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The Consumerist

Lone Bear Cub Seals His Fate To Forever Live Among Humans After Strolling Through Rite Aid

Wed, 2014-10-22 22:09

(KGW.com)

(KGW.com)

Listen, denizens of the animal kingdom: I know it looks like we humans have got it made, what with large roofed structures filled with food and other sundries a wild creature might want to get into. But beware, little bears, because once you stroll through a Rite Aid, you can never go back to the wild.

A lone bear cub was spotted hanging out around Ashland, OR, reports KGW.com, visiting a hotel first.

That proved uninteresting to our protagonist, who hopped out a window and headed across the street to check out the Rite Aid.

Once in the store, shoppers snapped pics of his wanderings, as he walked the aisles solo, until police were able to scoop him up in a shopping basket.

His mother wasn’t spotted nearby, and it’s doubtful she’d take him back now that he’s got the stink of humans on him. Je’s now in the care of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife who will keep him until he can be moved to a rehab center or zoo.

Hope that trip to Rite Aid was worth it, buddy — he’ll never return to roaming in the wild, due to his sojourn into the world of humans.

Bear cub ventures into Rite Aid store in Ashland [KGW.com]

Pet Rent: Why I And Millions Of Others Can’t Have Furry Companions

Wed, 2014-10-22 21:37

This cat isn't thrilled about paying monthly rent, either. (Melisa Bernard)

This cat isn’t thrilled about paying monthly rent, either. (Melisa Bernard)

If my husband had a dollar for every time I whined about wanting to get a cat, we’d probably have enough money to pay the steep costs of the deposit and monthly pet rent fees charged by our apartment complex. The costs associated with having pet now go far beyond food, grooming and veterinary bills to include lodging – in addition to, you know, human rent.

The Associated Press reports that pet security deposits and monthly pet rent has become the norm for the millions of pet owners living in apartments and rental properties across the nation.

Pet security deposits can reach into the hundreds of dollars, while rental payments range anywhere from $10 to $50 per month. In many cases, the fees are non-refundable.

Some pet owners, like Los Angeles-based Fred, say they’re feeling the pinch and are often faced with choosing between their pets and a place to live. He recently moved out of an apartment that was charging $50 a month for him to keep his Pomeranian.

“They are exploiting the fact that more and more people have pets,” he said. “First they ask for a deposit, then rent. How much more are they going to try and squeeze out of us?”

Tammy Kotula, a spokesperson for online listing subscription service Apartments.com, says just two years ago the pet rents were rather unheard of.

According to a renter surveys from Apartments.com, 78% of renters say they paid a pet deposit, up from 63% that paid one the following year. Of the residents who paid deposits, 29% reported paying monthly pet rent this year, another increase from 20% that paid last year.

While many rental and property management companies use the funds brought in from pet deposits and monthly rentals to pay for things like dog-poop picker-uppers and cleaning services when a resident moves out, others have added the cost to boost their bottom-line.

A manager of over 400 properties in Oregon tells the AP she added a monthly fee and deposit after she was told the charge was becoming the norm and that it could help boost revenue.

“One out of 50 people will say, ‘I can’t believe you charge pet rent,’ but most accept it,” she says.

The woman’s properties charge a $500 deposit and $20 a month for dogs, while cats have a $10 monthly fee and a $400 deposit.

A rental company in Maple Grove, MN, charges $40 per month for dogs, with a deposit between $400 and $600.

A quick survey of my Consumerist brethren found a mixed bag when it comes to pet policies in the areas we call home.

Like I previously mentioned, I’d love to have a cat (or 9), but pet ownership has been vetoed for now.

But if we do join the club, we’ll have to abide by our Arlington, VA, apartment company’s policy, which only allows cats. Residents can have a maximum of two cats for which they must pay $30 per month per cat, and that’s after forking over a $300 initial pet fee.

Kate, who also live in Arlington, recalls paying a flat fee of $150 to her property management company when her family adopted a cat five years ago. The one-time, flat-rate fee, which covers up to two cats, has since increased to $200. No dogs are allowed in her building.

Mary Beth in New York says she’s never paid a monthly fee or deposit for her cat. Lucky!

Fido will cost you: Pet rents become apartment fad [The Associated Press]

Bank Of America Apologizes After Some Customers Using Apple Pay Report Double Charges

Wed, 2014-10-22 21:21

(petekraynak)

(petekraynak)

If you’re a Bank of America customer who’s used Apple Pay, you might want to check your statement right about now and make sure you don’t have duplicate charges. Some BofA customers are reporting trouble with double charges, prompting the bank to apologize to those affected.

CNN’s Samuel Burke brought up the issue shared by others on Twitter, Reddit and other social media today, saying he noticed he’d been charged twice for every purchased he’d made using Apple Pay at different stores.

While at first he said the bank assured him it was a problem with Apple Pay, Apple says it doesn’t have any records of names or amounts for transactions, so it was no help.

A spokeswoman for Bank of America says in a statement that the company is looking into a fix now, and will refund all customers.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and are working to correct the issue. All customers have been made whole,” a spokeswoman for Bank of America said. “We are always here for our customers and resolve any issues they have.”

FCC Pauses Review Of Both Media Mega-Mergers Because Content Companies Won’t Share Confidential Info

Wed, 2014-10-22 21:05

(Great Beyond)

(Great Beyond)


The slowly-turning wheel of the approvals process for two big media mergers has temporarily ground to a halt, as the FCC today announced delays in their reviews of both AT&T’s planned acquisition of DirecTV and also the Comcast/Time Warner Cable union. The delays in both proceedings stem from the same core issue: media content companies who don’t want their rivals to learn their secrets.

Content companies, including CBS, Discovery, Disney, Scripps, Time Warner, Viacom, and others, have all objected to filing highly confidential documentation about their carriage contracts, and the negotiations behind them, to the FCC. It’s not that the companies, who generally are not keen on the distributors merging, are afraid of the FCC learning their inner workings. It’s that they’re afraid of rival content companies, and the other cable and satellite programming distribution companies, finding out.

This all hinges on the nitty-gritty of how the FCC reviews plans for a merger. The review process, as planned, runs on a 180-day time clock. The clock isn’t binding — there’s no rule that you MUST issue a certain kind of statement by day 97, for example — but it is the framework the FCC uses to keep merger reviews on track.

The clock starts when the companies involved file their formal application with the FCC. After that, the commission sets a pleading cycle: that’s the starter set of deadlines for filing documentation, comments, replies to comments, objections, and so on.

Pausing the merger time clock for a while is not at all uncommon when the FCC reviews big transactions. The Comcast-NBCU merger, for example, had two stops: one for 17 days, and one for 24. Sometimes it just takes more than 30 days to obtain, study, and understand the amount of information at hand.

Once that clock gets ticking, all kinds of information comes into the FCC. With mergers as broad as Comcast/TWC and AT&T/DirecTV, there are a ridiculous number of stakeholders: TV content companies, competing programming distributors, competing ISPs, consumer advocates, internet content companies… the list goes on.

A lot of the information those organizations submit is confidential, and some is categorized as Highly Confidential. The more confidential an item is, obviously, the fewer people can see it. Different groups and people have access to different levels of confidentiality.

Any of us, for example, can view the fully public documents online, but even some of those publicly-viewable documents have confidential sections redacted.

But then there are the super-secret bits of information. Many of them are non-public for very good reasons, particularly when you’re talking about publicly traded companies or trade secrets. To restrict access to those, the FCC issues a Joint Protective Order and requires all relevant parties to sign a document called an Acknowledgement of Confidentiality. These are pretty straightforward agreements not to blab about the Confidential and Highly Confidential (actual legal categories) information that comes up in the proceeding.

The content companies’ objection to the FCC procedure is basically that too many people have signed those agreements and will have access to the documentation on demand. If Channel A, Channel B, and Channel C all have to submit copies of their contracts with Comcast or DirecTV, the logic goes, that means that through the FCC process, Channel A would be able to gain access to the contracts that Channels B and C have signed, and so on down the whole chain of competitors.

The FCC, which kind of really needs access to information in order to do its job, issued issued a modified version of the joint protective orders in both dockets (Comcast/TWC and AT&T/DirecTV) on October 7. The modified order required everyone to sign new acknowledgements of confidentiality and repeatedly clarified that anyone with access to the highly confidential information is formally forbidden to use it in any “competitive decision-making.”

Legally speaking, even if Channel B does find out that Channel A is getting $0.20 more per viewer for a similar network than they are, for example, Channel B forbidden to take that factlet with them to the table when they sit down to negotiate their own carriage rates. Or, likewise, if AT&T and DirecTV find out that Channel A is getting less money from Comcast than from Time Warner Cable, or that DirecTV is paying the most, they aren’t allowed to use that information in negotiations either. That’s the theory, anyway.

So after October 7, a whole new wave of Acknowledgements of Confidentiality came flowing in to the FCC, as ordered. Content companies then filed objections to them. All of them. Between October 15 and October 20, the FCC says, the various content companies filed objections against every single individual who sought access to Highly Confidential Information under the modified joint protective orders.

Some of the content companies’ objections were specific. In others, however, they “provided specific objections to none of the individuals, but stated that their objections ‘rest on their longstanding objection to permitting any individual to access their highly confidential carriage agreements.'”

In response to content companies objections, other folks filed a request for a deadline extension on the process. That request basically said that since the content companies won’t produce documentation as asked, nobody can fairly review and either agree with or rebut it within the provided window.

The FCC concurred, saying, “We agree with these commenters that their current inability to review Highly Confidential Information that has been submitted in these dockets significantly hampers their ability to meaningfully comment and participate in these proceedings, in both Docket 14-57 [Comcast] and Docket 14-90 [AT&T]. Accordingly, we are suspending the pleading cycles and stopping our 180-day informal time clock in both dockets.”

The FCC will decide on new dates in the pleading cycles and restart the countdown clocks after they’ve finished sorting out the current stalemate.

Professional Cheese Babysitter Exists, Is Now My Dream Job

Wed, 2014-10-22 20:39

(dn1967b)

(dn1967b)

Seeing as it’s yet another day, it’s time to think about how awesome cheese is, and how utterly fantastic it would be to have someone pay you money to eat it. Enter a professional cheese grader, who likes to think of himself as a “cheese babysitter,” and who is now the subject of my undying jealousy.

WCAX.com checked in with the senior grader for Cabot Creamery in Vermont, the guy tasked with defining cheddar profiles and deciding what’s mild and what’s sharp. He gets to eat lots of cheese.

“Sometimes you do have stubborn cheeses. I usually refer to my job as babysitting cheese. I do really think of them as having their own personalities,” he explained, adding that with his degree in psychology, he’s also somewhere between a taster and cheese shrink.

He goes through the ins and outs of his job — from testing the resistance of the cheddar (more resistance = the sharper it gets), a sniff test to detect notes of fruitiness or yeast and then a visual inspection to seek out any slits or discoloration.

Then, the best part… eating the cheese.

[pause for contemplation of the wonderfulness of this sacred act]

Cabot’s graders look for what the company calls a “Northeast bite,” our hero explains.

“It’s like this really clean, acidic, sulfur bite,” he says.

So do you need any sort of fancy experience to become a cheese grader/babysitter? Not so much, he says, saying his palate isn’t particularly special.

“We’re kind of proud to be average because the idea here is hopefully I can pick out a product that the average person is looking for,” he said.

To have cheese on your resume? You’re basically living the dream, buddy. Living the ultimate, most delicious of dreams. I salute you.

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Odd Jobs: Cabot cheese grader [WCAX.com]

Uber France Cancels Promo With Free Car Rides From Beautiful Ladies

Wed, 2014-10-22 20:32

avionsRide-sharing service Uber is currently trying to take over France. As in many areas where the app is trying to expand, French authorities have imposed restrictions and even a €100,000 fine on the company for being an unregulated taxi service. Uber’s response was an poorly thought-out promotion in the city of Lyon where passengers could go for 20-minute rides in cars chauffeured by beautiful ladies.

“Avions de Chasse” means “fighter jets” in French, and is also a colloquial term meaning, more or less, “hot chick.” That’s why it’s the name of an app featuring pictures of and opportunities to meet hot ladies. However, Uber in the southern city of Lyon may not have thought their plan all the way through when they decided to offer 20-minute rides chauffeured by the beautiful fighter jets of Lyon.

Actually, the bigger problem wasn’t offering up the pretty drivers as a promotion. After all, Uber in other cities has done promotions where humans drive around kittens for prospective customers to pet: this is just another type of eye candy. Of course, that’s also the problem: treating the female drivers as promotional items.

The bigger problem was with Uber’s blog post announcing the promotion. Buzzfeed says that the tagline was, “Who says women don’t know how to drive?” It’s perhaps not surprising that as soon as Buzzfeed sent a query to Uber’s California headquarters, this blog post disappeared.

Uber sorry for ‘hot chick’ 20-minute ride promo [CNN] (Warning: auto-play video!)

How Does Your Cell Phone Service Stack Up? Rate Your Carrier And Help With A Handy Project

Wed, 2014-10-22 19:50

crowdlogA team at our parent company, Consumer Reports, is working on a project that needs your help. Click over to Crowdsignal.org and take a short quiz about your mobile phone carrier’s performance to contribute.

FTC Fines Company $10M For Achieving A Trifecta Of Annoyance: Mobile Cramming, Spam Texts And Robocalls

Wed, 2014-10-22 19:43

(Timothy Barnes)

(Timothy Barnes)

There are few things worse than getting incessant robocalls. Unless you’re getting robocalls, spam text messages and being charged for mobile cramming. The Federal Trade Commission says all of those horrible, terrible, no-good, very-bad elements were part of a massive scam affecting millions of consumers. And now the companies in charge of the alleged scam are paying a hefty penalty: $10 million.

The FTC announced today that three groups of defendants will pay approximately $10 million to settle charges that they operated a scam in which millions of consumers received unwanted text messages and later became victims of illegal robocalls, phone “free” merchandise offers and unauthorized charges crammed on their mobile phone bills.

According to the complaint, the alleged scam began when the company sent consumers text messages with links to a website that led consumers through processes designed to get consumers’ personal information for sale to marketers, their mobile phone numbers to cram unwanted charges on their bill, and to drive consumers to paid subscriptions for which the scammers received affiliate referral fees.

The first set of defendants settling charges with the FTC include Acquinity Interactive, LLC; 7657030 Canada Inc., Garry Jonas, Gregory Van Horn, Revenue Path E-Consulting Pvt, Ltd.; Revenuepath Ltd.; and Sarita Somani.

Under their settlement the group must pay the FTC $7.8 million for their part in sending millions of illegal text messages, making deceptive claims about “free” merchandise, being responsible for unauthorized charges on mobile phone bills, and assisting and facilitating the sending of illegal robocalls.

A second group of defendants includes Burton Katz, individually and also doing business as Polling Associates Inc. and Boomerang International, LLC, and Jonathan Smyth, individually and also doing business as Polling Associates Inc.

The group must pay the FTC $1.4 million to settle allegations that they were responsible for cramming unauthorized charges on consumers’ mobile phone bills.

The third group of defendants will have an $8 million judgement suspended by the FTC for inability to pay, after they turn over available assets including a 2013 Cadillac Escalade, motorcycles, and life insurance policies.

The group, which includes Firebrand Group S.L., LLC, Worldwide Commerce Associates, LLC, and Matthew Beucler, allegedly made millions of illegal robocalls.

Under each settlement the groups have been banned from continuing to facilitate the illegal practices.

Defendants in Massive Spam Text Message, Robocalling and Mobile Cramming Scheme to Pay $10 Million to Settle FTC Charges [FTC]

KFC Staff Will Miss The Woman Who Spent A Week In The Restaurant Mourning A Bad Breakup

Wed, 2014-10-22 18:49

Not the KFC in question. (Morton Fox)

Not the KFC involved. Just a KFC. (Morton Fox)

Burying your head in a gallon of chocolate frozen custard while letting the tears fall into the bucket and mingle with the contents. Buying all the cheese at the store and using it as an edible blanket while you spend days in bed. Crying/running the other direction anytime you see a happy couple. All are normal reactions to a breakup. But hanging out at a KFC for an entire week to get rid of the lovesick blues? That’s something new.

The 26-year-old lovesick woman became a familiar face around the KFC in China’s southwest Sichuan Province, reports Yahoo News, after she decided to cheer herself up with some fried food after getting dumped by her boyfriend.

Once there, however, she decided to stay at the 24-hour location, because she “needed time to think.” She ended up calling in sick from work and spending her days comforting herself with chicken wings.

“I hadn’t planned on staying there long, I just wanted some chicken wings,” she explained. “But once I got in there and started eating I decided I needed time to think. I didn’t want to go back to my apartment because it was full of memories of him. So I stayed.”

Employees were concerned after a few days, realizing that she looked awfully familiar.

“When we asked her if she was ok, she said she was and just needed time to think,” one worker said. “And then asked for another box of chicken wings with extra large fries.”

She wasn’t bothering anyone, so the workers decided to let her stay, as she was a paying customer and all.

She finally decided it was time to decamp to her parents’ home outside the city to collect herself (and she was getting “sick of the taste of chicken” after a week), but her newfound friends say they’ll miss her.

“I guess we kind of miss her. It certainly made work more interesting,” one worker said.

Lovesick Chinese woman, 26, dumped by boyfriend spends entire week in KFC [Yahoo News]

Even With Fewer “Icings” Going Around, People Still Buy Smirnoff Ice… In Costa Rica

Wed, 2014-10-22 17:59

smifnoffA little more than two years ago at a friend’s wedding, my now husband entered the ballroom handing out bottles of Smirnoff Ice to the tune of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby.” While “icing” was fairly popular back then, the looks on unsuspecting guests’ faces as they took a knee to chug the super-sugary drink was one of disdain and contempt. That reaction may be duplicated by millions of consumers faced with a fridge full of only Smirnoff Ice today, but some consumers, mostly in far-flung locales, just can’t say no to the citrus-flavored malt beverage.

A new report from the Washington Post’s Wonkblog set out to examine findings from Euromonitor International and determine just where Smirnoff Ice is popular.

The beverage enjoys the most lovable relationship with Costa Ricans, who consume on average 17 ounces of the drink annually. That rate translates to about a bottle and a half per person each year.

And Costa Rican’s love affair with the beverage doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon, Euromonitor reports. The country’s yearly sales of the drink are currently the highest in the world and are projected to continue growing.

Coming in just behind Costa Rico is New Zealand, where residents are drinking about 16 ounces of Smirnoff Ice each year, despite an ongoing decline in sales.

The third and fourth most Smirnoff Ice-loving countries are Canada and Australia.

For the most part, America’s love affair with the beverage has ended, with consumers drinking less than one bottle per year on average. That rate’s low enough to barely make the top five for countries drinking Smirnoff Ice.

In fact, sales of Smirnoff Ice in the United States have fallen each year for the last seven years, down by more than 52% since 2006.

Outside of the top five, no country recorded consumption equal to at least one bottle per person. Still, several of those areas may soon break the top five, as their yearly sales of the beverage continue to climb. Countries such as Japan, Thailand and Colombia have all seen a drastic spike in sales over the last year.

So, while you might be hard-pressed to find someone at the local watering hole being “iced” on a regular basis, you might just see someone casually enjoying their sweet drink – you know because they actually like it. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Where in the world people still drink Smirnoff Ice, the famously bad malt beverage [The Washington Post]

Restaurant Employee Reports Chef To The Police For Spitting In Customer’s Food

Wed, 2014-10-22 17:52

(agoailam)

(agoailam)

It’s not always staff versus the customers when it comes to food disputes, which is good to know when someone’s spitting in your food: The chef at a New Jersey restaurant was arrested after another worker called police to report “multiple health violations.” That included an incident when the chef allegedly spat into a customer’s food, after the diner sent it back for extra cooking time.

Police showed up at the restaurant earlier this week after an employee called in about alleged nastiness going down, reports NJ.com, with the worker claiming that unwitting patrons could be eating spitty food.

A detective investigated the worker’s claim, and police ultimately arrested the chef and charged him with tampering with a food or drug product and disorderly conduct. He’s since been fired, according to a manager cited by Gothamist, who says “for someone to be able to do that, it’s unbelievable, unbelievable.”

The customer who received the saliva-laden meal was contacted and told what had gone down, police said, though it’s unclear what his reaction was or if the restaurant offered him any sort of compensation for the incident.

The local health inspector conduction an inspection of the restaurant and gave it a conditional satisfactory rating, which means the place can stay open for now under the condition that it correct the violations within a week.

Chef at Budd Lake restaurant spit in patron’s food, police say [NJ.com]

Newegg Wants You To Subscribe To Buy Vitamins And Toner Cartridges

Wed, 2014-10-22 17:14

subscrYou may think of Newegg as a retailer for electronics, but they sell a huge variety of items, from copy paper to pet supplies. Some of these items are useful to have a standing order for, and Newegg is happy to oblige with their new service: Newegg Subscription. This idea may sound a bit familiar.

Customers set up the frequency that they need something, and Newegg brings it to you with a small discount and free shipping. Yes, it is very similar to Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” concept, except that subscribing makes the shipping free, and of course Newegg has a much smaller variety in their inventory.

Much of the company’s inventory that isn’t gadgets or office supplies comes from outside sellers, in fact. That isn’t unusual today and the experience can be seamless for customers, but one important thing is to make sure that the seller you’re buying from is an authorized seller of the product you’re buying if your purchase is something you may need to use the warranty for.

Take Our Poll (function(d,c,j){if(!d.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src='http://s1.wp.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/shortcodes/js/polldaddy-shortcode.js';s=d.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);} else if(typeof jQuery !=='undefined')jQuery(d.body).trigger('pd-script-load');}(document,'script','pd-polldaddy-loader'));

Newegg Capitalizes on Subscription Shopping Trend [ECommerceBytes]
NEWEGG SUBSCRIPTION [Newegg]

Gap Realizes “Normal” Clothing Isn’t A Trendy Selling Point, Offers Heavy Discounts

Wed, 2014-10-22 17:07
Dressing normal, even celebrities do it.

Dressing normal, even celebrities do it.

If you’re not the kind of person who pays attention to ironic trends that exist to serve only a select set of shoppers, the idea of “normcore,” or dressing in bland, boring, “normal” clothing is bound to be a bit silly. So while basic, everyday clothing is definitely a staple in many shoppers’ closets, Gap’s “Dress Normal” fall campaign may have gone a little too far into the normcore range for its own good, prompting the retailer to hold massive sales upon sales.

While it’s usual practice to sell off fall inventory ahead of the holiday season to make room for new offerings, Gap’s succession of escalating markdowns in the past week could point to a normcore backlash, reports BuzzFeed News’ Sapna Maheshwari, as sales have been in a slump recently.

With a weekend of 40%-off discounts, followed by an email on Monday to customers promoting 75%-off discounts, which preceded Tuesday’s “sale on sale” or another 25% off already marked-down items, it seems Gap is in an awful hurry to shed that ordinary look from its shelves.

“October is typically a sale month as retailers prepare for the holiday shopping season,” the retailer explained to BuzzFeed.

But Wall Street analysts point to another story, one that stars middle-of-the road consumers who don’t want to be normal, and for whom boring is definitely not trendy.

“The look and feel is minimalist and androgynous and supported by an ad campaign of ‘Dress Normal,’” Janney Capital Markets analyst Adrienne Yih-Tennant wrote in a Sept. 26 note cited by BuzzFeed. “While intended to be provocative and ironic, we believe the fall floor set may be, in a word, too ‘normal.’”

In other news, you can get pretty cheap basics at Gap right now. And in more other news, I absolutely despise the word “normcore.”

Gap Has A Problem: Its “Dress Normal” Campaign Is Way Too Normal [BuzzFeed News]

Sodium Pain Relief Pills Recalled Because They Aren’t Supposed To Actually Be Ibuprofen

Wed, 2014-10-22 16:43

Nearly 12,000 boxes of Assured Sodium Pain Relief Tablets actually contain bottles of ibuprofen.

Nearly 12,000 boxes of Assured Sodium Pain Relief Tablets actually contain bottles of ibuprofen.

There are a number of reasons why a consumer would choose to purchase sodium pain relievers, for one, they might be allergic to ibuprofen. In that case, a mixup at a North Carolina packaging company could prove to be dangerous. And that’s exactly why the company is recalling some 12,000 boxes of pain relief tablets.

The Food and Drug Administration announced that Contract Packaging Resources Inc. voluntarily recalled 11,640 boxes of Assured brand naproxen sodium tablets sold online and in-store at Dollar Tree locations nationwide.

According to a notice from the FDA, some of the carton may actually contain bottles of 220 mg strength ibuprofen. The company say the ibuprofen bottles were placed in the naproxen boxes on accident.

Affected products include Assured brand Naproxen Sodium Tablets 220mg, 15-count boxes with lot number FH4102A and a SKU of 122368/UPC #639277223685.

Allergic reactions can range from mild irritation or hives to serious reactions such as anaphylaxes that may be life-threatening. Consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they have experienced any problems that may be related to taking or using this drug product.

So far, the company has not received any reports of adverse events related to the recall.

Contract Packaging Resources is notifying its distributors and customers directly and arranging for replacement of all recalled products. Consumers may return the recalled products to the place of purchase or contact the firm by phone at 336-252-3422.

Contract Packaging Resources, Inc. Issues a Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Assured™ Brand Naproxen Sodium Tablets due to Packaging Mix-Up [FDA]

Man Claims Mississippi McDonald’s Served Him Half-Eaten, Jelly Covered Muffin Instead Of Sausage Biscuit

Wed, 2014-10-22 15:57
A Mississippi man claims he received a half-eaten muffin covered in jelly from a local McDonald's restaurant.

A Mississippi man claims he received a half-eaten muffin covered in jelly from a local McDonald’s restaurant.

When you order a sausage biscuit from McDonald’s, it’s fairly reasonable to expect you’ll actually receive a sausage biscuit in your drive-thru bag. What a Mississippi man claims came in his bag, however, was a half-eaten English muffin with jelly – no sausage biscuit in sight.

The Clarion-Ledger reports the man stopped by a local McDonald’s restaurant on his way to an early morning college football game on October 4.

Although the man says his wife wanted him to turn around immediately to return the half-consumed breakfast item, he didn’t want to miss kickoff.

Still, he contacted McDonald’s and returned to the store in the following days, but says he hasn’t received as much as an “I’m sorry,” from the company.

“They act like they don’t care that I received an order that somebody else — I’m assuming one of their employees — had been eating,” the man tells the Clarion-Ledger.

After a failed attempt to talk with management at the restaurant, the man reached a customer service representative with the company’s franchisee.

“When I called him, he did listen to me and told me that ‘possibly one of our employees failed,’ but then he added, ‘If what you say is true,’ which totally ticked me off,” the man recalls. “I wouldn’t be spending this much time on a sausage biscuit that cost $1.08 if it wasn’t true.”

The Clarion-Ledger reached out to the same service representative. He told the paper he was aware of the man’s claim but could not discuss the issue with the media.

The man says his biggest concern – aside from not receiving an apology – centers on the sanitary conditions at the restaurant.

“First of all, with all the health concerns going on about us these days, people need to be aware of what they’re getting when they order food,” he says. “The person who ate part of the muffin I was served … how do I know that he or she isn’t carrying a disease of some sort? Plus, it’s just not sanitary.”

He also wants to make sure the same experience doesn’t happen to other customers.

“I’m not out to get McDonald’s, I’m not out to sue them,” the man says. “But I would like an apology. And I would like for them to care enough to go back and look at the videotape and try to find out how it happened so that it doesn’t happen to somebody else.”

Madison man served half-eaten McDonald’s muffin [The Clarion-Ledger]

Target Baiting Holiday Shoppers With Free Shipping On All Items This Season

Wed, 2014-10-22 15:42

(SchuminWeb)

(SchuminWeb)

There’s nary a bit of frost on the ground and yet it’s time for retailers to start gearing up for the holidays. Getting off to a running start today is Target, announcing that starting today it’ll offer free holiday shipping on everything it sells online for the first time.

Even the cheapest items will ship for free through Dec. 20, reports the Associated Press, noting that this is a pretty early holiday move, even as retailers in recent years have continued to bump the holiday season backward into the fall.

It’s certainly an attention getting move, and could end up costing Target a pretty penny if not enough people order pricier things. But if it gets people shopping, Target seems to be willing to take that risk.

“We know shipping costs play a big role in online purchasing decisions… . We believe our free shipping offer will create excitement and incremental sales for Target,” said Kathee Tesija, Target’s executive vice president and chief merchandising officer.

Perhaps Target thinks free shipping will wipe last year’s massive holiday data breach from shoppers’ minds as well. You know, the one that swiped personal and payment information for more than 100 million shoppers. Since then, of course, there have been numerous data breaches at other retailers, proving to shoppers everywhere that no one is ever really safe.

Target offers free shipping on all holiday items [Associated Press]

Toys ‘R’ Us Removes “Breaking Bad” Action Figures, Now 100% (Toy) Meth-Free

Wed, 2014-10-22 14:30

heisenbergWhen a Florida parent learned that there were action figures from the very adult cable drama “Breaking Bad” on the shelf at Toys ‘R’ Us, she was upset. Not because she hates the show or anything, but because she found the toys inappropriate. She began an online petition campaign and spoke to a local TV station, and Toys ‘R’ Us has responded by taking the toys off its virtual and real-life shelves.

Toys ‘R’ Us confirmed to the Associated Press that the figures are no longer being sold in their stores. “Let’s just say, the action figures have taken an indefinite sabbatical,” a statement from the chain said. We suspected this on Monday afternoon, when we went to link to the products on the Toys ‘R’ Us site and found that the products were gone from the site. Not out of stock, but the items were erased from the online catalog entirely.

This story drew publicity to the action figure line, leading many people to sy, “Wait a minute! I didn’t know that these exist, and I want one!” Even the manufacturer’s site is out of stock or only accepting pre-orders for items that aren’t out yet. Having someone demand to ban a product is apparently a great way to gain publicity for it.

A counter-petition, also hosted on Change.org, argued that it’s completely appropriate for a toy store to sell “toys” for adult collectors and fans of violent movies and television shows. “Toys R Us recognized there was a void in the toy market left by the closing of stores like KB, Suncoast, and Tower Records,” the petition’s introduction points out. If the store can sell games with adult content, why can’t action figures and dolls coexist in different sections of the same store?

Just like TRU doesn’t sell “M” rated video game titles to young kids, they will not sell age-inappropriate toys to kids. PARENTS should be the one dictating what their kids watch, buy, read, play and consume, NOT the buyers or employees of Toys R Us.

For now, the anti-action figure forces have won. Plenty of other potentially controversial figures remain in stock, but the toy store is now a meth kingpin-free zone.

Toys R Us pulls ‘Breaking Bad’ dolls [Associated Press]

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Parent Notices Meth-Toting “Breaking Bad” Action Figures At Toys ‘R’ Us, Complains

Michigan Joins List Of Tesla-Hating States; Bans Direct Sales Of Cars

Wed, 2014-10-22 03:41

(Atwater Village Newbie)

(Atwater Village Newbie)

Even though only a few dozen Teslas have been sold to people in Michigan, and even though the electric vehicle maker has no storefront display operations in the state, the home of America’s auto industry has decided it needed to pass a law actually banning carmakers from selling automobiles to Michigan consumers without first going through a franchised dealership.

Tesla, for those who aren’t aware, eschews the traditional dealership model and instead sells its pricey cars directly to consumers.

Michigan law already requires that anyone selling a car in the state do so through a dealership, but since Tesla has no retail operations in Michigan, it maintained that it wasn’t violating the law by allowing Michigan residents to buy their cars online.

And so, with the backing of the Michigan Auto Dealers Association, an amendment to existing law was quietly tacked on to an unrelated bill at the last minute and passed through the legislature with no resistance. Last week, it went to the desk of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who signed it into law on Tuesday afternoon.

That amendment explicitly states that the dealership-only requirement applies to all car companies who sell, service, display or advertise vehicles in the state.

This clarification effectively shuts the door on Tesla’s direct-sales approach in Michigan, meaning state residents will need to go out of state to buy one of the cars. That, or Tesla will need to make arrangements with franchised dealerships to sell their cars.

The bigger thing that MADA was trying to do was prevent other car companies from thinking they could bypass dealers and get into the direct-sales game. Publicly, U.S. auto companies, including GM, have come out in support of the Michigan ban, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been watching Tesla’s business to see if they too could cut dealerships out of the process.

There are also numerous overseas manufacturers who haven’t been able to crack the U.S. market because of the lack of dealerships. If consumers could become accustomed to direct sales, it would open the door to new manufacturers who can’t afford to pay a middle man.

Not surprisingly, Tesla is not thrilled about the decision by Gov. Snyder to sign the bill.

“What’s good for GM’s customers is not necessarily good for Tesla’s customers. What’s good for gasoline cars is not necessarily good for electric cars. Tesla is selling a new product with a new technology,” reads a statement from Tesla. “The evidence is overwhelming that a traditional dealer-based approach does not work for electric cars.”

Michigan joins Texas, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia on the list of states with laws banning the direct sale of automobiles.

In September, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts threw out a lawsuit aiming to block Tesla from selling directly to customers and using a retail storefront to display model vehicles.

Earlier this summer, the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association filed a complaint with the state’s Department of Revenue, claiming that Tesla sold too many through its one retail store in the state.

While most states don’t have active bans on direct sales, a recently passed law in New Jersey expressly allows Tesla and others to sell directly to consumers.

Use Up All The Money On Your Prepaid Phone, Because You’ll Probably Never Get It Back

Tue, 2014-10-21 23:19

(Bill)

(Bill)

When you buy a prepaid cellphone and put a bunch of money on the account, you might think that whatever balance remains on the account when you decide to change providers or stop using that device. Except the odds are that whatever money you put on your account will remain with the service provider forever.

A woman in California recently found this out when she tried to close out her prepaid Virgin Mobile account, which had $18.75 remaining on it. She was expecting some sort of refund for the unused money, but that’s just not going to happen.

“Account balances are not transferable, redeemable for cash, or refundable,” reads the Virgin Mobile terms of service.

And an e-mail from the company explained that Virgin had assessed a “termination fee equal to the value of any balance on the account.”

One lawyer tells CBS Sacramento’s Kurtis Ming that companies can do this so long as the fee is reasonable.

“They can argue the account balance reflects the reasonable termination fee,” says the lawyer. “If it was a large sum of money, then the reasonableness of it would be called into question.”

A quick look at the terms of service for other prepaid providers shows similar no-refund policies.

For example, Verizon Wireless states in its terms that, “If you’re a Prepaid customer, you won’t be entitled to a refund of any balance on your account.

While the terms for AT&T’s GoPhone clarify that “Funds deposited into your account via any method will not be refunded.”

Boost Mobile, which like Virgin Mobile, is run by Sprint in the U.S., states that if an account is cancelled, “all remaining funds in account balance & telephone number will be lost.”

And Cricket Wireless writes in bold letters that “You will not be entitled to any refund or credit for the unused portion of your account balance if you decide to cancel Service.”

This is certainly not an exhaustive look at prepaid plans, but none of the above offer any sort of leeway for people with balances on their plans.

So unless you expect to remain with your provider indefinitely, don’t put money on your account that you don’t plan on using because the odds are you won’t be getting it back when it’s time to move on.

What Does “Organic” Mean For Non-Edible Items? Not Much, Necessarily

Tue, 2014-10-21 23:01

(Seer Snively)

(Seer Snively)

Way back in 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began certifying food and drinks that meet the federal standards to be called “organic.” Depending on the type of food, organic certification has different requirements. While a wide variety of products are marketed as “organic,” this label doesn’t necessarily mean anything when applied to a product that you can’t eat.

Depending on the type of food, “organic” could mean that a packaged product has no genetically modified ingredients, that a vegetable was grown without synthetic fertilizers, or that a meat animal was raised without the use of growth hormone injections or antibiotics. For other products, what it should mean is clear: organic cotton fabric, for example, comes from cotton plants grown using organic agriculture methods.

When it comes to shampoo or dry cleaners, though, how do you know that something marketed as “organic” really meets the standards? What are the standards for organic shampoo, anyway? There is no government body regulating what that word means and certifying products. Industries have their own certifications, but the average consumer doesn’t know what “NSF/ANSI 305” means, or know to look for that on the label of their soap.

The Associated Press reports that this leaves consumers in a difficult spot, and end up depending on retailers. Whole Foods, for example, set its own standards for body care products in the absence of any government agencies overseeing that industry. They have a list of ingredients that are banned, like triclosan and microbeads.

The meaning of ‘organic’ hazy for nonfood items [Associated Press]

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