Sure, at some time in our lives we all swore we’d never drive a minivan. But things change. Not only are minivans the ride of choice for busy soccer moms, but for many businesses, too—they certainly have their place in the window coverings shop-at-home and installation business.
Now comes praise for the minivan from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Among the minivan’s numerous advantages:
• 11.2 deaths for every 100,000 registered minivans in 2003 compared to 14.8 deaths in passenger cars, 15.7 in pickup trucks and 16.4 in sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
• A low rollover risk of 12 to 16 percent due to its lower and wider base compared to a rollover risk of 20 percent and higher for SUVs.
• Styling and utility that attracts safer drivers and fewer teens or young drivers.
TWO WORDS: INTERNET TELEPHONY
Internet calling has been used for some time by a small fraction of people in the United States, but that appears to be changing. Market research firm In-Stat/MDR expects the number of Internet calling users to jump from its current 600,000 to 1.5 million by the end of 2005.
Internet-based calling uses the same underlying networks and infrastructure used to send e-mail. Several companies now offer devices that convert voice signals into digital format that makes using the Internet less ex-pensive than traditional phone service.
The problem is the converters are technically complicated and not user friendly. If suppliers overcome these hurdles, you might soon have a phone receiver next to your PC’s cordless mouse.
IN-PERSON SERVICE COSTS MORE
First, some banks began charging customers a service fee for coming in and actually doing business with a teller instead of using its ATM or Web site. Now, Northwest Airlines says it is doing the same.
At the end of August, Northwest Airlines began charging passengers a $10 fee for buying tickets in person at airport counters and a $5 fee for tickets bought over the phone from its reservations lines.
The only way to avoid all fees is to purchase tickets through the airline’s Web site. According to The New York Times, 16 percent of Northwest’s tickets are purchased online, 22 percent are bought over the phone and only two percent are bought in person.