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While petting animals at home, it is really essential to take care of certain essential elements so that one is able to maintain the hygiene from all sides. Keeping a cat at home comes with a lot of responsibilities. From maintaining its fur to clearing the litter, it is really essential to keep things clean for a better home atmosphere. Therefore, certain pet friendly products have crept its way to the market and made the overall scenario much easier and less challenging for pet owners. Therefore, one can use products like the cat litter mat that essentially helps to clean the litter of the cats and maintain a hygienic atmosphere throughout.

What are the features of the cat litter mats?

Ways to clean the mats as well-

A cat litter mat helps to clean the litter and opt to keep the place clean. Most of these mats are designed specifically keeping in mind the target and the uses. The mats are pet friendly and help to keep the cat safe as well. Owners should teach the cats where to do the litter and therefore, the cat litter mat can help to change the situations completely. These mats can be easily purchased in the market and even online as well. The quality of the product is maintained from the very start of its manufacturing so that the cats do not find any problem while doing the litter. The mats can be cleaned easily as well and one can see this technique of washing the mats from the internet too. Specific detergent options are available for cleaning the mats and one can suitably choose the products to maintain complete hygiene. Therefore, the cat litter mat helps to keep the environment very much pet friendly.

If you automate your HVAC systems then you do not have to worry about getting repairs. You can also save a lot of money and time spent on getting the repairs. That is why most of the professional will advise you to automate your HVAC systems. These are some of the ways by which you can automate your HVAC systems.

  • Replace your thermostat 

You can replace your thermostat with new ones which can provide you more feature. This way it will be more energy efficient and you can save a lot of money spent on electric bills.

 

  • Get it installed by professionals 

It is always advised that you use the services of professionals in order to get desirable results. This way you do not face any problems with your new automated HVAC systems. You can contact the professional by visiting the official website and hiring their services.

  • Use your automated thermostat regularly 

Most of the people do not use their thermostat on a regular basis which is very important. In order to increase the durability of your systems, you need to use them daily so that it does not cause any inconvenience for you.

  • Program it according to your suitability

If you are using the services of the latest thermostat then you can program it according to your suitability. This way you can truly enjoy using the services of automating HVAC systems. That is why it is always advised that you use the help of the latest tools in your house for more convenience.

You can get the help from AC Repair services for the installation of HVAC Systems. So these are some of the ways by which you can easily get the HVAC systems automated. You should always make sure that all the safety precautions are taken while getting any of these services.

With time passing by the internet has been universally acknowledged. Amount of people who use the internet is inflating almost every day. People take the help of internet for making money and also for gaining knowledge. Digital marketing is one such trending aspect of the internet. Digital marketing means using the digital form for running a business, it can be defined as connecting with the customers through digital means. One can use Top digital agency for marketing in NJ in order to interact with the consumers and as a result, a business can be established.

In the modern world, various online retailers are providing people with digital shopping experience.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO):

SEO is the most important part of digital marketing. It helps in optimizing the website to higher ranks, so when one searches on the search engines, their website shows the highest rank in the results. It assists in improving the traffic of the website.

Social media marketing:

Social media marketing is responsible for promoting the brands and products on various social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. This aspect makes sure that the general public is well aware of the product’s description and qualities. As a result, traffic is increased.

Email marketing:

This is another practice of increasing brand awareness and traffic on one’s business website. It is often used to promote contents through emails which may include blogs and articles. Such blogs and articles have a fair description of the company’s brands and products.

Paid advertising:

The biggest aim of online marketing companies is to advertise their products. To achieve this end, they usually apply paid advertising tactics and increase the traffic on their websites. The company pays a publisher some amount so he can advertise the company. For example, paid Facebook ads, promoted tweets and sponsored LinkedIn messages.

Advantages of Top digital agency for marketing in NJ:

  • It is time-efficient. This form of marketing helps to save a lot of time. The customer and the manager can easily interact through the internet. People can order goods on the internet so they don’t need to visit a particular store or shop.
  • It covers a wide range of audience.  Products provided by digital marketers are easily accessible, so anyone who has an internet connection can access them. Once circulated on the internet, the product reaches to a large amount of audience thereby increasing the profit and selling of the company’s products.
  • The promotion used in digital marketing usually involves circulation of short videos, blog posts, short messages, attractive posters etc. The blog posts should contain proper SEO keywords in order to be effective.
  • This kind of marketing lets the user see the results in a short period of time. Unlike offline marketing, the results are viewed quickly, if the marketer has made proper strategies and applied and promoted the product effectively then he might be able to see the results almost in 6 months.

The best part of digital marketing is that it doesn’t require much amount of money. Using blog posts, email marketing, social media marketing, and paid advertising is quite cheap and that makes digital marketing even merrier.

The trend of Mortgage is on the rise and it has become one of the most common loans in the USA. The houses, no doubt, are a basic necessity of life and owning a house becomes difficult unless you get the support of some leasing company. Numerous companies offer mortgage and miscellaneous loans on varying rates of interest and a client can choose any one as per his preference.

A time may come when a person can not make timely payments of his mortgage and faces the risk of repossession by the finance company. Community Mortgage Group is a highly trusted and credible company that helps its clients in facing such issues.

Community Mortgage Group

It is a Virginia based company with the business spread all across the USA. The company is a specialist in mortgage and they deal with all kinds of loans. The company was established in 1997 and it has links with the legal offices all over the USA. This cooperation helps them to solve the financial problems of their clients.

Advantages Of Dealing With Community Mortgage Group

The Community Mortgage Group is a trustworthy and reliable company that holds very good standing in the financial market. The company has an outstanding customer support system and it is a great experience to do business with this company. The company helps its clients in getting rid of the following loans:-

1. Refinance

Refinancing of loans is an attractive package offered by Community Mortgage Group. There is no issue of any minimum credit limit to qualify for this offer.

Anybody can join it at any time. The company also tries to negotiate with the lending companies to get the terms of the lease relaxed. This causes great help in payments by the client.

2. Debt Consolidation

The Community Mortgage Group deals with matters of debt consolidation. It enjoys good relations with all the credit companies in the states. This helps the company in securing the best rates of interest for their clients. They also try to lower the otherwise high processing fees for debt consolidation and try to support the client in every possible manner.

3. Mortgage

The mortgages are a type of high-interest loan and they may become difficult to pay back in case of job loss or change of income. Community Mortgage Group provides assistance in such situations and tries to avoid the event of repossession of the property. It negotiates with your investors to get you flexibility in mortgage terms.

4. Customized Services

The company is staffed by highly educated and skilled agents. They offer you customized services for their clients. Each plan is carefully thought out and prepared to keep in view the peculiar needs of the clients. This ensures maximum benefit for the client.

Company Contact
The Community Mortgage Group can be contacted on following address:-

234 Expert Circle Suite 200
Princeton, WV 24740

Phone: 304-425-8960

New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera wants to see as many of the state’s schools in person as possible, and on Wednesday she paid a visit to Raton.

“I’ve never been to Raton,” Skandera said. “I’m a big fan of seeing schools, visiting folks and getting outside of the Albuquerque-Santa Fe circle, seeing the rest of our kids.”

Skandera briefly toured some of the Raton schools and visited with Raton schools Superintendent Dave Willden about some of the district’s programs. Skandera said her visit wasn’t about discussing state policies but rather about learning what is happening in school districts, what their needs are and what the state can do to help.

“It was nice and appreciated,” Willden said regarding the visit. “I’m glad she was here and saw some good things happening here. Hopefully, she can help us move things forward.”

While visiting students at Kearny and Longfellow elementary schools, Skandera — who described visiting schools as “my favorite part of the job” — said she could tell that the teachers were focused on the students and have them “headed in the right direction.”

“It was all (about) the kids,” she said. “Each one of those kids was proud and willing to learn, and that’s a sign of a good teacher.”

The Raton visit not only allowed Skandera to talk to students, teachers, and staff, but to learn about the district’s desire to build a consolidated elementary school. While touring the schools, Willden filled Skandera in on some of the building issues with Kearny and Longfellow, at which district maintenance staff have implemented some short-term measures in hopes a new school building will eventually be achieved.

The district put a bond issue before voters in 2008 but it failed to pass. Willden has since steered the district’s efforts toward a lease-purchase arrangement, in which the district would use its operational savings — from the closure of the existing three elementary schools — to pay for its share of a new consolidated elementary school, but the district has been unable to get backing from the Public Schools Facilities Authority.

During Skandera’s visit, Willden explained that the district could save about $500,000 per year by consolidating the schools. Skandera told The Range that seeing the schools firsthand helped her understand the situation and that “anyway I can, I’d like to help” the district, particularly when the administration is trying to be “fiscally smart because it means more dollars for our kids. I want to support that any way we can.”

Willden also discussed the district’s partnership with Virgin Galactic, the focus of which is a plan to implement an aerospace career pathways program. Willden heads up the New Mexico Aviation Aerospace Educational Alliance.

“This is awesome,” Skandera remarked after hearing from Willden about the aerospace-related initiatives. She suggested the district might be able to receive career technical education funding through the state to help the effort.

“This is something I want to see (happen),” she told Willden.

Skandera said many officials at the state level have discussed the importance of schools partnering with businesses and the Raton school district’s work with Virgin Galactic is a good example.

“The schools are the suppliers of employees,” she said, adding that the aerospace career pathways program is one example of how schools can respond to the needs of businesses and get students prepared to enter the workforce.

“It helps the students to see what is possible (for their future) and how to be prepared for a career,” Skandera said.

  • Things that happened in 1972:
  • The Watergate break-in.
  • M*A*S*H premiers on CBS.
  • Atari is founded.
  • The G.711 standard is released by the international telecommunications union.

So maybe that last point is lost on a lot of you, but for those of us in the telecom and technology game, it’s a pretty big deal. The G.711 — the most common codec (a device or program that decodes a digital stream or signal) used for VoIP communications — is 42 years old. That’s like, 200 years old in tech life.

In those 42 years, we’ve seen an explosion in the tech industry. Companies like Google, Facebook and Skype are bringing new disruptive products to the marketplace revolutionizing the way the world communicates (the founders of these companies are all younger than G.711, by the way). Amazing leaps in technology have been made since the standard was released, yet most of the VoIP world plods along with G.711 or, worse yet, uses compression.

So what’s come along that should be replacing this already-aged technology? Successful voice products for the next 42 years will embrace codecs with a couple capabilities:

First is a high-definition voice. Several different codecs can do HD voice, with the most widely supported being G.722. The picture quality on your television has improved greatly since 1972, it’s time your voice calls took the same jump.

Second is adaptive bit rates. This takes HD voice a little bit further. Codecs such as SILK can change their bit rate in real time from as high as 40 kbit/s (5 times higher than g.711) to as low as 6 kbit/s (lower than g.711). Voice is shifting from phone-centric to application-centric. This means more and more calls are being made from PCs, tablets, and other smart devices. These devices are going to be expected to work anytime, anywhere and over any network. Being able to change the bitrate on the fly gives the codec the ability to automatically react to changing and poor network conditions while maintaining an acceptable quality of service.

Its time for the VoIP world to embrace the newer better options available. The G.711 is reliable, but technology has caught up and passed it by. It’s up to service providers to show clients there are alternatives out there, and more being added every day. If we all make the leap forward, it will ultimately lead to a better user experience all around.

For about 10 years I have suffered from Peripheral Arterial Disease. The claudication (pain in the calves, thighs, hips) got progressively worse.

My own fault. I smoke. I love red meat, eggs – all the wrong things. The payoff — elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, clogged arteries.

Bear with me a while — it gets a lot better.

I had about 5 stents put in my right leg, and 2 or 3 in the left. Finally, they said my left leg artery was completely blocked, and could not be stented again. My doctor talked about a bypass, but the description of this didn’t appeal to me – it would last about 10 years at most and couldn’t be repeated, so then I’d probably lose the leg.

Then I had a heart attack. Actually a bunch of heart attacks. I had blocked coronary arteries — 2 more stents. That worked for about 5 years.

So these were my symptoms:

Numbness in toe 2 and 3 on the left foot. Extreme pain in toe 3 on the right foot for several months – constant. Thick hard skin under all toes. Ugly toenails. Left foot always cold and grey. Bruises and marks on shins that wouldn’t clear up (8 or 10 years). Fungus or something on forearms for many years that must be related to circulatory problems, because seems to clear a little when I quit smoking. Walk 1 flight of stairs and need to sit down – some pain. 2 flights, lots of pain. Walk treadmill – 100 ft. and pain starts. Can force me to walk .1 miles (500 ft.), but the pain is excruciating, and need to stagger to a nearby chair and sit for 10 minutes. For the past several months, have been getting pain in left arm after exertion, just like with my heart attacks – mini-heart attacks are back. Also if I lay on it. Cramps in toes and legs at night (2 or 3 times, but not every night). Constant feeling of fatigue in lower back and hips – sometimes pain. Already had several stents in legs and coronary arteries. Can’t quit smoking (did once about 2 yrs ago for 6 months). Can’t put any more stents in left leg — the main artery is completely blocked. The normal progression of problems probably means eventual amputation of toes, then feet, then legs. If I don’t die of a heart attack first.

I was very worried about a major heart attack and toe and foot amputation, so I began to research the web. I found quite a few references to EDTA chelation, with some amazing claims. People who were candidates for imminent amputations were able to avoid this with chelation. I have a friend who told me about this several years ago. He said there was an older man whose toes were black, and he was going to lose them. Several weeks of IV chelation and the toes were normal. Well — that was hard to believe. At that time I put chelation in the very doubtful bag. But all this anecdotal evidence was hard to ignore.

So I looked for treatments. Found that chelation had normally been administered at a doctor’s office intravenously (IV). Then I began to read about oral chelation. Not as immediately effective as IV, but over time accomplished the same thing. I looked for products and found a wide range of prices. Some at about $150 for a month or so of pills. Then I found one for under $15 for about 2 months of capsules.

I also investigated side effects and interactions. Found some references to depletion of zinc, and a recommendation that you supplement that. And a possibility of headaches. That was it. No interactions with other medication (as you can imagine, I’m taking a few). So I thought I had nothing to lose, and I ordered it.

I was nothing short of amazed. Not a miracle like the gall stone flush. Didn’t completely solve the problem. But what an improvement. Stopped having mini-heart attacks. Increased my walking distance before pain from 100 to 500 ft. in about 2 months. And a whole lot more.

I am sure oral chelation would have been much more effective for me if I could just give up smoking. One case mentioned in the literature said that 87% of the people who tried it was helped. Of the rest, most were smokers.

There has been one drawback. I get a lot more mosquito bites. They didn’t use to bother me much. I can only guess that that is because there is more blood near the skin, and those little buggers know it. (See the “Mosquito bites” section.)

About 25 years ago my Dad had a heart attack and subsequently died of pneumonia. No one told him about EDTA chelation. I can’t help but think he could have lived more years had he known, and it makes me angry.

But about my progress, I am ecstatic — no more mini-heart attacks, and I keep wiggling my toes in disbelief – no more numbness, no more pain. And my toes look good – no hard thick skin under the nails, no fungus. My left foot is pink and warm. I can still walk 5 times as far before the pain starts. I look younger and healthier, especially with smaller bags under my eyes. And I feel good.

If you want or need quick results, the IV treatment is best. But it costs $200 to $300 per session, and they typically recommend 30 sessions – about 3 hours per day over 6 to 8 weeks. If you aren’t in a hurry, oral chelation is certainly more convenient, and much, much less expensive.

My sister took EDTA. After 2 months, she ran up a flight of stairs without thinking. At the top, she realized what she had done. She hadn’t been able to run upstairs for many years. And she wasn’t even out of breath.

My barber began taking EDTA. In one week the pains he had had in his legs for over 10 years disappeared.

I have read that chelation works by removing calcium from the blood. Strangely enough, this supposedly does not contribute to osteoporosis. Calcium attaches to the walls of the blood vessels and provides a way for cholesterol to build into plaque. There are other explanations, but this is the most common one given. Calcium is one of the contributors to arthritis. So EDTA chelation is supposed to help with arthritis also. My question is: Does anyone have experience with EDTA chelation as an aid in reducing arthritis symptoms? If you do, please go to the “Discussion” section and tell us about how it has helped you (or not helped you).

Note:
Is there a link between ear lobe creases and coronary heart disease?

Since 1973, several studies have demonstrated a link between a specific form of ear lobe crease on both ears and an increased incidence of coronary heart disease.
It is thought that if an individual has diagonal creases on both earlobes, there may be some benefit in undergoing screening to exclude the possibility of coronary heart disease. Similar links with coronary heart disease have been found with other physical characteristics such as short rather than tall people or women with ‘apple’ shaped bodies.

It is important to remember, however, that not every individual with these characteristic ear lobe creases is likely to have coronary heart disease.
While this and other similar associations are interesting, they may not be such an important predictor of coronary heart disease as other controllable risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, physical inactivity, being overweight or obese and diabetes.
British Heart Foundation

Controversy exists as to whether the presence of a diagonal crease on the earlobe is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. To evaluate this possibility, Elliott and Harrison performed a prospective observational study.

A total of 108 hospitalized patient were included in the study. Each patient was assigned to one of four groups according to the presence or absence of coronary artery disease and the presence or absence of a diagonal crease on the earlobe. The demographic characteristics of each of the cohorts were similar. Each group consisted of 14 men and 13 women. Mean age at entry into the study was 63 years. Eight to 10 years to follow-up information was subsequently obtained regarding the dates and causes of death.

Fifty-eight of the 108 patients died during the follow-up period. The patients with earlobe creases had a significantly poorer survival rate than those without earlobe creases, whether or not they had documented coronary artery disease at enrollment in the study. Patients with earlobe creases also had a significantly higher cardiac mortality rate and a higher number of cardiac events, including nonfatal myocardial infarction and coronary artery bypass graft.

The study findings suggest that persons with a diagonal crease on the earlobe may be at increased risk of cardiac mortality. The authors recommended that these persons be cautioned to control or to eliminate risk factors, such as smoking, hypertension, and obesity. (American Journal of Medicine, September 1991, vol. 91, p. 247.)

Found this note from “Ask Dr. Stoll”:
Fingernail ridges Across the nail
If this is only on some nails, and they are not at the same level as each nail, then this is most commonly caused by a relative deficiency of circulation to the extremities. Do you suffer from cold hands or feet? If this is your situation, you need to become a student of Skilled Relaxation and to practice it correctly. Within 3-6 months, the circulation to your extremities will improve enough that these ridges will no longer form. Of course, depending on how fast your nails grow out, it could take 6 more months for you to have all normal nails.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus [HIV] belongs to the family of retrovirus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome [AIDS] in humans which destroys the body’s ability to fight infections and certain cancers. The virus is present in the blood, saliva, breast milk and genital secretions of all the infected individuals irrespective of presence or absence of symptoms. HIV infection occurs when these secretions come in contact with tissues like vaginal mucosa, oral mucosa, anal mucosa, or if the secretions come in contact with blood through a break in the skin, blood transfusion, and injection needles. The most common routes of transmission include having sex with an infected partner, blood transfusion, contaminated needles and transmission of infection from infected mothers to their newborns.

Once the viruses enter the body, they multiply and produce billions of HIV viruses and circulate in the blood. These viruses attack and destroy vital cells of the immune system such as CD4 [helper T cells] cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. The HIV infection leads to a decrease in CD4 cells when the CD4 cell count is below a critical level, the body loses cell-mediated immunity and progressively body becomes more susceptible to opportunistic infections. When the CD4 count reaches below a critical level, the infected person said to have AIDS. AIDS is the later stage of HIV infection and the infections occur in this stage are called opportunistic infections. Many people with HIV infection do not develop symptoms, within weeks of infection, some people experience influenza-like illness. Early symptoms of HIV infection include fever, aching muscles and joints, tiredness, headache, sore throat and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. These symptoms disappear on their own within a few weeks, the person becomes free form symptoms and this asymptomatic phase often lasts for years. This phase of early symptoms is known as primary infection.

HIV symptoms in men include flu-like illness, significant weight loss, night sweats, fatigue, persistent diarrhea, mouth ulcers, and white spots in the mouth, constant headaches and constant swelling of lymph nodes. In the first week of infection, the person develops low-grade fever [100.4 F] associated with a headache, malaise, sore throat, and pain in joints and muscles. In the second week of infection, the person develops enlargement of lymph nodes in the neck and armpits. Some men develop moderate enlargement of spleen, the condition is known as splenomegaly. The spleen is the largest lymph gland in the body located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen just below the ribs. Other symptoms of HIV in men include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and persistent dry cough. Men in AIDS stage can develop opportunities infections such as pneumonia, brain infection with toxoplasmosis and yeast infections. The weak immune system in AIDS stage can also lead to other unusual conditions such as Lymphoma [cancer of lymphnodes], Kaposi’s sarcoma [cancer of soft tissues].

HIV Symptoms in Women
Specific HIV symptoms in women are different from symptoms of HIV infection in men, except early symptoms. Within a couple of weeks after the HIV infection, many women experience influenza-like symptoms and some women may not develop any symptoms for many years after the infection. As the infection progresses, HIV symptoms in women include swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, and groins, frequent fevers with night sweats, rapid weight loss, constant fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhea and white spots in the mouth.

Specific HIV symptoms in women are subtle and they may not be perceived as warning signs of infection. Often, these symptoms are mistaken for other conditions. Most commonly experienced HIV symptoms in women include recurrent severe vaginal infections, pelvic infections such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease [PID] which does not respond to the treatment, and abnormal pap smears. Other HIV symptoms in women include genital ulcers, genital warts, recurrent vaginal yeast infections, and severe mucosal herpes infections. Pap smear shows dysplasia, the cervical smear indicates abnormal changes in the cervical cells. Vaginal infections are common HIV symptoms in women which include bacterial vaginosis, and common Sexually Transmitted Diseases [STDs] such as Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Trichomoniasis. Due to a weak immune system, women develop genital warts which are caused by another type of virus called human papillomavirus. Genital ulcers caused by severe infection of herpes simplex virus can affect a woman’s quality of life. Frequent vaginal yeast infections indicate low body immunity, which are predominant HIV symptoms in women. Vaginal yeast infections are common and easily treated in normal women, but in women, with HIV infection they are persistent and difficult to treat because of low body immunity.

First, A Little Background

I read a lot of information online. I don’t get a paper edition of any newspaper, and I even rarely watch the news on TV because I get all I need online. I enjoy the ability to pick out the articles I want to read when I want to read them and to be able to consume information from sites I enjoy. This means I read a lot of blogs these days as well. Say what you will about the reputability of blogs in general, I find many of the postings on blogs much more than I do many news sites.

Anyway, in my perusing, I have read many a rant about terrible experiences with customer service. These range from not being able to close down your AOL or cell phone account, to a complete inability to get a service agent that has a clue about the service you are needing help with. I feel for these people, and the situations they are often describing sound horrific. I have had my own customer service woes and even one shocker that made me want to reach through the phone and strangle the rep on the other end of the line.

A Personal Example

In my extreme situation, I was trying to cancel a credit card that had gone past its promotional period and had lost its usefulness for my situation. I had other cards and this one had been for a business startup that I didn’t need to carry the card for any longer. So, like the average consumer, I looked up my statement and called the number provided. After wading through the menu options, I finally arrived at a live person and made my request to cancel the account. I expected a few “save sale” attempts, and my expectations were met. I politely declined and waited for the rep to get the job done. Instead, the rep took it upon himself to ridicule me saying things such as “So, are you just a freeloader then? You just got our card for the zero interest period and then you’re off to get another card?” I was floored. The comments continued for a bit until my blood pressure rose and I had a few choices yet calmly worded things to say back to the rep. I had never been so insulted in a customer situation before and I really was at a loss as to what to do. I requested his name, agent number and to speak to a supervisor at which time he hung up on me. I’m not sure if this was a prank or if he had not taken his medication that day, but he was way off base and out of line. I called back, got a supervisor, but there was no record of the call (of course) and I had no identifying information to help track down this imbecile.

The Customer Is Not Always Right

Throughout my life, I’ve always heard the phrase “the customer is always right” as a mantra to how service should be given by “good” companies. Though this may have worked in some previous generation, I am here to tell you that the customer most definitely is not always right; in fact, in my industry, the customer is often wrong, and not all that intelligent either. I know, that sounds pretty harsh, and I’ll give a few details to soften that statement a bit.

I work for a company that sells informational products online, most of what include a monthly membership that customers can keep for as little or long as they want. We offer a free 14-day trial on most of our offer pages that allow the customer to check out what we have and decide to keep it or not. We make this very clear in the process that if the customer doesn’t want to keep the product, cancel (by phone, email or online) and they are charged nothing more. If they want the product, they get charged automatically each month until they cancel. Think of Columbia House Records, BMG, a monthly gym membership, etc. Not that hard to understand, right? Apparently not.

We get the craziest people calling, irate that they have been charged for a membership, and they have the widest variety of excuses, claims and outright lies they give to try and get their money back. We have come to know that these customers usually fall in one or more of the following categories:

  • Forgetful – they don’t remember what they sign up for online
  • Fraud – the favorite among most is to claim that they never signed up for this and someone has stolen their identity (even though we have all their info correct, even the IP address of their ISP that points right to them has actually done this)
  • Scammers – those that are trying to get something for nothing with online offers, or even worse, try to trick you into giving a refund when they have also charged back the transaction to try and double dip against the company to get some “free money”
  • Angry people – will try to bully or scare you into refunding everything ever charged because of how angry they are
    Bluffers – threaten legal action of every possible kind to get their $1.87 shipping fee back
  • Selectively illiterate – they can’t read the important facts of what they are signing up for, but they sure can pull out that credit card and enter the number into the right boxes
  • Imposters – will act like they are someone else, such as a bank manager, police officer, etc. to try and sound official to get you to refund fees for the “victim” they are helping
  • Victims of a disaster – some major catastrophe in their lives has happened, so you must feel obligated to give them a refund on anything you ever charged them.
  • Liars – fall into any of the above categories, but they can get even more creative when pressed for details.
    The list can go on, and on, and on, and you get the idea.

The Vocal Minority, Again

To temper the above description, I happen to know we hear from the lively, noisy with apparently the time on their hands to check their bank statement daily go to battle with customer service over a few bucks, but not enough sense to use that time to actually track the obligations they signed up for. We have thousands of clients, and the majority of them either a) cancel using one of our easy options, typically online or by email, during the trial period if they don’t want the product or b) use the product for as long as they want and then cancel when they are done. Who we hear from are those that simply do not want to take responsibility for their actions and want you to “make it right” by giving back the money rightfully charged to them because of their choice to buy something.

These people drive me, and our entire customer service department crazy, but they are 99% of the people they get to deal with. You may wonder why it bothers me because I don’t work in customer service; my office is right next to them though, and I often overhear the conversations or the summary they share with each other on the particularly ridiculous gems.

More to Share

So, one series of posts I’d like to start sharing are some of these “gems” as I call them. Where possible, I might even share some recordings of the really good ones, but we’ll see on that. Just the summary alone should be comical enough that you’ll enjoy reading them. Either that, or you’ll simply shake your head at the type of people we get to hear from.

How these people are ever given the ability to make financial transactions is beyond me.

Mary, the “mom”

While driving yesterday, I heard a news report about teens and their reactions to their families cutting back spending, including allowances, in the face of the economic crisis. The report indicated that in recent months teens are spending less, presumably because of cutbacks in allowances, although I’m sure loss or unavailability of part-time jobs plays a role as well. Apparently many teens’ reactions to such a situation are to be upset or angry, according to the report. This really caught my attention. My own kids have been remarkably supportive about cutbacks we’ve implemented. In fairness, we’ve been able to avoid cutting the things we know are most important to them, but still, many smaller things have been cut that do affect them. Just as I was getting worked up that it wasn’t fair to generalize in such a way, the report continued that such a reaction from teens was often a sign of fear for their families, as opposed to selfishness. Phew!

But, this raises a point. We need to talk to our kids about money in general and this economic crisis in particular. Even if your family isn’t feeling the pinch, if you’re not talking, your kids may be imagining the worst. I definitely need to sit down with my kids and be more specific than “we can’t afford that right now” or “money is tight”, because who knows what they’re worried about. Apparently, they might be more worried about their parents or their college fund than that new pair of brand name jeans.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to communicate with your kids about economic issues, ParentingTeensOnline has an article, The Money Talk, about just that, and a very helpful article with suggestions for conversation starters. There was also a post on a Business Week blog, Talking to Your Teen About the Financial Crisis.

So, “Dad”, what’s your approach to discussing the financial issue with your teens? Rach, what about you? Do your parents talk to you about money? How do you think parents should talk to their kids about financial stress?

Rach, the “teen”

Most of the teens I know whose parents are struggling with the economy (so, all the teens I know), are reacting really well. Some of our parents have talked to us, and some of them haven’t. Only recently did my parents start including me and my brother in talks about money. That is, we know how lucky we are that our family saved up and planned early for college and other long-term expenses like that.

For most of the teens I know, this means that they need to get more financial aid from colleges, or that they have to give up driving their own car around. It’s also been tough for us in the job market. Most of my friends are unemployed, not because they want to be, but because it’s freaking hard to get a job.

So, I think it’s really important for parents and kids to talk about money issues in the family. Money affects way more than just the parents, and “mom” is totally right – kids imagine the worst. So, be honest with them.

Lauren, guest teen blogger

Many teens are worried about their family and the situations they’re in. The teens that are only thinking about designer jeans probably have enough money that they’re not feeling the crisis going on. So most teens aren’t thinking about it in a selfish way, but teens are feeling it and worrying. Parents who aren’t letting their kids know are certainly upsetting their teens. As a teenager, I know that a lot of the time we pick up on our parents’ and other people’s emotions when they think they’re hiding them well. Parents think that kids not knowing they’re stressed about things will keep their teens less stressed, but really it’s exactly the opposite. So parent’s make sure your teens understand your current situation with money.

Personally, I’m hearing that money is tight on daily basis. We don’t need to be reminded when it’s not at that moment relevant. It can be upsetting to hear so often how stressed parents are. Also, the stress for parents seems to carry over to more than just money. It makes parents stressed about work and life in general. It can make them stressed about things that have never been a big deal before. So you have to find a happy medium. You need to let your teens know about your current situation but don’t make your money situation a huge part of your teen’s life.

Brad, the “dad”

Talking about money has always been a balancing act around our house. My wife comes from a well-off household where she never really wanted for anything, including a college education, and they never talked about money. I came from a small-biz lower-middle-class household where there was virtually no extra cash ever, at all, especially for college…and we never talked about money, either. So we decided from the beginning that we would be open about our finances, whether the news was good or bad.

Easier said than done. The hard part is keeping them apprised in an age-appropriate way without scaring the heck out of them when you have to say, “We can’t afford that,” or “we really can’t pay all the bills this month.” The trick is keeping them in the loop, but going light on the details…and always giving them a sense of hope for the future, even when you’re not necessarily feeling that way.

On the one hand, the girls have responded with wonderful strength and resilience throughout our years of economic roller-coaster, and I think it’s made them far more realistic about the world, and far more appreciative of every dollar we have, without being fearful. On the other hand, I feel constantly guilty – truly, deeply guilty – that we haven’t been able to give them whatever they wanted without worrying about the cost. ‘Cause part of me says that’s what Dads are supposed to do (even if it’s not all that healthy for the kids).

My advice: be honest, but tread lightly. And don’t underestimate your kids: they understand a lot more than you realize they do, and they can handle a lot more than you imagine. And yes, absolutely: if you don’t let them know what’s going on, they will almost certainly assume the worst. So talk, already. And teach them how to balance a checkbook!