Paper tigers

10 September 2013
Saint Homobonus, patron saint of procurementThe patron saint of purchasers takes a look at the month’s more unlikely business tales. Paper tigers ‘Buyer beware’ has become a bit of a cliché, but that’s because there are so many examples of people not getting what they pay for. Take visitors to the zoo in the Chinese city of Luohe who expected to see a menagerie of exotic creatures. What they actually saw was a fluffy chow chow dog posing as a lion, a fox substituting for a leopard, and, perhaps most bizarrely of all, a pair of rats masquerading as snakes. “To use a dog to impersonate a lion is definitely an insult to tourists,” said one patron. And how did the zoo respond? “We’re doing our best in tough economic times. If anyone is unhappy with our displays we will give back their money,” a spokesman said. Setting standards Each year, the US Department of Defense publishes a handy manual to warn its employees to uphold certain standards of behaviour. It also provides the rest of us with the opportunity to have a good laugh at the expense of those who thought they could get away with abusing the US tax payer. This year’s additions to the Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure included an employee who referred to himself as “the godfather” thanks to his ability to influence the award of construction contracts, and the Army general who ordered his subordinates to perform those all- important tasks such as providing driving lessons and feeding his cat. But the most brazen award must go to the Navy commander who faked his own death to end an affair, only to have his mistress come to his home to pay her respects. Domestic strife Like many governments, the French are keen to get consumers to buy more domestic products and shun those produced abroad. Unfortunately for president Hollande’s ‘Made in France’ campaign, a report by a think tank has found French families would have to spend €100-€300 (£86-£259) more a month. And according to one of the report’s authors, this could hurt them where they are most vulnerable – in the stomach. “If you pay twice as much for French-made running shoes, you have less money to spend in restaurants,” said Lionel Fontagne. Vegging out The Green Party in Germany has started a campaign to initiate a weekly ‘vegetarian day’ in public canteens. The Germans currently eat 60kg of meat per capita per year and the suggestion has not been well received in the land of the bratwurst. Lutz Goebel, president of the Association of Family Businesses, has described the movement as “a horror”, saying people should decide for themselves what they eat. Germany is actually only the ninth biggest consumer of meat in Europe, beaten by the Spanish who eat 81.8kg a year. Name dropping Men called John, David or Steve are the most likely to do well in business, according to a study. But it’s bad news for all those Tonys, Matthews or Jimmys out there as they were found to be least successful. Those called Giles earn the most on average, taking home £42,000 a year, with Alex the least at £22,000. Nigel attends the most interviews, while Justin is most likely to regret a career move or business decision. Daniel has experienced the most luck, while men called Rick are most likely to have lost a lot of money during their career. Smart thinking iPhone users are vain, Blackberry owners earn the most and Android users drink the most, according to a survey commissioned by TalkTalk Mobile. Two thousand owners of the three smartphone brands participated in a study to determine whether personality affects choice of mobile phone. The results showed people with iPhones generally rate themselves as more attractive and believe their boss rates them highly. But they are also the most ambitious, successful and the hardest workers. Android users are more creative, working in industries such as culture and sport – and drink the most. And Blackberry users put in the least hours at work, but earn the most cash. They are the most social, but least punctual of the three users, eat out the most and have the most friends. Tweet of the month I’m always the first to get to the office out of my procurement team... Remember, come early, leave late! It shows dedication. @theCentrepiecee
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