good stories her lately about cyber-bullying and the devastating effects it seems to have on mostly young girls. In both the cases I read the families are alleging their children’s deaths were caused by other online goers. My question is this, why did these children have so much exposure to the internet? To social networking sites that clearly have age limits that are often broken and side stepped? I am not saying that the families caused these suicides or that he bullies were completely innocent just that all parties need to be held equally responsible. Too many teens have cells phones, iPods, netbooks, and other mobile devices that have web access and this leaves them open for constant exposure to this social networking sites and other mostly inappropriate internet arenas.

Instead of paying attention in class these kids are updating their Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace pages as often as they breathe. Children today have too much free and instant access to way too many social venues and not all the children with access are emotionally, intellectually, or psychologically fit enough to be engaging in activities hosted at these sites. Bullies are nothing new; they are as old as the institution of uniform education. But the avenues change and as parents we need to be more aware. I mean these kids aren’t buying their own cell phones or paying their own internet bills. We as parents have to take more measures to check our children’s social networking footprint. If half of you checked your child’s current Facebook or MySpace status you would be very shocked if not mortified. The lack of communication that exists is astronomical. We have to be more aware and take advantage of parental controls. If you allow usage of social forums monitor pages, have access and check it often. If you see red flags shut it down.

In one case the mother admitted to experiencing some red flags, which should have been enough. She saw some of the cruel messages that were being posted; she should have stopped the access immediately. Nothing positive could come from those messages. Even more so on the flip side parents of bullies you should be more proactive and less reactive in terms of your children too. You know when your child’s mood changes or if their aggression levels change, you hear the comments about peers and you see the little things. STOP ignoring them. You have the ability to stop things like these suicides before they occur. Blaming others does not restore life. Monitoring initiatives should be proactive not vice versa.  Death should not be the cause of responsible parental action or the introduction of civil measures of protections. We have to do all that we can to protect our children, to make sure that they are exposed to the right types of attention and social forums. Use those parental blockers and stop being afraid to ask questions, check social forums, access text messages, and when necessary cut access to these arenas. You are responsible for your children’s safety. In some cases it is us that is enabling these harmful forms of communications and obsessive and constant access by supplying our kids with the latest and what is raved as the greatest Technology. Children DON’T NEED INTERNET ACCESS ON A CELL PHONE! CHILDREN DON’T NEED LAPTOPS IN THEIR BEDROOMS AND WE NEED TO MONITOR MORE!

Stop Procreating…

I have come to the conclusion after reviewing the current data available regarding child abuse cases, number of young mothers and my own recent run-in that not all women deserve children, just as not all men are good fathers. I am especially perturbed at these women who continue to procreate knowing that they are far under equipped emotionally and financially to do so. Yet they continue to lie on their backs and engage in unprotected sexual acts that create these innocent children will suffer due to their lack of parental skills and lack of means to support them. As a result of the mom’s deficiencies many of these children are abused, neglected, or even in some cases just dropped off at the local child protective services office. Well, news flash ladies, birth-control and contraceptives do exist. I also hear that abstinence works well too or perhaps maybe a surgical procedure that will help eliminate the possibility of you ever rearing children again.

We have so many children suffering and in foster care because their parents failed them miserably. The only losers in this situation are the innocent children. I am a firm believer that this country needs to reevaluate its birthing regulations. What I am going to say will offend some of you, maybe even many of you but it’s worth that risk. I think that women in the following categories: single-mothers, repeat conceivers, mothers under 21, first time mothers and mothers with a drug and alcohol abuse history should be REQUIRED as part of their prenatal care to take parenting and substance abuse classes where appropriate. They have classes on breastfeeding and bottle making but nothing on how to raise your children.

There are too many children out there joining gangs because they lack a sense of familial belonging, killing women because of their motherly issues, and just running a mock because their parental unit has given up or refuses to perform the task of raising her children. These women receive state aid, but no parenting or structure classes. They should be required to take parenting and proper punishment classes. I also believe in some cases counseling is necessary and should be undergone.  Here are some stats, and if after reading these you still disagree then maybe you and I should have a one-on-one. According to the department of Child Welfare there are approximately 1,760 child DEATHS caused by abuse or neglect, and that was as of 2007. In addition, of that number 34% were the direct result of abuse or neglect.  There are over 3 MILLION REPORTED cases of child abuse each year. In 2008 there were 463,000 children in foster care according to the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, and of those 463,000 kids 47% were placed in none relative foster care homes, 10% in facilities and 6% in group-homes. Those numbers are much higher today, about 600,000. There are 4 million US births each year, and of those births about 425,000 are teens ages 15 to 19! Even more alarming is that 40% of those births are new mothers. The U.S. Census indicated that 7.4 million children were living with single moms that were unemployed or simply just not in the labor force. That is just sad. This means that you and I are supporting these kids. We are able to contribute financially to what we hope is there well-being but, we are not good enough to have our say so in ensuring that they are raised to be productive and successful citizens? So, we are essentially funding lazy, unemployed, baby-making, neglectful mothers? I am not okay with that. I think we need to review our welfare system and our birthing regulations altogether.

 ** Census stats can be retrieved from: http://www.census.gov/prod/3/97pubs/cb-9701.pdf

Child Abuse stats were retrieved from: http://www.childhelp.org/resources/learning-center/statistics & http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/fatality.cfm#children

 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services data retrieved from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/tar/report16.htm **

Food for Thought…

We as people have to be more cognoscente of the choices we make and the true impact they may have on the lives of those who love us. Until recently I never looked at some of the situations I have been in as a direct result of other’s choices, but rather as a matter of happenstance. My mother chose to abuse drugs and later in her life alcohol, and as a result of her habits she became unable to care for us which lead to the state stepping in and removing us from our home. Her choice to abuse drugs and alcohol had tremendous consequences for not only her but for her children as well. I was forced to make choices regarding situations that I had been placed in due to her addiction. In her abuse she took away my option to choose what direction I wanted to go in in certain facets of my life. Her choices of yesterday had lasting effects on my life years after the fact.

Did she realize that? I am sure she didn’t, and that right there is the problem with the world today. There is a young lady that I work with that always tells me that I am methodical in my decision making process, and until she said that I never thought about it. The fact of the matter is that I don’t have the right to make choices for other people. When I make irresponsible choices that affect others in essence that is exactly what I am doing. Now, granted that I cannot foresee the future and have no way of knowing the true scope of my actions. Never-the-less, I can make sure that I am methodical and responsible in my arriving at whatever decision I do finally make. I can exercise the best judgment possible so that I minimize any potentially negative impacts I may have on the lives of my loved ones. If we all learned to be more selfless and less selfish the world would really be a better place. Having free will to choose is a tremendous human feature, we owe it to our creator, to our families, our friends and our world to do a better job of exercising our free will. Reckless regard for others is over rated and selfish. Our choices have tangible and psychological effects that are transferred to others. Let’s try to make decisions that limit any potentially adverse effects to ourselves.

Black Women – Yes you. let it go!

 I was frequenting a blog that has produced many posts that have intrigued me and even inspired a few of my posts when I came across an article and of course at the end of most posts there are the reader comments. It was in one of those comments that I found the fuel for this post. I am going to admit that this post is geared toward black women, not for any reason other than the fact that the issue I am about to discuss mainly takes residence in our community and in our households. There was a young that left a comment almost shaming another young lady for praising the positive black male role model see had her life. Somehow the author of this particular comment felt that positive account of the other young ladies experiences with black men where a direct attack on the many women who had bad experiences with black men.

Here it is, black women you have to understand a few things. There are good God fearing black men out there. There are black men who do right by their children, their family, they work hard and they are respectful. Please do not discount them all because of a few bad experiences. See, I am guilty of making blanket generalizations too. However, I realize that not all black men fit the bill that many of the one’s I have encountered do. Holding onto hate and anger only makes the soul grow bitter and dye young. Here is the thick of it. Do you realize that the company you keep is a reflection of you, of your morals, of your beliefs, of your social acceptance level? That means that if you are finding these men that are not taking care of their business, then honey neither are you. If you find yourself with the same type of man over and over again, at some point you have to take ownership of your participation and then and only then can you request better and only then will you get better.

We call them lying and cheating dogs, but we take them back. So why are we angry at them? Why are we not taking any personal accountability? We have to own our words and our actions. If the people around us are behaving in ways that we are uncomfortable with and that are counterproductive to where we are headed we have to cut ties. Often times we hold on because we don’t want to be alone, or we think we don’t know any better, or because we believe that we have this innate power to change the plight of a man. That is wrong; you cannot make anyone do right. We have to understand that change is a self-initiated action.  We have choices to make, and we continue to make ones that place us in the role of a victim, in a position where we feel trapped. Take that power back, say enough and let go of hate. Let go of the anger you have for the father that walked out, the baby daddy’s that are good for nothing, for the abusive men that were in and out of your life, for all the negative associations you have had with black men. When you do that you will grow, you will change, and most importantly you will be in total control of your life. You will have reclaimed your power. As long as you foster ill feelings and recollect on all the negatives you will never have enough cognitive space left to process the good, much less realize a good thing. Holding onto to what’s behind you keeps your hands full, and you can’t possibly grab what’s in front of you if your hands are full of the past. I’m not saying that what you went through was your fault, or that it should be discounted, or that you shouldn’t be hurt. I’m saying let it go, move on and live well. Black women do deserve better, but you can only have better when you are better.

Please believe that there are black men out there that are worthless, but there are Mexican men, white men, Puerto Rican men and so many others and they are worthless too. There are deadbeat dads in every shade you can think of. I am sorry if the man that was supposed to coddle you walked out, if you never knew your father or if you were abused. I want through it all too, but you know what the whole time that I kept holding onto those experiences the more I begin to whittle away. I didn’t realize that the people I was allowing into my life were people that I thought I could help, people I could change. I wanted to control the situation; I wanted to make people better. But it didn’t fix anything, all it did was perpetuate the cycle and frustrate me more because I was trying to fix old issues I had with particular family figures with substitutes. I kept finding people who used me up, people who angered me or people that I could control and I thought that I could eventually change. It was not until I experienced two unfortunate and permanent events that I realized I was allowing my soul to be consumed by negativity and bitterness and years had passed me by. No man in life was good enough, no friend loyal enough and nothing made me happy. I was incapable of happiness because there was literally no room. Forgive them what they had done to you, forgive there past transgression. Not every man will treat you the way he did. Please let go! When you do your whole world changes, this I PROMISE YOU!

Social Security -Sorry, I meant IOU.

If you’re like many Americans you can’t wait for the glory days. The planting of your garden, vacations with the prospective grandchildren, that national road trip, and some traveling abroad. Wait- not if social security is your only means of retirement income. The latest numbers indicate that like every other facet of our economic structure social security is in grave danger. As the 77 million or so baby boomers reach retirement age and as the job market continues to rain down pick-slips like torrential down pours, more and more people are requesting to draw their social security benefits. That maybe fine for them, but for you and me that spells disaster. The government estimates that by 2037 the fund maybe completely depleted unless legislative action and an overhaul are undergone. Unless that takes place you and I will both be the victims of government IOU’s that will forever remain outstanding.

 

This year and for the next few years to come the social security administration will have to pay out more in benefits than it collected, and in doing so they will have try to begin collection on the IOU’s that the federal government has so candidly issued. With layoffs at every corner social security is not experiencing the same financial participation that it once did. This spells benefit shortfalls and potential depletion. All that we have contributed; all that we have worked for is actually in the process of depletion. Without a strategic economic plan there simply will not be any social security for us to look forward to. The sad situation is that those who do see benefit payouts will have to learn to sustain themselves on a monthly income of about $1,200! That’s about what I spend on 4 months of groceries. How can a nation that is so proud and so strong allow for such a huge financial blunder? We pay exactly 6.2 percent in social security taxes on our wages up to around $106,000 and that number is matched by our employer, which means if you earn $30,000/yr. you are paying $1,860 in social security taxes. If you sustain that income for a period of 25 years you have paid in, $46,500 and you are only getting a fraction of that if you’re lucky.

 

The lesson here people is we need to get smart; we need to resort to the days of stuffing our mattresses’ and cookie jar hiding. With the markets the way they are and banks immerging and falling there are very few safe places to grow a nest egg. I am urging you to take a good hard look at your financial future. Take hold of it not only for your sake, but for the sake of your children and grandchildren. A simple savings of $100.00/mo. adds up to $1200.00 a year. If at the minimum you saved only that $100.00 a month for the next 25 working years you will have saved yourself, $30,000. While the numbers looks like something more in line with a year’s hard earned salary, it is about 2 ½ years social security. Now, put that away in a Roth IRA or some other account and now you’ve done yourself a financial service. The days of government bailouts and dependency are over, we are facing a national deficit in the trillions and it is going to take years to pay that off. Our debts internationally have also grown and funds are being, “barrowed” from federally promised retirement funds such as civil service and military pensions. Do the research, check the math and save your future.