Thanks for the Advice

Kenneth Shapiro It’s always important to consider the source when getting financial advice. With that in mind, our thanks go out to Linda Markarian, of Gone With the Wind Travel in Santa Rosa, Calif., who sent us a recent column by nationally syndicated financial writer Michelle Singletary (Santa Rosa Pr

By: Kenneth Shapiro

It’s always important to consider the source when getting financial advice. With that in mind, our thanks go out to Linda Markarian, of Gone With the Wind Travel in Santa Rosa, Calif., who sent us a recent column by nationally syndicated financial writer Michelle Singletary (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Aug. 24).

In her column, Singletary writes about a handbook distributed to financially struggling Northwest Airline employees from its management. In a section titled “Coping With Job Loss” was a list of “101 Ways to Save Money.” Highlights of the list included:

" Buy spare parts for your car at the junkyard.

" Get hand-me-down clothes and toys for your kids from family and friends.

" Take a shorter shower.

" Ask your doctor for samples of prescriptions.

And, the piece de resistance&

" Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.

Not surprisingly, the idea of a belly-up mega-corporation under bankruptcy protection telling its employees to give dumpster diving a try seemed just a bit humiliating to Northwest’s employees. In defense of the airline, they claimed that the section in question was not written by company representatives, but by a third party, and Northwest officials quickly apologized.

According to Singletary’s article, Crystal Knotek, senior vice president for ground operations, said in a statement: “We sincerely apologize to our employees for any offense this list caused them. Notwithstanding the inappropriateness of some of the money-saving tips, we fully realize that job loss is a very difficult situation for our employees and our primary goal remains to work closely with our employees to provide as much support and assistance as possible.”

Of course, travel agents in particular might find Northwest’s sentiments hollow considering that even as it was suggesting employees take shorter showers to save money, the airline was raising fees charged to travel agencies.

As Markarian summed up in her letter: “I wonder if any of [Northwest’s] CEOs are doing this. If you hated the airlines before, this takes the cake!” K.S.

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