Business Digest - April, 2009

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Laughing the Stress Away   

Protect Yourself From Slamming

"Slamming" is the term used to describe the practice of switching a customer's telephone service, local or long-distance, without permission. It has become increasingly common, and often a customer doesn't know it has happened until the phone bill arrives. This is an illegal practice and you do have rights to protect yourself.

Many instances of slamming occur during a telemarketing call. To protect yourself, make sure that if you are not interested in switching services, you explicitly let the caller know that you are not interested in their services. Many unscrupulous companies will take an "I don't know" as an acceptance.

Remember, never sign anything without reading it first. If you receive a letter or notice saying that it is verifying that you have switched services, notify them immediately that you are not verifying the switch.

Check your phone bill carefully each month, and notify your local phone company if you see any strange charges or unfamiliar names on your bill. If you feel you have been slammed, let your local phone company know you want your former service provider reconnected, and that any "change charges" should be taken off of your bill. You are not required to pay any extra charges imposed by the slamming company. If any of your complaints are not resolved, you can file a complaint with the FCC (1-888-225-5322 or www.fcc.gov).

You can also protect yourself by asking that your local phone company make a note on your account that all changes must be authorized by you directly first. If you are shopping around for other phone service, ask to see all offers in writing first, and be sure you know what you are agreeing to.

To check which service provider you currently have on your phone, call toll-free 1-700-555-4141 for long distance and 1-your area code-700-4141 for local service. You will hear a recording that states the name of the company providing your service.

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Laughing the Stress Away

"If you can laugh at it, you can survive it." -- Bill Cosby

Stress affects everyone and has become one of the most serious health issues of our times. There are many ways to deal with stress, some more effective than others. One of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce stress is to find humor in your daily life.

In fact, in turns out that laughing is good for your overall health. Researchers have found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in humorous situations than those with healthy hearts. Laughter strengthens the immune system and lowers high levels of stress hormones. Business researchers have also recognized the benefits of laughter and humor in problem solving and creativity in business environments. Workers who find their jobs fun perform better and get along better with co-workers than those who do not view their jobs as fun.

It is easy to inject humor into your daily life. Take time each day to enjoy something funny. Read a book of jokes or talk to a friend who makes you laugh. Also, being able to laugh at yourself goes a long way towards reducing stress. Humor can keep you from taking yourself too seriously and can make dealing with others easier. It can also distract you from the situation that is causing you stress, allowing you to take a moment to see things in a different light.

So, next time you are feeling stressed out, take a moment for yourself. Take a deep breath, smile, and think a funny thought. Grab a bite to eat with a funny friend or watch your favorite sitcom. Although it doesn't get rid of the situation, you will be better equipped to handle your daily stress.

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