Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Used Car Purchasing Opus

Consumer Tips: Before Purchasing A Used Car...

Be aware of the following:

* Inspect the car in daylight and good weather. Bring someone you trust along to help you make a thorough appraisal;

* Don't expect perfection in a used car. Compromise on minor problems you can fix yourself, but don't overlook serious defects;

* Make safety a major priority. Older vehicles may not be equipped with airbags, child safety seats, seat belts, anti-lock brakes or security systems. Determine your locality's vehicle safety requirements for cars, mini-vans, recreational and sport-utility vehicles and other vehicles before you buy;

* Road test before you commit to buy. If you are not allowed to test drive the car, do not buy it.

* Have a mechanic you know and trust inspect the car thoroughly before you purchase it. Again, if the seller will not allow you to have the car inspected, do not buy it.

For more information on purchasing used cars, and/or just about anything else you can think of, visit ConsumerInformation.ca. It's a new Web site created by federal, provincial, territorial governments and their partners specifically to provide Canadians with convenient, objective, reliable and current consumer information sources.

News Canada provides a wide selection of current, ready-to-use copyright free news stories and ideas for Television, Print, Radio, and the Web.

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Car Insurance Accidental Verse

insurance claim adjuster

Related Themes: Insurance Adjuster, Healthcare Insurance, Affordable Auto Insurance, Personal Insurance, Free Insurance Quotes, Insurance Companies, Insurance Claim Adjuster, Accident Insurance, Car Accident Insurance, Personal Injury

Car Accident Insurance Claim - Regarding Impacts And Injuries

As of January 2003 it was determined that in the good ole‘ US of A, there were approximately 12.3 million motor vehicle accidents involving over 21 million vehicles last year. This amounts to a little over one crash per second. Let’s take a look at four of the most common of these gazillion impacts and the typical injuries they cause.

#1. LOW SPEED IMPACTS - - ESPECIALLY REAR-ENDERS: These are crashes that are considered to be any collision that takes place at speeds under 10 MPH. While there is absolutely no justification to call it a “Low Speed” impact that’s what the insurance industry loves to identify them as. Why ? Because a moniker like that is supposed to indicate that the, “so-called impact”, you were subjected to could not possibly have caused an injury.

It’s true that when such a crash does take place there’s often not a lot of damage done to the motor vehicle and yet, in most cases, people involved in these types of accidents more often than not suffer injuries - - neck injuries especially!

Although the insurance industry would like to have those making a claim think differently an injury can and absolutely does occur when a low impact collision takes place. The most common is identified as the “Whiplash”. This takes place when the occupants don’t have the slightest idea about the impending collision so they can’t brace themselves by forcing their back and/or neck against the seat or headrest. Because of this their body gets whipped and snapped about something fierce.

Automobile bumpers are built to withstand up to a 5 MPH crash without damage. This is not done to insure the safety of the occupant but rather to protect and limit the damage to the bumpers, keeping the cost of repair to a minimum. Many times vehicle to vehicle impacts can sustain an impact of 8 to 9 MPH before there’s recognizable damage to the motor vehicle. However, when the bumper doesn’t crumble and absorb the force of the impact, more of that crash is felt by the occupants. IMMEDIATE INJURIES: The individual that’s been crashed into by another (even at only 5 MPH) is thrown forward with a severe jerking motion - - causing necks to snap and backs to twist. Because of this many “Soft Tissue” styled injuries take place, including multiple body bruises, plus chest and rib injuries. In most cases adjusters attempt to deny the possibility of injuries in a low speed impact but research substantiates just the opposite! Sure, the motor vehicle will show little damage but the velocity and accompanying force have to be transferred somewhere, and that’s to those sitting in that vehicle. Cars are built to withstand such minor impacts - - the human body is not!

#2. FRONTAL COLLISIONS: In most frontal impacts the occupant’s can generally brace themselves because they’re usually aware of the collision they’re about to be subjected to. In Frontal Collisions the speed and weight of the vehicle play a role in the injuries of the occupant. (The more the vehicle crumbles at impact the less severe the injuries to the occupants. Many times airbags will deploy). In frontal impact collisions the speed and size of the vehicle determines the injuries that can take place. (And - - getting back to rear-end collisions for just a moment - - the striking vehicle not only undergoes a collapse, but transfers momentum to the car that’s been struck by pushing it forward. The airbag may or may not explode. This depends upon the rigidity of the vehicle that’s been struck).IMMEDIATE INJURIES: Head and neck, back, spine, rib and clavicle, arms and legs, concussions, soft tissue, internal, dislocations, abrasions, cuts and bruises.48 to 72 hours later: Headache, blurred vision, dizziness and loss of taste, smell or hearing. Also, difficulty breathing, blood in urine or stool, swelling, loss of motion and visualized bruising take place.

#3. SIDE IMPACT: Many times the occupants head will hit the side window and bounce off of it. There are no air bags nor bumpers, engines, etc., to help protect ones body or absorb the force of the impact. IMMEDIATE INJURIES: Head and neck, arms & legs, soft tissue, dislocations, scrapes and bruises. 48 to 72 hours later: Pain, headache, blurred vision, dizziness, loss of taste, smell or hearing, numbness or tingling (and basically the same as those listed above) so, at the risk of being repetitious but because it’s so important, I must say once again: It’s of major importance that the individual exposed to impact - - no matter how slight it may seem to have been - - should immediately be examined by a medical professional.

#4. ROLL-OVER ACCIDENTS: The typical roll-over accident is very serious. The most common factors in single vehicle accidents are approaching a curve at too high a speed, leaving the pavement or highway, or over-correcting the steering wheel - - particularly in vehicles with a short wheel base. The severity of injuries to the occupants generally depends on the beginning velocity of speed, the number of rolls, condition of the vehicle, and what your motor vehicle rolled through, over and into! Damage to the vehicle is generally extensive. It has been determined that 60% of the economic costs from roll-overs resulted from occupant ejection, and that the initial roll-over speed was between 40 to 60 MPH. (A recent study reported that restrained occupants showed a higher proportion of neck injuries than the unrestrained).

IMMEDIATE INJURIES: The whole nine yards - all of those as detailed above.

The bottom line (to all 4 of the above) is that in all motor vehicle accidents - - no matter how minor the damage it’s of the greatest importance that each and every individual immediately visit a medical professional for a physical examination and/or consultation. So, should you find yourself at the scene of an accident and somebody asks if you think they should see a doctor, your answer should always be, "ABSOLUTELY " ! Stare straight into their eyeballs and tell them, “It’s your body. There’s only one to a customer. You should do whatever you can to take care of it and protect it”.

DISCLAIMER: This article ~ CAR ACCIDENT INSURANCE CLAIM ~ REGARDING IMPACTS AND INJURIES is intended for background information only. Its purpose is to help people understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. Neither Dan Baldyga, Thomas Brown nor ARTICLE CITY make any guarantee of any kind whatsoever NOR purports to engage in rendering any professional or legal service, substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or claims consultant, or the like. where such professional help is desired IT IS THE INDIVIDUAL’ RESPONSIBILITY TO OBTAIN IT.

Dan Baldyga’s third and latest book, AUTO ACCIDENT PERSONAL INJURY INSURANCE CLAIM (How To Evaluate And Settle Your Loss) can be found on the internet at: http://www.autoaccidentclaims.com. This book reveals “How To” successfully handle your motor vehicle accident claim, so you won’t be taken advantage of. It also goes into detail regarding the revolutionary BASE (The Baldyga Auto Accident Settlement Evaluation Formula). BASE explains how to determine the value of the “Pain and Suffering” you endured -because of your personal injury.

Dan Baldyga - Author
19 Winona Drive, West Springfield, MA 01089
Phone: (413) 733 0127 FAX: (413) 731 8358
Mail to: "mailto:dbpaw@attbi.com"
Found on the internet at: "http://www.autoaccidentclaims.com"

Copyright (c) by Daniel G. Baldyga. All Rights Reserved. Dan Badyga’s latest book Auto Accident Personal Injury Insurance Claim (How To Evaluate And Settle Your Loss) can be found on the internet at http://www.autoaccidentclaims.com or visit your favorite bookstore. For 30 years Dan Baldyga was a claims adjuster, supervisor, manager and also a trial assistant. He is now retired and spends his time attempting to assist those involved in motor vehicle accident claims so they will not be taken advantage of.

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Auto Accident Insuring Ode

insurance claim adjuster

Related Themes: Insurance Adjuster, Healthcare Insurance, Affordable Auto Insurance, Personal Insurance, Free Insurance Quotes, Insurance Companies, Insurance Claim Adjuster, Accident Insurance, Car Accident Insurance, Personal Injury

Auto Accident Factoids

Accidents, personal injuries and insurance claims are here to stay. No matter how far into the 21st Century American’s elect to drive (unless by the beginning of the 22nd Century we’re all zipping around in our own personal space ship) motor vehicle accidents will continue to pile up; with no end in sight!

* There are more than 200,000,000 licensed drivers in the United States. (As of 2003 we’re close to a yearly 7 million motor vehicle accidents, involving well over 3.5 million injuries).

* Car accident crashes cost society an estimated $4,900 per second. That’s about $25,000 in the time it took to read this fact.

* Current records show that most American driver’s will have a near motor vehicle accident 1 to 3 times per month and will be in a collision of some type on the average of every 5 to 8 years plus these records also indicate that licensed teenagers are 22 more times likely to get a speeding ticket than those who are 65 years of age or older.

* In 1896 there were only four cars registered in all the United States. Two of them collided with each other in St. Louis.

* By the year 2025 there will be 33 million people 70 years or older in America. This segment of the population will be growing 2.5 as fast as the total population. They will make up the largest percentage of the “turning left” and “rear end” accidents. Slowly but surely Senior Citizens have developed a higher accident ratio than teenagers. (This will, in time, seriously impact the typical Senior Citizen’s pocketbook). And also, by 2025, the total costs for motor vehicle accidents in the United States will exceed 450 billion dollars.

* The world’s most solitary tree is located at an oasis in the Tenere Desert in Central Africa. There’s not one other standing tree within 31 miles. In 1960, it was smashed into by a truck.

* Up-to-date statistics clearly reflect that 1 out of every 5 Americans are involved in an alcohol-related car crash at some time in their lives and the day in which motor vehicle accident injuries occur most often is Saturday. Sunday is second.


1. Records prove that a motor vehicle accident of as little speed as 5 MPH can produce a “whiplash-type” injury.

2. The symptoms arising from an injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident do not necessarily present themselves immediately following an accident.

3. Medical research and clinical experience have accumulated enough information to demonstrate that the delay of an injury symptom is the norm.

4. Studies have established that the delay of a symptom does not eliminate the possibility of severe injury.

5. It’s been proven that individuals can continue to be symptomatic for many months (even years!) after a motor vehicle accident. In addition approximately 75% of them remain symptomatic for a minimum of 6 months after the accident. (And current up-to-date statistics reveal that between the first and second year after an accident has occurred over 20% of those injured actually have their symptoms worsen).

DISCLAIMER: The only purpose of this article, MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT FACTOIDS has been created to help people understand the motor vehicle accident claim process.

Dan Baldyga makes no guarantee of any kind whatsoever; NOR to substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or claims consultant, or the like. Where such professional help is desired it is the INDIVIDUAL’S RESPONSIBILITY to obtain said services.

Copyright (c) by Daniel G. Baldyga. All Rights Reserved. Dan Badyga’s latest book Auto Accident Personal Injury Insurance Claim (How To Evaluate And Settle Your Loss) can be found on the internet at http://www.autoaccidentclaims.com or visit your favorite bookstore. For 30 years Dan Baldyga was a claims adjuster, supervisor, manager and also a trial assistant. He is now retired and spends his time attempting to assist those involved in motor vehicle accident claims so they will not be taken advantage of.

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Auto Accident Claiming Poem

insurance claim adjuster

Related Themes: Insurance Adjuster, Healthcare Insurance, Affordable Auto Insurance, Personal Insurance, Free Insurance Quotes, Insurance Companies, Insurance Claim Adjuster, Accident Insurance, Car Accident Insurance, Personal Injury

Auto Accident Collecting For Your Lost Wages

A couple months ago you were toolin' on down the avenue, minding your own business, when out of nowhere, this fumbling, stumbling man by the name of Freddie Fuddle flew through a Stop Sign and plowed into you with a gigantic, rip-roaring, screeching broadside. You were wearing your seat belt but it was still a thundering crash that wrenched and whipped you around the inside of your motor vehicle something fierce!

Now, after a long recovery period, Fuddle’s carrier, Granite Mountain Insurance is clamoring to close the case and they've assigned Claims Adjuster I. M. Strong, to handle your case. You and Strong are sitting at your kitchen table talking about your settlement dollars. It turns out he’s got some hang-up’s regarding your lost income. Well, here are some things you need to know:

Lost wages are one of the most important element's of your damages. Listen to me carefully when I say, "You should not think about the days you missed from work as Lost Time and Earnings. It's not Lost Time and Earnings - - it’s Lost Earning Capacity"

You ask, "What‘s Lost Earning Capacity all about? I thought I could only collect for my Lost Income?: The answer to that is, "In many situations you can claim lost income EVEN IF YOU HAVEN'T LOST ONE SINGLE PENNY". For example, this can happen when your salary is paid because you've elected to apply for the sick leave that‘s due you, or because of an Accident and Health Policy available for you to take advantage of, or some other such arrangement.

In most instances - even if you were paid while out of work - you should still get that money routinely identified as Lost Wages. Why? Because that's your Lost Earning Capacity. Your Lost Earning Capacity is what’s called a Compensatory Damage. Don't let Strong swindle you out of that Compensatory Damage. Even if you’ve received an income, in some other way, you're still entitled to it. Strong will do everything he can to take advantage of you, especially when it comes to getting paid for your Lost Earning Capacity. During the course of every settlement negotiation he gets involved in, he‘ll try that tactic on for size, and it’s mind-boggling how often he gets away with it.

The typical statement made at that point, by the unsuspecting claimant is, “Hey, I understand I’m to be paid for my lost wages.”

Strong answers, “You collected $200.00 a week from your Accident and Health Policy didn’t you?”

“Yeah, but my average weekly income last year was $275.00 a week.”

“Okay”, I. M. Strong flashes a well practiced, winning smile, that tells you he’s a fair insurance claim adjuster, when in his black heart, he knows he's not! “We’ll pay you that $75.00 a week difference. Let’s see, you were laid up and unable to work for 5 weeks. 5 times $75.00 is $375.00. Don’t worry my friend, I’ll see to it you’re paid that $375.00.”

“Wow!” you think, “that’s terrific !.” You’re thrilled to death with this great turn of events. But what you don’t know is that the $200.00 a week you’ve received from your Accident and Health Policy has absolutely nothing to do with your lost income. The bottom line is that Smart has just cheated you out of one thousand dollars! And, worse than that, the $275.00 a week income you lost (for a total of $1,375.00) would have (in a court of law) given your case $4,000.00 to $5,000.00 more value in settlement dollars.

DOCUMENTING LOST INCOME: Ask the company you work for to write a letter on their official stationary declaring your gross salary income and the days you lost from work.

GROSS PAY VS. NET PAY: You should collect the "gross" wage's you lost, not the "net".

TOTAL DISABILITY and/or PARTIAL DISABILITY: For every week of Total Disability (a fact which must be stated in your doctors Final Medical Report) you should use your gross weekly income - - even if you were paid! (For every week of Partial Disability your doctor states in that Final Medical Report, you have the right to claim a substantial percentage of your income, during that period, even if you didn't lose any).

Because the following five points give value to your claim be ready to talk with Smart about and, wherever possible, prove:

(1) If your work demands heavy labor and/or lifting. (2) If you lost any vacation time or sick leave. (3) If there was any possible loss of money you could have earned in the future - - either with your company or maybe other income you've got bubbling and boiling on the side. (4) If you had to forgo any bonuses. (5) If you lost an opportunity that would have led to a better job.

If any of the above five points are true than your claim is worth more money!

THE CRUCIAL MEDICAL REPORT: The Granite Mountain Insurance Company and Adjuster I. M. Strong know that the longer your recovery period, the greater your "pain and suffering", therefore the higher the settlement value of your bodily injury claim. Your Chiropractor or Attending Physician must also note this in his Final Medical Report. Tell him to state exactly how long it will be, before you can get back to routine activities like golf, hunting, fishing and/or rockin' and rollin' with your lady friends.

As long as you have problems keep right on going back to see your doctor, again and again, even if it drives the poor bugger nuts! Do this because the fact that your records show a visit to him, four, eight, or twelve weeks after the accident, proves your injury needed constant attention, therefore you were unable to work. Also because, when you visit your doctor and tell him there's no let-up of your pain, discomfort, stiffness or immobility - those continuing problems must be written into the Medical Report he'll provide for you when you've finished treatment. That's the one you'll hand to Adjuster Smart when the two of you begin to talk turkey. As he reads it you’ll watch him frown, then blanch as that cocky smile disappears from his face. When you see him do that you‘ll know, "ya got him"!

DISCLAIMER: The only purpose of this claim tip is to help people understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. Dan Baldyga makes no guarantee of any kind whatsoever; NOR does he purport to engage in rendering any professional or legal service; NOR to substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or claims consultant, or the like. Where such professional help is desired it is the INDIVIDUAL’S RESPONSIBILITY to obtain said services.

Dan Badyga’s latest book Auto Accident Personal Injury Insurance Claim (How To Evaluate And Settle Your Loss) can be found on the internet at http://www.autoaccidentclaims.com or visit your favorite bookstore. For 30 years Dan Baldyga was a claims adjuster, supervisor, manager and also a trial assistant. He is now retired and spends his time attempting to assist those involved in motor vehicle accident claims so they will not be taken advantage of.

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Heat Sales Serenade

10 Scorching Ways To Heat Up Your Sales

1. Email each visitor a satisfaction questionnaire after they purchase. This will allow you to improve your order system, customer service, site, etc.

2. Give a percentage of your profits to a cause your customers would like. It could be a charity, school, environmental improvements, etc.

3. Take harsh criticism the right way and improve your online business. Don't get down in the dumps, improve the situation so it doesn't happen again.

4. Try bartering before you buy services, supplies and equipment for your business. You can use the extra money you save on advertising your business.

5. Give away a follow-up email course on an auto-responder. Include your ad with each lesson. People will buy quicker when they see your ad repeatedly.

6. Make sure your classified ads don't sound like an ad. Don't ask people to buy anything or they won't click, give something away instead.

7. Give your free bonus products extra perceived value. Don't use the phrase "free bonuses" use the phrase "you will also get".

8. Keep your visitors on your web site longer. The longer they stay, the greater chance they will buy. Just hold a treasure hunt contest on your web site.

9. Make sure you're always creating new products and services or improving old ones. Most products or services won't stand the test of time online.

10. Split the cost of online advertising and marketing by sharing a web site with a similar, non-competing business. You would both put up half the cost.

Over 40,000 Free eBooks & Web Books when you visit: http://www.ldpublishing.com.

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Mutual Funders' Opus

Why Your Mutual Fund Doesn't Return as Much as You Think

As tax time nears, many mutual fund investors are starting to wince. While most mutual funds' returns were down last year, their tax bill remains high.

After years under-performing the S&P 500, the average US stock mutual fund finally beat the index last year. But while the average fund was down just 0.37% v. the S&P 500's 9.1% drop, investors in the average fund actually lost around 3% when you add in the fees and capital gains taxes they must pay, says James O'Shaughnessy, CEO of Netfolio.com and author of the bestseller What Works on Wall Street.

"Mutual fund performance figures often leave out the taxes and some fees you are required to pay as an investor," says O'Shaughnessy, a former mutual fund manager and architect of a new investment service that eliminates the big drawbacks of mutual funds. "The little guy is left thinking he didn't do too badly when in fact he didn't do nearly as well as he thought."

Even the Securities and Exchange Commission is fed up. Just weeks ago, the SEC set new rules requiring mutual funds to disclose what they haven't disclosed for years -- the impact of income taxes on a fund's performance.

In the 1990s, investors all but overlooked their tax hit and the hidden costs in mutual fund investing. Strong and steady bull market fund returns made taxes a non-issue. But now, as investors gear up to pay taxes in April, many are discovering the inequity of paying high taxes on funds that declined in value.

How do taxes eat into fund returns? Let's say you invested $1,000 in the average mutual fund in January 2000. You would think that because the fund declined 0.37%, it left you with about $996 in December. Not too bad, you say, it could have been worse.

But not so fast. Throughout the year, the manager of the average mutual fund commonly sells 92% of his fund's stocks in an attempt to boost returns. Who pays the capital gains taxes on his giddy trading activity? You do. In fact, you'll have to pay a higher, short-term tax rate on the gains from assets the manger held for less than a year.

That means you'll have to use your income tax bracket to calculate your bill rather than the lower 20% rate charged on long-term gains. Your tax rate on these gains could be as high as 50% after you add up the your federal, state and local tax rates.

But taxes are only half the story. The typical mutual fund also charges annual fees, an expense ratio it uses to pay the fund manager, and transaction costs it uses to pay the fund's brokerage expenses.

Now let's revisit that $1,000 you invested in the average mutual fund last January. By December, you would have paid about $18 in fees and about $12 in capital gains taxes. So you lost about $30 on your $1,000 investment, not $3.70. That's about a 3% decline rather than the 0.37% drop reported recently by fund-tracking firm Lipper Inc. The 0.37% decline is the gross return of the average US stock fund and does not include taxes or fees.

"Mutual fund investors should be offended by the amount of taxes and fees they have to pay," says O'Shaughnessy. "Mutual funds may seem like no-brainer investments but they can compromise your long-term savings potential. All the money you spend on fees and short-term capital gains taxes could have remained invested and compounding."

O'Shaughnessy has identified five big mutual fund drawbacks:

1. High expense ratios. Investors pay a fee for the privilege of owning shares. That fee goes to the fund's manager. But instead of a flat amount, the fee is based on your assets in the fund. The more money you have invested, the higher your fee.

2. Undisclosed transaction costs. This is the fee that a mutual fund pays to its broker to buy and sell stocks. The fee is not found in a fund's prospectus and is deducted from the fund's returns. The higher the fund's portfolio turnover rate, the higher its transaction costs.

3. No control. You have no say over what stocks the fund owns. Some stocks may be ideal for you while others are not.

4. Little knowledge. Because you don't know what specific assets a mutual fund owns on a daily basis, you could wind up owning the same stocks in several different funds. Or the types of stocks the fund buys now may differ from the ones it set out to buy when you originally invested.

5. Significant tax hits. In addition to the capital gains taxes you pay when your fund manager actively trades stocks, you also face "embedded capital gains." These can occur when a fund you recently bought sells a stock it has held for many years. Your tax hit on that trade will be equal to someone who has the same amount invested but owned the fund for many years and profited from that stock's long run-up in price.

What's the average mutual fund investor to do? Alternatives are emerging that provide individuals with more control over their investments and taxes. The Web-based services in this new "personal fund" sector offer stock portfolios that are tailored to an individual investor's personal financial goals.

Instead of buying mutual fund shares, investors in personal funds buy an entire portfolio of stocks for a relatively low minimum investment. By owning the stocks in a personal fund, you control your capital gains taxes by choosing when to buy and sell stocks. You also know at all times the stocks you own.

The low cost of ownership and individual control of tax responsibilities offer individuals significant advantages over mutual funds and other popular investment vehicles. As such, Forrester Research, an e-commerce research firm in Cambridge, Mass., predicted that more than $1 trillion will be invested in personalized funds rather than mutual funds over the next 10 years.

"The days when mutual fund investors have to eat what they are served are over," says O'Shaughnessy of Netfolio.com. "Personal funds make it possible for every individual investor to own a professionally selected stock portfolio that is reasonably priced and designed for their needs and goals."

Netfolio.com is one of several new services offering individual investors personalized fund portfolios and -- surprise -- the first headed by a former mutual fund manager.

To begin investing at Netfolio, you pay $200 a year or $20 a month to subscribe to its service. Then you open a Bear Stearns account online at the Netfolio site at no additional cost.

To invest, you ask Netfolio to recommend personal funds that suit your investment objectives. Or you can pick them on your own from Netfolio's list. Each personal fund comes with a recommended stock portfolio that you can customize prior to investment.

You can buy an entire portfolio of stocks in a personal fund with a minimum investment of just $5,000. And there are no commissions when you invest in Netfolio's personal funds online through Bear Stearns.

"This type of personalized investment advice used to be available only to the superwealthy," O'Shaughnessy says. "Now, thanks to the Internet, individual investors everywhere can access the same type of service through their computer."

Courtesy ARA Content, http://www.aracontent.com.

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Successful Dot-Com Verse

Successful Dot-Com Offers Strategies for Success

Lost amidst billions of dollars in squandered venture capital funding and endless reports from network anchors about the macabre state of e-commerce lies a seemingly overlooked fact: Not all of today's dot-coms use red ink in the accounting ledger.

As the e-commerce tree hourly shakes off companies with poorly laid business plans, and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks continue to disrupt the national economy, the viable dot-coms remaining possess sound strategies for continued positive growth.

Despite continued poor economic forecasts, Elaine Rubin, executive director of Shop.org (www.Shop.org), predicts that online retail sales for this year will still top $65 billion, an increase from 1.7 percent to 2.5 percent of all retail sales. As the quantity of online sales grows, a handful of companies are defining the tenets of successful e-commerce business models.

One company, Vancouver, Wash.-based GiftTree.com (www.GiftTree.com) could write a successful case study for Harvard Business School on how to flourish in the New Economy. Started in 1996, the company experiences more than 200 percent annual growth and expects record returns this holiday season.

Founder and CEO Craig Bowen offers four successful strategies for aspiring dot-coms. He points to the failures of high-profile companies such as Pets.com and Furniture.com to illustrate the first cornerstone of e-commerce success: a sound business concept. While Pets.com and Furniture.com both raised significant venture capital and experienced spectacular short-term success, neither rested on a sound business concept. Why buy pet food on the Internet when it's just as easy to purchase it at the grocery store? Who's going to buy a couch or recliner online without sitting in it first?

Online gift giving, on the other hand, makes perfect sense.

"Gifts need to be purchased," says Bowen, "then taken home, wrapped and mailed. That takes a lot of time." In a time-starved society, clicking a mouse to send an elegant birthday or graduation gift is appealing when the alternative is skipping dinner to fight crowds at the mall and waiting in line at the post office.

After a sound business concept, a well-conceived economic policy is essential.

"We've been very frugal," says Bowen. "We didn't get caught up in the venture capital insanity. We've always applied traditional business thinking to our corporate strategies."

Bowen points to Etoys.com as an example of a company with a poor economic strategy. Etoys spent $25 million in television advertising last holiday season. Shortly thereafter, its shares plummeted from $61.50 a share to $1.44.

Now that e-commerce companies no longer enjoy a tidal wave of venture capital, the new paradigm is thrift and scrappiness. Bowen believes in letting GiftTree grow at a natural rate, and not overextending his company's advertising or development budgets.

The third key to success according to Bowen is customer service. When the competitor's store is literally a click away, customer satisfaction must be the highest priority. In Bowen's model, profits do not supercede customer satisfaction, but follow it.

"Our commitment to quality and service mean that we focus on customer service, not profits," says Bowen. "Other companies do risk management and accept a minimal level of customer service dissatisfaction. We feel that satisfied customers shouldn't be quantified in risk management terms -- especially in the gift industry."

To that end, GiftTree developed proprietary in-house software that increases the usefulness of its site. Features such as an online address book allow users to save time by storing important dates and addresses. A live chat feature allows visitors to chat online with a gift specialist. The company's computer system also alerts operators when a customer inserts a potentially erroneous zip code. Perhaps most importantly, GiftTree personally confirms the delivery of each order.

"The costs and complexities of delivery notification are enormous," says Bowen. "But steps like that are what allow us to excel in this industry. We always try to increase value. That's how any company makes it."

Lastly, successful e-tailers must continue to assuage user concerns about online security. A recent ABCNEWS.com poll found that 45 percent of Americans felt the Internet threatens their personal privacy. GiftTree offers an entire page on its Web site outlining its security and privacy policies, and Bowen says that GiftTree uses a firewall that provides hacker-proof protection for all consumer information.

Forrester Research estimates that world e-commerce will increase from $657 billion this year to more than $6.8 trillion by 2005. As those figures continue climbing, companies that employ the successful strategies of GiftTree will continue recording profits using black ink in the corporate ledger.

Courtesy ARA Content, http://www.aracontent.com.

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