Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Clark Howard”

Clark Howard Leads The Charge

Clark Howard is the consumer advocate who took on Bank of America when they refused to help a man who incurred legal charges as a result of B of A calling in the police. They suspected the man was in the middle of a criminal act when he was innocently brought a fraudulent check. For more, see here and the post from yesterday.

Clark Howard

Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advocate who “advises consumers how to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off.” He hosts a radio show that is broadcast every day on more than 200 radio stations throughout North America. After a career swinging between jobs in both the public and private sectors, he set up a travel agency business in 1981. Six years later, he retired at the age of 31, having sold what he had developed into a chain that spread across metro Atlanta.

A spontaneous guest appearance on a travel show in Florida led to his own program, The Clark Howard Show, which was soon syndicated by Dial Global. In early 2009, The Clark Howard Show was expanded to HLN (formerly the Headline News channel). He is the author of eight books, some of which sat comfortably in the New York Times Bestseller list. While his books are all available through GetClarkSmart.com, Clark tells his listeners that they are cheaper used and can be had for free at the public library!

I think this tells you a lot about the man. I also want you to know that my books are available new and in e-book form on amazon.com, so it shows what kind of man I am.

Clark also invests in his native Atlanta community. He started several civic programs, including Atlanta Volunteer Action, Volunteer Action, Inc., The Big Buddy Program and Career Action. Together with listeners, he has helped Habitat for Humanity built 30 homes in and around metro Atlanta.

Habitat - a great place to volunteer

I think in today’s economic climate, it is hard to act, hard not to just shut down and weather the storm. If you can do that and live with the clock that’s ticking for you, all power to you. For the rest of us, we could do worse than finding a teacher, someone we trust and can follow. This person shouldn’t make money out of your actions. Pay him/her for their time, books etc., but not the products or services that they advise you to buy.

When learning Tai Chi, I met a man who spent considerable money and time, going to every workshop and studying every form of Tai Chi  with every teacher he could find. When we practiced together, his technique was bad. I wondered how someone who learned from so many of the biggest names had failed to grasp the rudiments of the martial art. The answer comes in depth and not breadth.

Do Little, Achieve Much

Jewish proverbs teach us to find a teacher and learn everything we can from them. Only when we have mastered all they have to teach us, should we move on to another teacher. The trick, of course, is finding the right teacher and recognizing that they bring experience and knowledge, but not the gift of foresight. The best thing we can do for ourselves right now is to find the best financial teacher for each of us and then to listen.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Big Banks, Little People Pt. 2

Following on from Monday’s post (if you missed it click here) …

So what’s the problem? Police make mistakes, arrest the wrong person, even charges them. Justice will win out we are taught and Mr. Shinnick walked free … eventually. The problem is that the story wouldn’t have ended there. When most employers hire someone they check our records. Mr. Shinnick had to clear his name and $14,000 and the time he put into it, is an injustice in itself.

The Victim

“The court wants to protect people when reporting criminal activity,” said Paul Glusman, a Berkeley attorney who has written about the Hagberg case. “But this can be abused. At this point, there’s nothing that will protect ordinary citizens from a false police report.” (source)

Shinnick works as a salesman in a San Francisco clothing store. He understands the client:customer relationship and this served only to infuriate him all the more. He felt that Bank of American should not have called the police until they were sure that a crime was in fact happening and that the person in their store was the criminal and not another victim.

“I’ve been in retail for 18 years,” he said. “I know about customer service and dealing with fraud. The way to handle something like this is to take the person into a back room and work things out before you call the police.” (source)

Shinnick felt violated not only by his wrongful arrest, but the way that Bank of America treated him and their refusal to help with the costs he incurred.

Enter a Superhero: Clark Howard doesn’t walk around with a cape (actually he might for all I know), but he is as tenacious as any Batman or Wonder Woman. Clark Howard is a  Consumer Advocate. He has a syndicated radio and TV show and is known throughout the country. According to his website, Howard “advises consumers how to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off.”

Cleark Howard - The Hero

Howard took up Shinnick’s cause and highlighted it on his website. He spoke with bank officials, and actually offered to pay $7,000 of the fees if the bank would pay the other $7,000. They refused the offer.

Clark then requested that his listeners withdraw money from their accounts. Many indeed closed the accounts  which cost Bank of America between $20 million and $50 million (I have two separate sources) from their Bank of America accounts.

Bank of America had a change of heart.

The Villian?

I actually have a small amount of sympathy for B of A. They could easily have been the victims and need to work to crush fraud which eventually costs all of us – banks and customers. But could they not have found a way to help this victim?

What I really want to point out is how impressed I am with Clark Howard. Beyond anything, he proved that if people stand together over injustices, the little person can receive justice.

Thank you, Clark. You have taught us all a powerful lesson.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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