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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Air travel quality has been stagnant among U.S. airlines

Americans complained three millionths of a percent less to the government about a declining quality of air travel last year. In other words, out of every 100,000 people, less than one or .3 people had fewer qualms with airline logistics than in 2012. Perhaps it is because they do not have time or because expectations of airline travel are lower, but according to a study conducted by academics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Wichita State University, the lower level of consumer satisfaction is evident in the Department of Transportation's published Air Travel Consumer Report.

Reasons for lower quality

Air travel quality standards
Traveler complaints fell despite lower quality of service
Consumer complaints were one of several variables used in the air transportation quality study. These consumer complaints where themselves divided in to several smaller categories such as flight problems, reservation complications, baggage issues, discrimination and several others.

Among the majority or 64.5 percent of consumer complaints made in 2013, dissatisfaction with flights, customer service and baggage handling were prevalent. The consumer complaints were weighted in a formula that seeks to provide a less subjective airline quality rating. However, the very small difference between year-over-year data is too small to be considered a substantial decline.

Reasons for complaints

It is worth noting that the research data used in the co-authored study was not consistent among different airlines. Moreover, independent of consumer complaints, airline quality was actually found to have improved. To explain further, various airlines had differing levels of performance based on the study data. For example, according to the Associated Press, smaller regional airlines received poorer grades. In addition, the nature of smaller airlines is said to make them more vulnerable to poor weather and therefore more likely to incur problems that negatively effect fliers. Of the best performing airlines, Virgin Atlantic scored best per CNN.

Other research

Although the aforementioned research claims to have a statistical advantage due to consistent annual measurements, it is not the only industry research. For instance, J.D. Power and Associates also conducts surveys about the airline industry and the resulting data is published on its website. Furthermore, its data found that Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air had the highest level of consumer satisfaction among several airlines. Whether or not either of the studies is truly reflective of consumer opinions is debatable as the population sample for the government related data consisted of less than 10,000 people.

Consumer variables

Consumer satisfaction is not always within an airline's control. For example, some airlines recently announced they will no longer be including limes for in-flight beverage services due to supply problems; unforeseen airplane maintenance issues also have a negative impact. Another factor is ticket prices; if they rise more than the average rate of inflation, but service quality remains flat or decreases, then there is chance consumer dissatisfaction will increase. Yet another variable are the airports themselves; if they become more crowded and the airports do not adjust their services to accommodate that increase, then the pre-flight portion of air transportation services is also influenced.

As demand for airline services increases and as airline shareholders seek annual profits, pressure on airlines to to trim travel benefits and cut corners on quality of service rises due to cost reasons as well as capacity restrictions. Although the data in the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University/Wichita State University study was largely unchanged in regard to the overall Airline Quality Rating, several of the year-over-year changes measured were small. In light of this, it is difficult to quantitatively conclude that the quality of air travel and consumer satisfaction with air travel was significantly different in the last two years based on the research results.

Image: Pbsouthwood, "Lufthansa 737 interior", CC BY 2.0

Financial news: October 21, 2014

Reuters: Federal Reserve Bank to customize banking rules for smaller banks
Bloomberg: PD-banks hold $38B in corporate debt securities vs $285B in '07
NYT: Traditional T.V. program distributors seek to compete with streamers
BI: IBMs share repurchase program only worked for so long with falling revenue
MW: Restoring lost S&P 500 ROI could take months per technical analysis
AP: Employee raises were less likely in Q3 per business survey data
CNBC: U.S. 10 yr Treasury yield forecast for '14 cut to 2.5% by GS
CNN: Property insurance premiums ↑ up to 9% for a single claim in some states
BBC: U.K. economic growth forecast cut .7% to 2.4% by forecasting group
ZH: The ECB began its bond buying stimulus on Monday as investors sold

Monday, October 20, 2014

How to be efficient at managing office stationery

Office stationary inventory tips
Extensive borrowing of stationary adds to office operation costs
By Harry Price 

So you’ve been given the daunting task of managing your office stationery. It is no easy task and keeping on top of it can be a nightmare. As it can account to as much as 40 percent of a business’s operational costs, it is quite a huge duty to manage, but the cost can be reduced and the job easier to manage.

Following the advice below should set you on the way to becoming extremely efficient at managing your office stationery supplies.


Take inventory of what supplies you already have in the office. Ask each department and co-worker what type of stationery they already use and get an estimate of how much they have and what they’ll need. Your list should include the basics; pens, paper, pencils, letterheads, staplers etc. Compare the lists and see if there is anything they would need, but do not currently have. However, remind them their requests should be realistic as stationery supplies do not stock lookalike androids.

Easy access

Store what inventory you have in a location that you can easily monitor and provides easy access for your co-workers to get to. Monitor the amount of stock you have on a regular basis and create an inventory list to prompt you to order when the stock reaches a certain level. It also helps to ask your colleagues to notify when they have nearly used up a specific item. For those who don’t notify you of low stock levels, we suggest a stationery embargo as punishment. That will teach them.

Contact a supplier

To replenish your stock, you will need to contact a stationery supplier.  Establishing a relationship with a professional one will ensure that you receive top quality items. Some suppliers offer discounts on orders if you spend over a certain amount, so it does work out cheaper in the long run to order a little more than you need. Compare prices on bulk prices and subscribe to news letters to get the latest news on items.

Reduce costs

Encourage your colleagues to reuse old stationery to reduce costs on orders. Paper printed on one side can be an effective notepad. Avoid throwing paper away that can be used again and keep it in a ‘scrap paper’ box for later use. You can use A4 envelopes as file holders or to hold receipts and use recycling bins to cut down on waste costs.

Enforce rules

Some of your co-workers may be tempted to take stationery home with them. Liaise with management to enforce strict regulations regarding stationery being taken home. The more stock taken out from the office, the more you will have to order which will result in being costly. You could set up a system where each

department will send a requisition form to you, which will help in keeping track of the stationery ordered. Suggest budgets for each department as this can deter colleagues from taking it home. Just avoid becoming a stationery dictator, those people are never invited to the office Christmas party. It really isn’t an easy task to manage the office stationery, but following this brief guide can make it a bit more straightforward. Just remember to keep an eye on stock levels, contact your supplier as soon as, find out what each department needs and it will make your life that little bit easier. Just don’t let the idea you control the office stationery go to your head. The power can be swiftly taken away!

About the author: Harry Price is multi-talented.  In addition to his writing skills, he plays football for his local league, speaks 3 languages fluently and can play several musical instruments.

Images: Shinealight, US-PD; 2. Harry Price, author owned and licensed

Financial news: October 20, 2014

Reuters: Secured loan documents valid despite errors per Delaware Supreme Court
NYT: Private equity confidentiality restricts pension investors from fee & cost obligations
Business Insider: Californians & Hawaiians have the highest mortgage debt in the U.S.
ZH: Bank Treasury holdings of $1.99 trillion makes them vulnerable to bond sell-off
AP: Investors fear a European recession and lower corporate earnings growth
OQ: S&P 500 downside target of 1803.25 believed to be undercut before upside resumes
CNBC: Divorce after age 50 has worse impact on retirement savings than earlier
Fox: Federal Social Security benefit debit and credit cards to have tighter digital security
CNN: Business fundamentals remain key for long-term investors per strategists
BBC: German finance minister advocates higher national investment, but not via more debt
Bloomberg: Russian national credit rating cut to Baa2 by Moody's
MW: China's central bank to add $32.6 billion to banking system to stem growth fears