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Cosmopolitan readers queue for Tube job

More than 1,400 readers of Cosmopolitan have applied to become a London Tube train driver. London Underground described the response to its single advert in this month’s issue as “exceptional”.

Successful applicants will have to get out of bed for regular 4.45 a.m. starts, but the 27,650 pound salary and up to eight weeks’ holiday may prove sufficient compensation.

Lorraine Candy, editor of Cosmo, said the interest her readers had shown demonstrated that young women were not bound by traditional career patterns.

“It’s always been a classic thing for boys to want to be train drivers. Now we’re seeing that girls can do it too,” she said.

“I don’t think the job is boring or unsexy and I’m sure the passengers couldn’t care less whether the train is being driven by a man or a woman – as long as it’s on time.”

The ability to break bad news to travellers more sympathetically is one reason London Underground is keen to increase its number of female drivers from 100 – just three percent of driving staff.

Pay before you talk

By the 1990s many people were using mobile phones for both business and pleasure. They had a contract and received a bill for calls they had made in the previous month.

Vodafone, a successful UK mobile phone company, was already making good profits when it introduced its new Pay As You Talk service in 1997. This allowed customers to have a phone without a contract and monthly bills. Instead, they have a “top up” card to extend calling and service credit. The advantage for customers was that they could carefully budget the amount of money spent – very useful for parents who gave phones to their children. Vodafone’s great idea was to get people to pay in advance for their calls. Thanks to this, sales increased.

Buying without shops

In 1891, when American farmers were complaining about high prices in shops in the countryside, Richard Sears had an idea. Sears was an agent of a railway company and at that time he was selling watches with his partner Alvah Roebuck, a watchmaker. His idea was to use the new national railway system and post office to create a new way of selling: mail order. Sears bought in bulk and so kept prices low. He was also good at attracting customers with advertising. By 1895 the Sears catalogue had 532 pages. The company was expanding fast, so it moved to a huge building in Chicago. Finally the company developed the first automated warehouse. This improved the capacity of the business by 1,000 percent.

Development of e-commerce

Online sales are at different stages of development in different parts of the world. Of course, in a lot of places, not many people have computers at work, and even fewer have them at home. Even mail order has not developed. People do their shopping in street markets and traditional shops, so the growth of e-commerce will be very slow there.

In other markets, consumers use computers a lot, but they are very nervous about giving their credit card details online: they are afraid that computer hackers may steal them. The main job of online retailers is to persuade people that their details will be safe if they buy online.

In some places, shopping is no longer seen as a leisure activity. Traffic problems, the difficulty of parking, crowded shops and the high cost of goods in shops all mean that shopping is unpleasant. Thus, retailers have a big potential market. But even here, it will take a long time before people lose the need to touch and see certain types of goods before they buy them.

Great idea

Juana Lopez has invented a number of things over the years, but they were mostly relatively small improvements to existing products. Then one day she had an idea for a dishwashing machine that worked without using water. She went to see several dishwasher manufacturers about producing the machine, but none of them were interested.

Juana found investors to back her idea and founded her own production company. She spent millions of euros on developing her dishwasher, and it was launched three years later. From the day of the launch, sales were very good – better even than Juana had hoped.

But Global Domestic (GD), one of the companies that she had been to see, launched its own waterless dishwasher. Juana obtained one and found that it used a lot of the technical ideas that she had developed and patented: she had obtained legal protection for these ideas so that other companies could not use them. After a long legal process, GD was forced to stop making its competing dishwasher and to pay Juana several million euros.

Now Juana’s waterless dishwasher has 40 percent of the world dishwasher market, and this is increasing every year. There is no other dishwasher like it. Word-of-mouth recommendation by satisfied users has made it a big success.

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