THE CASE AGAINST STEVE CASE
America Online chief Steven M. Case has grandiose plans, nine lives, and excessive self-confidence, but he is missing the point ("The online world of Steve Case," Cover Story, Apr. 15). AOL's service is terrible: repeated inability to connect, frequent and random disconnects, pricing that is exorbitant for even modest usage, and interminable delays waiting for art to load. All this while I receive yet another in the never-ending series of unsolicited startup disks--as AOL attempts to corral more "members" despite an inability to service those they have now.
It's the service, stupid. I'm looking for a direct-access Internet provider with a flexible pricing plan. When I find one, I am history. If there are others like me, Steve Case will be history, too.
A good depiction of Steve Case--not as a whiz kid but as a master of spin. AOL's Mac users still don't have the "telnet" capability enjoyed by their Internet counterparts, which Case has been promising since 1994. The company appears to be held afloat by deficit financing and public relations, helped by new customers--and reporters--who don't know about the Internet. As AOL users discover Internet software that offers everything AOL has--bigger, better, and faster--subscribership will plummet.
San Leandro, Calif.Return to top
WHY SHOULD BIG TOBACCO GET A BAILOUT?
David Greising's proposal in his commentary "A tobacco deal that could clear the air" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Apr. 15)--to give tobacco special immunity from consumer-fraud and antitrust laws--is an insult to law-abiding businesses. The tobacco industry may well contribute $55 billion to gross domestic product. But Greising neglects to point out that tobacco drains $65 billion per year out of our economy in health and other costs. And he neglects to point out that much of that cost is borne by businesses that pay health premiums. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minnesota has joined me as a co-plaintiff in our suit specifically because of the suffocating tobacco-related costs they and their business customers bear.
We are merely holding tobacco companies to the standards that other businesses have obeyed for years. In the end, law-abiding businesses may have the most to gain from holding the tobacco industry accountable for the harm caused by their illegal behavior.
Hubert H. Humphrey III
Attorney General of Minnesota
St. PaulReturn to top
HUMAN RESOURCES AT DUPONT
We must point out several facts not accurately represented in "Has outsourcing gone too far?" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Apr. 1). While we have a multiyear contract with Forum Corp., it is not for $10 million. Our relationship with Forum is on a fully variable-cost basis, consistent with our original intent. The decision to reduce internal training staff was DuPont's, not Forum's. This was also implemented prior to identifying Forum as our training partner. Lastly, Forum does not administer all of DuPont's training and development.
Daniel W. Burger Jr.
Vice-President for Human Resources
Wilmington, Del.Return to top
THE NEW C-NOTE IS A BEAUTY IN THE EYE OF THIS BEHOLDER
"A C-note too ugly to counterfeit" (In Business This Week, Apr. 15). Hardly! The new $100 bill is bigger, bolder, more detailed, and in turn, more interesting. Maybe its looks are debatable. But improved protection and increased functionality are the real story.
Tod L. Niedeck
Dalton, Mass.Return to top