Category Archives: Business News

Why Wal-Mart is bringing back greeters: Wal-Mart Greeters

Why Wal-Mart is bringing back greeters: Wal-Mart Greeters, You might once again be seeing the bright faces Walmart greeters earlier, just like founder Sam Walton intended.

Walmart is testing a pilot program in a few hundred of its approximately 4,500 stores to increase the store greeters’ door presence, in part, to decrease theft, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Three years ago, the biggest private employer moved its greeters further back into the store in what it called “action alley” — near self-checkout stations — in order to direct shoppers to open registers and perform other tasks.

“Some stores will literally move greeters to the door,” Walmart spokesman Brian Nick told ABC News.

Some of those greeters might check customer receipts as they leave, similar to what Costco does at its warehouses, Nick added.

Over time, Nick pointed out, some U.S. Walmart stores have phased out greeters, and some have done so during certain overnight hours in locations that are open 24 hours.

As part of the pilot program, the company is testing “asset protection customer specialists” who will wear yellow instead of the standard blue uniform at some stores. These staff members would help process returns at the door, perhaps scanning an item and putting a sticker on it to expedite the return process.

Walton introduced greeters in the 1980s to provide a warm welcome to customers and also deter thieves, as he mentioned in his 1992 autobiography, “Sam Walton: Made in America.” It’s a standard practice at many stores in the retail industry. Last month, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a conference call that “shrink,” which describes loss from theft or disorder, was a “key urgent agenda item this year.” It cost the company 0.13 percent from its gross profit margin.

Why Wal-Mart is bringing back greeters: Wal-Mart Greeters

4 Gas Mileage Myths You Probably Believe

4 Gas Mileage Myths You Probably Believe, The summer road-trip season is here, and according to AAA, consumers can expect to see prices to hover around last summer’s high of $3.55 and $3.70 per gallon. Can you have your fun in the sun while avoiding pain at the pump?

Increasingly, newer cars are smashing old gas-saving truisms. For instance, buying a smaller car seems like a reasonable way to achieve higher gas mileage. However, compare a subcompact like the smart fortwo, which gets 38 mpg to a Chevrolet Cruze”s 36 mpg, and it becomes clear that smaller isn’t always better. Plus, the Cruze can fit five passengers and contains 15 cubic feet of space, while the ForTwo can only squeeze two passengers in 12 cubic feet of space.

Larger, longer sedans give more room for air to flow smoothly around the car than smaller shorter models, which reduces drag while highway driving.

It was once common knowledge that manual transmissions were more efficient, but improvements to automatic transmission mean the fuel use is now often about the same. The same goes for premium gasoline. Unless a car is specifically designed for high-grade gas, the extra cash per gallon is going to go up in smoke.

If everything you thought you knew about saving money on gas is wrong, then what can you do to cut down on fuel costs this summer? Here are a few tips:

Regular Maintenance

New air filters and regular oil changes are good for your car and wallet. Also, take a look at your tires before any road trip. The Environmental Protection Agency says even a slightly under-inflated tires can cost a car in fuel efficiency. By keeping you tires properly inflated, you can improve your vehicle’s gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent, which works out to an equivalent gasoline savings of approximately $0.11 per gallon.

Use Cruise Control

There are times when cruise control isn’t appropriate, such as heavy traffic or when climbing hilly roads,
but if you’re driving over relatively even terrain, cruise control can prevent unnecessary speed changes which waste gas. Cruise control can also keep drivers from creeping up in speed on long trips, saving you money on gas.

Slow Down

Highway driving is the most efficient way to get around, but speed too much and those savings go out the tailpipe. estimates each 5 mph over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas. You don’t want to drive too slowly on the highway of course, but keeping your speed around or under 70 mph can save a lot of cash on fuel, not to mention speeding tickets.

Travel light, store right

Excessive weight can ruin fuel efficiency in any car, so it is important to prioritize when packing for a long road trip. How you stow your stuff can also have a major effect on gas bills. Hauling cargo on your roof, for example, increases aerodynamic drag and lowers fuel economy by around 2 percent to 8 percent in city driving and 10 percent to 25 percent at Interstate speeds according to

What An Employer Can – And Can’t – Ask In An Interview

What An Employer Can – And Can’t – Ask In An Interview, If you’re on the job hunt, you might want to familiarize yourself with these topics that are out of bounds for employers., Job hunting? What you can and can’t be asked in an interview, You don’t need Miss Manners to tell you it’s rude to ask someone his or her age. “How old are you?” is also the kind of question that has no place in a job interview.

It’s one of several queries that are strictly off-limits when it comes to employers screening potential candidates.

“Anything that is listed as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Human Rights Code would be unacceptable,” says Alka Kundi, a labour and employment lawyer with Borden Ladner Gervais in Vancouver.

Every province has its own human rights legislation, but in B.C., those prohibited grounds include:

Most employers are well-versed in what’s appropriate to ask and what isn’t, but there are still grey areas.

“Some of the more subtle ones are child care and family responsibilities; that’s an emerging area of human rights that is getting protection,” Kundi says. “Asking about child-care arrangements or obligations can be problematic if they’re not directly tied to employment-related requirements.”

The reason that employers can’t ask certain questions, of course, is that the answers could lead to bias in hiring. And asking inappropriate questions leaves an employer open to complaints of discrimination or potential legal action from unsuccessful candidates who believe they weren’t hired because of their disability, race, sex, or other ground protected under the code, even if the decision not to hire was legitimate.

“Our human rights laws prevent employers from refusing to employ someone for a reason related to prohibited grounds of discrimination,” explains lawyer Kelly Slade-Kerr, with Vancouver employment-law firm Hamilton Howell Bain & Gould. “Our laws say you can’t discriminate against somebody for reasons related to those factors. Employers making a decision on who to hire can’t consider any of those factors because it’s a violation of our human rights laws.”

Job seekers may want to consider familiarizing themselves with what’s fair game. Instead of asking if you have Canadian citizenship, for example, an employer should ask whether you’re legally entitled to work in Canada, Kundi explains.

Questions related to family life aren’t permissible, except as they relate to job performance, says Sheryl Boswell, marketing director at career site “While you cannot ask a candidate if he or she has children or has adequate child care, you can ask about ability to perform the job,” Boswell says.

How One Man Retired At The Ripe Old Age Of 27

How One Man Retired At The Ripe Old Age Of 27, At 21, Brenton Hayden figured he’d need to accumulate $7 million to retire early and crafted a plan to do that., Retiring at 27: Ambitious, lazy or crazy?, I don’t know why the word “lazy” gets such a bad rap — I’m a big fan of lazy.

Here’s why: Lazy is a smart man’s motivation to get from point A to B as quickly as possible. A lazy person knows there’s lots of life and fun to be experienced, so finding the shortcuts through the slough just makes a lot more sense than dragging your feet down a long road.

Lazy can help you build a multi-million dollar business in a few short years and reach retirement in your 20s. At least, that’s how I decided to do it.

Everyone has their own version of what happens after we die. Mine is simple: you are dead. You are dirt. The end. Game over. Thank you and goodbye.

To some, this could be very troubling, and if you’re not careful, you could misinterpret this belief and make it an excuse to do nothing. It’s all futile anyways, right? Absolutely not.

Believing I only have one shot, I could not be more motivated to craft the exact life I want to live. I mean, what did I have to lose?

With retirement as my starting point, I decided $7 million after tax was the number and age 27 would be the deadline.

I was 21 at the time with only one year of operating my own thriving business, Renters Warehouse, under my belt.

The numbers for my property management company were already looking good and the trajectory was definitely heading towards my seemingly lofty ambitions. It was time to walk the walk.

I meticulously set forth to build a business that I could exit when the time was right, with employees and management that were just as vested in the long-term vision as I was.

With my self-imposed retirement goal nipping at my heels, I focused on building “bench strength” at Renters Warehouse. This meant having a president groomed to be CEO, an office manager capable of becoming my operations manager and a litany of cross-trained employees that were hungry for professional growth.

Transparency being paramount, I empowered key executives by giving them full access to the books, called on them for crucial management decisions and made sure they had a hand in the branding, funding and hiring decisions early on.

Woven into our company culture was the idea that leadership comes from all corners. It wasn’t long before the encouragement to step up would inch me closer and closer to stepping down.

How To Protect Yourself With A ‘Fake’ Credit Card

How To Protect Yourself With A ‘Fake’ Credit Card, Recent retail data breaches may have some shoppers on edge, but new software aims to eliminate the problem., How To Use A ‘Fake’ Credit Card To Protect Yourself From Hackers, Consumers who are feeling timid about using their credit cards following the massive data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus might find solace in a new security system that uses randomly generated credit card numbers to fend off potential hackers.

The service, called MaskMe, was developed by the Boston-based privacy firm Abine, which is behind the popular blocking software DoNotTrackMe.

Here’s how it works: When you’re ready to make a purchase, MaskMe will randomly generate a masked card – a one-time-use credit card number, expiration date and security code with a name of your choosing. The card is produced virtually and looks like this:

If you are in a physical store, you can give the card information to the retailer to pay for your purchase. The card is only authorized for the amount you specify and after a single use, it will be destroyed.

Here’s a screenshot of the mobile app in the process of creating a card, courtesy of Abine:

If you are shopping online, the masked card will show up as a credit card option when you’re checking out. Once you select it, the service will automatically enter all the information you need. Abine inputs its own mailing address as the billing address for all masked cards.

“Masked cards are useful because they leave no trace of your real credit card on all those databases where you shop,” says Abine co-founder and CEO Rob Shavell. “The principal behind what we do for security is very simple: Hackers can’t steal what they don’t have.”

Some banks, including Bank of America and Discover, offer a similar one-time-use-only card for online purchases. But unlike MaskMe, those cards use consumers’ real names and addresses.

Shavell says its important to protect that information, as well.

“The average online store today works with over seven different targeted advertising, tracking, and data collection companies,” he said. “These purchases that you make with masked cards can no longer be connected back to a single card and fed into a profile of what you buy online – which can be sold without you even knowing it to insurers, banks, the government, you name it.”

Some consumers may have concerns about trusting Abine with their credit card info, however. What if Abine was hacked?

To protect against that possibility, Abine doesn’t store consumers’ real credit card info, Shavell says. That data is encrypted and stored by the company’s banking partner.

Best And Worst Airlines Of 2013

Best And Worst Airlines Of 2013, The top airline has pioneered new technology that lets planes fly in and out of airports during bad weather., The Best (and Worst) Airlines, Travel is an ice-jammed nightmare now, but travelers have been getting used to more problems: Last year was one of the worst for airline reliability of the past five years.

Delays went up and more flights were canceled in 2013 than 2012, even though airlines again reduced the number of flights crowding airports, according to FlightStats Inc., which tracked more than 8 million trips last year. About 78% of flights on U.S. airlines arrived on-time last year, down from 80% in 2012.

The Middle Seat’s annual scorecard of airline service is in. Razer launches a smartband aimed at the gaming set.
That’s a significant move, reflecting hundreds of flights each day. On-time performance is a barometer for airline performance, influencing baggage handling, cancellations, complaints and other areas. Two measures of extreme customer impact worsened sharply: The number of flights delayed excessively by 45 minutes or more increased 13% and the number of flights canceled jumped 15%, according to FlightStats.

Associated Press Alaska Airlines placed first in our ranking of nine major carries for 2013.
More luggage was lost or delayed last year, too, partly because Southwest Airlines, the lone major carrier to still offer two free checked bags to customers, stumbled. Southwest mishandled more bags than United Airlines and Delta Air Lines combined, according to the most recent Transportation Department data, which covers 12 months ending last October.

The good news? Fewer passengers got involuntarily bumped from flights, according to the DOT, and fewer customers complained to the DOT about airline service. Airlines have gotten more aggressive about intercepting gripes with emailed surveys and social media.

In the Middle Seat’s annual scorecard of airline service, tracking seven different key measures of airline performance, Alaska Airlines performed best in 2013 among major carriers. At the top with Alaska was Delta, which for the past two years has posted far better operational results than big competitors. Worst among big airlines? United Airlines and American Airlines, again.

On the whole, it was a mediocre year for airline reliability, the second-worst of the past five in terms of on-time arrivals (2011 was slightly worse), according to FlightStats. And it was the worst of the last five in delays over 45 minutes. That’s surprising. There were fewer flights flown than any year of the past nine because of airline mergers and capacity reductions. Less-crowded skies and airports ought to yield speedier service.

After benign weather in 2012, “2013 returned to a more normal weather pattern,” said Bill Lentsch, senior vice president of airport customer service at Delta Air Lines.

Real Reason Many Stores Will Open Thanksgiving

Real Reason Many Stores Will Open Thanksgiving, Kmart, Target, and Walmart may be open next Thursday simply because they can’t afford not to be., Here’s the Real Reason Stores Will Open on Thanksgiving, In staying open over the Thanksgiving holiday, retailers are just giving customers what they want.

Yeah, right.

As the inevitable holiday shopping creep spreads to Thanksgiving Day, stores that plan to open on the holiday, including Kmart (SHLD), Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT) and Best Buy (BBY), say they’re merely responding to consumers who would be shopping online if they didn’t have the option to hit the stores. That’s part of it, no doubt, but an examination of retailers’ financial numbers reveals another reason: Many of them are underperforming and desperate for every dollar of sales. And virtually all those stores will be open on Thanksgiving.

Here’s a breakdown of financial numbers for several prominent retailers:

The final column, EPS growth over the past 12 months, may tell us the most about how each company is doing relative to its competitors and investor expectations. Nordstrom (JWN) and Costco (COST), which will be closed on Thanksgiving, are performing notably better in this regard than most of the other chains. The other two retailers we’ve included that will be closed on Thanksgiving – P.C. Richard, a northeast appliance chain, and BJ’s Wholesale, a warehouse club – are privately owned, so we don’t know much about their numbers. But there are other signs those chains are doing quite well, such as an aggressive expansion plan at P.C. Richard and a recent note by Moody’s on BJ’s debt that praised the company’s “excellent operating performance.”

Which Country Buys The Most Gold?

Which Country Buys The Most Gold?, Experts say a growing middle class and more disposable income means more people in this nation are investing in gold., China becomes world’s top gold consumer, China has raced past India to become the world’s top gold consumer.

Gold prices may have bottomed out earlier this year, but the precious metal hasn’t lost its luster among Chinese consumers.

China has purchased 798 tonnes of the precious metal so far this year, compared to India’s 715 tonnes, according to the latest World Gold Council report.

The group recently lowered its 2013 forecast for India’s gold consumption by 10% to 900 tonnes, and estimates China will buy 1,000 tonnes by the end of the year.

China’s middle class is a rapidly growing slice of the country’s 1.5 billion people. Growth may be slowing after decades of rapid expansion, but affluent Chinese consumers have shown no sign of curbing their spending habits.