Friday, February 26, 2010

26 FEB 10: Businesses Behaving Badly

It's one thing for a supermarket to put milk on sale. It's another thing when the store violates Georgia law in the process. I found an example of that in Columbus Thursday - but no one gave me one of those new Sumter County storm sirens, to alert everyone to the problem.

Piggly Wiggly stores have gallons of milk marked down to $2.48 this weekend. But at the South Lumpkin Road store Thursday, there was a problem. Several containers of skim milk on the shelf were past their expiration dates -- not by one day, but five. It was almost like the staff was waiting for the color to change from white to dingy yellow.

The Piggly Wiggly milk was marked with 2/20/10 expiration dates on 2/25/10 -- reminding me of what I heard a church pastor say years ago: "The scum rises to the top...."

Georgia law used to ban the sale of expired milk. If state Department of Agriculture inspectors found some in stores, the store could be fined. But I haven't heard of any stores getting busted for expired milk in recent years -- which would be an udder embarrassment.

At least Piggly Wiggly's one-percent milk was on sale at the same price, with much later expiration dates. I accepted that small step up - preferring a little fat to a drink that's flat.

That supermarket discovery was one of several cases Thursday where Columbus businesses made news for the wrong reasons. The Ledger-Enquirer reported a former Aflac sales director was sentenced to two years in federal prison, because he didn't file income tax returns. Huh - you mean the duck doesn't do that for you, too?

Prosecutors in southwest Missouri say Ronald Kirkland skipped filing income tax forms for two years, while he earned close to four million dollars. He may have been hoping for Aflac to start selling insurance in the Cayman Islands.

And then there's the continuing mystery involving a branch of TSYS. We've heard twice more in recent days from a former employee in New Delhi, who's made a series of claims and accusations. Here's the latest e-mail, which required us to do further fact-checking....

Hi, I don't know what your TSYS update for Thursday is going to be about, but here's what I have, and I need reconfirmations rapidly because of the reasons listed below. In addition, the "management" page on TSYS' website just does not seem to load anything, so maybe there are more heads-a-rolling there too?

What a mess. And to think it all started with a requisition to me in India, to make an over-payment on an insurance premium, which I refused to do.

Veeresh Malik


Malik added items posted on his blog, which note Robert Philbin no longer is President of the TSYS Acquiring Solutions branch in Arizona. But a message board set up to discuss the branch indicates Philbin's contract simply expired. There may not even be a big Conan O'Brian-sized payoff.

Veeresh Malik seems prepared to take legal action in India against several TSYS executives in Arizona, if necessary. An earlier message to us (which we're excerpting) may explain why:

I say this openly:- the day the finance and insurance people at TSYS in Phoenix and then in Columbus instructed me to make inflated payments to their insurance people, and the same day when I refused, I decided I wanted to quit, and my future was sealed, I knew too much. And now the rest of the world agrees. A good company with many good people going to seed because of a few bad apples, to mix metaphors.

Wow - this blog constitutes the "rest of the world"? No wonder we received a compliment this week from the play-by-play voice of the Atlanta Hawks.

It must be noted that TSYS began a company-wide job cut this week. A spokesman told the Ledger-Enquirer 400 jobs would be eliminated worldwide, but no names were listed. But on a hidden online biography we found of Robert Philbin, perhaps he lost his job by losing a "Skins Game."

At least a TSYS spokesman talked with the newspaper - because our message requesting information again brought no response Thursday. I'm not sure that spokesman would be able to comment on Robert Philbin's status, anyway. At corporations, things of that nature are much too personnel.

Lest you think all is wrong with local businesses: Aflac executives rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange Thursday. Well, let's correct that - the bell never rang. Instead the Aflac duck quacked over and over. Is this what Paul Amos does, when he has trouble getting to sleep?

And today marks the official grand opening of the Kia plant in West Point. Trouble is, I've heard a local church pastor complain in recent weeks ALL U.S. manufacturing jobs have left the country for Asia. So it's too bad none of the Kia jobs are in manufacturing - as hundreds of workers apparently trade sandwiches in the food court.

E-MAIL UPDATE: After all these years, there's still some "Southern-speak" I don't know. Thursday's trip down Georgia Highway 85 made that clear....

Cat Heads is one of many names in the south used to describe biscuits..So,the name Cat Heads is a perfect name for a buffet..The name fits right in with "pot liquor" meaning the water left after cooking greens. Hoe cakes which are pieces of cornbread..This name came for working in sandy cotton fields using a hoe to chop out the weeds..The hoe blade would be clean from the friction with the sand,corn meal mixed up and a fire built..The mix would be poured on the blade held over the fire to cook..

So that explains the restaurant in Waverly Hall. But these days, "pot liquor" sounds like what happens when someone spills a bottle of beer onto the middle of a poker table.

We will avoid any cheap gratuitous jokes about hoes -- and move on instead to other Thursday headlines:

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported a Domino's Pizza driver was robbed during a delivery. Someone took not only money, but the order of chicken wings in his hand. Talk about a silly criminal! This is one time when stolen money doesn't have to be coated in red dye - hot sauce will work as well.

+ WTVM reported someone broke into the Columbus Black History Museum on Eighth Street and stole a keyboard. Hmmmm - I need to visit this museum and see if it has displays celebrating Columbus housing projects.

+ Georgia's men's basketball team lost valiantly to Vanderbilt 96-94. The Bulldogs missed two late free throws which could have won the game in regulation - then had to miss one on purpose with 0.9 seconds left in overtime, to try a desperation shot. At Fort Benning, I think they'd say this proves the price of a free throw is NOT free.

+ Instant Message to WTVM: I saw it, but I couldn't believe it. You had to settle for telephone updates from the "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" house -- three times? Wasn't there at least one electrician at the site, who could stop for two minutes and plug in your satellite dish?

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