Factors Affecting Consumer Behavior

Consumer behavior refers to the selection, purchase and consumption of goods and services for the satisfaction of their wants. There are different processes involved in the consumer behavior. Initially the consumer tries to find what commodities he would like to consume, then he selects only those commodities that promise greater utility. After selecting the commodities, the consumer makes an estimate of the available money which he can spend. Lastly, the consumer analyzes the prevailing prices of commodities and takes the decision about the commodities he should consume. Meanwhile, there are various other factors influencing the purchases of consumer such as social, cultural, personal and psychological. The explanation of these factors is given below.

1. Cultural Factors

Consumer behavior is deeply influenced by cultural factors such as: buyer culture, subculture, and social class.

• Culture

Basically, culture is the part of every society and is the important cause of person wants and behavior. The influence of culture on buying behavior varies from country to country therefore marketers have to be very careful in analyzing the culture of different groups, regions or even countries.

• Subculture

Each culture contains different subcultures such as religions, nationalities, geographic regions, racial groups etc. Marketers can use these groups by segmenting the market into various small portions. For example marketers can design products according to the needs of a particular geographic group.

• Social Class

Every society possesses some form of social class which is important to the marketers because the buying behavior of people in a given social class is similar. In this way marketing activities could be tailored according to different social classes. Here we should note that social class is not only determined by income but there are various other factors as well such as: wealth, education, occupation etc.

2. Social Factors

Social factors also impact the buying behavior of consumers. The important social factors are: reference groups, family, role and status.

• Reference Groups

Reference groups have potential in forming a person attitude or behavior. The impact of reference groups varies across products and brands. For example if the product is visible such as dress, shoes, car etc then the influence of reference groups will be high. Reference groups also include opinion leader (a person who influences other because of his special skill, knowledge or other characteristics).

• Family

Buyer behavior is strongly influenced by the member of a family. Therefore marketers are trying to find the roles and influence of the husband, wife and children. If the buying decision of a particular product is influenced by wife then the marketers will try to target the women in their advertisement. Here we should note that buying roles change with change in consumer lifestyles.

• Roles and Status

Each person possesses different roles and status in the society depending upon the groups, clubs, family, organization etc. to which he belongs. For example a woman is working in an organization as finance manager. Now she is playing two roles, one of finance manager and other of mother. Therefore her buying decisions will be influenced by her role and status.

3. Personal Factors

Personal factors can also affect the consumer behavior. Some of the important personal factors that influence the buying behavior are: lifestyle, economic situation, occupation, age, personality and self concept.

• Age

Age and life-cycle have potential impact on the consumer buying behavior. It is obvious that the consumers change the purchase of goods and services with the passage of time. Family life-cycle consists of different stages such young singles, married couples, unmarried couples etc which help marketers to develop appropriate products for each stage.

• Occupation

The occupation of a person has significant impact on his buying behavior. For example a marketing manager of an organization will try to purchase business suits, whereas a low level worker in the same organization will purchase rugged work clothes.

• Economic Situation

Consumer economic situation has great influence on his buying behavior. If the income and savings of a customer is high then he will purchase more expensive products. On the other hand, a person with low income and savings will purchase inexpensive products.

• Lifestyle

Lifestyle of customers is another import factor affecting the consumer buying behavior. Lifestyle refers to the way a person lives in a society and is expressed by the things in his/her surroundings. It is determined by customer interests, opinions, activities etc and shapes his whole pattern of acting and interacting in the world.

• Personality

Personality changes from person to person, time to time and place to place. Therefore it can greatly influence the buying behavior of customers. Actually, Personality is not what one wears; rather it is the totality of behavior of a man in different circumstances. It has different characteristics such as: dominance, aggressiveness, self-confidence etc which can be useful to determine the consumer behavior for particular product or service.

4. Psychological Factors

There are four important psychological factors affecting the consumer buying behavior. These are: perception, motivation, learning, beliefs and attitudes.

• Motivation

The level of motivation also affects the buying behavior of customers. Every person has different needs such as physiological needs, biological needs, social needs etc. The nature of the needs is that, some of them are most pressing while others are least pressing. Therefore a need becomes a motive when it is more pressing to direct the person to seek satisfaction.

• Perception

Selecting, organizing and interpreting information in a way to produce a meaningful experience of the world is called perception. There are three different perceptual processes which are selective attention, selective distortion and selective retention. In case of selective attention, marketers try to attract the customer attention. Whereas, in case of selective distortion, customers try to interpret the information in a way that will support what the customers already believe. Similarly, in case of selective retention, marketers try to retain information that supports their beliefs.

• Beliefs and Attitudes

Customer possesses specific belief and attitude towards various products. Since such beliefs and attitudes make up brand image and affect consumer buying behavior therefore marketers are interested in them. Marketers can change the beliefs and attitudes of customers by launching special campaigns in this regard.

Activity Diagrams – Advantages, Disadvantages and Applications of Use

Activity diagrams describe the actual work flow behavior of a system in Information Technology. These diagrams are very similar to state Diagrams because activities are the actual state of doing something. These diagrams describe the actual state of activities of a system by showing all the sequence of activities performed. Also, these diagrams can show activities that are conditional or parallel.

When to Use: Activity Diagrams

Activity diagrams should be used in alignment with other modeling techniques like interaction diagrams and State diagrams. The main reason behind using these diagrams is to model the work flow behind the system being designed. these Diagrams are also useful for analyzing a use case by describing what actions need to take place and when they should occur, describing a complicated sequential algorithm and modeling applications with parallel processes.

Activity diagrams’ advantages:

  • UML modeling language included that these diagrams are normally easily comprehensible for both analysts and stakeholders.
  • In UML for the IT Business Analyst, “The activity diagram is the one most useful to the IT BA for depicting work flow [because] it is simple to understand-both for BAs and end-users.”
  • Since they are among the most user-friendly diagrams available, they are generally regarded as an essential tool in an analyst’s repertoire.
  • Additionally, as stated above, activity diagrams allow an analyst to display multiple conditions and actors within a work flow through the use of swimlanes. Swimlanes, however, are optional as a single condition or actor is normally displayed without them.

Activity diagrams’ disadvantages:

UML modeling language include that these diagrams have the potential to become overly complex because their user-friendly nature may lend itself to an all-inclusive description. In other words, since it is so simple to display the information related to the project, why not include all of it? When an analyst has a large project, creating a single, overly complex diagram can be a temptation.

However, as one author notes, “if you are using activity diagrams to define the structure of a work flow, you should not attempt to explore several levels of activity graphs down to their most ‘atomic’ level”. Instead, an analyst should try to present a new diagram for each work flow, or if more applicable, to use swimlanes to present different actors within the same work flow.

Another aspect of these diagrams is that they may not be used in lieu of a state diagram or sequence diagram because “activity diagrams do not give detail about how objects behave or how objects collaborate.” This is not a disadvantage per se, but it is important for an analyst to keep in mind when applying diagrams to their work.

In conclusion, activity diagrams are fairly easy to get the hang of, and will be useful for most projects because they plainly and moderately clearly demonstrate how things work.” Unlike many diagramming techniques, these diagrams also enable the depiction of multiple choices and actors within a work flow, and they are easy for even non-technical users to follow

Applications of activity diagram:

This diagram has been extended to specify flows among steps that transmit physical matter (e.g., gasoline) or energy (e.g., torque, pressure).

  • Additional changes allow the diagram to better support continuous behaviors and continuous data flows.
  • The UML 2 specification significantly prolonged the features and scale of activity diagrams beyond their earlier classification as a special case of state diagrams.
  • Today, activity diagrams can be thought of as flow charts for the 21st century, and UML modelers use activity diagrams to describe it.
  • Also, these diagrams are useful in following methods:
  • Business Rules
  • Functions that occur in parallel
  • Complex chain of multiple use cases
  • Software flows and logic control configurations
  • Procedures with judgment points and alternate flows
  • Single use cases

Key Facts About Bird Flu

Bird flu was first identified in the early 1900’s and has since spread worldwide. Also known as avian influenza, this virus has caused considerable concern due to the mutation of a particular strain of the disease. Although this virus previously only infected birds and other types of animals, namely pigs, since 1997, it has also been known to infect humans.

The strain of the disease to cause so much concern is H5N1. These are simply numbers and letters that represent the subtype of this particular strain, 1 of 144 influenza subtypes. Not only has the virus caused an epidemic in poultry, but it has recently been feared to be leading to a pandemic, or worldwide epidemic, in humans.

While the virus was first identified in humans in 1997, it was not until 2004 that the spread became of great concern. At that time, a major outbreak occurred in Vietnam and Thailand, which spread to ten countries and regions of Asia within weeks and caused the death of 23 people. Within three months the outbreak was contained after the slaughter of tens of millions of potentially infected birds. However, the damage was already done and the virus had spread across Asia to lead to additional outbreaks. Since that time, H5N1 has spread throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, and a low pathogenic form of the virus was identified in Canada on November 19, 2005. Currently, 131 humans have been infected with the virus, resulting in 68 deaths. However, it is feared this number will only increase with the ongoing spread of the disease.

The primary concern surrounding H5N1 is its mutation and ability to infect humans. As of yet, the virus has been spread from poultry to humans, and human to human transmission has only been suspected but not confirmed. Once the virus mutates further, it will easily be passed through humans, causing the disease to spread rapidly. Influenza pandemics, or worldwide epidemics, have caused a great number of deaths in the past, including the Spanish Flu which killed 50 million people in 1918. This is the ultimate concern with the mutation and spread of H5N1.

At this time, the primary cause of infection has been due to the consumption or handling of diseased poultry. Unfortunately, there have been a very few cases that were not easily explained, and therefore, human to human transmission was suspected. However, this has not been confirmed in any of the cases of H5N1 infection.

In With the Nu

AS YOU sit in one of the small and scruffy departure lounges at Kunming Airport, waiting for the connecting flight to Xishuangbanna in the southwest, you turn your attention to two large billboards situated prominently near the windows facing the cluttered airstrip. The posters, with glossy defiance, celebrate the ongoing construction of two large hydropower stations on the Jinsha River, the western branch of the Yangtze. The plants, built also to reduce the siltation pressures on the Three Gorges Dam further downstream, are airbrushed in clean and shiny whites and greys, and the water around them remains a perfect and implausible blue.

They are among many such construction projects currently being considered in Yunnan, where economic development has been given the priority above almost everything else, and where power corporations from the east have been rushing to take advantage. A project that will eventually submerge the celebrated Tiger Leaping Gorge – on the section of the Jinsha north of Dali – is also underway, arousing significant international opposition. The International Rivers Network says that the damage caused by the flooding of the valley to the local ‘cultural heritage sites’ will be ‘irreplaceable’. They are also concerned by the irreversible changes to a unique ecosystem.

Meanwhile, the provincial capital of Kunming continues to grow. The train station, renowned as the most unbearable in the whole of China, is still surrounded by rubble and temporary wooden partitions marking some new road or building. The entire city, cowed by roadblocks and scaffolds, picked at by cranes, seems – like many others in China – to be on the verge of an explosion. As the government slogan announces, peremptory and beyond refute, ‘Development is inevitable’.

In the far west of Yunnan, the untouched Nu River seemed to have been given something of a reprieve a few months ago. China’s single remaining virgin waterway, which winds north through some of the province’s most beautiful landscape, was about to be given a big seeing-to by the nation’s energy-mad authorities. Earlier this year, Premier Wen Jiabao was said to have intervened personally, asking developers to reconsider their plans. Still, one imagines that the ‘rape’ of the Nu is just a question of time.

The philosopher, Martin Heidegger, chose to illustrate the two different approaches to nature by comparing the construction of a bridge with the construction of a hydroelectric dam. Modern technology, he wrote, was ‘a manner of unprotecting’ nature. A bridge, connecting up the two banks, shows ‘respect’ for the river, but a hydropower station actually turns nature into part of its own ‘inventory’. The power plant is not built into the river, but the river is built into the power plant.

To illustrate the difference in perspectives, Heidegger compared the Rhine as part of the inventory of modern technology with the Rhine described in a poem by Holderlin. After it has been devastated by technology, the river remains as ‘a provided object of inspection by a party of tourists sent there by a vacation industry’. Such a description seems appropriate in modern Yunnan. While the power companies work their way through the region’s rivers, foreign and domestic tourists have transformed old cities such as Dali and Lijiang, and plans to improve the transportation infrastructure to the west and to the south will see the character of prefectures such as Xishuangbanna and the Nu River changed beyond recognition.

There are a number of small bridges connecting the banks of the Nu, but the favoured means of crossing by the local farmers seems even purer than that. Hooking themselves into a harness consisting of a rope and a piece of flat canvas, they sweep back and forth at massive speeds on a cable attached to a couple of trees, and carry bags of cement, grain and sometimes even livestock between their knees as they do so. One farmer agreed to carry me. Slung across the grey autumn waters and into a patch of worn grass on the Nu River’s left bank, the bowel-shaking fear quickly gave way to a sense of exhilaration.

I was taking a long ride from Dali with an incompetent local tour guide to the town of Liuku in western Yunnan, right on the bank of the Nu River. The area is a picture of health, ruddy and rugged and robustly green. Farmers spin past on motorbikes, trading chunks of meat with local guest houses and restaurants. At one stop along the way, situated on a bend on a country road, a three-legged horse skipped past – cheerfully enough, considering the circumstances. The half-whistle, half-bleat of the local birds could be heard everywhere. Tiny communities lived in wooden shacks on the hills, emerging on Tuesdays to trade at the local markets.

It was tempting to call the place quaint, and worthy of any preservation order that might be made to stick. It was, however, dirt-poor, and though much better and much more lively than a decade or so ago (according to our guide), most of the people living here would love to replace their stilted huts, their latrines, their drafty outhouses, with new buildings and indoor plumbing.

Usually, it is only outsiders who get sentimental. We, after all, can go home somewhere else. One isn’t entirely sure that the life of the poor throughout China would be improved by any degree were their barns, their slums, their shanty towns to become ‘heritage sites’. On the other hand, it is clear that the mass destruction caused by economic growth is not of much benefit to the communities affected. It is also clear that the ecology of Yunnan – one of the most varied and vibrant in China – is being put under threat.

Still, crossing the upper reaches of the Mekong, watching the silt-filled, chocolate-coloured waves and negotiating the old van past the piles of rocks cast down during a recent landslide, one cannot fail to be impressed somehow. I have been bruised, stupefied and generally thrown about by hundreds of poor-quality roads throughout China. Here, the biggest challenge was the occasional ford cutting across a narrow but mostly impeccable mountain pass. In harsh conditions, the road builders had performed well.

Roads are the big thing in Yunnan. Plans are underway to complete a regional high-speed road network that will connect Kunming with Singapore. Coming back from the wild elephant park in Xishuangbanna, we were halted by a fleet of trucks and steamrollers inching along to assist a team of miscellaneously-dressed labourers spreading grit across the tracks. Above us was the skeleton of an overpass, its bare stanchions planted in the fields nearby. The old road will eventually become superfluous for the majority of freight traffic surging through the region and into southeast Asia. Things will change, we thought, and Jinghong, the region’s major city but run at a painfully slow pace, will no doubt be brought up to speed by an opportunistic migrant population from Sichuan or the northeast.

LIUKU is a small urban centre and trading spot for the hundreds of small counties and villages scattered throughout the area, several hundred kilometres west of Dali. Whatever purists might think, the locals would love it if streams of tourists were suddenly to pour in from the more fashionable areas further east, but apart from the way it nestles comfortably – if a little chaotically – in the mountains running along the banks of the Nu, there is little to distinguish the place. Its greatest advantage is its location, and visitors note the great potential of the riverfront, where a couple of cafes now provide much of the town’s nightlife.

As one enters the town, an old Ming Dynasty temple lies on the mountain above the intersection of the Yagoujia River and the Nu River itself. As is customary, the temple appears as if it was built out of papier mache and painted yesterday morning by industrious local schoolkids. A huge laughing Buddha decked out in gold paint seems to dominate the gaff from his little stage. Dogs patrol the high steps, and spiders, each two inches long, nest in the frames of doors and in the overhead lights.

Across on the other side of the river, the effects of the previous night’s rain storm were clear to see, with policemen knee-deep in mud and the road – the only route north – blocked by piles of displaced rock.

The foreigners, so prevalent in Dali, and less so in Jinghong further south, were nowhere to be seen. Hardcore travellers head north to see the enclaves of Tibetans, or the old ethnic ways of the Lisu, the Nu and the Drang nationalities. Some come to see the immense volume of indigenous butterflies, with a couple of Japanese collectors even managing to steal a few rare specimens under the noses of the local authorities a few years ago. There were also stories of a pair of American travellers crossbowed in the back by Lisu hunters after trying to abscond with some significant local religious icon – the man with the story wasn’t quite sure what the object was. The rest of the local legends about foreigners involve them being attacked by Tibetan dogs and carried out of the forests, bleeding. Still, foreigners here are once again the objects of fascination, rather than the sort of seen-it-all-before scorn one gets in Shanghai, or the dollar-sign gazes in Dali and Lijiang.

Guidebooks such as Lonely Planet abhor the current pace of Chinese development, of course, and as the years pass and the new editions enter print, the laments about the high-rises and highways seem to get longer and longer. China is losing its character.

We can understand this. And yet, after a week on the road along the Nu River, speaking no English and staying in the dingiest of guest houses, we still longed for the pizzas, banana pancakes and foreign influences in Dali. Many agreed, and many long-hatched tour plans are thwarted by the magnetism of the town’s bars and cafes. Some foreigners on year-long tours find themselves stuck, unable to leave, trapped in a perpetual marijuana haze and remaining lucid enough just to teach a few classes in the main city and pay for their lodgings.

Travelling further north from Liuku on the way to Fugong the following day, rain clouds lingered like smoke on the mountains, and dozens of blue, three-wheel buggies chugged down the slope on the only road out. We drove through building sites, where workers squatted on dunes of mud, and through villages in which cattle and old nags wandered wearily past, and where tiny, friendly little dogs lounged on almost every stoop. Streams of water, bloated by a heavy rain storm the previous evening, cascaded into the rough Nu waters.

We stopped off in a small market village called Gudeng, close to the Binuo Snow Mountain, and watched the local farmers manhandling a couple of disobedient black pigs. Another offered us a glass of warm corn liquor he had just produced at a makeshift stove attached to a dirty plastic pipe. The dominant presence in the town was the family planning centre, where government slogans about improving the quality of the population were pumped out from a pair of loud speakers, drowning out the Chinese disco beats emerging from the market itself. Apart from the family planning centres, there are other things that seem ubiquitous throughout China, from Xinjiang to Shanghai and from Guangdong to Yunnan. One of them is the pool table. Another is the bill poster advertising cures for sexually-transmitted diseases.

WE CAME to understand that in the pretty little town of Fugong, where we spent Mid-Autumn festival, the local residents – mainly of Lisu minority – would also have longed for the sort of opportunities afforded to Dali. Cafes, restaurants, and a place on the tourist trail would revitalize the place, and would ultimately be of far more value than a hydropower station. Can the two be disconnected? Some of the villages along the banks of the Nu River didn’t even have a watt of electricity until the last decade. It is a fact of life that further development – including the tourist industry – requires more power.

Purists are unlikely to consider the contradiction, and may indeed prefer to slum it – for a week in any case – in tents or in the dingy, second-rate guest houses available en route. Still, the woman at the reception of the guest house in Gongshan seemed apologetic. ‘Are you sure you want to stay here?’ she said.

Heading across the river, we came across a large wooden public house built on an old water mill. Wheels driven by the Nu River itself churned away beneath a section of rooms lined with soggy woven carpets and old Lisu paraphernalia – the traditional costumes and weaponry of the bulk of the local people. A dozen girls from a local hair salon were dancing in the middle of one of the stages on the upper tier of the building, moving two steps forward and two steps back, hand in hand. They greeted us favourably, encouraging us to join in their drinking games. We had a ‘one-heart drink’ (tongxinjiu) – where two people drink from the same glass, their cheeks and mouths touching – with every one of them, the sweet local liquor dripping onto our clothes.

Hours later, after crossing the bridge again and singing Lisu songs as we parted company with our new friends, we managed to stumble through a tunnel and into the grounds of the local Public Security Bureau, where the Fugong police were also celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with a form of dance which, by the time we started to participate, seemed to involve running at top speed while kicking our legs as high as possible in the air. Local police chiefs, conforming to the stereotypes of drunkenness that seem more or less international, told us that national boundaries didn’t matter, and that friendship transcended all countries. We agreed.

The next morning, driving out of the town and past a long row of old wooden buildings with red sliding doors and a range of shoddy garages that serve as shops and diners, we headed for Gongshan along a spectacular stretch of scenery, part of a 300-km gorge lined with waterfalls, brooks and white cloud pierced by the mountains on both banks. Houses seemed to balance precariously on the plateau, only a storm away from complete collapse. Women carried large squares of corrugated iron along the slopes, their children following.

The whole Gongshan region, an old man in the guest house told me, has now been renamed the ‘Three Rivers Gongshan Region’. ‘They are creating a trademark,’ the man said, shrugging his thin shoulders. The Mekong, the Nu, and the Jinsha all pass through before reaching their source, and the local government are trying to draw in the trade.

The town itself, another sleepy cluster of apartments, restaurants and trading posts all piled up in layers along the slopes leading from the river to the mountain, was actually far from untouched. As was the case in Liuku, the missionaries had already been and gone, leaving a curious legacy of Roman Catholicism among the local minority communities. Mothers sat weaving on the steps of a church – a square, squat one-storey affair with a bright red cross built on the mountain – waiting for evening prayer. Prayer notices on the wrought-iron door of the church were transcribed in a romanized version of the local Lisu language. Some hours later, an implausible disco beat pounded out from a wooden house further up the hill, and the church was empty.

A Tibetan girl, working in a curious entertainment complex close to another Catholic church further down in the valley, asked us if we were fellow believers. She answered to her Catholic name of Mary, and was from Dimaluo, an ethnic mishmash of Tibetans, Lisu, Drong, and others some way further north along the river. There was a sadness to her as she told us her life story, about her stalled education, about the death of her father after a sudden and inexplicable ‘infection’, and about her preference for the countryside from which she hailed.

In the stores nearby, posters of Zhou Enlai, Sun Yatsen and the Panchen Lama swayed slightly in the wind, and beneath them lay the usual clutter of mooncakes, cigarettes and cheap, defective batteries.

What worried us about ‘untouched’ places like Fugong or Gongshan was not so much the prospect of development, and the ‘exploitation’ or ‘despoliation’ or ‘swamping’ of the local culture and character, but the thousands of local residents, educated to a degree, certainly aspirational, but cut off even from the possibility of ambition, marooned in a remote town that is linked to the nearest city only through a single mountain pass that requires two days to traverse. As we did at the Three Gorges, we started to wonder whether the sacrifice of the local scenery could somehow be made worthwhile, if it could allow these people a way out. After all, it might be more appropriate to judge the vitality of a culture by its porousness, and more pertinently, by the opportunities it gives its members to escape and try something new.

Heidegger hated the way the Rhine had become an object of the tourism industry as well as the hydropower industry, but on the Nu River, we had to allow for the fact that the proposed construction of an airport in remote Gongshan, the construction of highways, and the development of local industry might actually be good for the area, in the absence of any other options. Heidegger hated TV and spent most of his final, disgraced decades in a wooden shack in the Black Forest, but he had choice. The local residents in Fugong and Gongshan have TV, and they see the glitter of wealth and opportunity. But they have no wealth. And no opportunity.

And yet, the ‘current mode of development’ is all about exploitation, and the further enrichment of China’s east coast at the expense of the west. The scenery is ruined, the ecology is damaged, and old farming communities are moved to nearby urban slums, where they have little prospect of work or prosperity. Here, as in the Three Gorges and other regions, one imagines that the local people will reap little of the rewards of ‘opening up’.

Transmission Repair Shop – Sneaky Tactics

I hate to say this but transmission repair shops employ some of the most dishonest practices in the automotive industry. They are able to get away with this for two reasons.

The first reason is for every 50 general automotive mechanic shops there are may be five transmission shops. So supply and demand naturally hires the prices these companies can charge. This is nothing new but some of these transmission companies get outrageous.

Second, unless you are a a specialist in this field you most likely know nothing about transmissions. Any technician can tell you anything and you have no verifiable way of double checking.

Here are some common scams in the transmission repair industry and some common mistakes that customers make:

We need a new transmission a shop will give usually give you two options. They can either install a brand-new transmission, which will cost a lot, or they can install a rebuilt transmission, which will still cost a lot but possibly be half the cost.

You have to understand the dangers in getting a rebuilt transmission. There is a good possibility that these will not be as good as a brand-new transmission or may not last as long. If you’re dealing with a reputable shop who has capable employees they can rebuild a long-lasting transmission.

They should also factor work up with some type of warranty. Do not get a rebuilt transmission without a decent warranty of some type. Make sure you get it in writing. There have been many shops who have sold customers rebuild transmissions and they failed within a matter of days or weeks.

Those same customers, of course being irate, came back to the shop only to find that that particular shop would not honor its “verbal” or “implied” guarantee. If you do however agree to a rebuilt transmission please do not come crying to the transmission repair shop when after the warranty you have problems again. He did go the cheapest route and you must understand that it comes with inherent risks.

Beware of transmission shops that have all sorts of low cost transmission maintenance services and specials to get in. Many of the automotive companies or what I like to call “commission fee based shops.” The shops pay their employees a small hourly wage but make it so they receive a percentage of their total gross sales.

Avoid these companies at all costs! These transmission repair shops have a system where they trick volumes of people every single day into their place of business with the lower at cheap rates and then convince them into buying services and parts they do not need.

This practice has become standard among many of the big box national chains and quite recently has been adopted by many of the small local ones. If you feel like you’re being pressured into buying something you feel you may not need, please, get a second opinion.

I have already touched a little upon the subject but I need to bring up the matter of warranties again. Every warranty and every guarantee needs to be in writing. Do not any transmission repair facility just tell you they back up all their work.

Do not just let them tell you you can bring your car back, and they will fix it for free, if within a couple weeks or months you experience the same problems they were supposed to fix. Every agreement should be in writing including all the terms and conditions.

And speaking of terms and conditions this brings us to the most common scam that most transmission repair facilities do. It is sad that many of these companies resort to what I’m about to say but all you have to do is look online and you will hear hundreds of horror stories.

You’re having transmission problems. You go to a local transmission repair shop and get an estimate. The parts and labor cost $1200. It seems fair see make arrangements to leave your vehicle with them for several days.

Within one day you get a call from the transmission shop. They proceed to tell you that the price is going to be more than what was on the estimate. The excuses are more numerous than the sands found on the beach. It could be any excuse from the parts costing more than expected to them not being aware of the certain problem when they first gave you the estimate.

So the result is that the price that was “$1200” is now “$3500.”

Now your typical person in this position has two options at this point. He can bite the bullet and pay the $3500, in effect paying $1800 more than what was agreed upon, or he can pick his car up.

Keep in mind that the cars is most likely already torn apart at this point. Here is where shops get even worse. In order for you to pick your car up the transmission shop is still going to charge you a fee for putting your car back together, storage, towing, and trust me they will find other miscellaneous charges to add upon that.

So you end up getting the work done, but in the process getting ripped off, or you’re left with the same broken car but you paid 500 bucks just to be able to pick it back up from a shop then attempted to screw you (and they did). It’s a no-win.

This is why you should only do business with reputable transmission repair shops. How do you know if the shop is reputable? In this day and age where honesty and honor are as common as black-and-white televisions you must do your homework.

Ask family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances for recommendations. The good transmission repair shops are out there. You just have to find them among the many bad ones.

Once you get a recommendation from someone you know look the shop up on the Better Business Bureau, local websites where people post reviews, and forums. Ask a transmission shop for customer references.

If they are in fact reputable they should be able to produce one or two happy customers you can talk to. A little due diligence goes a long way because once they have your car you are at their mercy.

Hopefully this article will have giving you insight about the tricks transmission repair shops employ to make a quick buck and hopefully you will be able to take this information and benefit from it.

Deadly Staph – Tips for the Prevention of Staph Infections

Over the past few years some dangerous Staph bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics. Only recently has the news media focused on this serious new health problem, which is of urgent concern to our schools. These killer bacteria, called methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus or “MRSA”, have recently caused panic in schools in the USA. Some infected students have become seriously ill and some have died after these antibiotic resistant bacteria invaded their blood stream. Most Staph bacteria only causes minor skin infections and are treated with antibiotics. Serious and deadly infections however, develop when antibiotic resistant bacteria (MRSA) is involved. The best methods for prevention of all types of Staph infections involve general cleaning strategies which can be incorporated into the routine cleaning practices at all schools. Here are some tips for limiting the possibility of Staph bacteria infecting your students:

1.) Establish a daily and routine environmental cleaning schedule for your school restrooms and dining areas. The cleaning staff should be trained and monitored to be sure they understand and practice thorough and effective cleaning procedures. Your local health department can provide advice on procedures.

2.) Use germicidal products or a solution of 1 part chlorine bleach and 9 part water to clean any surface that is subject to frequent touching by students, including light switches, doorknobs, faucet handles, hand rails and all restroom fixtures. Use soap and water at a minimum, preferably an all-purpose cleaner, for a daily cleaning of all other floors and surfaces.

3.) Install automatic soap dispensers, automatic hand dryers and automatic paper towel dispensers. These touch-free automatic dispensers will reduce student’s exposure to appliances that are frequently the source of hand transmitted bacteria. like Staph. If your school still utilizes the old manual hands-on dispensers it will be nearly impossible to clean them frequently enough to eliminate the spread of bacteria.

4.) Immediately clean up any surface that has a visible body fluid contamination such as blood, urine or other body fluid.

5.) Make sure automatic soap dispensers and automatic paper towel dispensers are filled with product at all times. This should be part of the cleaning personnel daily routine. Refill the dispensers daily.

6.) Encourage good hygiene. Students should be cautioned against sharing water bottles and personal items, encourages to shower after gym classes and other physical activities.

7.) Require that students cover cuts, abrasions and lesions with a proper dressing (bandage) until healed. Athletics staff should monitor this closely among their athletes.

8.) Clean all items used in athletic activities with an all-purpose cleaner and wash uniforms after each use.

9.) Publish, articulate and post reminders to staff and employees the importance of frequent hand washing with soap and water or the use of germicidal hand gels. Your schools restrooms and cafeteria should have warning signs posted in highly visible areas reminding everyone that hand washing is a requirement of your facility and is everyone’s responsibility.

Following these simple cleaning routines will greatly reduce you schools risk of bacterial infections of all types, including Staph and viruses, such as the flu, and the common cold.

“But” vs “And”

Two three–letter words: “but” and “and.” In grammatical terms, they are called conjunctions. They bridge two clauses of a single sentence together. In communication (and negotiation), these words are subtle manipulators of exclusion or inclusion. Generally speaking, “but” excludes, denies, discounts or in some way rejects the previous clause. For example, the statement “she is a very productive employee but she can be a bit demanding” is subtly different than “she is a very productive employee and she can be a bit demanding.” In the first example, the “but” tends to convey a negation of the first clause of the sentence in favor of the second clause of the sentence. In the next example, the “and” tends to convey an inclusion of the first clause along with the second clause.

Take another example: “Yes I understand you need to meet with me before tomorrow’s meeting but my schedule is packed full” vs. “I Yes I understand you need to meet with me before tomorrow’s meeting and my schedule is packed full.” In this example, by using “and” instead of “but” the speaker not only avoids negating the initial clause but also conveys to the listener that his/her concerns about needing to meet are acknowledged.

Using “and” is also a much softer way to say no. For example, the typical “yes, but” can easily be replaced with “yes, and.” For example, the request “We need to purchase new computers” can be responded to with “yes I know, but we can’t until next year” or “yes I know, and we can’t until next year.” The “and” does not negate the “yes” whereas the “but” does tend to convey a sense of canceling out that which preceded the “but.”

The use of “but” is extraordinarily common. In fact, few people actually recognize the subtle influence of using but. If you were to consciously attempt to change “but” to “and” in your speaking, you will notice how odd it feels. But, it is a worthwhile exercise if for no other reason than to become more comfortable with the ability to switch from one to the other. However, there can be a more important reason: using “and” instead of “but” can positively influence dialogue. When using “and” instead of “but” there is a sense of inclusion and acceptance even if the conclusion is a denial or refusal.

Try it out over the next several days. Listen to others’ sentences and when you hear “but” change it in your own mind to “and.” Then, start listening to your own sentences. When you hear yourself about to say “but” change it to “and” but remember one thing…oops…and remember one thing…

SWOT Analysis of the New Honda Fuel Cell Vehicle

Honda is changing the vehicle market as we know it, by making a vehicle that emits water vapor. Honda’s FCX Clarity fuel cell car is the new breed for green cars. This car has some similarities to hybrid, but nothing compares to its new fuel source hydrogen. Besides hydrogen it runs with an electric motor that generates electricity to the fuel stack and a lithium ion battery. The lithium ion battery serves as a supplemental power source. The lithium ion battery charges up while braking and decelerating. Some questions might arise when thinking about this new fuel cell vehicle, like what makes this car better than the other hybrid cars? What are the Honda FCX Clarity strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

One of the biggest strengths about this new fuel cell vehicle is that it emits water vapor and is designated as a Zero emission vehicle (ZEV). The environmental protection agency (EPA) has given this vehicle the lowest possible emission rating. It also can be driven up to 280 miles before being refueled with hydrogen. FCX Clarity is achieves an energy efficiency of 55% which is twice the energy efficiency of the hybrid vehicles and three times the efficiency of regular gas vehicles. Since FCX Clarity is more energy efficient it has been one of the first fuel cell vehicles to receive certification from the EPA and the California Air Resources Board. Unlike the hybrids the FCX Clarity doesn’t need to be plugged in to be charged up and there is no need for regular gas.

Honda has many opportunities with this new fuel cell vehicle. First off Honda is designing a home refueling station. No more worrying about going out and getting refueled at the pump. Home refueling stations will elevate the stress at the pump. Also, Honda could make this fuel cell vehicle a household name and market this vehicle all over the globe. Honda just needs to get out there to show off their new vehicle. Honda is starting to market the new fuel cell a little bit. Honda has just released the FCX Clarity for Japan.

One of the few weaknesses for this fuel cell vehicle is its limited availability in the United States. Southern California and Japan are the only two areas where this new vehicle is available. Honda plans to release around 200 vehicles in 3 years in California and Japan. Honda believes that this new fuel cell vehicle will be able to be mass produced by 2018. I think this is one Hondas biggest downfall is the limited release and so few refueling stations.

This car is a little small it’s only able to carry four people. The cost of the FCX Clarity is about 600 a month on a 3 year lease. It seems a little steep for someone who is middle class to afford that payment. Not anyone is California will be able to lease this new vehicle. These people who are selected live near the refueling stations and they make a limited amount of commutes.

Basically Toyota and GM vehicles are Hondas biggest threat. With so many new hybrids and small gas efficient cars, this creates a problem for Honda. Another threat is Chevrolet. Chevrolet has developed a fuel cell SUV “the Equinox” and it has already arrived at New York City, Washington D.C. and Southern California. With this being said, it becomes a race between Honda and Chevrolet with the new fuel cell technology. How would the new fuel cell FCX Clarity size up in popularity? The lack of mass production and refueling stations, Honda won’t have a chance.

I think Honda has come up with a good concept car with its new fuel source. The new fuel source needs to be researched further before they should market this vehicle. This car is for people who are willing to go green and have the money to do it. The whole problem is making this car available to the public and easily accessible.

On the other hand Honda has a comparative advantage because of their home refueling station. There is no other vehicle out there that you can just plug in and refuel at home. Hybrid vehicles rely on battery and gas to run. You have to plug the hybrid in to recharge the battery.

Interesting Facts about Ringworm

In spite of its popular name, the actual cause of ringworm is infection with fungal organisms. These infectious fungal organisms are called dermatophytes and the medical term for ringworm is dermatophytosis. Sometimes ringworm is also known as tinea. The fungal infectious organisms responsible for causing ringworm are widespread in nature and they commonly populate the soil. The only effective means of preventing the occurrence of ringworm is to maintain a good hygiene. Ringworm is very contagious and it can easily be acquired through direct contact with contaminated people, animals or objects. Regularly wash your hands after entering in contact with stray animals, as many of them are carriers of the fungi responsible for causing ringworms in humans.

Arthrospores are the main cause of ringworm in humans. Although there are lots of animals contaminated with arthrospores, they usually don’t show any signs of the disease. For some reason, most animals appear to be immune to this form of fungal infection. Microsporum canis is a type of fungi that commonly infects cats. This type of fungus can be easily transmitted to other animals and to humans. It is strongly recommended to avoid physical contact with animals that show signs of disease in order to prevent contamination with infectious fungal elements. Also, if you own a dog or a cat, ensure that your pet is not contaminated with dermatophytes by paying regular visits to a veterinary.

Ringworm can affect virtually any region of the body. Hands and feet are very exposed to fungal infection and dermatophytes often infect these body parts. Although it commonly affects skin, ringworm can also affect nails and scalp. Ringworm involves inflammation, rash and swelling of the skin, scalp, soft tissue and nails. Rash is usually the first sign that indicates the presence of fungal infections. Skin lesions may also appear in later stages of the disease. If the infection spreads through the deeper layers of the skin it can cause pustules and painful nodules. A hardened crust often forms on the surface of the affected skin. Common symptoms of ringworm are persistent itching, soreness and irritation.

Ringworm of the scalp appears in the form of pustules or pus-filled reddish bumps. Foot ringworm usually affects the skin regions between the toes. Foot ringworm appears in the form of cracked, hardened skin. The affected skin also tends to exfoliate, causing itching and soreness. Ringworm of the nails is manifested by thickening and discoloration of the nails.

It is very important to see a dermatologist if you have the symptoms of ringworm. Although it may resemble a simple rash or irritation, ringworm can cause serious complications if it is not appropriately treated. The treatment for ringworm can be prescribed in the form of oral tablets or creams and ointments for external use. The medications used in the treatment for ringworm contain antifungal material and they are usually very effective in overcoming the infection. With appropriate medical treatment, ringworm can be completely cured within a week.