Bing Blog

O tidings of comfort and joy! (Brought to you by Citigroup)

Corporate Giving

Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the bank,
Four thousand mortgages were still in the tank
Then spoke Sanjiv Das (with very good diction):
"For one month, we'll have no foreclosure or eviction!"

But seriously. It's kind of a nice thing that CitiMortgage announced today. It only lasts for 30 days, which as one crabby blogger pointed out will simply put more people on the street in a much colder month. But it's something, isn't it? And yes, it helps the company close out the year without more foreclosures on its books, but still, that can't be the only reason they're doing it, right? And okay, companies do these kinds of things to get a good PR pop out of the action, but so what? They deserve a few hours of good PR! The result is that 4000 mortgage-holders will have another month to figure out what they can do to save their homes. That can't be bad, right?

My point is, that sometimes Big Business does do good things simply because it's made up of people just like you and me. The landscape abounds with companies that in this season of love and giving and doing something nice. I'm trying to think of some other examples...

Let's see...


Okay! Well, there's my friend Morton's corporation that promised it wouldn't fire any more people until January... perhaps we can do better...

There's the stores that have generously extended Black Friday in perpetuity, except that for some it now takes place on a Saturday... but really, that's just a sales ploy, isn't it.

Give me some time. We'll get there...

How about this: My flight attendant on American Airlines gave me an extra banana at breakfast during my flight this morning... does that count? I mean, it was nice of her. But it doesn't really represent an institutional act of kindness, does it...

I've got it! How about all those nice financial institutions that are going to pay back their TARP money by the end of the year? That's a lot of money that the Federal Government will have that it thought might have just been washed down the drain in the big flood of '08. There are a lot of things that we can do with that money, and I think it's great that the banks and insurance companies are giving it back. Of course, it is possible that in doing so they make themselves eligible for '09 bonuses that are under less scrutiny by Obama's pay czar, but that can't be the only reason. I know somebody at one of the TARP companies said, "Hey, guys, this is the season of giving, so let's give it back!" Could have happened that way, right?

What else? I'm coming up short here. Perhaps you can help.

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I'd like to help, but I just got word from my brother (a foreclosure contractor in San Bernardino), that the banks are kicking people out of their homes as we speak. And they will be right up to Christmas, and then immediately after that. CitiMortgage must really need the PR!

Last weekend I had no choice but to buy a new car, the finance guy at the chevy dealership let me keep the pen he provided to sign the papers!!wow!

My barber cut my hair extra short yesterday at no additional cost! I realize he is not a corporate megalith - but you gotta start somewhere.

There's a story in the local press here that Acco Brands will pay back their employees (the ones that are left) who took pay cuts earlier.

"My flight attendant on American Airlines gave me an extra banana at breakfast"

Bing are you trying to get that poor flight attedant fired?? If the Ceo's @ American found out extra bananas were been handed out that person could be toast,,,these are cut back times and extra bananas are out.

Of course there could be a plausible explanation for the extra banana: They were afraid you were going to go ape on the plane so they tried to calm you down,,,or observing your waist line they came to the conclusion one banana would not do....

Another possible explanation is the Bananas would near their best before date and they were trying to get rid of them....

Either way,,not to worry, I'm sure there will be some special investigative department formed to get to the bottom of the "extra banana" thingee...govt. works slow but through on such just means they will have to postpone any SEC investigations into Madoff or others until the Extra Banana issue is solved...

Then again it coulda been a sectret code for the drop on the DOW,,an extra banana could signify more slippage on the market....

Me thinks I'll need to ponder on this some more.

The guy at the liquor store this morning rounded up my change from $1.34 to $1.35.
Wait, what were we talking about?

Maybe it's the holiday spirit (and the time off), but I've been noticing a lot of institutional good will lately. Examples:

The dealer washed my car when I took it in for service. It's probably baked into the cost, but it felt like a freebie.

The amuse-bouche always seems like a genuine favor from the chef, and it is more common in these troubled economic times.

I called the plumber the other day, and he told me how to fix the problem myself. I saved the cost of a visit, and I got the impression he would rather not make the service call anyway.

The parking garage has free coffee and donuts on Fridays now. Nobody ever takes one, but the thought is nice.

I wrote a couple of end-of-year checks for charitable donations, and the organizations called me to say thanks. They asked for more money too, but at least they said thanks.

My favorite is the free statement from the Social Security Administration each year showing the benefits I've accumulated. I know they will never be paid by the time I retire, so it's always worth a chuckle. Kind of like Jay Leno's jokes: it borders on pathetic, but you appreciate the earnest effort anyway.

Bing, if the Banana Police come to get you, tell them you need a computer to run this blog while you are in Banana Prison.

As for big organizations, the nice folks at Social Security sent me a letter stating that there will be no raise this year. Their own figures show the CPI is higher now than it was in January. But if you plot it year-over-year, there is no inflation.

I guess we could include them on our 'Nice Big Outfits' list. After all, they did sent a letter.

An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure. In this case, a ton of abuse is getting an ounce of prevention.

Maybe if their rare good deeds (which might indeed be more frequent than I give them credit for) received more coverage they'd be motivated to expand such positive activities. Of course they've got to maintain their tough-guy business street cred by throwing an occasional destitute widow out of her home...since they are not allowed to tie them to railroad tracks anymore.

In little old Spokane there exists the headquarters of a regional supermarket chain....Rosauers (which is owned by URM). During the past winter many businesses were destroyed by the immense snow loads...their buildings literally crushed. One of the casualties was a Rosauers flagship store. It took many months to rebuild the store....and it appeared the employees might be out in the street (and Spokane is a notoriously tough place to find a half-way decent job).

How did Rosauers handle the displaced workers? They moved them to the other stores. The grocery trade is a low margin business, and there are plenty of other national chains operating in this market.

They received a great deal of positive local media coverage regarding this act of compassion....and most of their customers temporarily shifted their business to another Rosauers store....despite having to drive past more convenient competitors. I suspect they even enjoyed some slight expansion of their piece of the grocery action...and they certainly earned a great deal of lasting community good will.

A minor example, but one worth emulating.