Thursday, February 26, 2004

Pinging services for your blog

A nice list of Pinging services. Should you be pinging these sites?

Giving out your business card

You're at a convention, or a trade show, or a business mixer at the local Chamber of Commerce, and you've started talking with someone. You think they might be an excellent client for your services. It's tempting to offer your business card, but you don't want to appear too pushy. What to do?


Ask for their card. People will often ask for yours in return.

Hostility and Takeovers

If you can't beat them, join buy them. That's the underlying philosophy behind a hostile takeover. Often, the strategy works, too. This allows folks to step into their competitor's contracts, and to sell off unused assets.

There are often personnel that can be let go, where duplication of job functions comes into play. How many Presidents do you need anyway?

Sometimes though, just as you think that you have your competitor where you want it, the Justice Department attempts to intervene. As in this Oracle Corp. attempt at rival Peoplesoft.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Adhesion Contracts

More nasty business. Take it or leave it. Those are the words that would accompany the phrase "Adhesion Contract" if the world had its own set of subtitles to describe legal terms. (Maybe it should.)

I like Wikipedia, and am tempted to expand their definition of Adhesion contracts. Seems like a good idea. It's the closest we may have to that set of subtitles.

What is the harm in an adhesion contract? Well, one party has all of the power and decision-making authority, and the other has nothing. There's no give-and-take exchange of responsibilities or obligations.

No negotiation, or alternatives. Terms that only benefit the company in a position of power. Often leading to a large profit. This type of contract is most frequently seen in a deal between a corporation and a consumer, and rarely does anything to make businesses look good.

Small businesses often use customer service as their unique selling proposition to attract customers. It's something that large businesses can do also. But, many of them seem to grow too large, and reduce the value of customer service in their business models. It's an oversight that has cost many companies their customers. It's also within that context that we see adhesion contracts arise.

Another phrase that you might see when the words "adhesion contract" come up is the term "dealing at arm's length." That means that both parties have a say. It's often much better to be able to deal at arm's length. If a company doesn't offer you the opportunity to deal at arm's length, but would rather feed you an adhesion contract to sign, consider working with someone else, if it is an option.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Tortious interference with Business Relations

A quick series this week on dirty tricks in the business world. (OK, that's an ongoing theme of these pages, but sometimes less so than others.)

Sometimes businesses use their relationships with vendors as a weapon against other businesses. For instance, the machine shop that might make parts for your equipment may possibly work with your competitor too.

But, what if your competitor threatens to take their business elsewhere if that machine shop continues to provide you with services? Is this something that could happen? Is there a remedy short of physical violence?

Some jurisdictions have recognized a civil wrong of this nature and given it a name. It's often called something along the lines of "tortious interference with business relations."

Just what does that encompass? A Dallas law firm has a nice description on their page about Business Relationships. Unfortuantely, you'll note afterreading their description, that there is a gray area where the court won't take action. You'll find similar ambiguity in most places. It's not always easy to tell when a business has crossed a line.

Best way to respond if you think that this has happened to you? Talk to an attorney.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Corporations and Integrity

I'm a firm believer in business organizations as social entities, with responsibilities to their customers, and to their neighbors. It makes sense on so many levels to deal fairly with others. Yet, there are so many businesses that aren't. Most of them want to treat us badly and yet still want us to give them our money.

Frank Perdue tells us:
If you believe in unlimited quality and act in all your business dealings with total integrity, the rest will take care of itself.

Heroes and Villains

Verisign won a UK award as the Internet Villain of the Year for their sitefinder "search engine" tied to "page not found" results. Congratulations, guys.

Spam no more

Be careful that your web site doesn't look too much like someone elses. That is what happened when a site took on the appearance of the national no-call registry.

Customer Service Shenanigans

Is the Recording Industry (RIAA) filled with gangstas? That's what some law suits are claiming. I'm firmly convinced that calling 70 million people thieves has never been a wise business practice.

Maybe they should be exploring alternative distribution methods for their music.