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Journalism - The Guardian

City diary
Wednesday November 13, 2002

  • Pensions may be in a terrible state, but let's spare a thought for those already drawing them. Head of human resources at investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Mark "Ebeneezer Scrooge" Hindle, has sent an email to retired employees explaining that owing to market conditions, "I do not feel it is appropriate for DKW to continue to provide hampers to pensioners or to continue to host a biannual pensioners' lunch". So he's scrapped them. Forever. Where's Joseph Marley when you need him?

  • At least McCarthy & Stone know how to treat our betters and elders. Its retirement home business has rocketed and last week posted a 25% increase in pretax profits. So what's its secret? Marks & Spencer vouchers. "Free 10 M&S voucher when you book an appointment," exclaims a sign on a recent development in Newquay, Cornwall. There's a company that knows its customers.

  • EasyGroup's crusade to take over all "Easy" internet domains has hit a brick wall in the form of chief executive Simon Matthews. The group has made something of a name for itself by convincing small companies to hand over their domains for infringing its property rights - despite the high court and domain arbitrator Wipo having ruled that the company does not have the right to the name "Easy". Following the arrival of a writ a month ago, Mr Matthews has signed up lawyers Memery Crystal and intellectual property barrister Peter Prescott QC on a no-win no-fee basis and tells us he is prepared to lose the 50,000 that even a successful legal action will cost. EasyGroup is sticking to its guns though. Spokesman James Rothnie told us the main line of attack will be a survey it commissioned that found 7% of the public wrongly believe Easyart is affiliated to EasyGroup. This story may have just blown that strategy apart.

  • Talking of domains, the president of internet oversight body Icann, M Stuart Lynn, has decided out of the blue to introduce three new top-level domains (as with .com or .net). Very good of him. Lynn favours controlled domains where you have to be somehow affiliated to be able to buy one. Cynics may believe this "plan for action" is an attempt to stave off criticism of the autocratic organisation by appearing to do something - but then what else more ably demonstrates its ivory tower approach than the president suddenly deciding what he fancies doing with the web?

  • Congratulations to Christopher Hernandez 11, who managed to send a spam email to this address at 6.14am - less than an hour after its first ever appearance on the internet. Only Hotmail can offer a better unsolicited service.

  • And thanks also to George Pitcher, who managed to reduce his significant dismay at our review of his new book yesterday into a succinct two-word response. As he himself has said: "PR people take themselves far too seriously."

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