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Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 03 Feb 2019, 11:53
by Kellemora
I have to chuckle at Borders. They opened a store here on Kingston Pike, not far from me. I passed it three times a week on the way to the doctors office.
It did not look like a bookstore!
It looked like a Mexican Restaurant! Even the Name of the Place sounded like a Mexican Restaurant, hi hi.
Most of the signs in the window had to do with what coffee and side item were on sale.
You could not see any books through the windows, because it was all tables and chairs and people eating.

I assume they advertised on TV, but I don't watch TV.
I also do not drink Coffee, so would not be going into a store that sells Coffee as their perceived mainline operation.

By the time I did find out they were a Bookstore, it was too late, they were already closing up shop.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 04 Feb 2019, 09:03
by yogi
Borders, and a couple others, had a clever idea. They figured that they can sell more books if people lingered in the store longer. One way to get them to stay longer is to encourage them to peruse potential purchases while downing a cup of coffee. Of course you can't just have coffee. You need pastry and maybe sandwiches and a whole assortment of drinks. Brilliant as that idea was, it took up floor space and changed the focus of the business to the point that they drifted away from their core competency, i.e., selling books. They panicked and started with greeting cards and music CD's. Well, needless to say it was all downhill from there. I never saw them advertise on TV, but I watch about as much of it as you do. :mrgreen:

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 04 Feb 2019, 10:40
by Kellemora
I read a lot of books, and normally drove all the way out to McKay's or went the other direction to Union Ave. books. Passed Borders on the way to either one. Never knew it was a bookstore.

I see a lot of stores around town that I have no idea what they sell.
The name of their company gives absolutely no clue at all to what they do.
If it's a persons name, it's usually a Tavern or Dress shop. I don't go to either, hi hi.
Unless they have a sub-name used with it. Like Buddy's BBQ, or Jimmy Jones Fine Steaks (which could be a butcher shop).

The one that bugs me is misleading names. Companies who don't have or do what their name implies.
Bombay Bicycle Club comes to mind from back home. It's a Tavern.
Or The Pampered Onion. Neither a Tavern, Produce, or Grocery Store. They sold cutlery and kitchen items.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 05 Feb 2019, 09:00
by yogi
Do you remember back in the old days when Vlad Putin was knee deep in KGB activities - the Russian spy agency which is now called GRU and run by the military? Well look at this business (front?) here in O'Fallon:

KGB Investors, Inc

They are actually an Ice cream and fast food restaurant

And what do you suppose these guys do?

Flinkles

Flavored Sprinkle Company FLINKLES manufactures, and sells over 80 different flavors of sprinkles to use on cakes, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, popcorn, or on the rims of glasses. 3 Time Winner of "BEST SPRINKLES" in The Best of St. Charles Count

And then there is Google. Well, not really because they are owned by a company called Alphabet. Could you guess from either one of those names what goes on in the company? Apparently names of businesses are not always meant to describe what they do. Some names have marketing value and nothing else.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 05 Feb 2019, 11:34
by Kellemora
Unless a company has a MAJOR Advertising Budget to make their uncommon name well known, they are only kicking against the pricks.

In the case of business ownership, all kinds of names are used and are meaningless as far as the operation of the retail outlets.
Look at the names of the companies who own many of the fast-food chains. You would never put two and two together.

Clausen Metal Fabricators is an example of a company who at one time gave an inkling of what they did when they first started. But over the years the companies products grew, and the shifted to other products. Then they began to discontinue about 90% of what they originally made in favor of easier to handle product, and even those changed.
They eventually manufactured mostly small molded plastic items, by the millions, but still had a few small metal items.
After a while, they phased out several lines of small metal items, like tokens and charms, and now produce only one type of item. Buttons is the only product made by Clausen Metal Fabricators.
But you won't recognize them by that name. Most of the retail sales stores for buttons are named Dickerson Button Company, which at one time was a separate company who only purchased metal buttons from Clausen's.
I would have never known this, except my second youngest sister worked for Dickerson as a traveling salesperson, and her paycheck came from Clausen Metal Fabricators, her actual employer. But her sports jacket, sample cases, and all the paperwork she carried and used, all said Dickerson Button Company on them.

As an aside: One of my early companies, started in 1972, had what later sounded like a strange name for what we did.
I actually had two forms of the name, both registered. Space Craft, and Space Craft Services.
Although the name didn't tell exactly what we did, it made sense for what we were doing.
Way to far ahead of our time, like other things I did. We made and installed Closet Organization Systems.
Today, these closet space systems are well known and quite common.
The name we used came about because we Crafted things to save you time and create more storage Space. Thus Space Craft was our product manufacturer, and Space Craft Services was our sales and installation teams.

We did luck out for a short time with a new home builder who had us install our product in new homes he built as a sales incentive. Then later he only bought the Organizer Components, and I assume later started making his own.

During the time we were doing installations, there were often other contractors on the job site doing their thing.
When we needed power to run certain tools, we just started the van and plugged into outlets in the van.
This peaked enough curiosity by other workers we started selling the adapters we made to convert the alternators to AC current for tools that had brushes, not normal electric motors like fans.
With the sale of closet organizers slipping fast, and the sale of the electrical adapters climbing, we started manufacturing those by the hundreds and had trouble keeping up with sales.
Cars began to change also, and on most cars we could not make a simple plug in to the alternator device as before. This pretty much killed this business when our product could not be added to cars or trucks manufactured after like 1978. All the electronics were now internal to the alternators without the old wiring system we needed.

I still had almost all of my closet organizer installers, and kept them busy with doing other handyman type work in the area. Eventually I came up with the name Handymenders and began using it.
After a little tiff with the IRS and paying what I felt were the same taxes twice, I made Handymenders a division of Space Craft Services, so the company name became SCS Handymenders, and Space Craft became a holding company.

In affect, what I had done was create a single entity business working in separate divisions.
The legal paperwork was not much different than how an LLC now operates.
As the laws changed a little back then every so often, we could eventually make Space Craft a pass-through company, which is exactly what an LLC is today.

Stepping back to 1972 for a minute. I had to fill out a quarterly report for every company I ran, and each was liable for its own taxes and records. Not that any of my little companies made a killing, but I was spending more time handling the accounting for like six different small operations I had going. I always felt it was best to keep each one separate.
That was up until my little tiff with the IRS. Which actually turned out to be a good thing.
I learned all of my companies could be controlled under one umbrella company who handled all the accounting, and I would only have one quarterly report to do, and one tax bill to pay each quarter.
I still had to maintain separate ledgers for each, else I would never know what was going on. But it was much simpler if all bills were paid from the parent company, and all income went to the parent company.

Accounting is one of the reasons you see so many little companies become a part of a larger company who handles all the legal work and major accounting for them. Each business is still sorta independently owned and operated, but as an outlet for a larger company. Instead of reporting to the government, they report to their home office, who in turn handles almost everything for the government for them, and keeps abreast of all the new tax laws as they roll down the pike.

Why do you think nearly every food processing company is now under the ConAgra umbrella?

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 05 Feb 2019, 13:53
by yogi
I was just thinking today that I could use some of those closet organizers. I still have boxes of junk stored in the closet unpacked from when we moved in here. If I had those organizers handy, I could pile the junk on the shelves and do away with the boxes. :lol: At the last house I owned there was a Container Store nearby. They sold all these organizer components which is where I got them for that house. I don't suppose they are related to your business, but the idea is identical.

I described what I did with a hypothetical $10k you gave to me in another thread. The bottom line was I invested it in equities instead of in a business. I didn't feel comfortable with what I knew about infrastructure and all the facets of keeping a business legal. Accounting all by itself would be overwhelming. I don't even do my own taxes anymore. The Missouri State Tax form is a nightmare. Maybe someday I'll see if I can figure it out, but I have a feeling I'd need some software in order to keep the state IRS people happy. Anyway, I know what you are talking about when you describe conglomerates.

Google owns a ton of businesses and as I pointed out earlier Alphabet owns Google. It never was that way when Google started out. They were on their own and must have seen the inefficiencies of bookkeeping for the multitude of companies and services they operate. Sending it all to Alphabet gives them more time to spy on their customers since they don't file any tax returns anymore.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 06 Feb 2019, 12:23
by Kellemora
The problem with most of the businesses I started was they were too far ahead of their time, and had too many obstacles to overcome, besides being unknown at the time.

For example: My brother and I invented a windshield repair system, to fix stone chips and minor cracks. With all the trucks the family business owned, we had a lot of vehicles to test our ideas out on, until we had it perfected and down to a science. Almost all of our early customers were area farmers. We could also repair the conical holes made in plate glass windows, which opened up another area for us to work on. The problem with getting customers who owned cars was the fact back then insurance companies would replace windshields for their clients, and they claimed making repairs to windshields is like hiding a damaged windshield from the law, and was probably illegal. Turns out, it wasn't illegal, but with the insurance companies paying to replace windshields, nobody would pay us to fix a cracked or stone chipped windshield, and we already fixed nearly every farmer owned vehicle for miles around. So we gave up on that project.
Jumping a decade ahead, insurance companies decided that they didn't need to replace windshields, and many companies popped up doing windshield repair, using some of the newer sealants and glues on the market.

Another business I started that actually did fairly well was a Vinyl Repair business.
Quite unlike what they sell today, how we repaired torn or burn hole restaurant seating, was by building up the vinyl the way it was made in the factory.
After trimming the burn hole or edges of a tear, we would place a canvas backing underneath, held in place with a flexible adhesive. Then we would apply layer after layer of liquid vinyl which was heated to make it cure.
To match the grain of the existing vinyl we made a mold of the grain, which was a process in and of itself, but fairly simple. We used a mold release formula on the seat, placed a two-part product similar to body putty on the seat, and then pressed a piece of Naugahyde over the putty. It set-up quickly. We would remove the mold and clean the release formula from the seat. Then, after aligning the mold with the existing grain, we would heat up the area of the repair and press the mold down into it. The next step was to match the seat color by blending certain colors of dye together. It was quite tricky to match some of the translucent seats with sparkles in the vinyl, but we did a good job. All of our repairs lasted longer than the seats lifetime before it needed recovered, so we got a lot of business doing this.
We also started doing a few car seat repairs for a few folks.
I wasn't going to get rich doing this of course, not working by myself, and at that time, I sure didn't want to hire and train employees. So I came up with the idea of selling small business packages and make my money selling the replacement ingredients. Wrote a training manual with several practice sessions so the buyer would learn how to repair almost anything right so it would last.
What I didn't count on was most folks are not very adept at doing things. Although they could do the practice lessons with no problem, when they got out into the real world, many couldn't figure out what to do. There was an odor produced by the process, which was disclosed, and to do restaurants, you had to do them when they were closed to dining, which was normally not a problem.
Actually, our business kits were doing fairly well, enough so that our product suppliers took notice. One of them offered to buy me out. He offered me much more than I would have asked for, so I was a happy camper.
Of course a few years later all kinds of vinyl repair kits appeared on the market, many in common colors, but almost all of them were air-dry formulas, and as such would either pull loose or crack, especially in a car.

Almost all of the other businesses I started did become successful enough I could sell them to my best employee.
Back then, my thrill was starting businesses, and only keeping them until I got tired of doing them.
I was also way too nit picky to make a decent profit, but with employees who were not as picky, they could churn out the work faster, and good enough the customers were always pleased.

I also invested in a few area businesses. Which one might say backfired on me. The owners lost interest or couldn't keep them going properly, so I ended up taking them over to at least recoup my investment. So, if I look at it that way, I did make money, but not enough for the work involved.
I invested in a Norge Village Laundromat which had been there for years, but the owner wanted to update the store and add some new equipment. Most of the new equipment kept breaking down, and the service company he was using was charging him and arm and a leg. I decided he should call me when something needed repaired and pay me 1/3 of what he was paying them. With so many breakdowns, he was overly frustrated with Norge and wanted out. This would have meant I would lose my investment with him, so I took over in his stead until I could find a buyer myself. But before anyone would buy it, I had to find better Norge machines than the ones he purchased. Turns out I didn't have to get that drastic. The main problem with the Norge machines was the design of their brake. The pawl would snap off, requiring complete disassembly of the machine to replace. They had already come out with a replacement brake which could be fitted over the brake with the broken pawl and used the gap for the braking block, and without complete disassembly of the machines. I replaced the assembly on every washer in the place and it ended the problems. Sold the place a year later to someone who did all their clothes there already. One would never dream he had the cash on hand to pay my asking price, but he did. Done deal! And the best part is, he was pleased, not a single complaint for over five years, then he sold out too.

I was in a Pizza franchise once, biggest mistake in the world. They changed their formula to something awful, and threatened to pull my franchise if I kept up with doctoring their new formula to make it palatable, hi hi. I lucked out here too, sold the place about a year before Cebo Pizza went belly up.

Many more businesses after this, and some did amazingly well, to the point I was almost rich, until the crooks came along.

I've had a most interesting life Yogi!

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 07 Feb 2019, 13:52
by yogi
To say you had an interesting life is a gross understatement. :mrgreen: The closest I came to running a business was when I became a professional astrologer. I studied it a lot and found out it's not all bogus. I met a lot of people involved with it and it didn't take too long to establish a clientele who wanted their fortunes read. I always had an interest in psychology and human behavior. Astrology was a perverted way to pursue that since I had to drop out of college for poor performance and never earned a degree. But, as I suppose happens with actual doctors, the stories I heard and requests I received became predictable. Most folks were interested in their love life, careers, and health, but I was more technically minded. So I became a teacher of the esoteric arts. Technically I did not operate a business. It was a Paying Hobby as the IRS had me put it. All the proceeds went into buying research material (books) and office furniture. The area of the house I used to counsel people was not exclusively dedicated to the hobby/business so it didn't qualify as a write off. Did that for at least ten years and then moved to a new home. That was the end of that business. I kept the books and furniture for the entire time we lived in the next house. They accumulated dust in the basement and I gave it all away instead of paying to bring it here. I learned a lot from that venture, but never made any profit to speak of.

I like to build things and repair stuff. It all gives me a sense of accomplishment. But I never did profit from my interests. I was and am very analytical, but never considered myself inventive. I think that is where a lot of your success comes from. You can fix, re-purpose, and invent anything you can think of, or so it seems. I have to empathize with you in some ways given that this place in Missouri will probably be the place I die. There is nothing left for me to do. The grounds are not even suitable for gardening and the house is nearly new with nothing to repair. I could think of a million things to remodel in this house, but nobody would buy it after I upgraded it to what we left behind up north. Too expensive. So, most of my adventures are right here at the computer. I used to think retirement was a punishment for doing a good job at Motorola. Now, finally, I'm starting to enjoy doing nothing. It's about time my health goes into major decline and end that fantasy. :lol:

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 08 Feb 2019, 10:16
by Kellemora
I keep myself so busy, it seems I can't get done the things I should be doing.
I finally understand what my dad meant when he said after he retired. "I have so much to do, I don't know how I found the time to work." He usually worked from 7am until 8 or 9pm every single day, with only a lunch and dinner break.

I understand keeping everything. I did so too, up until I had to make a fast move and had an auctioneer sell everything except a box of photos and my clothes. Even so, since moving south, I re-accumulated a garage and two sheds stuffed full of stuff I needed to do the work around here, and keep my one little business going.

I've thought of several jobs I could start using my computer, but none would produce enough profit to make it worthwhile.
About the time I learn how to do something worthwhile, some other company comes up with a turnkey system so any idiot could do it without learning how it works under the hood.

I tried a few times to learn PHP but never could grasp it well enough to put it to use.
But then now with all the host websites offering simple push a button to add a feature, the time would have been wasted anyhow.

I honestly have about 18 years of college under my belt, but I don't hold a single degree in anything.
When I needed to learn something, I took the class as an auditor. It's actually the only way I could take it, because I didn't have the prerequisites they required to officially take the class. I also saved a ton of money too. I only paid like 13 dollars per credit hour, while regular students paid anywhere from 600 to 1500 bucks a credit hour.
I probably attended over 100 specialized seminars mostly relating to the horticultural industry.

Although I did work for some large companies in my early employment years, most of my life was spent in the family business, or setting up and running my own smaller side businesses. We closed the family business in 1984, and I've been self-employed ever since, often at many different occupations. I did take a few jobs working for others also, mainly because I was requested by them to come help them out. One job where I was only supposed to come in and help out for two weekends, turned out to be a full-time job for five years, before I had another epileptic attack and lost the ability to do the job at all. The boss kept me on anyhow, sending me back to training school, but it did not good. I just couldn't grasp what needed to be done at all anymore. Strange feeling to go to work and suddenly you are the company idiot, hi hi.

I can't complain, it has led to an interesting life in many diverse fields.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 08 Feb 2019, 14:48
by yogi
Sometimes I would ask myself the same question your dad asked. But that was in a different place and time. Life is deceptively easy where I am now and I have a lot of free time. The only flaw in my schedule I see these days is the lack of physical exercise. I get enough mental jogging done right here at the keyboard, but the muscles aren't being used like they used to be up in the big city.

My work at Motorola was high pressure to say the least. I knew when I was in over my head and would never hesitate to ask for help or explanations. But then one day something odd happened. People started coming to me for advice and help. I was the guy with all the experience. It didn't take long for it to dawn on me that I was at the end of the trail. The next step after being elevated is out the door.

Through little or no fault of their own, Motorola had to move manufacturing out of the country or go bankrupt. I'm glad they decided on the former because I ended up with a pension instead of just a pat on the back. They let go 40,000 people in the midst of a deep recession. There were no jobs to be had, especially for old time techies like myself. One day the boss came over and told me my job was eliminated, but I wasn't. Unfortunately, he didn't have anything for me to do. He just couldn't fire me outright. So I called everyone I knew inside the company and nothing was available. After a few months they offered me a severance package that they said may not be available much longer.

That last year with the company was more than strange. They found various non-essential projects for me to pursue, but I really didn't have a job. The word came down from corporate that us old timers must get special consideration, which is why I was not fired outright. But there I was an "outsider" among my peers. It was awkward to say the least. Well they came one more time with a severance package I could not refuse, plus a threat that I would have to be demoted to stay on. So I left. They gave me three months to clean up the office which is where I stayed doing next to nothing.

Talk about being the company idiot. :crazy:

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 09 Feb 2019, 11:24
by Kellemora
I hate to say this, but I fully understand.
I was next in line, and in training, to take over as department head.
A 50 year company tradition was suddenly thrown out the window, and not only did they hire an outsider, they hired a former job-shopper who if refused full-time employment, would never be eligible to work for the company again.
I left the company, and a short time later they downsized and relocated also.
Several years had passed and I stumbled across one of their small local locations.
They guy who was hired as head of the department was now just shuffling paperwork for half his normal pay.
He was stuck there under the contract he signed to get back into the company.

When my late wife worked for a large hospital, as her hubby, I could buy into a small pension plan.
She passed away before I reached a certain level in the plan, so instead of getting the 300 bucks a month package, and not being allowed to continue payments into it. When I did retire, I get $42.01 per month, which helps a little. I probably won't get back all I paid into it, unless I live to be like 82, which is doubtful considering.

Another company I worked for in my earlier years ripped us all off. You could reach tenure level 1 at 5 years, and tenure level 2 at 10 years, etc. I left the company after 5 years, 4 months. So was supposed to get 5% of my monthly salary at retirement. They said tenure was changed to 6, 12, 20, and 30, two months before I left the employ of the company. I checked into it further and sure enough, it did, but we were not told about it until the next anniversary date, which came after I was gone. grrr.

I exercise three days a week using a cardio rehabilitation program I started on at the cardiac rehab center at the hospital. They charged like 35 bucks a month and it was not all that close to home, plus we had to pay to park. After I completed three full sessions with them, I started doing all the same things at home, except for one thing I didn't have the machine for. So I sorta made a similar machine myself by turning an older stationary bike upside down.
After Planet Fitness opened up by us, we go there for only 10 bucks a month.
My heart doctor happened to be a member of one near him and gave me a routine to follow which turned out to be much better than the one I had at the hospitals cardiac rehab center.
So now I do exercises at home, and when I get a chance at Planet Fitness, so am keeping up with my heart staying in tone. Now the rest of me is going to pot, hi hi.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 09 Feb 2019, 14:17
by yogi
As long as we are grumbling about former employers ...

Motorola was the only company I ever worked for. Well there was an office boy job before that, but it only lasted a year. I got the job due to a referral from a ham operator l didn't know and never met. He worked at one of the Motorola facilities in the area and sent out letters of recommendation to fellow hams in the area. I'm guessing he used the call book but never met him to find out. Anyway, when I went to apply for the job they told me there weren't any available. I then pulled out this letter and showed them where it said Motorola is hiring. Sure enough. The HR guy went to talk to somebody and they offered me a job which I took.

I was hired the first week of December and got all the benefits available at that time. One of them was health insurance that was guaranteed to be carried over after I retired. What did I care about that? Nothing. But I did take note when they told me I will be very happy come the day I do retire because the plan was changing the following year. The cost of post retirement insurance would double in the new plan. Still, I was not impressed.

Well, I had to retire early and Motorola's coverage kept me out of COBRA. They calculated all my entitlements including what I'd pay for health insurance. I asked them if that rate was based on the old plan or the new plan. After some investigation the exit interviewer discovered that I was grandfathered into the old plan, and so was my wife. So I was not a happy camper because I had to leave the company, but I was happy that I was hired when I was some 36 years earlier.

Many things happened to Motorola since I was first hired. Google bought out the cell phone division in which I worked, for example. That was a joke but my point is that the original Motorla only made public service radios and the cell phone sector was invented, died, and resurrected all while I worked for them. Now some Chinese company owns the cell phone and base station manufacturing. Thus, as a retiree I was put back into the orginal sector that hired me so that they could handle all my pension and medical finances. All this worked splendidly until 2017. At that time my wife was taken off the plan. I never looked into the legalities of it because they still honored my benefits. When I think about it, I haven't worked for them for nearly two decades and they have been paying thousands of dollars a year to keep me and my wife healthy. So, when it came to cost cutting time they sold the pension fund to Prudential and outsourced the medical coverage to a third party. So now it's not costing Motorola anything to keep me healthy or in pension money. But I lost half the medical benefits in the process.

What they were doing is putting money into a health reimbursement account which was covering the costs of things Medicare didn't cover and any other out of pocket health care bills. There is a limit to what they reimbursed, and now that limit is half what it used to be. It pays the premiums for about half my extended health insurance which I now have to buy on my own. I guess I shouldn't complain because the claims paid out to me and my wife over the years well exceed any premiums. But still, it bothers me that Motorola just up and decided to cut it in half.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 10 Feb 2019, 10:43
by Kellemora
I had nearly the same thing happen to me, as far as medical insurance goes.
Like my add-on retirement plan I had where my late wife worked, while she was working, for an additional 80 bucks a month, I was covered under her health plan, which was a great one.
It covered her up until a few months before she died, when she reached the ceiling cap on what they would pay out for her.
This is when I started having to pay big bucks to keep her in the hospital.
The thing that irked me is I was still paying them my 80 bucks a month, and when I saw my doc on my normal visit, they wouldn't pay up, said the plan had capped out. I told them yeah I know my wife's capped out, but I hardly use my plan at all. They said it's the same plan. I reminded them I was still paying them every month for my coverage.
They checked into it and said they would pay for this doctors visit, but I should stop paying them since I'm no longer covered.
I had to hustle to find a new plan for myself elsewhere, because I could not get a new plan with them since I was not an employee. I could get the company they used, but for super big bucks. I did find another plan, didn't really like it, and the price was over 300 bucks a month. Blue Cross wanted over 700 bucks a month, so I guess the 300 was a good deal, even though I found another plan with better coverage for around 260 a year later.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 11 Feb 2019, 09:45
by yogi
Your wife was covered under her company's group insurance policy, and they happened to also offer coverage for spouses. Motorola did exactly the same thing. While your wife was in the group, everything went well. But, she no longer was eligible once she left. Your premiums were not really yours, if that makes sense. You were just paying the additional amount required under the group policy to cover a spouse.

As it turns out the group policy is a contract between the company and the insurance people. Premiums are shared between the company and employee in most cases and are paid for the entire duration of the contract; generally 12 months. So, it makes perfect sense in an abstract kind of way that you and your wife would continue paying premiums in spite of reaching the cap on payouts. That obligation is due to the fact that the group (all the people in the company) is covered under one policy. As long as there is a group, premiums must be paid regardless. This is also why premiums are so reasonable for group coverage.

Medicare works exactly the same way. Us healthy folks are paying for the sick folks because we are all under one plan. In essence there are no individuals. The SSA negotiates with service providers on behalf of the group - us retired folks. So we end up paying until the next cycle when the negotiations start over again. The alternative to this method is to pay out of pocket. I guess you've been there too.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 11 Feb 2019, 12:49
by Kellemora
Yeppers!
We have a dilemma right now that has irked us big time.
The supplemental plan we buy is geared to Medicare's window of opportunity, when you can change plans.
No sooner than the window closed they upped the price on us.
We did find a letter with a vague mention that rates may increase, but not when.
Seems to me that once the deal is struck, it should remain fixed for the locked in time period.

On a different insurance note:
I worked for a company who essentially paid for our car insurance, sorta.
In Missouri, at the time I was working for this company. You either had to have proof of car insurance, or proof of a surety bond. Which of course is above the price any of us could afford to pay to have one.
The company must have had mucho bucks they needed to keep tied up, probably due to some legal loophole to avoid taxes.
In any case, we could buy into a surety bond for a one time payment of 100 bucks. But the way it worked, we did pay a lot more than that. As long as no member had an accident, we didn't owe any more money. But if someone was in an accident, then we all had to pay the same small amount to restore the surety bond system they used. A surety bond only covered liability, not your own car. So, if we had a lien on our own car, we still had to get comprehensive insurance. The company had a few insurance companies they worked with so we got what we needed fairly cheap.
In the five years I worked there, I only had to pay 20 bucks twice, and 25 bucks once, back into surety bond system.
Had to chuckle a few times when I was stopped for something and the cop wanted to see my license and proof in insurance. I handed him three separate insurance documents, one being the surety bond. He had never seen one before! It was actually the only insurance document he needed to see, but I kept the other two insurance papers together with it.
The Caveat of going this route is when you go to get full-coverage insurance after not having policies through insurance companies previously. They don't like that, hi hi. No biggie, I just went with one of the companies insurance companies when I was in the process of quitting that job, but they were much higher than I was used to paying, since no more kickbacks from the company for me I assume.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 12 Feb 2019, 10:03
by yogi
You and a lot of other folks, including myself, are feeling the effects of the federal government's current policy designed to get out of the insurance business, Medicare. A lot of the subsidies previously given to insurance companies have been canceled by executive order. If this year's Senate has it's way the Medicaid and Medicare coverage support will be eliminated totally. There was a lot of publicity all last year and before regarding the potential effects on premiums us retired folks would have to pay, but our plight didn't sway anybody's thinking when it came to cutting government support. The good news is that Obamacare still covers some people this year. Can't say what will happen next year, but my advice to you is to prepare for a massive increase in premiums if the Senate gets its way.

The state of Illinois has pretty much the same requirement for automobile drivers as does Missouri. I think the surety bond had to be for $25k minimum. It may be more now. As you point out, that doesn't cover all the expenses that a crash might involve. Currently I'm paying well over $1k a year for two cars which to my way of thinking is outrageous because I have not made a claim in more than 25 years. Also a bit odd is that the rates here in Missouri are about the same as they were up near Chicago. That too is crazy given the huge difference in population. The people down here must be reckless in order to have such high premiums.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 12 Feb 2019, 11:59
by Kellemora
Other than the years I worked in downtown St. Loo, my car insurance has never been out of line.
I also often got the cheapest rate because I drove less than 7 miles to work, or under X number of miles per year.
And all of those years I always carried full-coverage and liability at three levels higher than the lowest. Mainly because I had car loans on the cars.
Since I moved down here to TN, I still carry full-coverage on the newest vehicle so we are covered for insurance on rentals when we go somewhere like back home for a visit. Haven't done that in a few years, but every once in a while will rent a car to go for a day drive somewhere, like Nashville, or over the mountain to NC.
What I worry about, is I have several older folks I know, and when they hit 75 years old, their car insurance jumped by 1000 bucks a month, with no tickets and no accidents. Since most are like me and only get about 700 bucks from SS, they are forced to drop all insurance coverage and risk getting a ticket.

If I recall, we had 500k surety bonds, but shared with a group of ten other employees, usually our same age group.
When I was doing construction work, I had three different trucks, each stocked for a different purpose.
It always irked me that I had to pay insurance on each one. If I bought another car, making five total, I could have got fleet insurance, but it would not have saved me any money, in fact, it would have cost a bit more than what I was already paying.
I seriously considered buying a personal surety bond so I would be covered regardless of what vehicle I drove. But then I would have needed one for the frau also. I would have to borrow the money to do this, and the payments alone would have been higher than I was paying on insurance, so gave up on that idea.

I'm sure glad I had full-coverage when the hailstorm hit. The insurance company treated me fairly. But a few years later they decided to drop me because I had an argument with a claims adjuster because they were charging my account for a fence that someone else ran through. Someone without insurance on top of it.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 13 Feb 2019, 08:10
by yogi
Insurance premiums are based on a multitude of factors that require an actuary to figure out. The demographics of where you drive are one consideration as is age. They typically sum up the total claims paid out for each bracket in a given year and adjust their annual premiums accordingly. It takes a little black magic to end up profitable, but judging by the number of insurance companies out there, I'd guess they are doing a great job. My youngest granddaughter is here in Missouri studying to be an actuary. I think she made a great choice of careers.

I've been using State Farm since forever. We insure the house as well as the cars with them and get a "discount' for having all our eggs in one basket. It's hard to believe we are getting such a good deal when I pay the bill. One thing they suggested I do is activate the navigation system built into the Saturn. It's called On Star and is a brain child of GM. I can add a gizmo from State Farm to the navigation so that they can track my every movement down to the nearest meter. Then, when they analyze where I've been and how much I drive, they will adjust my premiums accordingly. I forgot the exact number but I think they said it could go down by as much as 20%. The only problem is that the On Star navigation system is by subscription only. I'd never use it for its intended purpose and end up paying to get a discount. LOL No thank you, State Farm.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 13 Feb 2019, 13:30
by Kellemora
I'm currently with State Farm again. Started out with Farm Bureau for several years, switched to State Farm for over 20 years, then back to Farm Bureau for around 15, then back to State Farm. Would still be with Farm Bureau if it were not for a nasty claims adjuster who canceled my policy for not talking to him a third time while we had company visiting.

Re: Ski By Fire

Posted: 14 Feb 2019, 09:14
by yogi
I used to do comparisons when shopping for insurance. After a few years I decided State Farm was consistently the best deal I could get. Since then I stopped checking up on them and the only problems I recall having with adjusters is from the other party's insurance company. My rep usually managed to handle it all without me getting involved. I never met the rep down here and hope to never make a claim. I think they take off a few dollars for the fact that I am claim free for so many years. It's my understanding, however, that the best deals can be had when dealing with an insurance broker. You may end up with different insurance every six months, but the broker generally can get you the best price possible. Or so they tell me. :grin: