American Airlines: Going for Great or Going for Racial Insensitivity?; Congress Lets Banks Off the Hook. For Now; Things Aren’t Looking Sunny at Tesla Lately

Something racially insensitive in the air…

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Image courtesy of khunaspix/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some say there’s no such thing as bad publicity but I’m skeptical about that. Take for example American Airlines. The NAACP just issued an advisory cautioning African Americans about traveling on American Airlines because the organization found an alarming pattern of “disturbing incidents” by the airline where black passengers were removed from flights. And the NAACP might just be onto something since it listed four distinct incidents where African American passengers were either taken off flights or moved to other sections of the aircraft despite holding tickets for higher class cabins. The NAACP said that the incidents “suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity” which I am pretty certain counts as bad publicity no matter how you slice it. Of course, American Airlines is “disappointed” about the advisory, and not just because it looks sooooooo bad. However, it still plans to reach out to the NAACP and invite representatives to its corporate offices in Texas to discuss the situation. Of course, just like with any bad publicity, American Airlines shares are down over 2%. Rightfully so, I suppose.

Don’t bank on it…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You might not remember when, during President Obama’s presidency, a regulation was passed that allowed consumers to file class-action suits against banks.  But Congress remembered and today duly killed the regulation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was established back in July. Just. Like. That.  The rule went like so: If a consumer was unhappy with a financial product or service, think of Wells Fargo or Equifax, and wanted action and accountability from the institution, the said financial institutions could not force a consumer into mandatory arbitration. And if a consumer wanted to participate in a class-action lawsuit, they could. Financial institutions had to nix clauses in their contracts that effectively forced consumers into arbitration. Before that rule came about, consumers could not sue. Could. Not. Sue. There was no option to settle lawsuits. Dems are hopping mad because they wanted that rule to stay put arguing that it allowed consumers to hold banks and financial institutions accountable and that arbitration always seemed to go more in favor of the banks. Republicans argued that class-action suits do not benefit the consumers anyway and have the potential to greatly harm businesses that ultimately and adversely affect the economy. Consumers are no better off, they argued, whether they go through arbitration or are part of a class-action lawsuit. Republicans even cited information from a Treasury report supporting those claims.  Of course, the recent scandals at Wells Fargo and Equifax didn’t exactly help the Republicans argument. Yet miraculously, Congress still managed to put the kibosh on the rule. Consumer advocates are all over this and insist that the war is not over. Except that a key battle was just lost.

Rolling heads…

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Image courtesy of Ppiboon/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While the ranks at Tesla continue to get smaller by the hundreds following an ugly recall of 11,000 Model X SUV’s, employees at Tesla-owned SolarCity are starting to smell the stench of unemployment too.  Over 200 employees were dismissed from their jobs at SolarCity with the dismissed being told that they lost their jobs for performance reasons, or lack thereof. However,  that proved to be an awfully strange excuse considering that several of the aforementioned employees said they hadn’t even received performance reviews since Tesla acquired SolarCity last November for $2.6 billion. Things that make you go hmmm.Tesla did announce it would be firing employees from SolarCity’s Roseville, California office. And it did. Except the carnage didn’t stop there. Apparently, SolarCity employees all over the country were also fired.  As for the Roseville office, some say the office will stay open with 50 employees while others insist that the whole office is being shut down.  In any case, I’m guessing the holidays are going to be awkward this year for Elon Musk and his family since SolarCity was founded by his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive back in 2006. Critics of Musk’s plan to buy the solar company felt that it would distract the CEO from making great cars.  Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing is for sure: A lot of people are wondering how much longer it is going to be until Elon Musk finally rolls out the super-hyped but affordable Model 3.

 

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Not-So-Happy Meals; To Your Credit: Reporting Agencies (Finally) Agree to Play Nice; Ethical Corn Flakes

Just not that into you…

Image courtesy of joephotostudio/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of joephotostudio/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looks like things keep going south for the Golden Arches. McDonald’s, the world’s largest food chain and private employer, took a major hit with global sales tanking 1.7%.  Since it’s only CEO’s Steve Easterbrook’s second week on the job, no one is blaming him…yet.  While the chain’s 36,000 restaurants took a hit as whole, in Europe, sales actually went up 0.7%….for the month. Too bad things in Japan things were precipitously worse, as McDonald’s took a $186 million loss for 2014. Apparently diners there didn’t appreciate finding things in their food that weren’t supposed to be in food. China and other parts of Asia also dealt with problems, including shifty meat suppliers. McDonald’s mentioned that “consumer needs and preferences have changed” and then there’s that issue of “ongoing aggressive competitive activity.” Which is basically saying that people would rather eat someplace else, like at Panera and Chipotle, which have certainly taken big bites from McDonald’s sales. But in an effort to pump some fiscal juice back into its portfolio, customers at some 2,000 locations will get to customize their own burgers with its “Create Your Taste” program. Now if only there was a “Create Better Sales” program…

A debt of gratitude…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It all started with an investigation back in 2012 by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Actually it all started way before that when credit reporting agencies decided to make life difficult on consumers by making them jump through hoops if – heaven forbid – they had the audacity to dispute their credit reports. Following many many many complaints to the AG’s office, Schneiderman began his investigation followed by a lawsuit that led to an agreement which consumers are sure to appreciate (probably more so than the credit reporting agencies). The three biggest credit reporting agencies, also known as Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, who happen to report credit scores for a whopping 200 million Americans, have graciously agreed to behave a lot nicer and make things easier and quicker for consumers to dispute their reports. Since half of all debt reported comes from medical bills as a result of late insurance payments, the agencies will now give consumers 180 days to pay those bills. If you have other disputes, rest assured the process is about to get considerably easier. Under the new agreement, victims of fraud and identity theft should also have an easier time clearing things up. The agencies, however, were given three years to implement these new practices, so you might not want to hold your breath.

Not exactly the Oscars?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You may have never heard of Wipro but if you’re in the market for a global information and technology consulting company, you might want to remember that name, as Wipro was just named 2015’s World’s Most Ethical Company. Every year Ethisphere Institute, a business consulting firm that focuses on best business practices, puts out its own list of “most ethical companies” with Wipro claiming the top title this year. So who else made the list? Gap Inc., H&M and Levi Strauss took home the top Ethical Prizes for “Apparel.” Hasbro and Mattel made the list for the “Toys and Games” category while Google took home the top spot for “Computer Services.”  Kellogg Co. made it onto the top five most Ethical “Food and Beverage companies for the seventh time, mind you, with The Hershey Company a few spots behind it. Petco took the number two spot for “Retail” while Starbucks Coffee Company took the top spot in the “Specialty Eateries” category. For the complete list of this year’s winners click on the link http://ethisphere.com/worlds-most-ethical/wme-honorees/