Economy

Record mobile spam penatly… Feel like smoking? Read a book… The great underinsured… Have an extra holiday… Top women scientists paid less… Public vs private companies… Crown’s sky-high ambitions… Quote of the Day…

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Record mobile spam penalty

A British mobile phone marketing company has been hit with a record fine for breaching the Spam Act after it made a wave of calls to mobile phones, hung up and left a missed call message, reports the AFR.

The phone owners who returned the missed call got a marketing message from the spammer DC Marketing inviting them to call a premium 190 number to get ‘free’ ring tones. The ploy cost the company $149,600, the heaviest fine since the introduction of the Spam Act in 2004.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority says it is getting tougher on spammers thanks to a boost in funding from the Federal Government.

Feel like smoking? Read a book

Reading can be a bit like smoking – often addictive, and the desire to do it can pop up at the most unlikely times. Well, Springwise reports that publisher TankBooks is making it easier for people to tote around their favourite book by selling them packaged like cigarettes, right down to the cellophane wrapping on the outside and silver foil on the inside.

Although they are small, the first series of TankBooks are anything but lightweight. Pitched as ‘tales to take your breath away’, the boxed books range from Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King” to Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”.

Portable Kafka may not tempt every smoker to kick the habit and take up reading instead, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

The great underinsured

Many small businesses are significantly underinsured, according to a new survey. A study of 1006 small businesses (with under 20 employees) done for CGU Insurance shows 82% of businesses that own buildings do not insure them adequately, 65% have no business interruption cover and 47% do not adequately insure their stock.

CGU’s chief executive, Mario Pirone, says: “Most small businesses have no idea that they are underinsured or have the wrong cover until it’s too late,” he said. “It’s only after they experience a major loss that the problem comes to light.”

Of particular concern was the almost total lack of adequate business interruption protection: to cover cash flow while a business recovers from a major loss.

“It can take months or even years to rebuild after a major loss, yet few small businesses can afford to stop trading or operate at reduced capacity for a significant period of time,” Pirone said.

“These findings show that small businesses don’t really understand what their insurance covers them for and often look to cut corners to reduce their overheads. Unfortunately, this false economy can lead to them losing their entire livelihood. Many of the businesses we looked at had not increased their level of insurance protection in the past three years.”

The survey was carried out by loss adjusters McLarens Young International, which visited small business customers and systematically assessed their assets and cash flow to determine whether their insurance cover was adequate.

Have an extra holiday, just go!

Employers worried about a backlog of untaken staff leave liabilities clogging up their balance sheet should consider following GE Money’s lead.

The consumer finance company has worked out that it is cheaper to bribe their staff to take their four weeks of leave in a year by offering an extra week’s leave than to carry the untaken leave on the books.

At the end of last year, about three-quarters of GE Money’s professional staff had not taken their full entitlements, the AFR reports. To further encourage staff to take their leave, GE sent letter about the deal home to families at Christmas. If the worker wasn’t keen the families were!

Since WorkChoices was introduced, Australian employers can only direct people to take leave if there is a shutdown period or if they have more than two years of leave accrued (and then they can only direct them to take one-quarter of it).

Top women scientists paid less

The highest-paid female scientists earn only about two-thirds as much as their male counterparts, according to a survey by the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia reported in The Australian.

There is a pay gap between female and male scientists at all levels of seniority, with graduate female scientists starting off an average of $7500 behind their male colleagues. But it is at the most senior levels that the gap is most pronounced: top female scientists earning an average $107,800 compared to male scientists on $196,300,

A report accompanying the survey, of 2000 women employed full-time in technology and management oriented roles, speculates that the reason for the difference may be that women are less likely to work in the lucrative resources sector than men, instead tending to opt for a career in the life sciences.

Public vs private companies

  • NSW has half of the top private companies.
  • Victoria has a higher proportion of public to private companies than any other state.
  • More than a third of the top public companies have been the subject of legal action in the past five years.
  • A higher proportion of the top private companies are retail, wholesale and construction.

Source: Dun & Bradstreet study of Australia’s top earning 50 public and private companies, ‘Risk & performance: Characteristics of Australia’s leading public & private companies’.

Crown’s casino ambitions sky high

Crown Casino has lodged plans with the local authority in Las Vegas to build a casino that would be the tallest building in the United States, The Australian reports today. The planned casino would be 575 metres high, well above the current tallest skyscraper in the US, the 450-metre Sears Tower in Chicago.

Quote of the Day

A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.

– Jeff Bezos, founder, Amazon

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