Credit Card Bankruptcy Tips – Legally Settle Bad Credit Debt Without Bankruptcy – Part 3

Bankruptcy is not good for anyone and we can say that bankruptcy is a bad idea for clearing your debts when other options for clearing your debts are present. Debt settlement and counseling are the two programs that are used to solve the problems of debts. In the concealment system, you can take a large loan for returning others small loans. In this way you can avoid different kinds of loans on different conditions and after returning all the loans, you will be liable to only one company. After returning the small debts, you can pay attention to only one side and you can pay back this loan with ease. In the consolidation system, long time period can help the debtors but it has a disadvantage because if you fail in paying any installment then the company will break the agreement with you.

Clearing the debts with the help of settlement is a better option for debtors because with the help of negotiations, you can settle your debts and after the completion of the operation, you will be fully free from the debt burden. After the hit of recession, people were not adopting the consolidation system for clearing their debts because after losing their income recourses they were not able to give the monthly installments. Debt settlement could be a good way in that situation but some fraudulent companies were making this method difficult for the people. Due to the availability of fraudulent companies, People were facing difficulties in searching the registered company that can help them. Due to this situation, the government introduced a new act which is actually against the fake companies and is in the favor of debtors and the creditors.

Most of the debtors are choosing the settlement program for clearing their debts because they know that through this option they can remove their debts to more than half without any risk. With the help of the new act, the risk of fraud has gone because if the client shows dissatisfaction then the company can’t get its fee. Now the companies are working according to the client’s condition and are removing the client’s debts with full concentration.

Common Problems Facing Gasoline Users

BELL PERFORMANCE FUEL ISSUES SERIES

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Gasoline is a cleaner fuel which does not face the same storage issues that diesel fuel does. What are the biggest problems/complaints that consumers have about their gasoline fuel?

• Recent gas mileage drops
• Poor performance, rough vehicle operation or loss of power compared to the past
• A forced switch to ethanol blends

Gasoline is required to be additized before point of sale, but the effective level of additization has decreased by 50% since 1996. Many consumers may benefit from use of aftermarket fuel treatments to negate some or all of these issues.

GASOLINE VS. DIESEL

To be clear, gasoline-related problems aren’t nearly as severe or widely reported as problems with diesel, biodiesel or the universally-reviled ethanol blend. This could due to a number of relevant factors.

Gasoline is a “cleaner” fuel than diesel, in the sense that gasoline, during the distillation process at the refinery, is the lighter fuel that comes off first. Lighter means it has shorter molecules (because shorter molecules are lighter-weight) and it boils or burns at a lower temperature than heavier fuels like diesel. The lighter-weight gasoline’s smaller molecules burn more cleanly than diesel and have the volatility and lower auto-ignition temperatures need to power today’s sophisticated spark-ignition engines.

Gasoline supplies tend to be used at a faster rate than diesel, which is stored for longer period of times and is therefore more apt to be subject to problems caused by quality breakdown in storage, oxidation, microbial contamination and water contamination.

GASOLINE OF TODAY COMPARED TO THE PAST

But that’s not to say everything is as it should be with gasoline and the vehicles that use it.

The quality of gasoline isn’t quite what it used to be. What we mean by this is the gasolines of today don’t burn as cleanly or provide the same level of vehicle performance as they did in the past. Some of the performance drop has been masked by substantial improvements in engine technology and vehicle engineering. But the quality of the fuel itself doesn’t match up to the high-quality pure fuels of days gone by.

Why is this? The demand for petroleum fuels is greater than ever while the supply goes in the opposite direction. More people around the world are driving and demanding more gasoline. This fact couples with less oil being found, pumped out of the ground and refined. It has become more and more difficult to find new sources of petroleum around the world. At the same time China, India and other formerly third-world countries are joining the Western World’s thirst for petroleum, bringing with them a vast influx of more and more consumers. This means more people trying to use a smaller supply. So refineries have to both run at bigger capacity and also squeeze more gasoline out of every barrel of oil they process, to meet this increased demand.

Over the years, refineries have resorted to using the chemistry of cracking methods to increase the yield of gasoline from each barrel of oil. Recall that refineries process the components of crude oil by using distillation processes – heating the crude oil up and splitting off the different fractions like gasoline, diesel and propane by allowing them to cool and run off at different temperatures. By normal distillation methods, a 42-gallon barrel of oil will yield 15-18 gallons of gasoline. But refineries have learned that they can increase this yield (and increase their profits) y chemically splitting heavier, non-gasoline part of what’s left behind. Larger molecules that would normally be part of heavier diesel and fuel oil get split apart into the size molecules found in gasoline. And this means more gasoline from each barrel and more profit for the refinery, which needs every penny it can get in today’s tough business climate.

Unfortunately when you “crack” gasoline, you might end up with molecules like gasoline molecules, but these molecules have open spots which make them more likely to be susceptible to attracting impurities (like oxygen or heavy metals) and to breaking down more quickly. In chemical cracking, you create unstable molecules in the fuel blend (remember that gasoline is actually a mixture of different length hydrocarbon molecules). These unstable molecules not only don’t burn as well but also make it easier for the gasoline to pick up undesirable things in storage (like oxygen) which cause it to have a shorter storage life.

HIGHER COST FOR LOWER QUALITY

It’s bad enough that the gasoline today doesn’t match up to what it used to be. But drivers gripe the most about the price they see at the pump. For some reason, gas prices seem to hit a nerve for drivers, who will complain vehemently about a jump of 10 or 20 cents per gallon, but don’t seem to mind paying $3.00 for an ATM fee to withdraw cash from a bank.

Why is this? Hard to tell. All we know is drivers want maximum quality and performance for the least money. This is true whether the driver has a heavy tank-like SUV or a lightweight economy car designed to meet federal CAF standards for fuel mileage.

THE EFFECTS OF POORER QUALITY GASOLINE FUELS

Engines have improved but that doesn’t mean the gasoline doesn’t have fuel-related problems.

The gasolines of today don’t burn as completely or as well as before. The effects on the consumer are poor mileage and performance and a greater chance of combustion chamber and injector/valve deposits. Deposits in these areas cause the engine not to perform as well as it did when it was in newer conditions. Combustion chamber deposits contribute to poor vehicle perform and raised emissions. Deposits in the injectors and valves cut the vehicle’s fuel mileage, make it sluggish and also raise the emissions.

FEDERAL ADDITIVE REQUIREMENTS FOR GASOLINE: NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE

For the last couple of decades, the Federal government has required that all gasolines contain certain additives to help control formation of some of these kind of deposits. In theory, this is a great idea and has really contributed to cutting down on harmful emissions in the environment: deposits = incomplete combustion = unburned gas and particulates exiting the exhaust. Most of this is caught by the catalytic convertor (another government-required innovation which has helped the environment). But this incomplete combustion robs the vehicle of optimal performance.

What of this federal deposit control requirement? Yearly surveys of gasoline quality and specification show that the levels of deposit control in practice (as opposed to what’s claimed to be added at the refinery) have been declining steadily since about 1996 (shortly after the Federal requirement went into effect). This means the gasolines now make more deposits than they did 15 years ago, despite the Federal requirement. And that’s not a good thing for your vehicle or your wallet.

WHAT’S A DRIVER TO DO?

The perception of poor performance and mileage has created a rather large market for “after-market” gasoline additives. Some of them are better than others; the great majority of them are “less than satisfactory”, to be diplomatic. Unfortunately this creates doubt in the consumers’ mind – if they’re going to spend hard-earned money on a fuel treatment, it better meet expectations. Especially when those expectations are raised by slick marketing and promises of guaranteed results that seem too good to be true. When the benefits don’t material, drivers resign themselves to believing all fuel treatments don’t work.

Unfortunately consumer expectations have been inflated by short-lived “snake oil salesmen” in the marketplace. They bring a product to market backed with extravagant claims that are too good to be true. Rarely are these products registered with the EPA – a legal requirement supposed to be fulfilled by anyone selling an old-road additive product. Guaranteed 35% mileage increase or more? Yeah, right. By the time enough consumers complain about the worthless product, the crook is gone with cash in hand. The typical life for a company like this peddling its own version of worthless engine water may only be a couple of years.

Why doesn’t the government do anything about it? This kind of situation falls under the auspices of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the FTC doesn’t really have the resources to catch everyone in the short time it takes for them to get in and out of the marketplace with a few million dollars of ill-gotten gains. So the crooks get off scot-free, most of the time, and the consumer suffers for it. It is notable that a number of well-known companies, like STP, have faced FTC lawsuits for untrue product claims and have had to settle for substantial sums of money.

We can’t tell you what to buy and use in your vehicle. But you will have the greatest chance for a satisfactory treatment experience if you follow some of these guidelines:

• Look for additives with proven track records

• Multi-functional additives with detergency

•Be wary of extravagant claims and hokey concepts

• Steer clear of any additive that claims to be able to make the car perform significantly better than it’s designed specifications

Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Nobody can guarantee you a 35% or 45% increase in your fuel mileage, because everyone drives differently. Reputable products that actually work tend to be more conservative in their claims, because those are the claims that will stand the test of time.

Healthy Office Design

When one thinks of all the aspects of designing or remodeling an office, usually the “health” of the space isn’t on the top 10 list of things to be concerned with. But, did you know that there is actually a science devoted to the health of buildings? The study of Bau-Biology (the study of the life of a building) dates back to the 1950s after WWII-when fast, inexpensive construction was the norm. Occupants of tract housing and office buildings started becoming ill with no apparent cause. However, the cause was found to be off-gassing from toxins and chemicals used in the new building materials (plastics, MDF, veneers, nylons, polyesters), textiles and air-tight construction that allowed no ventilation. So, how does Bau-Biology play into 2009 office design? Well, eco-friendly and sustainability not-withstanding, designing a space that takes into the account the health of the occupants not only decreases sick days, but helps increase productivity, efficiency AND help saves energy costs!

I use what I call Integrative Lifestyle Design (ILD) when designing spaces. ILD takes into account how the space will be used, who will be using the space and how to maximize efficiency of both. When (re)designing an office (or cubicle) one must first determine what is staying (this includes all old papers!), color scheme, space-planning and accessory placement.

***ILD is the fusion of Eastern (Feng Shui) and Western (eco-friendly/healthy) design principles to create a unique, supportive and healthy space for all occupants. ***

No matter what the project is, a thorough purge must take place. For the office this means going through files, office supplies, drawers, furniture and your email. The Japanese have even made this “purging” into a holiday (oosooji) that takes place at the end of every year so as not to bring “dirt from the old year into the new-even school children take part with a thorough purging of old papers and a cleaning of their desks. For furniture, accessories, pictures and/or un-needed office supplies, see if you can donate them to a school, non-profit or even a company rummage sale. Once you’ve done a purge, do a thorough cleaning-natural, eco-friendly cleaners please. You don’t want to do all this great cleansing and then load up the space with chemicals.

***Carpeting is the #1 indoor air pollutant, followed by paint. Carpeting made from fibers derived from petrochemicals can off-gas up to 5 years. Paint can off-gas up to 18 months. ***

Next up is floor and wall-coverings. The key here is to choose items that are NO or LOW VOC (volatile organic compound) which is the chemicals and toxins that off-gas. For flooring options, hard surfaces are better as they are easier to maintain and a healthier choice for your space. Think tile, hardwood (or engineered wood), linoleum, rubber (also a GREAT sound deadener and less stress when standing) or marble. An accent/area rug can be used for color, warmth and to create a “soft” surface to trap sound so it doesn’t “echo” in the space. If you must have wall-to-wall carpet, look for wool (which also self-extinguishes if a fire breaks out!) or other natural fiber. Make sure to get RUBBER padding as this will help extend the life of the carpet, ease stress when standing and if carpet gets damaged, you only have to replace the portion of the padding that was damaged.

***There are great strides being made in the manufacturing of carpet (it’s also a large contributor to landfills). Carpeting made from recycled plastic bottles to paper, recycling old carpeting & padding into new padding, strides are being made to “green” this industry.***

For wall-covering options, paint is the easiest, quickest and most cost efficient choice. All paint manufacturers have a low or no VOC option-all you have to do is ask for it. VOCs in paint include anti-microbial, quick drying agents that give the room that “new paint” smell. If using wallpaper, try to find some that is made from a natural fiber or is recycled. You also need to use a non-toxic adhesive to stop off-gassing. If in doubt, ask.

I use Feng Shui principles when laying out any space-plan, but the main tip is to plan the room around the most important item of furniture. In this case, it’s the desk. The desk should be placed in the Power Point position. This is the DIAGONAL CORNER from the entryway into the space. This is the most psychologically secure position of the room. The desk should face INTO the space-not looking out a window or at a wall. The WORST location for the desk is directly in line with the door/entryway. In Feng Shui terms this is called the “death position” and you don’t want that! This is due to the person sitting at the desk being vulnerable with each person passing the door; there is no security in this location.

***You want to have the desk facing IN the room so the person sitting at the desk can see anyone entering (again security). You also want a solid wall behind the chair for support and security-no window-so you don’t have to worry about people passing behind you. ***

Next, make sure the office has an efficient lay-out. Is everything you need easily accessible? Can you open drawers and file cabinets easily? Can you walk through the office with out tripping over, stepping over or bumping into anything? If not, change it. Bruises, cuts and irritation at moving an item to reach another item causes stress which isn’t good on any level. For placement of accessories and furniture, see the paragraphs on Feng Shui.

A quick Feng Shui history-(from my book, “Designing the Life of Your Dreams from the Outside In”): Feng shui is the 5000 yr old Chinese science that focuses on living in harmony with your environment or how you interact with your surroundings through your furniture arrangement, color scheme and accessories and collections choices. These choices can either block or improve your energy (chi). When energy flows freely, life is fabulous, things get finished on time, and you feel happy and eager to learn new things. When energy is blocked, you feel overwhelmed, unhappy and drained.

I use the Western school (Black Hat Sect) of Feng Shui, which uses a tool called a Bagua Board to help with the layout of a space. Bagua is a Chinese word that translated means an “8-sided figure” or octagon shaped. This figure is then divided into segments, like a pie, with a center piece-giving you nine areas. Think of a tic-tac-toe board. These nine areas are then assigned names, colors, shapes and an element that corresponds to an assigned life area. The nine life areas are: Career/Life Path, Knowledge/Spirituality, Family, Wealth/Abundance, Success/Fame/Luck, Relationships, Creativity/Kids, Helpful People/Travel, and Health/Well-Being. The Bagua board can be used to space plan, accessorize and plan your color scheme.

In using and applying the Bagua board to your space, line up the bottom row (Knowledge/Spirituality, Career/Life Path and Helpful People/Travel) with the entryway wall of the room. First, draw the floor plan of your room or “bird’s eye view,” including the doorway and windows, and then plot/draw the corresponding life areas around the perimeter. Still a little confused? Stand in the entryway of your room and look INTO the space. If the door/entry is in the LEFT corner looking in, you enter the room from the Knowledge/Spirituality area. If you enter the room from the CENTER of the entryway wall, you enter the room from the Career/Life Path area. Lastly, if you enter the room from the RIGHT corner, you enter the room from the Helpful People/Travel area. Then you can plot out the rest of the room with the Bagua. See what “areas” need to be worked on, or what areas you’d like to work on. You will analyze furniture placement, accessories and/or piles of clutter. Once you get the concept of the Bagua and how to properly line up the grid, you will be able to work on any space and be able to identify the corresponding life area.

Now that you have the Bagua board plotted out on your floor plan, you can then “activate” these areas by using the element, color, shape, item or direction that is associated with that particular life area (i.e. pink hearts can be used in the Relationship area or a coin dish can be placed in Wealth/Abundance). See below:

Wealth/Abundance
Purple/Metallic
Water Element
Wavy lines
SE

Success/Fame
Red
Fire Element
Triangle
S

Relationships
Red/Pink/Peach
Earth Element
SW
Squares

Family
Green
Wood Element
Rectangle
E

Health/Well-Being
Yellow/Earth-tones
Earth Element
Squares
Center

Creativity/Kids
White/Metallic
Metal Element
Circles
W

Knowledge/Spirituality
Blue
Earth Element
Squares
NE

Career/Life Path
Black
Water Element
Wavy Lines
N

Helpful People/Travel
Gray
Metal Element
Circles
NW

Here’s an example: One of my client’s is a busy doctor and his office reflects that…can you say piles of paperwork and medical books EVERYWHERE? Although walking into the room causes me to hyperventilate, he states that he “know where everything is.” It should be noted that the office is in RELATIONSHIP area of the home’s floor plan, therefore clutter and chaos in this area can have an impact on all legal relationships (romantic and business). Now, I didn’t want to make his office a shrine to his ROMANTIC relationship, but adding some pictures of he and his wife is appropriate. The office will be painted a red-orange color to accent the EARTH element of the RELATIOSHIP area. The current accessories that decorate the office (college diplomas, family pictures and other souvenirs from travels) are staying, although being moved to their appropriate areas according to the Bagua. We are moving the pictures of him and his wife to the RELATIONSHIP area, moving the photos of his children to the CREATIVITY/KIDS area, and his Mom to the FAMILY area.

You can also use the Bagua to help pick out your office color scheme. Do you want a better relationship with clients, co-workers and vendors? Pick from the RELATIONSHIP (red/earth-tones) and HELPFUL PEOPLE areas (grays/whites/metallics). Work in a bank or other financial institution? Look to the WEALTH area (purples/greens/black/metallics). Work for a non-profit? I’d choose from the SUCCESS (red), CREATIVITY (white/metallic) and HELPFUL PEOPLE (grays/white) areas. This can also be used in helping to pick out a color scheme for branding and logo design. Remember that there are shade, tints and tones of ALL colors and that red, doesn’t necessarily mean Candy Apple Red. Also remember that color can be brought in through accessories (metal frames) and furniture (wood desk, metal file cabinet) and not just paint.

Other tips to help make your office more “healthy” are to:

– Make use of any natural light that enters the space. This is good for morale and helps in the production of melatonin in our bodies (lack of this is cause of the SADD disorder). Strategically placed mirrors will help bring this light throughout the space.

– Hang/place plants by computers, copiers and printers. All emit EMF (electromagnetic fields) and the copier and printer toner also off-gasses which we breathe in. Plants such as spider plants help detoxify the air. You should ideally have 1 plant for every 100 sq feet of space to help clean the air!

– Only have accessories/pictures that are positive and supportive of your company mission statement. Anything else can be confusing, and just add to mental clutter.

– Make sure everyone has an ergonomically sound chair for them to sit on to encourage proper posture.

– Use eco-friendly, natural cleaners.

– Make sure every space has task lighting to cut down on eyestrain, and that computer monitors have a screen to cut down on glare.

With all of these “quick” tips, you and your office mates will not only have a beautiful, productive space in which to work, but one that benefits the health of all who enter!

Staff Performance: What Major Values Do Your Staff Stand For?

Summary

You want clients to feel they get “value for money” when they deal with you. That’s fine. But there’s more to a business relationship than only that value. To gain superior staff performance you need to tell employees all business values you want your business to represent to prospects and customers.

Two Essential Questions

As manager you need to be clear about two things concerning business values.

  • What values you want your business to stand for
  • What you’ll do to ensure that your employees represent those values to prospects and customers.

What Your Business Stands For

These values should be stated as clearly as possible. No room for “waffle words” here. A plumbing company client of mine says simply, “If we’re late you pay nothing.” Can you imagine how reassured clients are by that statement? It’s emblazoned on all official company documents and websites. No “ifs, buts or perhaps”: no “conditions apply” or “within 10km”. Simply, “If we’re late you pay nothing.”

As each job is booked, the customer is given a commitment that the work will be commenced within a 2 hour window agreeable to the customer. If the work starts late, even by one minute, the customer pays nothing regardless of the overall cost of the job.

Customer Reaction

Customers are overjoyed when staff meet the guarantee and refuse to accept payment. Some customers insist on paying. But a guarantee is a guarantee. Customers sometimes contact head office and offer payment, particularly when they’re happy with the work done. But the guarantee is always honoured.

Values Involved

Customers learn quickly that

  • The company knows customers are busy and can expect plumbers to be there as mutually agreed
  • They can trust the word of the plumbing company
  • It links with another guarantee: that the customers is the final judge of satisfactory work. The customer is always asked to test the repair. When it works well but there’s no payment required, the customer learns that the guarantee wasn’t merely a “cover” for inferior work
  • The company is committed to a long term relationship with the customer
  • The company is definitely not “just another plumbing company”
  • The relationship between customer and company is based on values beyond mere “value for money”.

Staff Learn That

  • Company guarantees mean what they say
  • Company guarantees will be honoured
  • Customer satisfaction is the paramount measure of satisfactory repair work
  • When they themselves make a commitment to a customer, they must honour that commitment
  • Being late for a job is a major deficiency in customer service
  • Retaining a customer’s business has greater long term value than the cost of one job
  • The relationship between the customer and the business isn’t “just about money”.

“Values” Underpin Every Interaction

  • Every interaction between your customer and your company is underpinned by a set of values… good or ill
  • Customers will infer a value from every interaction. If you claim that “your satisfaction is our prime concern” then haggle over the cost of a $10.00 part, you’re not only raising doubts about the $10 cost. You’re also raising doubts about whether what you say can be believed.

Other “Value” Perceptions

What values do you wish to promote and retain when

  • Dealing with employees
  • Dealing with competitors
  • Dealing with providers and suppliers: businesses who have you as a customer
  • Operating legally and ethically
  • Working with colleagues such as other members of your management group to name just a few “value” based issues.

And the Staff… ?

It’s important to remember that your staff infer values from your actions in the same way that customers, competitors and service providers do. The two things that staff want to see are clarity and consistency.

Clarity and Consistency

If you say, for instance, “my door is always open if there’s something you want to talk about” make sure they can easily and readily speak with you. Don’t expect employees to be satisfied with having to make an appointment to see you two weeks in advance. And if it seems that some staff can arrange to see you any time at a moment’s notice, don’t imagine that those who have to wait two weeks won’t notice the difference.

When Staff Fail You

A couple of years ago, a truck struck my car as I was leaving my driveway. The driver of the truck had mounted a median strip in trying to pass other cars stopped at a red light. The damage was only slight and the driver admitted he’d made an error. He told me the name of the manager to call to arrange compensation.

When I phoned the manager concerned – a son of the owner – he denied any liability and insisted I was lying and that I was at fault. As the damage was slight I didn’t bother to pursue the matter.

The company involved has a chain of hardware stores. But I’ll never enter one again. We don’t share values.

Empty Promises: Conflicting Values

Many years ago I spent some months consulting with a national company. The founder and Managing Director always claimed that “anyone can reach the top here if they want to.” All members of the top management group had been promoted from within. The General Manager had been a Branch Manager. The Operations Manager had started as a cleaner. You may disagree with the Managing Director’s policy. But it was transparently real. And it offered all employees the same opportunities.

You, Values and Employees

Firstly, make sure that you’re clear about the values you want your business to stand for. You may think that your employees already know. Check that out. Your values will be represented in your marketing position, your performance standards and systems, your rewards and incentive program and the effectiveness of your customers relations. If they aren’t crystal clear to you, they’ll be even less clear to employees. Constantly ask yourself and your employees, “Does this represent the business values that are important to us?”

Why Employees Matter

Customers learn about your business values primarily from interactions with employees. It’s so important that employees understand how important they are in representing values in your business.

Conclusion

Values are an essential element of how every company, large, medium or small, operates. They go way beyond conventional concepts of “value for many”. They underpin every aspect of business operation. The importance of values can’t be overestimated. And it should never be counted.