October 06, 2007

Is Bank of America Ripping Customers Off?

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/06/2007 09:40:00 PM
I have gotten charged a fee every time I received an incoming wire transfer at Bank of America even though my account entitles me to get wires for free. It is becoming such a nuisance because every time I receive a transfer, I am charged $10. Then, I have to write to customer service to "remind" them that I have an "Advantage Account" which entitles me to free incoming wires. I have sent at least 10 emails to them about this problem and each time, they apologize and reverse the fee.

Bank of America advertises free wire transfers for its Advantage Accounts. I hate getting nickeled and dimed. My experience has left me wondering: Is Bank of America intentionally misleading and ripping off its customers? Bank of America has 1.4 million retail customers. It is a big deal because with so many accounts, ripping off customers for a fee of $10 multiplied by 1.4 million times can translate into $14 million of earnings each month. That can help make or break a quarter if things are falling short and I am not happy that they are doing this to me and to 1.4 million customers.

Bank of America is the largest bank in America and the largest bank of its kind in the world. As such a large institution, Bank of America has duty to its customers to uphold high standards. I would argue standards have to be higher than anywhere else. If they make one mistake, I can understand if they apologize and correct it. If they make two mistakes, maybe something is wrong. If they continue to make "mistakes" and have to apologize, then there is something evil about what they are doing. Shame on you Bank of America. You are not worthy of your name!

October 05, 2007

Monika Kurowska - Did She Kill His Pregnant Girlfriend?

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/05/2007 10:07:00 AM

Monika Kurowska is a body builder. She is also former girlfriend of former Chicago Bears player Shaun Gayle. Now, Monika may also be the murderer of Shaun Gayle's pregnant girlfriend. A modern day Casanova, Gayle may have knocked up on too many girlfriends. Allegedly, Kurowska was pissed that Gayle left her for his new girlfriend, Phoni Reuter, and starting harassing the both him and her. In an order of protection he sought against the former girlfriend, identified in the court records as Monika Kurowska of Park Ridge, Gayle said Reuter had received a "harassing anonymous letter" from the woman in May 2006.

Apparently, Kurowska was so pissed she took a shotgun and blew Gayle's new girlfriend to bits. Gayle's girl, Phone, died of multiple gunshot wounds! Police discovered the body of Rhoni Reuter, 42, in her third-floor residence of the Deerfield Crossing complex in the 400 block of Elm Street after receiving a report of a woman screaming about 7:55 a.m., authorities said.

What a sordid tale! Truth is better than fiction!

George Clooney's $100,000 Bet Against Himself

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/05/2007 09:52:00 AM

George Clooney is making a $100,000 against himself. He is betting that he will never again be married. Clooney declared he would never marry again after his divorce from Talia Balsam, and so far he has been a man of his word. Unfortunately, things are looking up for Clooney's love life and looking down for his bet.

The bet with Kidman and Pfeiffer went from a 10,000 dollar bet to a 100,000 dollar bet. The way things look now, Clooney could lose the bet. The actor is dating Sarah Larson, and the pair have been spotted everywhere together. Larson has reportedly quit her job to travel with Clooney.
"I bet him he would get married and he keeps inflating the bet from 100 dollars to 100,000 dollars,” says Pfeiffer. “I still think he will, he’s a handsome devil.”

October 04, 2007

Jeri Thompson Trophy Wife

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/04/2007 04:23:00 PM

Jeri Thompson is 41, 24 years younger than her husband, and very pretty. She is the wife of Fred Thompson, GOP Presidential candidate. They met 11 years ago in a Nashville supermarket when she looked at the items in his cart -- a can of "beanie weenies" and half a pre-made sandwich -- and said "I'm so sorry."

So, is she a trophy wife? People writer Sandra Sobieraj Westfall scores Thompson "0 for 4" on "perfect hair, a fresh manicure, a spotless home and afternoons with the ladies-who-lunch set." For her interview with the magazine, Thompson was "in sweatpants -- her hair caught up in a ponytail, her fingernails ragged from stripping wallpaper."

I'm not into politics and I had never heard of Fred Thompson before hearing about Jeri Thompson. Have you? I think it's safe to say that we won't be having a president with a trophy wife - trophy wife or not.

October 03, 2007

Perez Hilton Gets a Black Eye

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/03/2007 07:42:00 AM

Celebrity Blogger Perez Hilton got a Black Eye. We assume a fan probably kapowed the deutsche for all the dirt she dished on Britney Spears. You can see that nasty big bump on his eye in photo is not pretty, especially if you're standing next to Hugh Hefner and trying to mack on Playboy bunnies at his mansion.

China Automative Revs Up Its Engine Again!

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/03/2007 07:31:00 AM
China Automotive Systems Inc (Nasdaq CAAS) is up about 10% and has made the top 10 gainers list on Nasdaq. The stock broke above $10 for the first time for a long time. China Automotive made a big run up to $16 last time and it's leading the Chinese related auto stocks. The stock has traded 1.6 million shares today which is its entire float and it's only been 1 hour into the trading day, so it has revved up its engine again.

I checked out the China Automotive website. The company is based in Jinzhou. They have some very strong partnerships with the big auto makers in China - especially Chery Automotive which is their largest customer and Daimler Chrysler. Operating income doubled year over year to $6.5 million and net income was up 227% to $2.7 million. The fundamentals are very strong. It's a fairly impressive performance. If this stock is anything like the other Chinese stocks during the past few weeks, we could see $20-$30. I am still amazed at the performance of China Resources (Nasdaq CHNR) which I wrote about just last week in a piece called "The Real Reason China Resources is Going Up". The stock was trading at $14 a week ago and today it is $37! Up up and away!

October 02, 2007

The Great Tea Bubble of China

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/02/2007 01:13:00 PM

The Great Tea Bubble of China is promising vast wealth and fortune to tea traders in China. According to the journal, tea farmers in China are making a fortune selling "puer" tea. A cake of tea can fetch $13,000! That's for tea aged 150 years ago and pressed into a discus shape.

Puer is named after the Pu'er county of China in Yunnan, China, where it is cultivated. For normal varieties of puer, the price of one of the hottest varieties of puer soared to nearly $35-a-cake this past April, seven times the $5-a-cake value just three years ago. Today, a cake of puer sells for nearly $16, a 60% backslide from the peak, fueling fears of a crash.

You have to love the speculative nature of the business. Even the guy who owns a ton of this tea is trying to toot his own horn. Mr. Bai (the dude in the picture above) is reluctant to talk about the value of his puer, saying he collects it for its taste, not its monetary value. Still, he estimates his 56 cakes of 100-year-old puer are worth about $640,000. He has two 150-year-old cakes whose value he declines to discuss.

There are even stories of Chinese tourists buying and flipping puer cakes - ie buying that for $13,000 and flipping them for a quick double! The Great Tea Bubble is reminscent of the Great Tulip mania that struck Holland four or five hundred years ago. That particular mania got speculators Europe wide hot and heavy over tulip bulbs where one single tulip bulb sold for several thousand florin. To put that into perspective, one hundred florin could buy 1 ton of butter. Can you believe it?

Food Technology Service Ensures Food Safety

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/02/2007 10:34:00 AM
Food Safety is a big important issue. In fact, the US government has setup a portal to to the nation's food supply at FoodSafety.gov and there is even legislation to ensure the safety of the nation's food in Congress according to the Washington Post especially with the rotten tofu and rotten beef scare from China. One day it is Chinese catfish, bass, eel and shrimp containing high levels of cancer-causing toxins. Another day it is toothpaste made from diethylene glycol—the poisonous chemical found in antifreeze. Even Chinese-made pet-food could not escape the wrath, with some animal feed containing melanie—an industrial chemical used to make plastics and fertilizer.

Considering that China feeds 1.3 billion people every day, the incidents are still uncommon in the grand scheme of things. However, the problem is still a major one.

That's where a little $9 million company is focusing on. It's called Food Technology Service (Nasdaq VIFL). According to their company profile, Food Technology Service, Inc. is engaged in the business of operating a gamma irradiation facility using Cobalt 60 for the sterilization of medical, surgical, pharmaceutical and packaging materials. It also disinfects fruits, vegetables and meat products, which extends their shelf life.

The stock is up 20% today and could go up more if we get more food scares which I am sure we will. That's great news because Food Technology keeps produce - fruits and vegetables - meat & poultry, shell eggs, crustacean and molluscan shellfish safe. Around 66,000 shares have traded so far and the float is only 1 million shares. It's a microcap and it's focused on a hot sector. All that's needed is another big food scare for this stock to rocket up. Can you believe this VIFL traded as high as $10? I didn't believe it either until I saw it.

Tianchi Lake Houses China's Loch Ness Monsters

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/02/2007 08:06:00 AM
Tourists have spotted monsters swimming in Tianchi Take on the border of North Korea. The Chinese Central Television station broadcasted a tape of the monster and you can see it in this YouTube video of Tianchi Lake monsters. There are 6 monsters swimming in the video and they look like the Loch Ness Monsters from Scotland.

A TV reporter said he shot a 20-minute video of six "Lake Tianchi Monsters", near the border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Zhuo Yongsheng, who works for a local TV station run by the administration office of the nature reserve at Mount Changbaishan, Jilin, has sent pictures of the Loch Ness-type creatures to Xinhua's Jilin provincial bureau.

One of them showed the creatures swimming in three pairs, in parallel. Another showed them together, leaving ripples on the surface of the deep, volcanic lake.

The first sightings of monsters at Tianchi Lake was about a century ago in 1903. The first reported sighting was in 1903. It was claimed that a large buffalo-like creature attacked three people, but was shot six times. The monster then retreated under the water.

Mirthala Salinas Sleeps Her Way to the Top

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/02/2007 07:57:00 AM

Mirthala Salinas slept her way to the top. The former Telemundo evening newscaster had a fling with LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and landed the most coveted broadcasting job ever in LA. Then, the sh*t hit the fan and Mirthala Salinas, former mistress, current girlfriend and disgraced Telemundo newscaster, got outed for her affair.

Her two month suspension for having an affair with the Mayor while reporting on his marriage’s demise is up. Telemundo has offered Salinas a reassignment at Inland Empire bureau in Riverside, a serious demotion from her previous role as fill-in evening newscaster. She decided not to show up for work. Sometimes sleeping your way to the top doesn’t work.

Mirthala, go write a book about your affair with El Mayor. Sultry love exposes always sell like hot cakes. It's sure to land on the NY Times best seller's list and you'll never work another day in your life again.

October 01, 2007

How to Deal with DeadBeats

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/01/2007 06:09:00 PM
America has alot of deadbeats. If you don't believe me, believe this: In 2005, businesses lost $180 billion due to deadbeats. To be successful, you have to deal with deadbeats, because very few businesses are lucky enough to have a complete roster of perfect customers who always pay on time. These are the customers who tell you that "the check is in the mail" and one month later, you call and "the check is still in the mail." You wonder if they must live in Antarctica or Timbuktu because your check is always late - or gulp! - lost in the mail. Dealing with deadbeats is essential for startups because oftentimes your customers are small businesses too. After all, a startups first customers are often early adopters who work with you because there are no alternative solutions. How do you deal with deadbeats and how do you wean yourself off of them?

I have studied this issue and am a student and former victim of Deadbeats Anonymous. I say that half jokingly but it is a lesson from the school of hardknocks. Only after having gotten burned have I realized how important it is to have rules on choosing and dealing with your customers. After much pain and loss, I believe these are some essentials on how to deal with them.

Tips on Dealing with Deadbeats.

1) If you are a startup, choose large established customers. Let me put it another way: If you are a startup, avoid having startups as customers. I will draw upon a personal lesson as an example. A few months ago, a friend of mine decided to work with a startup to serve ads on his blog. The startup, backed by lots of venture capital (close to $20 million), had a sterling team of entrepreneurs running the company. They had built a successful dot-com during the late 90s. As a result, he trusted them to bring ads to his site. The relationship started off great in the beginning and they promised big results. Great - he thought. You can't beat that. Unfortunately for him, things didn't turn out so great.

The first warning sign was that they chose to pay him on a net-60 day basis. Normally, the online advertising companies pay net 30. For those who are just starting a business, remember this: business is about making money and you can't make money if you don't get paid. Net 60 means that you get paid almost 90 days after you serve their ads. This was not a problem because he received the first check - they were slightly late on the check. They paid after 100 days. But then the problem happened again because they "forgot" to send the next 3 checks. The "deadbeat" alarm went off and he researched more about the founders of this startup and realized that they had looted their previous dot-com and it went bankrupt. It had even been investigated by the SEC. It's amazing how a few years can wash their slates clean and enable them to start a fresh and con investors out of another $20 million.

Startups tend to be scrappy and while that may be great if you are an entpreneur, it sucks if you are their partner and need to get paid. Large companies have far fewer reasons to stiff you. My lesson learned: Choose large established customers.

2) Insist on Net 30 day payment terms or better. If you are a startup, you are probably short on capital and financing your business out of your own pocket. You eat what you kill - oftentimes ramen noodles for dinner and program in your underwear. If your customers don't pay you, you don't eat.

Starvation is bad. That is why you need to ensure that you collect early. My friend could have reduced the amount of grief working with this particular deadbeat if he had insisted on Net 30 day payments. The simplest way to deal with deadbeats is to insist to your customers that your payment terms are 30 days and that is simply your policy with all customers. If you do not receive the payments every 30 days, you stop work immediately.

Why is this important? It's important because your business is about building the product or service that you want to create. It is not about managing deadbeats. Insist on these rules - because this is in your control - and the rest will take care of itself. The deadbeat customers will avoid you because you will find that the deadbeats realize you're not easy prey. Yes, for every hardworking entrepreneur in America, there is a lazy-ass deadbeat.

3) Insist on cash on delivery if the customer pays late - even once. According to the Wall Street Journal, That's what Dave Hirschkop did after his customer failed to pay him for a $16,000 salsa bill. That's alot of salsa and Dave learned that the hard way after a customer dragged their feet for 6 months. For Dave, it's especially important because he sells salsa and week old salsa is nasty and irrecoverable!

4) Offer incentives for early payment. If you have repeat customers, offer them a free month of service if they pay for a year's worth of service in advance. That's what many companies do. Think of all the online companies that charge you for content. If you sign up for content online, whether it's online newspaper or subscription content, they all ask you to pay ahead of time - before you use their service. Do that!

5) Get your customers to pre-pay. This is not hard and in fact is becoming the gold standard on the internet. Instead of waiting for customers to pay you after you have delivered the service, charge them before you deliver. That's what Google does with Adwords and Yahoo does with Overture. Here's how it works: If you want to advertise your business on either of those sites, Google and Yahoo ask you to give them your credit card and pre-pay a mininum of $25 to $50. They do that to millions of customers and they're running multi-billion businesses. It's a no brainer and as an entrepreneur you should do that too.

In Summary ...

Dealing with deadbeats is as much about collecting on them as it is about choosing your customers and incentivizing them in the right way with the proper rules in place. If you have the proper systems in place and insist that your customers prepay, you might not have deadbeats at all. I hope these 5 tips are useful to entrepreneurs starting their own businesses.

The solutions I have offered are from my experience and so it is limited to what I know working with startups. I am curious to hear from entrepreneurs and people who have dealt with deadbeats. Do you have a deadbeat story or need help? Feel free to share.

Is Broadcast Intl the Next Broadcast.com?

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/01/2007 11:06:00 AM
Stocks like Handheld Entertainment (Nasdaq ZVUE) have been very volatile - fast ups and fast downs - because of speculation about online video sharing. There's a small company called Broadcast Intl (BCST.OB) which may be the next Broadcast.com. You probably remember Broadcast.com and how it was acquired by Yahoo (Nasdaq YHOO) for a couple billion dollars. Broadcast.com was about radio. Broadcast Intl is about video - delivering video over satellite. The stock is unlisted and trades on the bulletin board which means the same rules for disclosure are not in play. The stock is one fire lately, running up from $1 to $2 in September. Is it a speculative play? I would be the first one to admit that it is! Five years ago, Broadcaster traded as high as $10.

Eva Longoria Sex Tape

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/01/2007 08:04:00 AM
The Eva Longoria sex tape is being verified and already available on many websites on the internet. You may recall she plays Gabrielle, the sexually liberated cougar on Desperate Housewives who seduces a teen.

Rumors are that the tape is real. The tape is said to contain steamy footage of the Desperate Housewives actress with new husband, Tony Parker. I suspect she made it herself ala Paris Hilton. According to moles who have the inside scoop, the tape will become a class collectible. We sure hope so!

Blonde Bombshell Wins Ukrainian Election

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/01/2007 07:54:00 AM
Yulia Tymoshenko is one of the wealthiest women in Ukraine and she is going back to being prime minister. Businesswoman? Check. Photogenic? Yes. By the way, she used to run the largest company in Ukraine called United Energy Systems of Ukraine. They sell gas. Lots of it! To Russia. She started off her business career running a video rental chain and bootlegging video tapes and selling them in Ukraine. Allegedly, Yulia was such a good business woman, she took the Russians for a ride.

All those things and you have a politician who has the ambitions of a Ukrainian Hilary Clinton. She's got a blog . She has online videos. She is now back as prime minister. This woman knows PR! The Eastern Europeans may be behind the times economically, but are way ahead in terms of political equality for women.

Nicole Begg Bares It For PlayBoy

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/01/2007 07:46:00 AM

Nicole Begg is not just a 19-year old speed skating champion from New Zealand. She is also being chased by PlayBoy which wants to feature her in their January edition. After being picked up earlier in the year, she's become a local sensation. I had never heard of her until her latest publicity stunt, but she's doing for speed skating what Tanya Harding did for ice skating.

Apparently, Nicole comes from Timaru which is a town in New Zealand. There is nothing to do there all year around except to prance around in skates. Now, she is doing so in the buff. We congratulate her!

What does she think of all this? She thought it's nothing worse than what everyone else does. In fact, a fellow skater called her out on her indecent exposure - and ironically, got her own photo shoot in the buff. Competitive jealousy!? Absolutely! Think Vanessa Hudgens. It seems like everyone wants to be in the buff. It probably beats the starting pay in skating!

September 30, 2007

Watch The Kingdom Online

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 9/30/2007 10:02:00 AM
The Kingdom is available on Google Video. You can watch The Kingdom online. It's a movie about suicide bombing in Saudi Arabia against Americans living and working there for oil company Aramco. The movie has an all star cast. Think Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner (from Alias), Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman. The plot is fast in the beginning and then really slows down.

The Kingdom Part I [Google Video]
The Kingdom Part II [Google Video]

You can watch The Kingdom at Google and the quality is OK, but I give the movie a 6 out of 10 rating. Good but not that great. There is probably something better to do with 2 hours of time.