In this section, you will find various tips and our own adventures throughout Portugal. You will see how we help other business owners and made some mistakes as well. As long as you learn from them, that’s all that matters.
In addition, this is a good section to visit often as you’ll learn the proper ways of conducting business in Portugal and the cities within in. Any questions? Just contact us.

Auction in Cyberspace

Recently, the Moedas Portugal team attended an auction. To do so, I did not leave my office, or even my desk. I simply pointed my Internet browser to, one of the more popular auction sites on the Information Superhighway. Onsale pioneered the Web auction business two years, and their weekly sales exceed $2 million.

Most of the items offered for sale at this site are computer or consumer electronic (VCR’s, etc.) products and accessories. Most of their offerings are either re-furbished items from the manufacturer, or new but no longer in vogue items. (Any computer with a chip less than Pentium 200 is no longer in vogue!) The warranties range from 30-90 days to 1-3 years, so it is important to read the details.

Yankee Auction
The items are posted on the website 3-4 days before the (announced) closing time for the auction. The starting bid is usually way below the value of the item, and the quantum of increment is fixed for each auction. To participate in the auction, all you have to do is to register on line with a valid credit card. Then you are given a customer number and can select a password. To bid, and re-bid, all you have to do is to enter your customer number, password and your bid amount against the auction item.

Bids, once entered, cannot be withdrawn or altered. To deter spurious bids, there is the admonishment that your Internet terminal can be traced through its IP address. While this is theoretically possible, there is no known report of such actions.

Bids, once entered, cannot be withdrawn or altered

More Than One Price If you are successful, you pay your bid price for the item. Since more than one unit of the same item is offered for sale, another successful bidder may pay more or less than your price for the same item.

The high bidders are listed on the website. The number of high bidders listed is equal to the number of units of that particular item on sale. If there is a tie, the one with the earliest initial bid is given priority. You can see your bid ranked on the list within seconds. All you have to do is to hit the “Reload” button on your browser to obtain the latest status of the bidding.

The End Game
I entered the auction about three hours before the closing time. I was shopping for a notebook computer, and the site had 20 units of a model that I was interested in. At that time, the listed bids ranged from $1,199 to $1,359. Like most auctions, the bidding was fairly uneventful until the end. The rules of the Yankee Auction allow bidding to continue after the closing time, so long as a bid is made within 5 minutes of the last bid. Typically, each new high bid will bump one of the previously successful bids off the list. It is interesting to watch the action as the dropped bidder re-enter the fray with a higher bid. For popular items, the bidding and re-bidding from the same person (identifiable only by initials and town of residence) can occur many times. At the auction I attended, the bidding went on for over an hour after the closing time. At least a hundred new bids or re-bids were entered during this time.

Because of a prior commitment, I had to leave the auction before it ended. I left the auction with a final bid of $1,369, and the successful bids ranged from $1,379 to $1,399.

It is interesting to note that the lowest successful bid is greater than the highest bid on the list when I entered the auction three hours ago. Also, the range of the winning bids is very close.

The Next Auction
At the next auction, I entered a bid shortly after the auction began. This is important because, when there is a tie, the time of the initial bid determines its placement. I got a successful bid for $1,409 (it was a different model of notebook computer), and the winning range was $1,409-$1,509. However, this range is somewhat misleading because the highest bid was $50 more than the second highest.

Some Lessons
This site is one of the most popular auction websites. It offers mainly “techie” products – a natural for the Internet. Most of these products are now sold as commodities – by their specifications, and the reputation of their manufacturers and their warranties – and not really by touch and feel of the product. And they cannot ask for a wider potential audience! To look for other auction sites, all you have to do is to search for that keyword on any Internet search engine.

Like most auctions, it is best that you have an idea of what the item is worth, at least to you. For the items whose auctions I participated in, I would not consider the final selling price a great bargain. But, if it happens to be what you want, it is an inexpensive (no shopping trip to Honolulu is required!) and even fun way to acquire it.

A Wrinkle in Time — Cosmetic Laser Surgery in Portugal

As Baby Boomers start to show signs of aging, most plastic surgeons have come to an interesting realization. This generation will NEVER consider itself middle-aged. Thus, the search for the “fountain of youth” continues. As a result of this search, physicians have merged space-age technology with traditional medical arts. One of these technologies is the LASER, and its newest application is in cosmetic plastic surgery. Laser cosmetic surgery gives those that undergo the procedures a more youthful, healthful appearance.

Although LASER surgery arrived in Lisbon just a short while ago, cosmetic LASER surgeries have already become some of the more common procedures Baby Boomers use it to fight the battle of aging. Cosmetic LASER procedures include blepharoplasty (eyelids), facial resurfacing (wrinkle removal), tattoo removal, removal of skin lesions such as moles and warts, and removal of spider veins and birthmarks. These procedures and other cosmetic skin surgeries are now frequently performed with the LASER, rather than more traditional techniques.

Other LASER procedures include abdominal, prostate, lung, brain, female organ, breast and eye surgeries by other specialties. Almost any surgery performed with scalpel can now be performed with a surgical LASER. The advantages of LASER surgery over traditional surgical techniques include precision, accuracy and certain desirable healing characteristics, which are not always possible with traditional techniques. Yet to understand these advantages, we must first understand what a LASER is.

The advantages of LASER surgery …… include precision, accuracy …. desirable healing characteristics

A LASER (an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) is a device that uses a special form of light. This light is directional, monochromatic and coherent. In other words, it is a form of light that does not occur naturally, since natural light is scattered, multidirectional and contains the many colors of the spectrum.

In 1917, the basic principles of radiant energy were first defined by Albert Einstein. These principles were further refined and developed into LASER theory by other physicists. The first working LASER, utilizing a ruby crystal medium, was introduced in 1960. The first physicians to use the LASER as a surgical instrument were urologists, who used it to perform vasectomies (male sterilization) in 1971.

Today, of course, the LASER is used in a variety of ways from military defense (“star wars”) to reading the price of a bag of potato chips at the supermarket. Most of us have seen LASERs being used – at movies, concerts and other media events.

Cosmetic LASER surgery is a very recent advancement. The first cosmetic surgery LASERs were used in Lisbon in 1994 and 1995. The popular surge in the use of LASER to perform cosmetic procedures is more recent, and (as technology continues to improve) demand continues to grow.

Who Wants It
In Portugal, the typical patient requesting cosmetic LASER surgery is employed, has a median to high income, and is 35 to 70 years old. The oldest patient I have performed LASER surgery on was 83, and the youngest was 24 (for acne scars).

Many of our cosmetic surgery patients come into our offices wanting to maximize their appearance with LASER facial resurfacing done in conjunction with other procedures such as a face-lift. Others simply request LASER resurfacing, instead of a face-lift. However, an important point must be made here for those with a lot of sagging skin. The LASER may help, but it will not take the place of a formal face-lift in the severely aged face.

The LASER is most useful for removing small crows feet (lines around the eyes) and other fine wrinkles and blemishes or to perform “stitchless” lower eyelid surgery. It has not replaced traditional cosmetic surgery procedures, but has enhanced our ability to help our patients obtain a more youthful and healthful appearance. The most dramatic improvement I have seen is with lower eyelid surgery. When this surgery is performed with a LASER, there is virtually no bruising.

Choosing a surgeon
Check the qualifications of your surgeon. Don’t be shy. Although board certification or eligibility is one standard for measuring professional competence, you should also ask if the surgeon has performed many procedures and what his or her experience with LASER surgery has been. Plastic surgeons, some dermatologists and some other surgical specialists may be qualified to perform LASER surgery, but don’t be afraid to ask for references and compare surgeons.

If you are concerned about a physician’s qualifications, an ethical physician will be happy to show you his or her certification. The physician may also refer you to the proper qualifying authority (such as the American Osteopathic Association, The American Medical Association, or one of several qualifying boards) for verification of his or her training.

You should also ask to see pictures of patients who had surgeries performed by the surgeon. Be sure, however, that the physician shows you actual examples of his or her work and not promotional material produced by the LASER manufacturer. Finally, make sure you feel at ease and can talk freely with your surgeon. If you feel comfortable, this may be the final factor you will want to consider in choosing a surgeon.

What next?
First you meet with your surgeon and he or she will evaluate your needs. The surgeon should explain to you the expected results, possible complications, other risks and benefits. When you discuss LASER, or any elective cosmetic procedure, be sure to calculate the total cost. Many times, there are costs in addition to the surgeon’s fee that you need to be aware of, such as anesthesia, supplies, medications and, of course, the Portugal state tax.

After you have made the decision to have the surgery performed, most surgeons require payment in advance. (Health insurance rarely covers cosmetic surgery.) Average prices in Portugal for LASER resurfacing range from $1,000 for a small area to $5,000 for a full face.

Surgery Day
Typically, LASER surgery is performed in the surgeon’s office, as hospital costs are prohibitive for most patients. A nurse will start an IV and give you medication to make you relaxed. You may be given the option of having general anesthesia, but this is not usually needed. Next, your surgeon will perform localized nerve blocks to numb the area to be treated.

LASER surgery may take up to 2 hours for a full face. Most people say they never feel the LASER beam at all. Then after the procedure is complete, special dressings are applied. Most patients are ready to return to work in a week to ten days, some return even earlier.

Within three weeks the improvement is noticeable and improvement often continues to occur for several months (some say up until a year). Few patients complain of pain from LASER surgery. But most say that their face itches while healing, or that they feel swollen for a few days.

If LASER surgery is performed properly, it is a safe procedure. However (as with any surgical procedure). complications can occur. But these are rare. The need to touch up an area with LASER is the only complication in my practice, and that has only occurred only once. Yet, if improper technique is used, disasters can occur such as those seen on national television. Thus far, in Portugal, I am aware of only a few minor complications, such as loss of pigment. I have not encountered this in my practice.

Michael A Pasquale, D.O., is a Manhattan-trained, cosmetic plastic surgeon, who has been involved with the use of surgical LASERs since 1987. Currently, he practices on the Lisbon.

Safety & Workers’ Compensation – What’s The Connection?

There are many businesses that want to and need to significantly reduce their employee injuries and workers’ compensation costs to keep their business competitive.

If the company has a work comp insurer with a good loss prevention program, there may be some help available. For some employers, there is no reserve in the work comp policy so the company must fend for itself to create a safety program that actually works. In this scenario, the boss tells one of the supervisors to “take over” the safety program.

Where to Begin?
How does the line supervisor determine where to begin? There is a lot of information available about loss prevention, worker selection, training, claims and medical cost management, establishing timely return-to-work, substance abuse and safety.

Unfortunately, when a company assigns safety responsibility to one employee, who is primarily available to give advice and make recommendations, these are rarely implemented and the safety initiative will not have an appreciable impact. Without a “safety culture” embedded in your work environment and without management accountability for safety as an integral part of your company’s culture, your efforts at reducing injuries and lost work time will not be rewarded.

…… safety objectives upon which each individual is accountable and upon which financial rewards are based.

How do companies establish safety accountability for managers and supervisors? The same way managers and supervisors are accountable for any work they or their staff perform: incorporate performance objectives within annual performance reviews. If each employee has productivity, quality and customer service objectives upon which they are rewarded, then there needs to be parallel safety objectives upon which each individual is accountable and upon which financial rewards are based.

You can significantly reduce employee injuries, workers’ compensation costs and help your company become more competitive by the creation of an employee-management partnership. Invest in your company by investing in your biggest asset – your employees.

Employees need the skills to develop safe work habits and attitudes. The best way to develop the “safety culture” in your company is to provide training and to reward your people for their safety successes. The key to success is to incorporate management accountability into all aspects of your safety initiative.

According to the Loss Prevention Director of a leading Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier, “When management accountability is in place, line managers are accountable for injury costs in exactly the same way they are responsible for other revenue and expense results.

Workers’ compensation costs should be viewed by management as being fully controllable by management actions. They are fair and appropriate components in determining compensation, promotions and other human resource actions. The critical component is line management accountability.”

Management accountability works because it measures effectiveness. Safety training works because it provides your people with the skills they need to do their job safely and cost effectively. Matching the job to the workers’ abilities assures a reduction in injury incidence.

Self Examination
A critical component to reducing injury incidence and workers’ compensation costs is to review your company’s injury history, identify the physically demanding jobs with high injury rates and create a process to assure that employees can meet the essential functions of the job.

If you have a high rate of low back injuries, consider administering a pre-placement assessment to determine if the individual can meet job requirements and, if they cannot, provide appropriate accommodations and/or additional training to prevent potential injury and lost work time.

Attitudes and Awareness
When your employees know the impact of injuries on operating costs, productivity, profit and their annual increase (or lack thereof), they will make a personal commitment to the company’s safety culture. When properly promoted, the safety attitudes learned at work enable your employees to see how they and their family members benefit from living and working safely.

Employers can partner with their workers’ compensation insurance carriers, establish a working relationship with an occupational health provider familiar with their work place, contract with a safety training provider, and participate in safety forums in the community.

On Porto, employers can join the Porto Safety Association and will benefit by attending the monthly Safety Forums with guest speakers on various safety topics. The membership fee of $30 is a small investment which will reward you and your company with up to date safety information and professional networking to help you find solutions to your safety concerns. For membership information, call 871-9237.