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September 4th, 2005

Another Merger, Another New Name

So a few months ago, SBC announced it was going to buy AT&T. That’s a huge deal since SBC was one of the “Baby Bells”, and it’s now essentially buying its parent.

The funny thing is that word came down this week that SBC might adopt the AT&T name for itself, since it’s such a powerful brand (gag). What this means is that the name of my local phone company will change again. It started as, of course, Bell Telephone. Upon the breakup it became Illinois Bell (even though it served the whole upper midwest). Then Ameritech. Then SBC-Ameritech. Then SBC. And now, maybe, AT&T.

On a similar note Bank One, the gigantic bank in town, was bought by Chase last year. They’re changing names. So First Chicago and NBD became First Chicago, which became Bank One, which is now becoming Chase.

But that’s a bank and the phone company, with no real emotional investment. The big gamble is Marshall Field’s. Marshall Field’s is one of the names of Chicago merchandising. It’s the city’s pride and joy insofar as department stores go. The State Street store is a gorgeous masterpiece, a beautiful place. Last year, the parent of Field’s was sold to Macy’s and speculation immediately began that Field’s would become Macy’s. May Department Stores, which owns Macy’s, has a tendency to kill off any local department store names in order to (sigh) build a stronger national brand. Guh.

There’s no final decision yet, but I can’t ever imagine going to the Macy’s on State Street. As Preservation Chicago head Jonathan Fine said, “I don’t think Chicagoans will ever accept it as a Macy’s. To us that’s somebody who sponsors a parade in New York.” Exactly.

I feel there’s a huge difference between changing the name of a bank and a department store, in this case. Field’s is integral to Chicago history. It is Chicago history. Turning Field’s into Macy’s just brings Chicago one step closer to the generic downtown atmosphere of Any Big City, U.S.A. – a fate it definitely doesn’t deserve.

Posted in Everyday Life

FROM: Crazy!
DATE: Sunday September 4, 2005 -- 10:10:05 am
Next thing you know, Microsoft and Disney will merge and call their new company Public Domain.

FROM: Elizabeth
DATE: Sunday September 4, 2005 -- 11:10:34 am
You know, there used to be a department store chain in Minnesota called Dayton's. They had a store in downtown St Paul that I used to go to with my mom when I was young. It seemed so fancy, especially at Christmas when they decorated the whole store. People registered at Daytons when they got married. Downtown workers shopped there on their lunch breaks. It just was a St. Paul institution.

And then Marshall Field's bought Dayton's, and turned all of the stores into Field's stores. This was right after I moved away from Minnesota, so even though I had an emotional attachment to Dayton's, the effect wasn't very profound on me.

The funny part is that many people (mostly older folks) just still call it Dayton's. Is it their own personal protest, or did they just not notice? You make the call.

So, if Macy's buys Field's and changes all the stores, I bet people will still be calling that store Dayton's. And you can just call that one in Chicago "Field's" as a way of STICKING IT TO THE MAN! YEAH!

FROM: Monica
DATE: Sunday September 4, 2005 -- 12:46:57 pm
why are you even using SBC??

I used to have Americtech phone service, they stunk. I have TDS Metrocom now, they're smaller and they're awesome. (I got a letter in the mail from them the other day saying that they have new packages that are cheaper than the one I have--that's good customer service!) They might be available in your area, too.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Monday September 5, 2005 -- 10:15:42 am
I'm glad you mentioned the whole Dayton's thing, Elizabeth, because I totally had that in mind too.

Monica: why are you even using SBC??

Frankly, they're the best option. And if you want DSL like we do, they're the only option. (Don't tell me about the whole "You can get DSL from SBC and use another provider!" deal - tried that, and it was a big big pain.)

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday September 5, 2005 -- 11:56:02 am
What I love most about the phone company mergers is that all these baby bells are coming right back together to form Ma Bell once more (okay, perhaps "Ma AT&T"). Seems like a step backwards, no?

FROM: Monica
DATE: Monday September 5, 2005 -- 5:00:49 pm
wow, bummer that they're the best deal. I hope you don't have any customer service issues and all goes smoothly.

DATE: Wednesday September 7, 2005 -- 11:50:46 am
We got a survey from one of the "reformed-renamed" asking about "their" cust. service perf. Wrote back, told them since "mergers" so hard to tell "one co. from another," and while I could make "one general" comment, and "one specific comment" that unless they "knew" the incident (unhappy c.s. person I had spoken to, recently), was "their co.'s m.operation" ...I really couldn't complain! Now, carry this to medical-and HMOs which change rapidly these days! As customers, we have to be sharper and more documented, in order to "keep up" with paperwork (regardless of the "past record" as even a reformed co. may not operate as "cust.friendly/pro-consumer"/HMO previous. The phone co.'s will "all" be calling/mailing, re: keep their income from going to DSL & Sat.Co.s.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Tuesday September 20, 2005 -- 12:02:52 pm
It's official: Marshall Field's is a dead name, and all Field's locations will become part of Macy's North. Ick. Ick. Ick.

FROM: Sammy Reed
DATE: Tuesday September 20, 2005 -- 11:39:15 pm
I only got introduced to the name Marshall Field's a month and a half ago, by way of the "Good Times" 1st season DVD set, and now you tell me the name is dead?!?

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