When a Minnesota home remodeler decided to plunk down $10,100 for a fixer-upper to rehab, he just assumed it was a no-lose investment. Little did he know about the rare comic book he’d find stashed in the wall of the house.
While gutting the house one day, he stumbled upon an Action Comics #1 from 1938, which just happens to be the book that introduced a red-caped hero known as Superman.
“The most important comic book in the history of comic books,” writes ComicConnect, the online auction site where the Minnesota man’s find is now up for bid.
“I knew it was worth money,” the man tells the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “But I had no idea how much.”
Right now, the highest bid is more than $107,000. The value of the found comic book would probably have been even higher if the homeowner’s grabby in-laws hadn’t gotten their hands on it.
“They got all excited and tried to take it,” he says about the incident that resulted in a tear of the back cover. “I understand it’s something cool, but told them: ‘You don’t have to act so rude. I brought you in to show you, don’t grab it.’”
“That was a $75,000 tear,” the co-owner of ComicConnect explains to the Star-Tribune.
The auction continues until June 11. In the end, the homeowner will end up getting half of whatever the highest bid ends up being. Right now, that would still be more than five times what he paid for the house.
Abercrombie & Fitch is in hot water again, once more over claims that the company isn’t treating everyone equally. A federal judge in Denver is mulling over an injunction against Hollister, which is part of the A&F family. Earlier the federal judge had ruled that almost 250 Hollister stores are unfriendly to the disabled, because entry doors aren’t all easily accessible.
Several Colorado customers filed a lawsuit back in 2009 claiming they couldn’t easily get into retail locations, and that the sales countertops are too high, reports the Associated Press. One customer confined to a wheelchair said she’d tried to go to a Colorado Hollister, but had trouble getting through a side door because there wasn’t access to the front door.
After lawyers for the plaintiffs compared the situation of using separate doors to the fight for desegregation in the 1960s, Hollister’s attorneys called that reference “grossly inaccurate and needlessly inflammatory” and asked that it be stricken from court documents.
The plaintiff who had to use the side doors called it an embarrassing experience, saying today:
“As a person who has grown up with a disability who was excluded from many public and private buildings and experiences (including) school, dining, shopping, arguably because those buildings were built pre-ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), I am simply referencing an attitude of exclusion that was prevalent during that time,” she said.
The doors have labels of “Bettys” and “Dudes,” but Hollister’s claims that they’re accessible to the disabled are a sham, she says.
“The (side) entrances are artificial two steps up and two steps down, built to create an atmosphere for marketing purposes. That is what makes them illegal,” she said.
The judge would issue the injunction as a way to order the company to fix the situation by providing accessible entrances for the disabled. But Hollister’s team says it’d be too expensive to redo the entry doors, and force the retail locations to close for up to 10 days, causing a disruption in business, and a potential cost of $8 million.
Hollister and Abercrombie say it’s impossible to install ramps in shopping malls, and that shutting off elevated entrances would be “the worst and least acceptable” of the proffered solutions because consumers would be confused. And if they’re confused, they might not find their way into the stores.
Judge: Hollister clothing unfriendly to disabled [Associated Press]
We’re not sure at which den of fun reader Jake spotted this claw game, but he did notice that there’s kind of a big discrepancy between the variety of toys that it offers, and the variety of toys that players actually get. “I’d hate to see what [their] “Small Choice” has to offer,” Jake writes. Or maybe we’re just bigoted and think that all minions look alike.
How To Win At That Stupid Claw Game
Twitter, that one-time bastion for social media users who abhor having their online lives exposed to advertising and marketing ploys, is continuing to go the paid way with new technology that will allow people to sign up for advertiser’s offers or promotions within a tweet itself. Good news for people who hate having to click a link and leave Twitter, somewhat suspect for people who are already wary of sharing their personal information online.
CNET says the addition of a new Twitter Card, or an expanded tweet, is a way to keep users dependent on their streams for all the news and Internet fodder they need. They’ve been around for a year, and so far have served the purpose of basically just opening up a Tweet to see more of what the content is about before clicking off into the Internet.
This new method of expanding a Tweet will allow marketers to collect names, Twitter handles and email addresses of customers without them having to fill out a form. One click of a button will share email addresses directly with an advertiser, something that could raise red flags among those concerned about online privacy.
Twitter says the system is secure, but then again, it’s not up to Twitter what those advertisers do with your information once they’ve got it. Like any online entity that collects personal info, this latest step into interacting with customers will likely face opposition despite Twitter’s reassurance.
Check out an example of how it’ll work below.
A few years back, a Kohl’s shopper in California filed suit against the retailer, saying that items he’d purchased at the store were labeled as “on sale,” but were really just being sold at the same price as they usually were.
Among the items listed in the suit are Samsonite luggage advertised at 50% off; Chaps polo shirts listed as 39% off, and a variety of shirts that were supposedly marked down anywhere from 32% to 40% off their original retail prices. However, the plaintiff contends that those higher prices were fictional.
He filed suit, alleging violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law and Fair Advertising Law. In 2010, a U.S. District Court dismissed the case, saying that because the plaintiff didn’t actually lose any money or property, he had no standing to continue with his complaint.
However, earlier this week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, reversing the lower court’s ruling and allowing the lawsuit to continue.
In its ruling, the panel cited the following from the state’s Fair Advertising Law:
No price shall be advertised as a former price of any advertised thing, unless the alleged former price was the prevailing market price… within three months next immediately preceding the publication of the advertisement or unless the date when the alleged former price did prevail is clearly, exactly and conspicuously stated in this advertisement.
The panel believes that this would seem to encompass the allegations made against Kohl’s by the plaintiff.
Then there is the question of whether or not the plaintiff had suffered the requisite loss of money or property as a result of the allegedly false discounts. The panel cited the case of Kwikset v. Superior Court, which held that California consumers who had purchased items falsely labeled as “Made in the U.S.A.” had standing under these laws because the advertising induced them to purchase goods they would not have otherwise bought.
The district court had rejected the plaintiff’s assertion that the Kwikset case provided the precedent for his lawsuit. That court ruled that the Kwikset case only applied to false advertising of a product’s “composition, effects, origin, and substance.”
But the appeals court felt that this interpretation of Kwikset was too literal:
“The district court’s ‘composition, effects, origin, and substance’ test ignores the fact that, to other consumers, a product’s ‘regular’ or ‘original’ price matters; it provides important information about the product’s worth and the prestige that ownership of the product conveys…
“Misrepresentation about a product’s ‘normal’ price is, therefore, significant to many consumers in the same way as a false product label would be… That, of course, is why retailers like Kohl’s have an incentive to advertise false ‘sales.’… In fact, the deceived bargain hunter suffers a more obvious economic injury as a result of false advertising than the Kwikset consumer who was duped into buying foreign-made goods, because the bargain-hunger’s expectations about the product he just purchased is precisely that it has a higher perceived value and therefore a higher resale value.”
The appeals court ruling does not deal with the validity of the plaintiff’s claims against Kohl’s, only whether or not he has standing to bring the lawsuit.
Kohl’s Must Defend Claim It Falsely Advertised Sale [Courthouse News]
The mayor of Portland, Ore. is throwing in the towel in the fight to put fluoride in the city’s drinking water. He was a fan of the plan, but the fluoride proposal ultimately failed. Opponents of fluoride are over the moon, as voters had rejected it before it was finally approved in 1978 and then overturned two years later.
Last year the City Council voted again to add fluoride to the water supply that about 900,000 people drink, but opponents rallied enough signatures to force a vote.
After the measure was defeated, Mayor Charlie Hales said despite his yes vote, he’d accept the outcome.
“That’s sure disappointing, but I accept the will of the voters,” he said in a statement, via the Associated Press.
So what’s the fight really about? Proponents tout fluoride as a way to keep water safe and say it’s a good and affordable way to help improve the health of low-income kids, whose parents perhaps can’t afford to spend money on dental hygiene as often.
But opponents say it’s a chemical that could ruin the city’s pure water supply, and that it violates people’s rights to consent to medication.
Most American cities have fluoride added to their drinking water, making Portland the largest U.S. city without fluoride either already in its water supply or without plans to add it.
Portland, Ore., rejects adding fluoride to drinking water [Associated Press]
As recounted by the Hartford Courant’s Bottom Line column, it all started a few months back when the customer’s wifi network wigged out. He tried to reconnect, but could not because he had an incorrect password. Or rather, the Comcast installer had made a mistake and misspelled the password when he originally set everything up.
A quick call to Comcast and his password was reset. Boom. Done.
Not quite. Shortly after the password reset, he gets a welcome packet in the mail for something called Comcast’s Wireless Networking Plan, the aforementioned tech-support service that was now going to cost him $5.95 every month.
“I called Xfinity and explained my concern and asked that I be discontinued,” the customer tells the Bottom Line. “I spoke with several representatives, none of whom were based in the U.S. Their comprehension of the problem was limited and they all signed me up for new services.”
What follows is the usual script — promised replies from Comcast that never occur; repeated calls to customer service lines staffed by outsourced overseas workers who can’t seem to grasp that the customer did not sign up for the service; getting disconnected after being passed around from CSR to CSR without resolution.
At one point, he was promised a $5 credit and that someone would make a decision on the enrollment fee within 10 days, but his next bill showed he was still being charged for the service, though there was a partial credit for the enrollment fee.
Tired of trying to repeat himself to the outsourced call centers, the customer, a lawyer with a separate commercial account for his business gave the commercial account customer service line a try. He reached a rep in the U.S., but that rep just passed him on to someone in the Philippines.
“She had great difficulty understanding the nature of the problem,” he recalls, “despite the fact she was supposedly briefed before I came on the line I went through the whole problem, again, and she said she had to transfer me to someone else. The call was disconnected after 49 frustrating minutes.”
And so he reached out to the Bottom Line, and just like Comcast often does when contacted by the media, it acted quickly and decisively, getting rid of the fees from the customer’s account.
But the customer felt that he deserved more for being enrolled in a program against his will and for being left with no option but to sic the local media on Comcast just to get a resolution.
“They offered a token for my troubles,” he says. “I told them it was not a token matter.”
He ultimately agreed to a one month credit for his cable and Internet service. Not a bad deal, but he shouldn’t have had to spend months chasing Comcast to remedy the company’s mistake.
It will come as no surprise to the customer in this story — and to many people who have Comcast — that the company recently came in next-to-last in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index for its cable service and dead last on the ACSI for its Internet service.
Rob really likes IKEA. IKEA doesn’t seem to have any strong feelings about Rob, but the store’s web site hates him. They don’t want to do business with him. It’s nothing personal, surely, but the web site believes that he doesn’t exist, and not even anyone at IKEA has ben able to figure out why this is or what to do about it.
The ZIP code Rob he lives exists, even if he doesn’t have an IKEA store nearby.
Now, I should start before anything else: I love IKEA. They’ve much improved over the years, and in the days when it’s hard for me to find a lot of stuff I like for my home, I’ve really liked their stuff. Unfortunately, since I live about 75 miles from the nearest store, it’s not always economical, but thankfully they have a website.
That hates me. Let me explain. When I first moved into the area, I got myself an IKEA account. No problem, everything went well. But then when I moved into the current place I live, I started having repeated problems with the website because IKEA’s website is convinced my zip code does not exist. I went for weeks and weeks trying to get this fixed before finally someone figured out it was a bug in the system and fixed it.
Fast forward to about a few weeks ago. It was my first time in one of their stores in a while, so I signed up for their new IKEA Family rewards card plan. No problem, I’m happy, my wife gets free coffee whenever we go to the store thanks to the card, everything’s great.
Suddenly my regular website account is suddenly locked out. I wonder why, so I contacted customer service. The CS folks helpfully explain that sometimes this happens. I asked if this was tied to the fact that I got the IKEA Family card and have the same email address for both. they said no, it isn’t an issue, just ask the system for a new password. So I did, and unlocked it. Yay!
An hour later, I get an email saying the account is locked again. So I ask for a new password, use the new password, get in, it gets locked again shortly after. Rinse, wash, repeat for four days.
Finally I get a hold of a different guy in CS who points out that I would need to close out my browser, and maybe even turn off my computer in order to accomplish this; that it’s a result of a “network error”. Well, no one mentioned this before. It’s also funny, because in the course of those four days, I’ve used this reset on my work computer, my home computer, my laptop, my tablet, my phone and even my mother-in-law’s computer, some of which are on different networks and different browsers…and in at least three of those cases, different OSes. So I write back and explain.
I get told by a different CS that “well, you don’t need to log in to purchase from the website, you can always do so as a guest account.” Great! Except…when it guest mode…that zipcode bug from way back when? It’s baaaaaaaaaaaack….
Again, I have no problems with IKEA normally, but I’m convinced their website really and truly hates me.
Earlier this month, a truck rolled over into a ravine next to the Ohio Valley Mall in Clairsville, OH. Of course, the sight of a huge truck resting in the ravine drew some onlookers from the mall parking lot, many of whom tried to take photos. It also drew one security guard who has lost her job after being involved in a physical altercation with one of these onlookers.
The video above [lots of shouting and some cursing, so it's headphone time if you're at work] seems to tell most of the story, with the security guard repeatedly shouting at people in the mall parking lot to not only stop taking photos of the wrecked truck, but to also delete any of those photos.
Much like many other malls, the Ohio Valley Mall apparently has a “no photography” policy, but neither the policy nor the guard’s shouting seemed to sway the onlookers taking photos of the ravine. She threatened to call the police on people if they didn’t cease the photo-taking, to which you can hear replies of “go ahead” from the gathered crowd.
Then, a couple minutes into the video, you see the guard get up close and personal, shouting directly into the face of a woman in what appears to be a motorcycle helmet. This shouting quickly escalates into a tussle, with the shopper getting the best of the guard. Soon, they are both down on the blacktop, with the shopper hitting the guard. At some point, the guard comes close to turning the tables and almost unholsters what looks like pepper spray, but the two combatants end up locked together on the ground until a man walks up and breaks the fight up.
According to the Wheeling News-Register, a rep for the mall’s management says an internal investigation determined that the guard did not act properly in this incident and has been fired from her job for not upholding “all the standards required of [the mall’s security officers.”
Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene of the scrap, but the shopper had apparently already left by the time they arrived. She was later located but so far neither woman has been charged over the altercation.
As PetaPixel points out, it’s not uncommon for malls to have generalized bans on photography on the property, but this incident is a bit of a gray area as these people were simply standing in the parking lot and taking photos of an accident in the neighboring ravine.
Thanks to David for the tip!
When pigs fly, are they stoned? Or rather, are the pigs raised by one Seattle butcher feeling the effects of THC after eating leftover bits of marijuana plants? Probably not, but the butcher is all about trying out something new just for the heck of it. And now that marijuana is legal in the state of Washington, pot’s going into the trough.
“We’re able to make anything you can imagine,” the Pike Place Market butcher explains to KOMO News.”Somebody requests something and we make it, and make some extra of it, and see if people like it.”
He’s got a deal with a local medical marijuana grower where he gets the remnants of harvested pot plants and feeds them to the porkers on a ranch. It seems the idea of a stoned pig is unlikely, and says he just sees the arrangement as one that’s good for the environment.
“People have been asking all these questions. ‘Do you think (the pigs are) feeling it? Are they stoned?’ and I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. Let’s back up here for a second.’ All we’re trying to do is to help the local ranchers and to figure out some ways to shorten the carbon footprint,” he says.
His butcher shop sold four marijuana pigs last year in different pork iterations, including a pot-infused bacon that “tasted savory.”
If there are any lingering effects of the THC in the meat, at least bacon-lovers won’t have to go elsewhere when the munchies hit.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Wells employee befriended the 90-year-old customer. He later called her and asked her to come into the branch to sign a transfer document that would move $10,600 from her checking account into savings.
Problem is, the form she signed wasn’t a transfer document, but a withdrawal slip.
Police say the former Wells worker then used the slip to take the cash out of the woman’s account and deposit it into his own.
Because the customer is old but not stupid, she noticed when her $10,600 had gone missing and contacted the police. Authorities worked with the bank and came to the conclusion that the personal banker was the perpetrator.
Given that the suspect — who has been charged with felony theft by taking and financial exploitation of an elderly person — recently deposited more than $50,000 in cash into his account, authorities believe there may be other victims out there.
The Internet was ready for the re-opening of bakery, bistro, and Internet drama factory Amy’s Baking Company. One woman who couldn’t get a reservation literally sat outside of the place munching on popcorn, waiting for…explosions? People with Yelp accounts being ejected from the building with a cannon? Whatever spectators were waiting for, they didn’t get it. The massive security presence at the grand re-opening saw to that.
Of course, what would dinner at a restaurant run by a local celebrity be if you didn’t get them to post for a picture?
Interesting things did happen in the news-sphere, as ABC drama fans learned from the Arizona Republic that co-owner Samy has been the subject of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement proceedings for the last two years. He just so happened to be the subject of a removal hearing on Monday, which his attorney assured media has nothing to do with the restaurant or its television controversy.
According to his attorney, Salomon “Samy” Bouzaglo is an Israeli citizen who was born in Morocco.
Amy’s Baking Company co-owner faces deportation [Arizona Republic]
Amy’s Baking Company Grand Re-Opening Event in Scottsdale, 5/21/13 [New Times]
Went to Amy’s Baking Company today [Reddit]
Next January, everyone in America will have to have health coverage or run afoul of federal health care law. But what about those 51 million adults who heavily rely on check-cashing stores and money lenders, and who may not have a checking or savings account? If you don’t have a relationship with a bank, it’s going to be tricky to pay for that required coverage.
NPR‘s All Things Considered takes a look at how the situation is likely to shake out come January for people who will have to buy health insurance with federal subsidies in the online insurance marketplaces. Many health plans take a credit card for the first month, and then a customer has to pay every month with either a check or through an electronic transfer from their bank account.
If you don’t have that, well, the future is unclear.
“You don’t want to take these millions of unbankable people through the entire enrollment process and then at the end of line say, ‘OK, the only way you can pay for your share of the premium is with a bank account number,’ ” notes Dan Schuyler, a director at Leavitt Partners, a firm that is advising private insurers and states on how to comply with the law.
Consumer advocates are aware of the coming problem for so-called unbankables, and say that if consumers are required to purchase health coverage, they’re going to need other options besides banks that are easy and affordable.
“I think there is a dawning awareness that this is a large problem,” Brian Haile, senior vice president for health policy at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service tells NPR. He formerly worked as the director of he Insurance Exchange Planning Initiative in Tennessee so he knows his stuff. “We raised these issues with the federal government well over a year ago and in a series of about four or five letters.”
Back then? Not a word.
The Affordable Care Act doesn’t require insurers to accept all forms of payment, and it’s not set out in any other federal health care law either. Perhaps, because federal officials don’t want to push insurance companies away from selling plans on the exchanges, and setting up such payment requirements might dissuade them.
For now, it’s kind of a wait and see game, as some providers like WellPoint told NPR they’re working on figuring out “expanded payment options to members.” Others like Cigna and UnitedHealthCare are asking states to allow them to set their own payment policies.
Of course Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza is the one who has repeatedly stated that his airline — in spite of being roundly criticized by consumers, regulators, lawmakers, and consumer advocates for its focus on fees and cramming as many bodies into the plane as possible — the “most consumer-friendly airline,” so this level of detachment from reality is nothing new.
Baldanza was on CBS This Morning today to defend himself against the Consumer Reports survey, which used data from 16,663 consumers who took 31,732 flights between Jan. 2012 and Jan. 2013. Spirit received the dreaded black dot “Worse” rating in each of the six categories — Check-In Ease; Cabin-Crew Service; Cabin Cleanliness; Baggage Handling; Seating Comfort. It was the only airline to score black dots in more than three categories.
“One of the things that Consumer Reports survey didn’t ask is where do you get the lowest fare?” Baldanza told CBS’ Charlie Rose. “They asked about leg room, they asked about check-in, bag fees, and things like that. But the total price they pay on Spirit Airlines is less than they pay on anyone else.”
Rose countered by asking Baldanza if it he was implying that it’s impossible to have low fares and offer good customer service. To which the CEO replied, “We do have great customer service.”
Rose somehow manages to keep a straight face and points out that the Consumer Reports survey seems to indicate otherwise. And so Baldanza goes back to singing his song about being low-priced.
“Well again if you’re measuring the physical distance between you and the seat in front of you, our seats are tighter than the other guy,” he explains, completely avoiding the question on customer service. “But customers care about price, and we allow customers to travel for a lower price than they could otherwise travel.”
Baldanza then shows just whose interest Spirit truly serves — the investors.
“But let’s talk about the lists that are important,” he says. “You’re saying bottom of the list, but we’re #1 in margin performance for our investors.”
In a bit of fun pop psychology, CBS’ Gayle King asks Baldanza to compare Spirit to similar retail or food-service companies.
“[W]e’d probably be the Dollar Store,” he replies. “If we were a restaurant, we’d probably be McDonalds or some other kind of fast food chain. No one goes into McDonalds and is surprised they don’t see filet mignon on the menu. When they come to Spirit, they know what they’re getting. They know they’ll get a lower total price than they’ll get anywhere else. They know the seats might be a little bit tighter. They know they’re going to have to bring their own thing to eat on board, but they love that.”
Spirit’s total score for the survey was a lowly 50, 13 points behind the second-worst (United), and 39 points behind top-ranked Virgin America, which earned “Better” rankings in every category except for Seating Comfort.
This is only the latest in a series of bad survey results for Spirit. Last week, it was the only U.S. carrier to make the SkyTrax list of the world’s 20 worst airlines.document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-form-0b7eff2e69d9f9e7aa14a34918461df6').submit();
Remember when that pack of slavering corporate lawyers went after a helpless World Nutella Day, hounding it through the woods and nipping at its heels, trying to silence its delicious message forever? Hush now, that was aaaaall a bad dream, since Ferrero has called off its ravenous legal team and decided to let World Nutella Day live on.
We were scared too, not knowing why anyone would want to shut down a celebration of something so delicious. The founder of World Nutella Day dismayed fans earlier this week when she announced that the annual Feb. 5 event wouldn’t happen and that she’d been ordered to take down her site, after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the Ferrero overlords.
But now everything is bright and sunshiney again, as Ferrero explained to Businessweek that this was all just one big misunderstanding. See, the company’s lawyers just have a sort of reflex when it comes to infringement. Using the word Nutella for an event apparently triggered that response, says the company in a statement:
“The case arose from a routine brand defense procedure that was activated as a result of some misuse of the Nutella brand on the fan page. Ferrero is pleased to announce that today, after contacting [the founder] and finding together the appropriate solutions, it immediately stopped the previous action.”
As such, the founder of the joyous celebration has updated her fellow Nutella lovers on her site, writing:
I’m relieved to say there’s been a positive resolution to the situation. Ferrero employees reached out to me directly after I had posted my fan letter online and sent my formal reply to their C&D. They were very gracious and supportive and we were able to have a productive discussion about World Nutella Day living on for the fans, which is the whole point.
I believe they were truly interested in resolving the situation in a way that preserved the spirit of the fan-run holiday. I’m satisfied with the turn of events, and I hope to celebrate many more World Nutella Days with you. See you on February 5th!
We’ll be there with bells on. Bells filled with Nutella.
Patty set out to make a purchase from Ann Taylor Loft. Her friend who lives in a different state did not. And yet, their data is somehow tangled. Patty’s friend’s credit card info is part of Patty’s Ann Taylor account record, and no one has any idea why.
It’s all very reminiscent of our classic “Who’s Margaret?” saga from 2011, where Proflowers urged a customer to send flowers to someone in a different state who he had never met. Only it involves a credit card: Patty’s order was put through on her friend’s credit card, even though there is no logical reason why it would have been.
Last night, I was shopping online at Ann Taylor Loft. I added two items to my shopping bag, and proceeded to checkout. In order to do so, I entered my email address and clicked on the “forgot password” link (because I had no record of the password I had selected previously). I received several messages indicating that any stored credit card information would be deleted by resetting my password. I proceeded, as I had not done any online shopping with Loft in over a year and I supposed that the billing information on file may be outdated anyway. Once my password was reset, I logged in to my account and clicked the link to continue with the checkout process. I expected to be able to review my billing and shipping address information, but much to my chagrin, the next screen indicated that my order had been placed. The shipping address was fine, but I was horrified to find that the billing address information was not my credit card information, but that of my friend who resides in a different state.
I immediately contacted the customer service line. However, after spending an hour on hold and speaking with supervisors at two progressively higher levels of the organization, I was informed that the expedited online shopping system would not permit any changes to be made to my order. Thus, my only option was to notify my friend that a charge would appear on her account and then return my items by mail to get the refund back to her credit card. No one seemed to care that this WASN’T MY CREDIT CARD, nor that my friend’s address was incorrect, nor that she might wind up having to pay a bill to avoid an interest charge, then getting a credit back to her card that she may or may not be able to use. Two supervisors (one last night and another today) advised me that I could take the issue up with the credit card company. This would be difficult, considering, again, that THIS WASN’T MY CREDIT CARD. It was even more galling because the friend’s credit card is an Ann Taylor Loft store card. ARRRGGGHHHH!
I find it extremely difficult to believe that there was no way for someone at some level of the organization to override the system, credit my friend’s credit card account for the purchase, and charge my credit card. And clearly the Loft online ordering system was having problems, since the multiple warnings that resetting the password on my account would delete all stored credit card information were apparently invalid.
In subsequent discussions with my friend, we cannot figure out how her credit card information would have been stored on my online account anyway. Which, of course, begs the question of whether or not someone else’s credit card information may have populated my account or whether this incident may be repeating with other individuals’ information. One would think Ann Taylor Loft would be somewhat concerned about this possibility and moving to investigate and correct the situation. But no one has informed me of any such activity. No one with whom I have spoken at multiple levels of Customer Service management has provided any assistance. And apparently the “Online Fraud Unit” is either nonexistent or completely ineffective.
I would gratefully receive any suggestions you might have about resolving this situation. Please tell others about my plight, as I do not want other people to experience the frustration of dealing with a company that cares so little about its customers. Once this is resolved, I will be deleting my online account and will never again make a purchase from Ann Taylor Loft online. My friend plans to cancel her store credit card as well.
Consumerist reader K. had one very important reminder of her late mother — her mom’s beloved Kindle. She says her mom treated it like a sensitive piece of electronic equipment, and really loved it. Every night when K. went to bed, she would read a book on the device and says it always made her smile and think of her mother. But when that Kindle broke, it seemed those sentimental moments would be over for good.
K. writes that although she had put the Kindle away carefully after using it one night, away from foot traffic and heat and inside its protective case, when she turned it on the next day the resolution was all mucked up. The usual cover picture of a random author (in this case, Louisa Mae Alcott) was shady and blurry, and there were ominous, “Etch-a-Sketch” lines on the screen.
After trying a 20-second reset recommended in the Kindle Help section, it still didn’t work. So K. called customer service and spoke with a rep who insisted that the Kindle was out of warranty, so he couldn’t do anything about it. Furthermore, he said “that they would not even consider accepting it for repair, and that according to his technicians and developers, I MUST have done something to damage it. I must have dropped it, stepped on it or gotten it wet.”
Her assurances that she hadn’t done so fell on deaf ears, that she had “put the Kindle in the place it had safely lived for almost a year and it had spontaneously done this itself.” All he offered was to sell her a new Kindle at “a very good price.” That wasn’t going to work for K., but luckily, she came to Consumerist.
I did a bit of research and found a couple of sites, outside Amazon, where owners of Kindle Keyboards had had the exact same experience as I had. (Whether Miss Alcott is implicated here is not clear.) Their screens had frozen, the lines showed up. So, I came to Consumerist.com, searched EECBs, and managed to compose what I hoped was a direct email to Amazon’s CEO. I used two different addresses, and then, per Consumerist’s advice, I waited.
I didn’t expect even a response, or, at minimum, some auto reply claptrap. What I got, to my surprise and great delight, was a response!! It was from a woman named [redacted], who told me that while she could not replace my Kindle Keyboard, she was going to credit my account for the price of a brand new base model Kindle, which I could use to purchase the base model, or apply it to a different model.
She had kind, compassionate words for me, and seemed to realize my situation was not one that would be best ignored. So, while I had really become broken-hearted over losing my mother’s Kindle, Amazon really came through, with that EECB, and responded generously and kindly.
It just goes to show that even in the face of what would seem like a dead-end situation, if you can reach even one kind-hearted person at a company, your efforts could be rewarded. Much better than simply ranting and raving over the injustices served upon you by a customer service rep.
We’re glad K. will still be able to read and think of her mother, so way to go, Amazon.
It’s nice that Big Lots takes toy recalls seriously: we agree that alerting people to dangerous products so they can get pulled off shelves as soon as possible is a noble undertaking. It’s also very well and good that they promote their low prices as “Unbelievable!” However, when you combine the two, that’s when things get a little confusing.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the man’s scam — which involved Walmarts in at least three states — worked a little like this: The suspect would pay cash for $100 American Express gift cards. The store would give him receipts for his purchases. He would then use the transaction codes on those receipts to forge bogus receipts that had the same dollar amount, but different descriptions of what had been purchased. That new description would match whatever counterfeit items he and his scammy pals had gotten their hands on recently.
The Observer has an example from 2010 of scams he pulled on two Charlotte Walmarts. First, he purchased $700 worth of gift cards at one store. Then two weeks later, he used the bogus receipts to return 15 allegedly counterfeit DVDs. He got back $672.40 of the $700 he’d spent on the gift cards, plus he still had those cards to do with as he pleased. His only cost was whatever he paid to obtain the counterfeit DVDs.
Lather, rinse, repeat this scam enough times and you’ve got hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud. Specifically, around $115,000 in fraudulently returned software, $95,000 in DVDs, and $46,000 in fishing rods.
Investigators found a storage locker belonging to the suspect, containing more than 1,000 counterfeit DVDs, around 1,000 counterfeit copies of Microsoft software, 2,000 gift cards, more than 70 fake drivers licenses from Ohio and South Carolina, and receipt printers.
The man now faces federal charges of wire fraud, trafficking in counterfeit goods and conspiracy to traffic. He could be staring at up to 40 years in prison and $3 million in fines.
Back in January, the daughter of a breast cancer survivor started an online petition to ask Victoria’s Secret to design a bra for women who have undergone mastectomies. She wrote that she wanted the retailer to create the bra for her mother, and other cancer survivors because often “shopping for bras is such a discouraging, time consuming and frustrating ordeal.” Despite that petition garnering over 120,000 signatures, however, Victoria’s Secret says it’s opting not to make a mastectomy bra, because it doesn’t feel up to the challenge.
“Through our research, we have learned that fitting and selling mastectomy bras in the right way…a way that is beneficial to women is complicated and truly a science. As a result, we believe that the best way for us to make an impact for our customers is to continue funding cancer research.”
On the one hand, it’s kind of like, c’mon, Victoria’s Secret. You can engineer ginormous angel wings for your supermodels to wear on the runway but you can’t get bra scientists to develop a real product that would mean a lot to your customers?
But on the other — it’s somewhat refreshing for a company that admits it can’t do something right, and would rather not do it at all than do it the wrong way, just for the good PR.
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