Business Finance 2017 -

Stocks up for the day, down for the week, amid best first-half gains in years

Stocks closed mostly higher to wrap up the strongest first half of any year since 2013 for the S&P 500 (+8.2%) and the Dow (+8) as well as the Nasdaq’s best H1 since 2009 (+14.1%).

But stocks ended lower for the week, with the S&P losing 0.6%, the Dow edging 0.2% lower and the Nasdaq plunging 2% for the week and 0.9% for the month after recent selloffs in tech stocks.

Today’s leaders included consumer discretionary (+0.6%) – aided by Nike’s 11% rally after beating quarterly earnings expectations – industrials (+0.8%) and energy (+0.4%), while top-weighted sectors such as financials, tech and health care all finished slightly underwater (-0.1%).

U.S. crude oil spiked 2.5% to settle at $46.04/bbl, as data showed the first decline in the number of active U.S. oil rigs in 24 weeks; it was WTI’s seventh straight gain and snapped a losing streak of five weeks (up 7% for the week).

Treasury prices fell, with the benchmark 10-year yield rising by 3 bps to 2.30%.

Sean Spicer Insists That Trump’s ‘Covfefe’ Tweet Actually Meant Something To A ‘Small Group Of People’

On Tuesday night, the nation whipped itself into a frenzy over a now-deleted Trump tweet that happened to be more incoherent than usual: “Despite the negative press covfefe.” (The end.) Immediately, #Covefe was all the rage while Trump peacefully slumbered within the White House. No one on staff seemed to notice and/or care, so Trump woke up and spoiled the fun while wishing everyone good luck in figuring out what he meant. This left the beleaguered Sean Spicer, who wasn’t about to go on camera after Tuesday’s sweaty bolt-fest, to explain matters in an audio-only press briefing, which the press was instructed not to broadcast.

Surely, one can agree that Spicer faced an impossible task, at least on this question. Yet he really didn’t handle the matter well by making sh*t up: “The President and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.” And he was greeted with an audible commotion from reporters, who have just about had enough of his refusal to answer questions.

In other words, a common Twitter prediction from last night (that Spicer would say “the tweet speaks for itself”) was fairly accurate.

Many have commented over the past few days how Spicer, who has never appeared to like his job, seems to have lost the light behind his eyes. He only did an audio briefing today, which is almost a sure sign that we’ll see less of him as Trump’s presidency continues. Yet one wonders how long he can continue, since he’s moved on from mere alternative facts to feeling that it’s acceptable to say a U.S. president’s tweets – which, as a reminder, he’s not allowed to delete, per Congress – have a secret meaning.

It’s no wonder that Twitter currently echoes the below tweet cluster about Spicer’s explanation being “insane.”

How To Get Off Your Antidepressant Without Going Insane

Tears ran down my face uncontrollably.

Lifting one foot to place it a few feet forward felt like an enormous task.

I couldn’t recognize a single face on the train.

My home was a few blocks away, yet felt impossibly far.

Every cell in my body had given up on me. I had zero energy.

Heavier tears were somehow making their way out of my eyes as I began to sob in public, hoping that nobody would see me.

I open the door to my home and heard that familiar creaking sound. My living room came into view.

I took a step inside, and collapsed.

My mind raced with uncontrollable thoughts of anxiety.

I stared at the ceiling and told myself over and over, “You have to get up and eat something. You have to get up. You have to get up man.” Finally I get up. I look at the clock.

It was 2:15pm. It takes 30 minutes to get home from my internship. I left that internship at 11:00am.

I had been on the floor trying to get up for almost 3 hours.

I thought I could stop taking antidepressants cold turkey. I thought they were safe.

But in that pain while laying on the ground I made a new discovery.

Not only was I depressed, I was now dependent on medication.

How to Get Off Antidepressant Medication

I wanted to get off antidepressants because I had become “manic” from a recent increase in my dose of citalopram. Every couple months, the medication would stop working. My psychiatrist simply told me all I had to do was keep increasing the dose.

They said I was bipolar. Lithium didn’t work too well either. Looking back, the amount of citalopram I was taking was high enough to make anyone go a little crazy.

One thing was clear. Antidepressants weren’t the answer for my long-term health and happiness.

If you’ve found this page, you’ve probably decided the same thing for yourself.

The good news is, you can get off your antidepressant if you do it right.

My Successful Attempt To Get Off Antidepressants

Celexa withdrawals left me incapable of functioning. I was forced to continue taking it or become a vegetable.

I had to wait until there was a few weeks of no responsibilities to try again.

I loaded up with amino acids, vitamins, and an old bottle of lortab. I waited. And waited some more.

I got sick. Not sick as in mentally sick, but I caught a bad cold or virus.

That was my time to strike.

I cut my citalopram pills in half for 3 days. Then I completely stopped my dose.

Everyday I woke up I took Tryptophan with B-Vitamins, Tyrosine later in the day, and Tryptophan at night.

I felt severe pain. The combination of withdrawing from a powerful drug and being extremely sick was rough. Back then, I didn’t care and I took a lortab to help.

Lortab is not necessary to get off an antidepressant. I want to be honest and admit that I took a few lortabs during my withdrawal to escape the pain a few times.

I already knew what drug addiction was like. If I took lortab everyday, I’d have to wean off lortab also. That obviously defeats what I was aiming to do, which was be happy with no drugs.

Anyways, withdrawal from citalopram is bizarre. I relived old painful memories. I listened to music on my bed in the dark and drifted off to psychedelic realms as if I had taken a hallucinogen. I became sensitive to physical pain. Stubbing my toe or bumping my elbow felt 10x worse.

The weirdest phenomenon was getting ” electric shocks. “I thought only people that went off Paxil experienced them. You might know them as Brain Zaps. Yes, they are real.

I would be walking around or drifting off to sleep and feel a distrubing sensation of a small electric jolt that felt as if it should hurt but didn’t. I swear I felt unconscious for a microsecond, almost like a mini seizure. It would sometimes travel from my brain to other parts of my body. It was slightly painful but had a very real, disturbing sense of unnaturalness about it, yet wasn’t painful at all.

Going off citalopram was a rough ride. I still remember what I experienced withdrawing from antidepressants to this day.

The first 2 weeks were insane, then it was clear skies from there. I didn’t feel good, but I was feeling better. A month and a half later, and I had recovered. I was antidepressant free and depression free.

I got the occasional “Brain Zap” for about two months (I capitalize the word on purpose as I respect its ability to mystify me). I got so used to them I remember realizing one day as I froze in the hallway and said out loud, “I haven’t felt one of those brain zaps in about a week!”

Can You Get Off Antidepressants Also?

I was on my antidepressant for 7-8 months. If you are on a high dose or have been on an antidepressant for a long time, you will want to take things slower. It would be wise to do this with a doctor who is willing to support you in the process.

If you can’t really taper off for months at a time and don’t have a doctor to help you, this is how to do it. Be careful, listen to your body, and get back on your antidepressant if your situation becomes too paralyzing until you can try again. I happen to be a little extreme and wanted to get it over with.

First, Pick the Right Time To Get Off Antidepressants

Don’t try and go off your antidepressant when you are in the process of being promoted at work, your brother is getting married, and you have twins on the way.

You might lose your mind and it is essential that you have the proper environment to start your journey. If you can’t relax and be free of responsibilities for a while, stay on your antidepressant until you can.

You might “trip” while coming off. Pandora played a song called The Easterner by General MIDI who I’d never heard of before. I thought the song was teaching me the secrets of life. Serious.

I got sick with a cold and realized I was going to lay around in agony anyways. It’s better to find a week or two at full health, let everyone know you are going to be taking it easy, and start tapering off. If you can start tapering off without much harm, start that first. Plan your week of relaxation for when you come completely off your antidepressant.

Take the Right Amino Acids To Get Off Antidepressants And Maintain Your Sanity

Research as much as you can about amino acids and how they affect the brain. You can start with this website. Read through the articles, contact me, or sign up for the free email list.

The Mood Cure by Julia Ross has a wealth of information about amino acids and is where I began my journey. In fact, Julia Ross claims that she tapers people off of their SSRIs with no withdrawal symptoms. People say it can be hard to understand and implement the book while depressed, but if all you can do right now is walk to the library and start reading, pick this book up first.

Each amino acid affects people differently. My body and mind prefer l-tryptophan over 5-HTP. Most people respond better to 5-HTP. This is because 5-HTP skips a step in the conversion process to create serotonin. Leading practitioners in nutritional therapy try 5-HTP with people first, just don’t stop if 5-HTP doesn’t do the trick for you.

L-tryptophan is an amino acid that the brain uses naturally to create Serotonin. It does this by utilizing Vitamin B-3 to convert Tryptophan into 5-HTP, which is used in conjunction with Vitamin B-6 to convert into serotonin.

Amino acids compete with each other. You must take amino acids on an empty stomach. I made sure I had no other amino acids in my system by waking up first thing in the morning with a glass of water next to my bed. I’d take an L-Tryptophan with complex B-Vitamins, then meditate for a half hour before eating anything. I took Tryptophan at night to aid with sleep.

Your brain uses tyrosine to produce dopamine and norepinephrine. It didn’t help me as much, and actually revved me up to the point of making me manic, so I didn’t take too much of it. I later discovered that l-phenylalanine affected me more positively.

If you still have questions, click here for an entire article dedicated to taking amino acids while on antidepressants.

Your Antidepressant Tells You Which Amino Acids To Take Based On The Receptors It Affects

SSRIs affect serotonin levels. If you take an SSRI, you will want to take either 5-HTP or tryptophan.

If you take atypical antidepressants or SNRIs, you will want to take either tyrosine, DLPA, or l-phenylalanine along with 5-HTP or Tryptophan if needed. SNRIs and some atypical antidepressants (like Wellbutrin) affect the brain’s norepinephrine levels. Tyrosine or DLPA with 5-HTP or Tryptophan can help restore these neurotransmitters back to healthy levels.

Common SSRIs include:

Common SNRIs include:

Atypical Antidepressants include:

  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL)

  • Trazodone (Oleptro) – if you use this for sleep, take Tryptophan or Melatonin at night

  • Mirtazapine (Remeron, Remeron SolTab) – for sleep try Tryptophan or Melatonin

Research your antidepressant and find out which neurotransmitters it is affecting. Use 5-HTP or tryptophan to replace serotonin (SSRIs). Use tyrosine or DLPA to replace norepinephrine or dopamine (SNRIs or Atypical).

Get Your Body And Mind Back By Restoring Them Properly

There is always a root cause for why you are depressed. Most people who question whether or not it is possible to beat depression haven’t yet realized that. This is a deadly cycle. Not taking care of myself caused me to become depressed and becoming depressed caused me to not take care of myself.

You get to break that cycle.

First thing you need to do is look at your diet.

If you’ve succumbed to the “low-fat” diet, start consuming large amounts of healthy fats.

Things like salmon, grass fed beef, avocados, fish oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, etc. make your brain feel very, very good.

Why? Because your brain is made up of mostly fatty acids.

Start eating whole, unprocessed foods.

Check for food allergies. I went gluten free and saw a dramatic reduction in symptoms.

Eliminate sugars and vegetable oils. Sugar will wreck your overall sense of well-being. Sugar depletes your body of B Vitamins and nutrients. Canola oil contains too many omega-6 fats and is inflammatory, both of which can cause depression.

Some good places to start educating yourself on nutrition is here and here. Don’t forget about Johnny Bowden either

Start appreciating healthy grass-fed butter and coconut oil and foods that fuel your brain. Start to fear sugar and anything that comes in a “box.” Eat vegetables like they are going out of style, and eat them in the highest quality that you can.

If you’re not getting enough sun (which is pretty much everyone), start taking Vitamin D.

Once you’ve dialed in your diet, start experimenting with exercise. You probably won’t be able to do squats and deadlifts while coming off your antidepressant, but a short jog or walk in the sun sounds simple yet works.

If you can’t get yourself motivated to go for a walk, tell yourself that you will only do it for two minutes. After two minutes, you can go inside if you want.

Take baby steps towards getting your mind and body functioning right and you will thank yourself for the rest of your life.

If anything is confusing or you just don’t know where to start, contact me.


Prepare yourself for the voyage, rally up some of your close friends to have on call, and go for it. If you supplement with amino acids, eat healthy, get light exercise, relax, and have a support system, you’ll make it through the pain period and come out the other side healthier and happier.

If you do all the above and it still doesn’t work, you might have something else going on like leaky gut. Keep researching, keep listening to your body, get tests done by a doctor, keep searching until you find what you need.

I used to have insomnia. I corrected a magnesium deficiency and now I sleep like a rock.

I had slight adrenal fatigue which I corrected. I got my energy back.

These are common issues that a doctor or psychiatrist sadly never ask about. Instead, they ask you what powerful medication you’d like to start taking.

If you want true recovery, it is possible. Unfortunately with depression, the trial-and-error period can be extremely painful. It can be hard to figure out what to do when your in the midst of numbness and agony.

You may simply be eating gluten and you’re slightly allergic to it. You’re actually healthy, but don’t know how to communicate your needs properly to others. You think you’ve been getting enough sleep, but in reality you’re only sleeping 5 hours a night.

If you’re struggling to find real advice on how to recover from depression without medication, click Here for daily emails that give you truthful and actionable steps to feel like your old self again (plus a free bonus).

Let us all know in the comments if you have any other questions, thoughts, or ideas about living a life free from the side effects and withdrawals of medication. I wish you all the best.

Update From A Subscriber

A subscriber told me about her method for weaning off her antidepressant. You can use a bottle of water with milliliter measurements (can get one free from the pharmacy similar to a cough medicine bottle).

Make sure that your medication doesn’t use a film coating that gradually releases the medication into your body at a slow and controlled rate. If you dissolve or break these pills, it can destroy this slow-release seal. This would be counterproductive.

If you have checked that your medication is safe to do this, dissolve your medication in the bottle and depending on how much water is in it, you can take a very specific amount of your antidepressant.

Lets say you had a 5mg pill and a 50ml bottle. Once dissolved, every 10ml of water would contain 1mg of your medication. This way, you could slowly wean off your medication by taking 4mg a day, then 3mg, then 2mg, and so on.

You can really wean off it slowly and can even take half a milligram. You can keep diluting the 1ml in water and take 0.5 or 0.3 of a dose. This way, you can get off your medication with even less zaps or horrible withdrawal effects.

Walk: A Message To The Class Of 2017

It’s grad season again, and this year’s crop of commencement addresses promises to ring even more hollow than usual now that graduating seniors are leaving school to step into the End Times. I mean, really: what fucking good is gonna come from you hearing about working hard and/or growing from your mistakes when the newly elected most powerful man in world got into his lofty position by doing precisely none of those things? I may as well tell you to start robbing banks. The hell if I know what’s gonna work out for you and what won’t.

In fact, just reported that many college speakers are actively avoiding any mention of President Trump, or the fact that his existence means The Black Gates Of Hell have opened and will soon swallow us whole.

“Anybody whose commencement speech could be put on the editorial page of a newspaper doesn’t understand the job,” said Anthony Esolen, an English literature scholar who will speak at Hillsdale College in Michigan. His advice: “Leave the shifting sand dunes of the day far behind.”

As for Trump, he asked, “Why on earth should I mention the president? …. I have instead to decide whether I will talk about Milton or Dante or Dr. Johnson…”

What a fucking pud. Anyway, that’s the world you currently live in-with a bunch of racist loons in charge and a bunch of liberal pantywaists too polite to do anything to stop them. This is an unfair and cruel world, even to those who have meticulously prepared for it. I have nothing for you, man. I’m at a fucking loss. I am left with just the barest scraps of advice to dish out…basic fundamentals of living that are probably already obvious to you and hardly inspiring at all, because anything more grandiose that I offer will get crushed under the yoke of reality. I am left with little but the disposable, ” Wear sunscreen “-type whimsy that grad speakers have feasted off of for decades. In 2017, anything else is overly ambitious at best and an outright lie at worst. So here is my feeble contribution to your future development:


Walk walk walk walk walk walk walk walk walk walk.

Walk, motherfucker.

Walk a whole lot. Walk everywhere. Or, if you’re in a wheelchair, roll everywhere. Don’t drive. Don’t get an Uber. Walk. When you walk up to grab your diploma-and the wait for that will be hot and endless, mind you-keep walking. Do not stop. Churn those young goddamn legs while they’re still working.

You don’t need me to explain the health benefits of walking. Studies show that walking helps with depression, weight loss, heart health, and even brain health. Walking is exercising. Walking is thinking. Walking is writing. Walking is working. Walk as much as you can, wherever you can. And try to not to carry anything, because carrying shit ruins it.

I have an extremely fucked up spine and my doctor told me to stand and walk as much as possible because that’s what the human body is engineered for. I know that’s a douchey, Paleo Diet-type insight, but it’s true. You were born to walk. Your feet and legs and hips all evolved for you to walk out of your cave and stalk wild game all day long. You were not born to sit, or to drive, or to hop on a Segway like a complete dipshit. Walking is what keeps the human body-which I presume is composed of 80 percent ball bearings-running smoothly. That’s why every soccer mom on Earth now has a FitBit to help tick down 10,000 steps a day, but you don’t even need that (especially when your phone does it anyway). Counting steps when you walk is about as fun and joyful as checking the page number every on every page you read.

It’s not easy to walk in America. It’s not like Europe, where everything is densely packed and you’re always one block away from a fishmonger or a cheese monger or some other kind of monger. Walking is part of the culture there. I once had a neighbor whose parents would visit from Germany, and they would walk to the Safeway a mile-and-a-half away to get groceries, every day. They’d get one bag of food and then walk it back, and I always marveled at them for doing it. “Holy shit, they walked there! I didn’t know that was a thing you could do!”

Unlike Europe, America is fucking enormous, spread out, and-certain cities like New York aside-comically hostile to the idea of walking. As a graduating senior, you are about to leave the college campus, one of the few pedestrian-friendly spaces left in this country. The rest of America wants walkers DEAD. The sidewalks are tiny and the cars are the size of barges. Some neighborhoods-particularly wealthy ones-are so obsessed with privacy and intrusiveness that they have gates and walls and fucking mounted lasers ready to vaporize any biped who dares to trespass. WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT, MAN?

Hell, you’re lucky if you even get a sidewalk, or a shoulder. Sometimes sidewalks just end, and then you gotta traverse a fucking overpass with truckers on ephedrine doing 80 right next to you. In America, walking can be a strangely lethal pursuit. One time I was on the outskirts of Charlotte and wanted to walk from my hotel to Cook Out, because Cook Out is important. On Google Maps, the distance was 1.5 miles. That’s an easy walk, right? Twenty minutes, tops. If the walk is two miles or less, I usually try to pull it off.

I went down to the Research Triangle area of North Carolina last week. This is the area comprising…

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So I put on my dad shoes and walk out of the hotel, and the walk turns out to be along a Burger King/TD Bank/Kohl’s hellstrip with 4,000 lanes and 50 road crews. I think I had to walk through a ravine at one point. Walking in this sort of area is not only dangerous, but it will also make you deeply self-conscious. “Hey, what’s that guy doing WALKING? Did he just break out of prison?”

Still, after 45 minutes, I made it to the Cook Out and got my shake. I earned that goddamn shake, and no one can tell me different.

I try to make a point of walking anywhere I go. I swear this isn’t meant as a brag. Bragging about walking is like bragging that you have an AARP card. Also, I have walked in a lot of weird places where it’s not a good idea to walk. I am the lamest urban explorer in history. I’ve walked along highways in Dallas. I’ve walked through the sketchy Russian areas of Santa Monica Boulevard. I once walked from downtown Miami to Port of Miami, which was stupid. If I am in your town, there’s a 10 percent chance you will accidentally run me over with your car. I can’t encourage you to walk recklessly. But sometimes there isn’t a nature trail handy, and you gotta cross the river Styx in order to find yourself in places that are truly worth exploring on foot.

I have never regretted taking a walk. Every time you walk, a bunch of cool shit happens. You burn calories, for one thing. You think of cool ideas. You also get an immediate sense of the layout and vibe of wherever you happen to be. It’s a cheap shortcut to feeling like a local. I walked around downtown Atlanta for two hours once, which was long enough for me to realize, “Oh hey, this is the part of town that sucks!” Then I went and walked around a cooler part.

Also, walking forces me to pocket my phone and actually look around for a bit (in theory…sometimes I check the phone while walking, which is galactically fucking stupid and could get you killed). I can actually feel GOOD about the world when I walk around, because I’m seeing it as it stands now, instead through the horrifying prism of online news and discourse. The sun still shines out there. People are smiling. It’s not bad. You wouldn’t even know we’re all gonna die soon. Not everything has rotted away just yet. You can leave the shifting sand dunes of the day far behind, to borrow a phrase from Professor Fartsniffer up there.

Also, you don’t have to look for a parking spot.

I walked today. I walked past a school and saw a bunch of kids playing touch football and they accidentally launched the ball over the fence and into the road, where they couldn’t get it. So they asked me to grab it for them. I hucked it back over and one kid shouted “YOU DA REAL MVP!” And you know what? For that one little moment, I was, indeed, da real MVP. Step aside, Kevin Durant’s mom. I saved touch football. What did you ever do?

That kind of experience isn’t really possible when you’re sitting in a car. When you drive, you’re basically in a kind of self-imposed purgatory. The goal is to get wherever you’re headed so that you can resume your life again. I have tried to slow down and savor my surroundings while driving but it rarely works out because A) It’s not safe and B) I want to make good time. I have my eyes on the road and my ears on my SWEET TUNEZ, and I’m only slowing down to gawk at an overturned milk truck. “Wow, that looks BAD.”

The most important moments in life usually happen when you’re walking. Ever ask someone you’re dying to go out with if they wanna go for a walk, and they say yes? It feels fucking GREAT. That’s gonna be a good walk. Then maybe you two walk down the aisle after you get married, and then walk through the hospital to see your new baby in the nursery, and then walk with that child as takes its first steps. And then maybe someone close to you dies, and you have to walk with their casket to their gravesite. I’ve made some of these walks. I haven’t forgotten any of them.

One time I had back surgery and the nurses ordered me to get up and walk. My dad was there. He helped me off the gurney and took my hand as we walked down the hall and back. It wasn’t far, but it was enough for me to know that I was gonna be all right, and that I’d have plenty more walking to do. I still remember that walk fondly, even if my ass was hanging out of the hospital gown. And I’ve found that the more I walk, the more chances I give myself to experience something important. Vital.

When I was a kid I rarely walked unless forced to. I remember when I was a teenager and my parents would want to walk with me around the block and I was always like, “The fuck is the point of that? We’ll just end up back here anyway.” I was good at being a little snot. After college, I did the usual thing and tried to get directly into the workforce after I graduated, so that I could begin the process of making money to have shit and then spending the rest of my life worrying about protecting the shit I had, and buying more of the shit I did not. And of course, I didn’t realize how hollow much of that pursuit could be until I was already knee-deep in it. Walking helps shed a lot of that everyday pressure. It resets your brain and arranges things in the proper order. Walking is you taking time away from the endless, modern-day demand to be productive to make an investment in yourself: your health, your happiness, your creativity, all of it.

Obviously, you’re not gonna walk if your intended destination is a hundred miles away. But if you can conceivably walk where you’re going, do it. Back when America was expanding westward, the army would march 20, even 30 miles a day. I’m not using that example to say you should walk in the name of stealing land and waging war. I’m just saying that you are capable of walking much farther than you think. Sometimes, I dream about walking across the country. I just set off on foot and go. I see everything. I conquer nothing but the steps in front of me. This isn’t realistic. I would die of fatigue or be stabbed by a drifter within the first 100 miles or so. But I think about it, man. I think about moving at a pace where everything around me changes but I’m still going slow enough to savor it.

So walk.

[Rihanna voice] Walk walk walk walk walk walk.

Walk to a friend’s. Walk to the store. Walk your dog. Walk to work, if you have that particular luxury. Walk for cancer, because that’s a nice thing to walk for. Walk around aimlessly for no goddamn reason, even if it’s in an area you’ve walked around plenty of times already. The day changes. The people change. No two walks are alike. Walk when you have free time to walk, and make more free time to walk if you can. Fucking WALK. No need to run. Just walking will do. No matter what happens in the rest of the world, walking will take care of you.

Unless it’s raining. Then you should have a beer and chill.

Drew Magary’s book The Hike, which features walking, is out in paperback on July 4th.

Check Out The Insane Lengths Zappos Customer Service Reps Will Go To

toprankonlinemarketing on flickr

Everyone knows what it’s like calling a company’s customer service department: If you’re unlucky, you’re routed to Asia where an outsourced staff member reads a script in halting English.

Online retailer Zappos, by contrast, has 500 employees in a call center in Las Vegas who have all received seven weeks of training on how to make customers happy. The company (now a unit of Amazon) has been called “insane” and “fanatical” for the way it will do anything to please its customers. The stories are legendary, and are a key part of its brand:

  • In 2011, Zappos sent flowers to a woman who ordered six different pairs of shoes because her feet were damaged by harsh medical treatments.
  • Last March, a customer service rep physically went to a rival shoe store to get a specific pair of shoes for a woman staying at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Vegas when Zappos ran out of stock.
  • The same year, it overnighted a free –free! — pair of shoes to a best man who had arrived a wedding shoeless.
  • It also paid the tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike one day last November.
  • Oh, and Zappos employees don’t read from scripts.

Those facts, and more, led to a 2010 campaign in which real customer calls were used, with puppet actors, such as this one in which a woman wants to return a dress because she’s “not emotionally ready” to wear it (and has thus stashed it in the garage “under a tarp”):

Business Insider interviewed senior brand marketing manager Michelle Thomas and director of customer loyalty Rob Siefker about Zappos’ CRM-oriented corporate culture.

Zappos offers free returns no questions asked. This is part of the company’s appeal but it must also be a significant cost. How does it helps or hurt Zappos’ margins? Does the company ever discusses reining it in or outsourcing it?

Siefker: Returns are part of our business model. In fact, we encourage customers to order multiple sizes if they’re unsure of what to order, and then they can return the size that doesn’t work for them. It’s really how you want to look at it, but providing this service is an investment we make in order to provide the best possible service for our customers. We have customer reviews and we add details for products in order to help customers with their shopping experience, and that assists them with their shopping.

Does it prevent your from discounting or otherwise competing on price?

Michelle Thomas: In the end, we’re trying to provide the best possible customer experience, and do so in a fun and high touch manner. We have great customer friendly policies, an amazing selection, and super fast, free shipping!

Have you ever considered moving call center services to a foreign country or anything like that?

Siefker: No, we haven’t talked about that at all. In 2004, the company headquarters was moved to Las Vegas and growing the call center was a big part of the decision to move. We wanted everyone to remain close, and we wanted to make sure we reinforced our service culture.

How long does it take to train a Zappos call-taker?

Siefker: All new hires in Las Vegas go through four weeks of initial training. This is for everyone, no matter what job they will actually do after the four weeks. It incorporates a lot things, and a big focus is on helping our customers. We do this because we want everyone to have the experience of talking with our customers, and it also helps us during the holidays when we need everyone to put in hours to help our customers. Contact center employees have an additional three weeks of training after the first four weeks, so for them it’s a total of seven weeks before it’s full speed ahead in the call center.

Zappos uses its customer calls in its advertising. Was that your idea or your ad agency Mullen’s idea? What is your annual advertising budget?

Thomas: For the “Happy People Making People Happy” campaign in 2010, we did use customer calls as a way to demonstrate the need to support the three C’s: clothing, customer service, and culture (we’ve since added a 4th C for community). During the initial RFP process, [ad agency] Mullen took a deep dive into the culture and sat in on actual customer calls. They were inspired by the power of our Customer Loyalty Team and simply found a way to take one of our best assets and best branding devices and make it fun and interesting. In fact, we just broke our longest call record with an eight-hour and 47 minute call!

The focus of your advertising is often on customer service, rather than on shoes and shoe brands. Discuss the challenge there — after all, people shop for shoes because they want shoes, not because they want good service.

Thomas: We definitely have a lot of layers to our communications strategy and use different media to message different things. One definite challenge is that we are still seen as a shoe retailer when in fact we sell much more than that! Our product catalog spans from clothing to footwear to house wares to beauty to accessories and even sporting goods! Perceptions are not easy to change overnight unless you’re willing to be bold. The one constant is that we are a service company that happens to sell __________ (fill in the blank). Our biggest efforts revolve around building likeability around our brand so that consumers turn to a brand that they trust, find reliable, and have an emotional connection with. That’s where service comes in!

Socialite mountaineer breaks silence about 1996 Everest disaster

  • Sandy Pittman, now known by her maiden name, Hill, survived the deadly blizzard that lashed Mount Everest
  • Eight people died in the tragedy including two expedition leaders
  • Hill became the second American woman to ascend all of the Seven Summits
  • After the tragedy, Hill was depicted as a wealthy woman who paid her way up the peak in Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air
  • She’s now breaking her silence ahead of the ‘Everest’ film that’s based on the mountain tragedy

The socialite mountaineer who was lambasted in a book nearly 10 years ago is breaking her silence ahead of the blockbuster film release of Everest, which is based on the 1996 mountain tragedy she survived.

Sandy Pittman, now known by her maiden name, Hill, survived the deadly blizzard that lashed Mount Everest and left eight people dead, including two expedition leaders considered the best in their field.

The former fashion editor was in the process of becoming the second American woman to ascend all of the Seven Summits during the dangerous climb.

Numerous publications, including the New York Times and Vanity Fair, depicted Hill as a wealthy woman who paid her way up the peak.

Even worse for Hill was the depiction that journalist and fellow mountaineer Jon Krakauer wrote of her in his best-selling book, Into Thin Air, about the incident.

Krakauer was on assignment for Outside magazine during the disaster and implied in his controversial book that Hill endangered herself and others by behaving like a ‘diva.’

‘This came from a source who had a vested interest in crafting a dramatic story,’ Hill told The New York Post.

‘I guess it served a purpose for him to bury me.

‘I was an easy target. Back in those days you could get away with destroying someone’s life and flogging them with innuendo.’

In the weeks after the disaster, it was reported by Krakauer and other media that Hill brought a cappuccino machine to the Himalayas, along with her favorite Dean & DeLuca coffee beans.

Those luxuries allegedly came to symbolize the then-41-year-old’s privileged position, since she paid around $65,000 like the rest of her team for a place in the group to climb the 29,000-foot peak.

‘It conjures up this image of a giant professional espresso maker, when in fact it was a little coffee pot that percolates from the bottom, and just 8 inches tall,’ Hill told The Post.

‘You hear climbers pat each other on the back joking about so-and-so not being able to get out of his tent without his strong cup of coffee and he’s considered this macho guy.

‘But I’m at base camp, where a yak has carried up this coffee pot weighing less than a pound, and I’m making this frothy milk by putting powder in a jar and shaking it up and imagining that it’s foaming.

‘It’s really easy to attempt stereotyping. That was his [Krakauer’s] tactic.’

In addition, Krakauer implied in his book that Hill, who is now 60 years old, was carried up the summit.

‘The Sherpa, huffing and puffing loudly, was hauling the assertive New Yorker up the steep slope like a horse pulling a plow,’ he wrote.

When her team successfully reached the summit of the mountain on May 10, 1996, a blizzard hit and they became stranded on the slope.

The climbers, who were starved of oxygen and unable to see because of the white-out conditions, waited to be rescued in the hazardous ‘Death Zone.’

‘We were stranded a quarter of a mile from our tents, but we were blinded when the storm struck,’ Hill said to The Post.

‘It was like swimming in a glass of milk – a very turbulent glass of milk – for another eight to 10 hours.

‘I felt close to dying, but then hypoxia [oxygen deprivation] took over my brain and I started hallucinating I was in a tea house with a warm fire in it, so I stopped being afraid.

‘I started waving my arms and calling out to catch the eye of the waiter.’

Initially, her survival story was celebrated until the release of Krakauer’s article, in which he portrayed her as a ‘privileged villain,’ according to The Post.

At the time, Hill was married to one of the richest and most powerful men in New York City, Bob Pittman, and they as a couple epitomized ‘nouvelle society.’

Since surviving the disaster, Hill is now a competitive athlete who wrote two books and has contributed to a number of sports and outdoors magazines.

The divorcee now lives in Venice, California with her two dogs and a bird and continues to be an adventurer who surfs and climbs volcanoes.

In the film 2015 Everest, English actress Vanessa Kirby portrays Hill in the film.

Hill shared that she isn’t sure she will see the new film ‘Everest’ that’s also staring actor Jake Gyllenhaal, but said ‘it would be thrilling to see those big mountain vistas.’


Contact Ford Customer Service

Contacting Ford Customer Service Center

Ford is one of the largest US-based automobile companies. Despite financial turmoil, the company managed to redefine itself and push sales with changes to customer service and the look and feel of most Ford models. Ford also offers customer financing so customers can use in-house financing instead of buying through another company.

If you’re a Ford customer and you want to contact customer service or you want to learn more about the company or available vehicles, you can call, write or email a customer representative. You can also get in contact with a local dealership if desired.

to leave a comment about your customer service experience.

Contact Info

Customer service contact information is available for many different situations. If you want immediate action, the call center can answer your questions right now, but you may have to wait a bit and put up with transfers to multiple departments. If the question is less pressing, an email is the best way to go. If you want to send communication by mail it will take longer to reach Ford.

Phone Contact Numbers

  • Customer Relationship Center (US): 1-800-392-3673
  • TDD (US): 1-800-232-5952
  • Customer Service (Canada): 1-800-565-3673
  • US Customer Service for MyFord Touch, SYNC or Ford Navigation (English): 1-800-392-3673
  • US Customer Service for MyFord Touch, SYNC or Ford Navigation (Spanish): 1-800-392-3973
  • Canada Customer Service for MyFord Touch, SYNC or Ford Navigation: 1-800-565-3673
  • Marketing Program Customer Service: 1-800-334-4375
  • MyFord Magazine Customer Service: 1-800-335-1357

Mailing Address

Ford Motor Company
Customer Relationship Center
P.O. Box 6248
Dearborn, MI 48126

Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited
Customer Relationship Centre
P.O. Box 2000
Oakville, Ontario, L6J 5E4

Official Website

The Ford official website at sells cars and products. Customer service is clearly a secondary focus. You have to search for a small Contact Us link to find any information on customer service at all.

Customer Service Email

A customer service email address is not available, but you can contact Ford customer service using a contact page. This is a secure form, but that does not mean you can share your financial information or personal information in the email. Though we sent an email to the customer service department we are not guaranteed a response, according to Ford customer service.

Our Experience

The Ford customer service center phone number leads to an automated response center. The automated response answers the phone, as usual, and offers the caller various options. Press 1 for English and then press 0 five times with a slight pause between each. You will move directly to the customer service queue. We waited on hold for less than a minute before a representative answered our call. The representative located our nearest Ford service center and even offered to connect us with the center to make our maintenance appointment.

Contact CostCo Customer Service

Contacting Costco Customer Service Center

Costco is a wholesale warehouse store. In order to shop Costco online of offline, you must pay for a membership. In some cases, the warehouse will offer new customers a temporary membership for one to two weeks to test out the warehouse shopping experience. Some of the items available for sale online can be purchased from home and picked up in a local Costco warehouse, but others require shipping to your home.

to leave a comment about your customer service experience.

Contact Info:

Phone Contact Numbers

There are a few numbers customers can choose from when attempting to contact Costco customer service.

  • Costco online member services: 1-800-955-2292
  • General member services: 1-800-774-2678
  • Costco travel customer service: 1-877-849-2730
  • Costco pharmacy: 1-800-607-6861
  • Business customer service: 1-800-788-9968

Mailing Address

We found two addresses for customer service contact. One is a mailing address for the corporate office and the other is the physical address for the Costco corporate office building.

Costco Corporate

P.O. Box 34331

Seattle, WA 98124


Costco Corporate – Physical Address

999 Lake Drive

Issaquah, WA 98027

Official Website

The main page of the official Costco website is Customers can choose to log in to their shopping account using the link at the top of the page. You can also check on your order using the order number included in the verification email.

Customer service contact information is listed under the Customer Service tab. There is no contact us page.

Customer Service Email

Instead of offering a customer service email address, Costco offers a contact form The form asks for the subject of your email, details of the message and some personal information like name, email and contact phone number. You can also add your membership account number or order number if desired.

We sent an email to test the response time for a simple question. When we receive a response from the customer service department we will update our experience.

Our Experience

All of the customer service phone numbers for Costco customer service are for members, unless you want to learn more about membership. We called the general membership line to test phone customer service. We were given the opportunity to press 0 to talk with a representative during the automated message. After pressing 0 we were placed on hold (with music) to wait for the next representative. The total call was less than three minutes. We asked about membership pricing and the customer service representative answered without pause.

As one of the largest companies in the United States as well as the world, we expected customer service from Costco to be top-notch. Costco definitely lived up to it’s reputation. We erceived a response to our email inquiry with 4 hours from a customer care representative. They answered our question as well as provided additional information not requested. See below:

From: Costco Customer Service
Date: Sat, Mar 24, 2012 at 3:10 PM
Subject: Other [#3592290]
To: Richard B

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your e-mail to Costco Wholesale.

No, you do not have to be a member or purchase a membership online to place an order, however all non members will be charged a 5% non member surcharge except California state residents.

Thank you,

Costco Wholesale Corporation

Note this message was submitted through the web site customer suggestion page on 03/24/2012 10:43:19 PST
Comment/Suggestion/Request/Question Text:
Do I have to purchase a membership to buy an item online?

Personal Information:
First Name: Richard
Last Name: B

What is your experience with Costco customer service?