Geography is no boundary...

Hilltop Group: Secretarial named one of the Top 20 Secretarial Service Sites on the Web!

Kathy McCabe named the Thomas Leonard Virtual Assistant of Distinction for 2013!



Resolving Disputes to get what you want


Not long ago I ordered a set of camera lenses, adapters, and filters for my new camera. I searched around for the best deal, and found it on eBay. I was so excited when the lenses came that I immediately went out to snap some photos. To my disappointment the new lenses worked horribly! I was shocked! (My first bad deal on eBay.) The pictures were distorted, and just awful.

I went back to the ad and re-read it carefully. I discovered that the lenses I received were not as described in the eBay ad, nor were they fully compatible with my camera as stated. I contacted the seller, and after showing her a couple shots, she agreed that the quality was poor.

We discussed options for a little while, then finally, agreed to have her ship out the correct lenses, and I would return the filters, the adapter and incorrect lenses. I would only pay for my shipping of the lenses back to her.

My bottom line is: Don’t settle! If you’re not satisfied, and you know it should be different, speak up. Then you’ll get the clarity you deserve.

Photos by Kathy Ritchie, Leaves and Landscape shots are after the new (correct) lenses were delivered.

Thanks! Kathy Ritchie

What is Price Fixing? (a reminder…)

Price Fixing by definition is the process by which prices are fixed between competitors, most always artificially high. Recently, on a discussion list, the definition of price fixing was posted, whose source was cited as Wikipedia. While the explanation provided by Wikipedia was good, it was not complete.

Price fixing can occur, even when it wasn’t intended! It only takes the slightest perception of price fixing in order for the charge to be raised. It doesn’t need to be in writing, it doesn’t need to be a dialog in which the subject is raised. It can be covert, and merely the raising of eyebrows, and a wink to convey the meaning, it can be at a bar, or your local chamber meeting. Which is why, it’s imperative that we avoid speaking of prices on discussion lists.

Look at the price fixing cases that have been won:

  • ” Korean chipmaker Samsung agreed today to take a guilty plea and pay a $300 million fine for its participation in a global price-fixing scheme among memory chip manufacturers. (October 2005) Pasted from>
  • ” NEW YORK – The five largest music companies and three of the USA’s largest music retailers agreed Monday to pay $67.4 million and distribute $75.7 million in CDs to public and non-profit groups to settle a lawsuit led by New York and Florida over alleged price-fixing in the late 1990s. (September 2002) Pasted from>

” If nothing else, the US DoJ (Department of Justice) is remarkably good at nailing foreign memory makers for price-fixing. Hynix Semiconductor, it emerged today, is the latest firm to
plead guilty in a far-reaching DRAM scandal and has agreed to pay the DoJ a $185m fine. (April 2005) Pasted from>

The Department of Justice (US) defines Price Fixing as:

“Price fixing is an agreement among competitors to raise, fix or otherwise maintain the price at which their goods or services are sold.

It is not necessary that competitors agree to charge exactly the same price, or that every competitor in a given industry join the conspiracy. Price fixing can take many forms, and any agreement that restricts price competition violates the law.” (

The virtual assisting industry is still relatively new. It would be very easy for someone to suspect price fixing should we discuss prices in the association discussion groups. Remember, we need to keep our industry above board, and on the cutting edge. We don’t need to lose the reputation we’ve earned by inadvertently giving the impression of price fixing. Perception is everything. Our overall priority is to ensure that the public knows that virtual assistants can be trusted. This is why it is always a good practice to not discuss prices in groups.

Kathy Ritchie, MVA, is the Owner of Ritchie Secretarial Service (, a successful virtual assistant practice in Aurora, Colorado since 1996, and the Editor of the RSS Herald (, the leading newsletter of the virtual assistant industry.

Joys of working while sick

On May 8, 2007 I had a small surgery to remove a benign tumor from my left thigh. I was prepared to sail through the surgery, and anticipated a very quick recovery, only staying off my feet minimally.

This was not to be.

On May 14 I discovered the incision had become infected, I was in tremendous pain and running a fever. When I saw the doctor the next day at my scheduled appointment, only some of my stitches were removed, the doctor said the other’s ‘weren’t ready’. I was placed on a very strong antibiotic, and pain medicine. And ordered off my feet for a week.

Now, after the second doctor’s appointment yesterday, I am still infected, still running a fever, still in pain, and must remain off my feet for nearly another week.

Oh… joy…

Thank heavens for modern technology. As I type this, I am reclining (somewhat) on the couch, using my laptop – which is logged into my desktop through my remote access software of choice – I’m InTouch.
Click here to learn more!

I have my planner, notebooks, Logitech Pen, and various cups, bottles, snacks, and my blanket (thank you so much for the beautiful blanket Clare Fyffe!) and of course my phones and remote controls. Remarkebly, I’m able to still work reasonably well.

As you can see from the picture, I’m hanging in there.

Thank you Everyone for your cheerful messages, e-cards and phone calls (Janet, Janice and Liz!)! You’re really helping to keep up my spirits!

Have a great day!

Kathy from the ‘Couch Office’

Customer Comments

"Kathy takes office efficiency and productivity to a whole new level! She communicates effectively and has industry-proven insight into how Virtual Assistants can improve any work environment. Aside from being an industry-recognized leader in her field, she has a tremendous working knowledge of office technologies too. Kathy maintains a global clientele and truly epitomizes the cyber citizen. Her willingness to help her clients succeed and her charming wit are hallmarks of her professionalism."
Ray Uyemura, City of Los Angeles, CA, On -

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