David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 1st Week Of August
In 2014 I was voted by USA Today readers as one of the top ten business travel bloggers in the USA. Now mind you, I turned out to be number ten on the list of ten, but I did make it on (with my thanks to all those who voted.) Now that we’re all stuck at home and not traveling, I had to think about what to do with my blogs. I could stop writing them entirely – waiting till we all get through the current COVID19 pandemic / crisis. I could wax nostalgic and/or complain about past trips. Or, I could focus all of my efforts on my day job – growing the use of collaboration technologies – especially in light of how many people are now forced to use those tools for the first time. In reflecting upon those choices, what I decided to do is compile an ongoing list of observations during the crisis. Some of these may amuse, some may inform, some may sadden and others may help. My goal will be for you to have seen something in a different light than you did before you stopped to read the blog. I was going to apologize for how disjointed these thoughts may seem when put together, but then it dawned on me that feeling disjointed is our new normal – at least for a little while.
During the whole pandemic I’ve been advising everyone to pay attention – and not fall for the overly optimistic beliefs that the worst was over. Spoiler alert – it’s not. As I write this we’ve learned that the largest conference held in North America – the CES show – has been changed to a digital format for January 2021 (read that as an attempted positive spin on being cancelled.) The approximately one hundred seventy thousand visitors and hundreds of millions in cash that it brings in to Las Vegas have been shut down by the Coronavirus. At the same time (probably not coincidentally) MGM Resorts has laid-off their entire entertainment staff and Caesars is rumored to have let go all their staff from the newly built Forum conference area. Add to that the news that Google (and other firms) have extended their flexible work from home policies until July 2021, and you can see that we aren’t even close to the end of this disaster. The news that the Vegas economy will experience this irreplaceable loss comes about two months after I shared this video of the nonchalant and irresponsible way they opened up too-early. The casino had no distancing, no masks, no enforcement, and an obviously complete denial that they had a duty to keep people safe and healthy. As they say, what goes around, comes around.
Speaking of what goes around, I’ve just had to arrange for new homeowners insurance for my house. After insuring our home with a very high-end (and costly) policy from Chubb for twenty-three years, this year – during a pandemic – Chub has decided to drop us as clients. Why did they do this? Because last year we had some flooding in our house from a hurricane so we dared to submit a couple of claims. After paying them approximately $80K over two decades they cancel our policy when we have the audacity to actually use the insurance for a few claims / few thousand dollars. It’s not like we were going to try to rip-off the insurance company, we were just using it to maintain the value of our house as our mortgage legally requires us to do. To me, it’s the worst level of dishonesty and fraud to take my premiums for over twenty years then decide they don’t want to cover us any more when we actually use the insurance for its legitimate purpose – and do it during a deadly pandemic when our options are limited. As I’ve always said, a crisis shows you who your friends really are, and what the true nature of your business associates are, and it’s no exception here. We’ll re-insure our home pretty quickly, but not forget that Chubb goes on the list of firms that we know can’t be trusted in a crisis. It’s important that we remember every insurance company that acted in bad faith, every airline that promised to keep middle seats empty but then filled them, and every retailer and/or resort that didn’t enforce keeping employees and customers safe with masks and distancing.
And speaking of dishonest companies, I ordered a patio set from Bed, Bath & Beyond on-line during the first week of July, and it showed that it’d be delivered between July 18th and 24th. Regrettably, the on-line status of the order never changed from “Being Processed.” What we later learned is that they sold us a set they – and the manufacturer – didn’t have. Weeks of trying to get an accurate status went by with no luck. You can’t reply to their emails. You can only start an on-line chat (and wait about 40 minutes for an agent) or call their customer service line (and wait about 90 minutes.) When you do finally reach someone, being completely honest here, the agents just say anything they want to you to get you off the chat / off the phone. One time, after waiting over an hour and a half for an agent, we asked a question about where we could just pick the set up – offering to drive anywhere in the US. The agent then just hung-up on us. I brought this situation to the attention of their CEO via an email. A representative called me in response, took a week to look into it, and then just cancelled the order. Now that August is starting there is very little stock of anything left anywhere for us to get for this year. At any time Bed Bath & Beyond could have just been honest and told us they were selling us something they didn’t have and it was out of stock, but the month of horrific communications and lies have essentially cost us the summer outside with a useful patio set. Add this firm to the list above of the ones that have totally collapsed during the pandemic.
New Jersey’s COVID19 transmission numbers are still looking good enough (so far) for my getaway to the shore later this month (that I mentioned in a previous blog.) I’m not sure if I’m more happy or nervous about that. As a frequent traveler it’s really odd to be both looking forward to and worrying about a getaway. In the past the biggest worry about traveling was how my inept airline would botch my experience. Now the biggest fear is getting sick and dying. Kinda makes a delayed flight seem less of an issue….
With CES’ cancellation, no patio set for the yard, and the realization that it’s only just now August and everything ‘public’ is already likely cancelled until early to mid-next-year, I’m feeling a bit depressed. Here’s an uplifting video from a concert last October of Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey – both in their 80s – singing Puff The Magic Dragon. Hopefully this will help you remember the easier days of youth – as it does for me.
As always, please feel free to write to me with comments or items I should add to a future Not Traveling blog (or if you just need someone to write to.) Stay safe, be well, hug those you’re sheltering with (but no one else) and do your best to stay positive. We’re going to be in this for a long while.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.