Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

June 2005

by Paul Tenney, Associate Publisher


Being an SOB (son of boss) is not always easy; but my son Paul has been working hard to build this magazine's circulation while keeping it free from dupes, drops and undeliverables. He remembers that we had four different home addresses without moving as he was growing up, so he knows how important it is to keep your address zipped up.

He offers this month's extra point ( he calls it "Superfluity Point") to give me a column off while I concentrate on perfecting my putting stroke. — Jack

Business People–Vermont turns 21 years old with the publication of Volume 22, Number 1. In June of 1984 when this magazine debuted, I graduated from high school, and 224 babies were born in the city of Burlington. Those 224 souls, assuming all are living, are now fully formed adults, entitled to vote, drink alcohol, acquire debt, and pay taxes.

In the last 21 years, the way we do business hasn't really changed; it just involves more function keys and speed. When I was 21, I worked in the box office of a regional theater company in Boston. We used a state-of-the-art computer system, entering the credit card into the system as we took the customer's order. Then we would print out the credit card numbers and hand-write those numbers onto carbon slips and call for authorization. On the rare occasion that a card was declined, whoever drew the short straw would have to go into the house at intermission and find the lucky patron.

A couple of years later I was working at a different theater, on a different state-of-the-art system. This time when I entered a credit card, I'd press the F2 key and wait about three minutes for the card to be authorized via modem.

Skip ahead a few years, and I was working in a call center for a national ticketing service. Our call center took overflow calls from regional centers all over the country. We were in Denver, but on any given day, we were taking calls for theaters, nightclubs and sports venues on Broadway or in Los Angeles or Kalamazoo or Peoria. The system we worked on was automated and scripted. Even though credit cards would be authorized instantly, the operators would read a script asking, "Wouldn't you like to add a beautiful Lord of the Dance T-shirt to your order today?"

I've been back in Vermont for a few years, working at my next career. That call center in Denver has moved to India or a prison in Utah. They authorize the credit card before they answer the call.