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The Consumerist

Parents Of Two Girls Say Six Flags Workers Insisted They Had To Stay With Their Wheelchairs During Show

Wed, 2014-10-29 18:02

(Misti Boe)

(Misti Boe)

The parents of two five-year-old girls who have similar medical conditions and use wheelchairs to get around say they were told at a Texas Six Flags park that their daughters would have to remain sitting in their wheels during a live show, and couldn’t sit on their parents’ laps where they could see better. Either that, or the wheelchairs would have to be parked outside.

The two families were attending a live stage show at a theater inside Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, reports CBS 11 DFW, and had parked the girls’ wheelchairs in the designated handicapped section.

But the little girls couldn’t see over a railing that was blocking their view from there, so their parents simply moved up a row, carrying the girls so they could sit on their parents’ laps and be able to see what was happening on stage, leaving the chairs behind.

That’s when they say theater employees told them they couldn’t let the chairs stay empty and would have to sit in them during the show.

“That’s taking her rights away. The rights that every other kid in the theater has to sit with her parents, or on their laps if they choose. Our kids didn’t have that right because of their chairs,” said one of the moms.

The other option, they say, was to take the wheelchairs outside of the theater and park them with the strollers. That’s affecting the girls’ mobility, the parents argued — they’d have to be carried outside instead of wheeling themselves.

“They are handicapped. That would be the same thing as me asking you to leave legs outside and you have to physically crawl inside to join your family. I’m not going to do that,” said the other mom.

According to the families, park employees said the policy was city code. But when CBS checked with the fire marshal, he said there’s no such requirement that a person has to stay with their wheelchair in a public space. It just can’t block exits or an egress.

The families left, instead, and filed a formal complaint with guest services.

The park has since responded with a statement, after CBS 11 contacted it:

“We apologize to the girls and their families. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication of our safety policy and the matter has been corrected. Our goal is to provide a day of safe fun for all of our guests and we invite both families to return to the park as our special VIP guests.”

The girls’ parents say they just want people to be more aware of the rights of those using wheelchairs.

“When this happens, that makes them see they are excluded. They are being discriminated against because they can not walk in there with their two feet and go sit with their families,” one of the mothers said.

Parents: Six Flags Employees Made Handicapped Girls Feel Different [CBS 11 DFW]

A $100 Gift Card Selling For $10 On Is A Mistake, Not Bait & Switch

Wed, 2014-10-29 18:02

Once again, the Walmart website made a pricing error, and once again shoppers tried to pounce on it only to later have their orders canceled. And as always happens in these situations, some of these folks are mistakenly claiming that this was a bait-and-switch scam.

This time, the deeply discounted item was a $100 Walmart gift card, which the site somehow listed as only $10.

So of course, people jumped at the chance to purchase these deeply discounted cards.

One woman tells Houston’s ABC13 that she ordered 80 of these cards (total face value: $8,000) for $800.

“I was sending $2,000 to someone in need,” she explains. “I was going to give them away to people less fortunate than I.”

How generous of her. If I could spend only $800 and make an instant profit of $7,200 I might be willing to share that wealth too.

But she never got the chance to be the great Walmart gift card benefactor she’d hoped to become, as the retailer canceled her order — and those of others — saying it was an honest pricing mistake.

“This is bait and switch, that’s all I can say,” claims the shopper, misusing the phrase. “They offered me one thing, I accepted and then they took it away.”

Except what she described is not, as we’ve explained many times before, actually bait and switch.

To earn that distinction, the store’s actions must meet two criteria.

First — the “bait” part — requires a deliberate intention to deceive the customer.

There’s no evidence that Walmart made any attempt to trick consumers into shopping for these cards. It didn’t advertise the deal as a sale or alert customers to the discount. After all, what benefit could Walmart hope to gain by giving away $90 for every $10 spent?

Even if you argue that Walmart did indeed deliberately post the lower price without any intention of ever selling the item at that price, the retailer’s actions would also need to satisfy the second part of the bait-and-switch test.

In the “switch” portion of the scam, the retailer takes the lured-in customer and gets them to purchase a more expensive product. In fact, not only is Walmart not doing that, but it is offering to provide shoppers whose orders were canceled with $10 store gift cards.

And, contrary to a rumor that countless anonymous “lawyers” share in online forums, there is no law requiring businesses to honor honest pricing mistakes. Some do honor these goofs, because they believe that the initial loss will result in a net positive gain in the long-term, but they are under no obligation to do so.

True, Walmart should not have made the mistake, and the fact that some people were charged for their transactions means they will have to wait for their banks or credit card issuers to return the money to their accounts. But any reasonable shopper knows that getting 10 gift card for the price of one is not a sale, but a mistake.

PayPal Says That The Holiday Shopping Season Began On September 30th

Wed, 2014-10-29 17:42



Here at Consumerist, we’ve been complaining about Christmas Creep for the better part of a decade, but maybe it’s time to admit defeat. The American public has apparently accepted retailers’ efforts to force the holiday shopping season to begin even earlier. According to PayPal, Americans kicked off the unbridled commerce season sometime in the evening on September 30.

How do they know? They’re PayPal, which means that they know everything about us and what we buy. Well, not everything: the company claims that 1/6 of all online purchases go through PayPal, which gives the company a “unique perspective” on our shopping habits in general.

PayPal says that payments tend to increase dramatically on the day that people as a whole begin their holiday shopping. On September 30, the company noticed that payments suddenly went up by 62.81%.

I haven’t started my holiday shopping yet, but I’m old. That’s relevant because a recent study shows that only about 59% of people between ages 18 and 29 find Christmas creep annoying. (Warning: auto-play video) That’s because they’ve grown up with it: they have never lived in a world where you can’t buy a Christmas tree in August. 12% of people in that age group told pollsters that they actually like early holiday merchandising, and a few of them even told pollsters that they love it. These are the youngsters who we should be worrying about.

PayPal Says Holiday Shopping Has Commenced [ECommerceBytes]

Comcast Will Pay $50M To End 11-Year-Old Class Action That Sought $875M

Wed, 2014-10-29 17:15



Nearly 11 years after it was first filed — and after a trip that saw it go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — a class action claim brought against Comcast by cable customers here in the Philadelphia area may finally be coming to an end, and for only a small fraction of what the plaintiffs had once hoped to collect.

The suit goes back to 2003, when Philly-area consumers alleged that Comcast had violated federal antitrust law by snatching up smaller pay-TV operations and then swapping them with other cable companies in order to cluster its service in specific geographic areas.

The plaintiffs alleged that this sort of action allowed Comcast to “to acquire or maintain monopoly power, raise prices, engage in anticompetitive conduct, and limit choice for cable consumers to effectively the only game in town.”

Originally, the group of plaintiffs had sought a total of $875 million from Comcast, but in 2013 the cable company managed to convince the Supremes in D.C. that, because they were coming from different areas that had been previously been served by different smaller cable companies, the plaintiffs were too varied a group with too varying a range of potential damages to be considered an actual class.

This wasn’t the end of the road for the lawsuit; it just required that the plaintiff re-certify the class with a significantly narrower definition than it had previously.

That smaller group now includes cable TV customers in Philadelphia and four surrounding counties who currently subscribe to Comcast or subscribed between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2008.

The total value of the proposed settlement [PDF] — which will require the approval of a U.S. District Court judge — is now $50 million, of which $16.67 million is expected to be paid out in cash or credit to affected customers. Though don’t plan on buying a new car with the payout, as it will only be $15.

Current Comcast customers in the plaintiff class who choose to take the payout in Comcast services will have options, according to the proposal. Depending on their existing level of TV and/or Internet service, they will be able to choose from one of the following: six free pay-per-view movies; four months of free upgrade in Internet service from Performance Level to Blast! service; one free month upgrade from Blast! service to Extreme 105 service; or two free months of The Movie Channel.

The Movie Channel option is the default reward for affected current subscribers.

Once the proposed settlement is okayed by the court, affected customers will be notified and a website will be set up where customers can choose how to receive their payout.

[via Ars Technica]

Charlotte Hornets Offer Fans Burger With 8 Pounds Of Meat For $70

Wed, 2014-10-29 16:59

While sports fans might not always get to feast on the delicious joy that comes with winning a hard-fought game, there are always crazy concession items to focus on and take part of that losing pain away. Enter the Charlotte Hornets’ entry into insane food concoctions: A burger featuring eight pounds of meat for the bargain price of $70.

In a move that makes the Tampa Bay Rays’ four-pounder look paltry, the Charlotte Hornets debuted the new 12-inch in diameter concession stand behemoth, Hugo’s Boss, just in time for the season opener last night, reports NYMag’s Grubstreet.

The evidence comes via ESPN’s @darrenrovell on Twitter:

New @Hornets games: Hugo's Boss Burger — 8 lbs of meat w/cheddar, bacon, lettuce & mushrooms ($70)

— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) October 29, 2014

The double-decker burger is said to include Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon and mushrooms, and is named after the Hornets’ mascot, Hugo, and does not, most likely, contain any shredded bits from say, a fancy suit.

Ford Recalls 205,000 SUVs In Cold Weather States Over Gas Tank Issues

Wed, 2014-10-29 16:53

(Great Beyond)

(Freat Beyond)

A majority of the recalls we’ve written about lately revolve around vehicles in humid areas of the United States. Not wanting to leave anyone out, Ford’s latest recall concerns nearly 205,000 vehicles located in cold weather states.

Ford announced today the recall of 204,448 model year 2007 to 2008 Edges and Lincoln MKX vehicles for an issue that could cause corrosion in the fuel tanks.

Officials with Ford say the reinforcement brackets located where the fuel tank is mounted to the vehicle can become corroded, leading to a fuel leak. A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source may result in a fire.

So far, Ford has been made aware of one fire related to the problem, but no crashes or injuries.

The recall applies only to vehicles that are currently registered or were originally sold in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

Ford will notify owners of the affected vehicles and dealers will inspect the fuel tank.

Ford Issues Safety Recall For Certain 2007-2008 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX Vehicles In North America For Potential Fuel Tank Issue [Ford]

Verizon To Pay $64M For Overcharging Family SharePlan Customers

Wed, 2014-10-29 16:32

(Steve Rhodes)

(Steve Rhodes)

Plaintiffs in a class-action suit against Verizon Wireless have long claimed that the company over-billed customers in its former Family SharePlan tier, and it looks like the telecom titan is ready to pay up, to the tune of around $64.2 million.

The lawsuit had alleged that VZW overcharged Family SharePlan customers by incorrectly billing users for in-network calls that should have been included at no extra cost. The plaintiffs also claimed that when additional phone lines on Family SharePlan accounts went over their allotted monthly minutes, they were being charged $.45/minute instead of $.25/minute.

A proposed settlement [PDF] filed last week in a federal court in New Jersey, details how the $64.2 million would be split up and paid out.

The larger chunk — $36.7 million — will go into a settlement fund. After deducting numerous costs (for notifying class members, maintaining the settlement, attorney fees and expenses, payments to class representatives), the rest of that portion of the deal will be paid out in either bill credits or cash payments to people who were Family SharePlan customers between May 11, 2002, and May 10, 2006.

The second part of the settlement involves only those customers who were wrongly charged for in-network calls when they shouldn’t have been. They will receive PINs from Verizon that will allow them to make domestic or international calls at no charge. The total maximum cost to Verizon for these PINs is estimated at $27.5 million.

A court still needs to sign off on the settlement, after which point class members will be able to claim their piece of the refunds and/or free calls.

[via GigaOm]

Police Bust Man For Swiping Shoppers’ Wallets From Strollers At Whole Foods

Wed, 2014-10-29 15:58

(Glyn Lowe Photoworks)

(Glyn Lowe Photoworks)

It’s not exactly taking candy from a baby, but plundering strollers to make off with parents’ wallets is still pretty darn low. Police had been on the lookout for a 60-year-old suspect caught on surveillance cameras in Whole Foods stores in New York City reaching into strollers and snatching wallets, and now they say they’ve found their man.

According to the criminal complaint cited by DNAInfo, the suspect is accused of first taking a wallet from a woman’s stroller that had about $200 cash, along with a credit card and her Social Security card (side note: don’t keep your Social Security card in your wallet, for this very reason).

He struck again at another store, swiping a wallet that contained $40 cash and some credit cards.

Police say he was finally arrested after he was spotted selling untaxed cigarettes outside yet another Whole Foods store. Cops recognized him from his serial appearances on surveillance footage and charged him with grand larceny.

Thief Busted for Snatching Wallets From Strollers at Whole Foods, NYPD Says [DNAInfo]

Woman Allegedly Squirted Breast Milk At Pharmacy Staff, Then Stole Money

Wed, 2014-10-29 15:43

(Tambako The Jaguar)

(Tambako The Jaguar)

When you need to distract someone in order to steal money, simply use what you have at hand. A woman in Germany allegedly stole cash from a pharmacy earlier this week after she distracted employees. Police say that she distracted the employees by whipping out a boob and squirting milk at them.

Weaponized breast milk isn’t something that we had ever heard of before. The customer had been in line to purchase–what else?– a breast pump, but apparently didn’t need it, since she was able to express milk using her hand before taking off with 100 euros from the till. She left the clearly unnecessary breast pump behind when she fled the store.

The woman has not been apprehended, but has been described as having a “robust” figure, long, dark hair, and was speaking a language that no one could identify.

Of course, breast milk is a body fluid that can potentially be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or anything else that the mother has circulating in her system. There are very few places where it should go: into a baby’s mouth, for starters, or a sealable container for later feeding. “Used as a weapon” is not on that list. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Thief distracts staff by squirting her breast milk [The Local] (via Jezebel)

1-In-4 Americans Turn To Payday Loans & Other High-Cost Financial Products

Wed, 2014-10-29 15:41

(Belinda Hankins Miller)

(Belinda Hankins Miller)

When discussing the topic of payday loans — or other high-cost, short-term financial products like auto-title loans and check-cashing — there can be a tendency to treat them like something that only a small percentage of Americans use. But a new report from the FDIC confirms that 25% of us have turned to one of these potentially predatory services in the past year, and that this rate has not been going down.

This is according to the latest FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households [PDF], which found that in 2013, 25% of U.S. households used at least one alternate financial service — which could include payday loans, non-bank check-cashing, pawn shop loans, auto-title loans, tax refund-anticipation loans, and rent-to-own services; each of these can charge fees to consumers that equate to double- and triple-digit annual interest rates, often much higher than the cost of comparable loan and money transfer services offered by banks.

In all, nearly 3-in-10 American households (34.4 million) are either unbanked, or underbanked, according to the FDIC. This means they either don’t have a bank account or have one but still rely on alternate financial products.

Underbanked consumers are twice as likely to take out payday loans than the unbanked, since most payday operations require that the borrower has a bank account from which to withdraw payments. On the flipside, pawn shop loans are significantly more popular among the unbanked, presumably because there is no need for a bank account when the loan is based on a physical piece of collateral left in the pawn shop’s possession for the term of the loan.

The majority (57.5%) of those without bank accounts say one huge reason for their unbanked status is that they believe they simply lack the funds to maintain a minimum balance at a bank. However, there are still some banks and credit unions that don’t require a minimum balance; they are often just smaller institutions that lack the advertising budgets of their bigger fee-loving counterparts.

Additionally, while the unbanked may be worried about minimum bank balances, 56.8% of them have used check-cashing services in the last year (38.5% in the last 30 days), meaning they are giving away often substantial portions of their income just to have access to their money.

The use of prepaid debit cards has soared in recent years among the unbanked and underbanked. In 2009, only 12.2% of unbanked households were using these prepaid products, which vary widely in the fees and restrictions put on cardholders, but by 2013, that rate had more than doubled to 27.1%.

Even the underbanked are increasingly turning to prepaid debit cards as a non-bank option, with 13.1% of these households saying they had used a prepaid debit card in the previous year. Meanwhile, only 5.3% of all fully banked households had used one of these cards.

Uber Will Bring A Kitten To Your Door Today (If You Live In The Right City)

Wed, 2014-10-29 14:57



In the need for a furry snuggle to brighten up your day? We live in an age where you can get anything delivered to your door, and today that includes kittens for the lucky residents of Austin, Chicago, DC, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle, with UberKITTEN, which is returning once again after the masses clamored for more cats last year.

To celebrate National Cat Day, Uber teamed up with meme site Cheezburger and the ASPCA to shuttle kittens around to demanding customers between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. local time today, the company writes on its blog.

Each kitten “delivery” costs $30, a donation to a participating shelter which is charged directly to your Uber account will be matched by Uber as well, and buys the customer 15 minutes worth of kitten canoodling.

Interested in a kitten for keeps? Uber says they’re eligible for adoption in most cities, so you can inquire when you meet your cat date.

Uber users simply open the app and use the “KITTENS!” button in the app to bring the feline friend to your door. Those who do request a kitten to the office need to clear it with bosses/security/management, and having a dedicated room for the cat to hang out wherever you have it delivered is preferred.

Those in NYC and DC can also enter the promo code kittensnyc or kittensdc to unlock the option in your app.

As it happened with a similar cat stunt in NYC last year, demand for kittens is likely going to be high, so if at first you don’t get a kitten, try, try again.

And again, I must end with KITTENS.

Whirlpool Wants To Sell You A $500 Laundry Machine That Doesn’t Clean Your Clothes

Tue, 2014-10-28 23:05

Pods sold separately.

Pods sold separately.

Do you often find yourself needing to remove some wrinkles and the smell of cigarette smoke from your favorite jacket, but unwilling to leave the house to go to the dry cleaner? If so, the Swash, a new laundry-ish appliance from Whirlpool, may be exactly what you need. It costs $500 and does not clean your clothes.

What the Swash does, as far as we can tell, is something in between dry cleaning a garment and blasting it with Febreze while hanging it in a steam-filled bathroom. You hang the item in the narrow, vertical machine, and then add a chemical cartridge from Procter & Gamble, Whirlpool’s partner in this strange laundry venture. The substances in the packet are sort of like Febreze, which would make sense because Febreze is a Procter & Gamble product. The packets can de-stink your garments, but do not necessarily clean them.

That leads Bloomberg Businessweek to the question: who will buy this? If you can afford a $500 machine that doesn’t do laundry, you can afford to take your clothes to the dry cleaner on a regular basis. The marketers behind this product show it in a woman’s walk-in closet, where perhaps she freshens up a glittery sweater before wearing it.

It could work in a hotel room, as a compromise between cleaning and wearing a wrinkled dress or suit during important business travel. Otherwise…for whom does this appliance make sense? More importantly, what happens to the people who do buy them if the product fails and is taken off the market, and the chemical cartridges are no longer available?

The Problem With Swash, Whirlpool’s New Not-Quite-Laundry System [Bloomberg Businessweek]

Service Members Deserve More Transparency From On-Base Banks, Credit Unions

Tue, 2014-10-28 22:11
(Hammerin Man)

(Hammerin Man)

The Military Lending Act attempts to shield military personnel and their families from some predatory lending practices, but a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts claims that some traditional banks on military bases are nickel-and-diming members of the armed forces with excess overdraft fees, and a general lack of transparency.

Pew’s latest report [PDF], Checks and Balances, Stars and Stripes, found that while some banks and credit unions on military bases employ practices to provide transparency and protect consumer they could do more.

Because military personnel are required to receive their paychecks via direct deposit, it makes opening and maintaining a checking account crucial to their financial well-being.

Unlike some consumers who may have a plethora of options to choose from when looking for banks and credit unions, many active duty military members face unique circumstances such as being deployed or moving frequently between bases that limit their access to banking institutions.

Additionally, under federal regulations, only one bank and one credit union are permitted to operate on a Department of Defense installation at any time, further limiting military members’ options for banking.

For these reasons, officials with Pew says it’s even more important for banks and credit unions that cater to military members and their families to have policies that promote transparency and protect account holders from unsafe and hidden practices and costs.

In the report, Pew analyzed the checking accounts offered by 18 of the 31 Association of Military Banks of America (AMBA) on-installation member banks and 111 of the 134 the Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC) on-installation member credit unions—which, because they are located on Department of Defense bases, primarily cater to service members and their families.

The study found that 42% of banks and 17% of credit unions failed to provide any disclosure information online, making it extremely difficult for deployed service members to access critical information about the terms and conditions governing their accounts.

However, of the banks that did provide account information online, nearly three-quarters of them offered a summary disclosure box and half offered boxes that meet Pew’s criteria for effective disclosures.

Pew’s summary disclosure box was developed to provide consumers with clear and concise highlights of important fees and features for checking accounts.

When it comes to overdraft fees, military personnel are in the same boat many consumers find themselves: high costs and little protection.

Earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau likened overdraft fees as a short-term, high-interest loan. The agency described the typical overdraft situation as comparable to a small dollar loan with a 17,000% interest rate; a rate that far exceeds the Military Lending Act’s 36% interest rate cap.

Pew found that 17 of the AMBA-member banks charge overdraft penalties ranging from $25 to $38.50 per overdraft, with a median fee of $35.

Of the DCUC-member credit unions, 12 don’t disclose information about overdraft fees in their fee schedules or on their websites. The remaining 94 credit unions charge between $20 and $39 for each overdraft, with a median of $29.

In the past, consumer advocates have said the best way to ensure consumers don’t overdraft is to decline transactions that would result in negative balances. However, only two banks and four credit unions decline ATM transactions that would result in negative balances, while only two banks and three credit unions decline point-of-sale transactions that would result in the same outcome.

For the past several years, groups such as Pew and the CFPB have spotlighted one of the more devastating practices banks and credit unions have used to drive up consumers’ overdraft costs: reordering transactions to create the illusion of more overdrafts.

Pew found that more than half of the banks and three-quarters of the credit unions that cater to military personnel reorder transactions in a manner that would result in more overdrafts.

Dispute Resolutions
Pew found that many account agreements provided by the AMBA and DCUC institutions contain clauses that restrict a military members’ ability to seek legal recourse when it comes to disputes over their accounts.

Pew found that nearly 65% of the banks analyzed include mandatory arbitration clauses in their account agreements, while only 6% of credit unions analyzed employ the clauses.

Of the banks that do have mandatory arbitration clauses, four allow consumers to opt out of arbitration before a dispute, but it must be done in writing and within a certain time period after opening an account.

Officials with Pew say the new study, while highlighting some of the good practices banks and credit unions catering to military members have implement, underscores the need for new rules to make checking accounts safer and more transparent for all consumers.

“Safe financial products are essential for all consumers, but they are especially important for Americans serving in the military,” Susan Weinstock, director of Pew’s consumer banking research, says. “We urge the CFPB to take concrete steps to improve checking account safeguards for both military and civilian customers.”

The report suggests that the CFPB could create safer banking products for consumers by implementing rules requiring:

  • Key information about terms and fees should be summarized in a concise, uniform format available online and
    in branches.
  • All overdraft programs, including less costly transfer options, should be clearly disclosed.
  • Customer transactions should be processed in a neutral manner that does not increase overdrafts.
  • Overdraft fees should be proportional to the institution’s cost of providing the overdraft.
  • Account holders should not be limited in their options for legal recourse in the event of a dispute

Have you ever banked at a financial institution on a military base? Let us know about your experience by sending an email to, using the subject line: Military Lending.

Fill Up Your Car With Unusable, Unused Syracuse China Dishes For $10

Tue, 2014-10-28 22:03
(Tom Simpson)

(Tom Simpson)

If you like American manufacturing history and unusable dishware, there’s an event that you won’t want to miss this weekend. After a former Syracuse China factory closed in 2009, the building’s new owners hauled tens of thousands of unglazed dishware to a field behind the building, intending to haul it to a landfill eventually. Before they do that, members of the public will have the opportunity to haul off as much china as they like.

The Great Dish Haul is happening, as you might imagine, in my hometown of Syracuse, NY. Syracuse China still exists, as the foodservice dishware division of parent company and glass-maker Libbey. The former factory still stands, too, but not as a dish factory. Instead, on November 8 and 9, any random adult will be able to fill their vehicle with as many pieces of dishware as they can carry. The problem is that these dishes are unglazed, since no one bothered to run the kiln after the factory closed. Glaze is what keeps food residue and bacteria from soaking into the porcelain of your dishes; it’s why you can’t eat out of a clay pot. That means these dishes are not usable for food service–less so after sitting out in a field for three years.

The $10 will not go to the current owners of the building, even to help with their “take this junk to the dump” fund. Instead, it’s a fundraiser for the local neighborhood association and a nearby daycare, which are the organizations running the sale.

What is it good for? No one has condoned skeet shooting as a possible use, but some local art classes have used pieces for projects.

The Great Syracuse China Giveaway: 11 things to know [Syracuse Post-Standard]

Burger King & Tim Hortons Get One Step Closer To The Altar With Canadian Watchdog’s Approval

Tue, 2014-10-28 21:35



Before those two crazy kids Burger King and Tim Hortons can start planning their wedding, they need to get the blessing of their parent nations’ respective antitrust regulators. Bringing the happy couple one step closer to walking down that aisle is Canada’s antitrust watchdog, which just gave the nuptials the go-ahead today.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Canadian Competition Bureau said in a statement that based on what it’s looked at, the deal is unlikely to take a slice out of, stymie or otherwise hurt competition in Canada’s fast-food industry.

“We’re pleased to have achieved this milestone and continue to work through the regulatory process,” a Tim Hortons spokesman said, while Burger King played it coy and didn’t offer a comment.

Burger King’s planned buyout of coffee chain and pride of Canada Tim Hortons is worth about $11 billion, and still has a passel of approvals to nab before it can come to fruition.

That includes Canada dubbing the deal a net benefit for the country’s economy, as other American companies are also considering making the move north to take advantage of seemingly more friendly tax laws.

Burger King-Tim Hortons Deal Clears Antitrust Hurdle [Wall Street Journal]

Survey: The Crime Americans Worry About Most? Credit Card Hack Attacks

Tue, 2014-10-28 21:01



Times used to be, a person worried enough about pickpockets to keep personal belongings clutched as close as possible while walking through that dark alley, possibly filled with ruffians. But nowadays, the crime Americans worry about most is another kind of thievery, one you can’t protect yourself against by sticking to well-trafficked streets — namely, that of the credit-card hacking kind.

In a Gallup survey announced this week, the fear many Americans may be feeling in light of recent credit card data breaches at major retailers is showing in the numbers, reports the AFP.

A total of 69% of Americans said they frequently or occasionally worry about computer hackers liftig their credit-card info from stores’ databases. And the only other crime that worries a majority of our countrymen? Hacking and data theft of their computers and smartphones, at 62.%

After that comes home burglaries when they’re away from home (45%) and having a car stolen or broken into (42%).

“Americans today are more worried about their credit card information being hacked from stores than about any other crimes they are asked about, and a relatively high percentage say they have been victims of this hacking,” Gallup said.

To that end, 27% of Americans reported that they or someone else in the household had info from a credit card used at a store stolen by hackers in the last year. That was the most frequently experienced crime on Gallup’s list of nine.

Lower on the list? Being a victim of terrorism got 28%, fear of getting murdered clocked in at 18% and finally, being assaulted or killed on the job by a coworker was at the very bottom at 7%.

So while it seems we’re not too concerned about bodily harm these days, if you shop anywhere ever, the fear of having your credit card hacked not only real, but justified..

Credit-card hacking is Americans’ top crime worry: poll [AFP]

McDonald’s Mistakenly Thinks Internet Won’t Mock “Lovin’ Beats Hatin'” Slogan

Tue, 2014-10-28 20:34

(Paxton Holley)

(Paxton Holley)

McDonalds’ — the company that is actively advertising the fact that some consumers believe there might be horse meat in its burgers — has a good idea for how it could be the target of additional mockery, with a plan to actually use the apostophe-abusin’ slogan “Lovin’ Beats Hatin'” in an upcoming campaign.

The Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today blog reports that the slogan — which is just an extension of, and not a replacement for, the “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign that McDonald’s has driven into the ground over and over again since 2003 — is set to make its debut on Jan. 1, giving every hungover American a good reason to go to any other fast food restaurant than one that thinks “Lovin’ Beats Hatin’.”

This lovin’ fest will apparently peak during the Super Bowl on Feb. 1, so that everyone who managed to avoid the commercials for the month leading up to that night will suddenly understand the various jokes their friends have been making on Facebook about McDonald’s.

While the “I’m lovin’ it” slogan has been dropping its “g” for more than a decade and is considered a success by some, one has to wonder about the logic of continuing — or rather, continuin’ — to beat that dead horse (which by no means goes into your Big Mac) when sales have been sagging for the fast food giant.

Additionally, while everything I learned about the advertising biz came from watching Bosom Buddies and Thirtysomething as a child, I’m pretty sure that using the word “hate” in a slogan is akin to, I dunno, running ads featuring regular consumers questioning whether or not the food you make is real.

The AV Club’s inimitable (seriously, I dare you to imitate him) John Teti points out that the updated slogan finally gives consumers a reason for lovin’ “it” — because lovin’ is superior to hatin’.

“Customers of the restaurant have long assumed that ‘I’ was lovin’ ‘it’ because there was something about the ‘it’ that made ‘it’ irresistibly lovable,” explains Teti, “but now the truth appears to be that all these years, ‘I’ has been lovin’ for the sake of lovin’ — which calls into question the relevance of ‘it’ in the first place.”

Owners Of MacBooks With Self-Destructing Video Cards File Class-Action Lawsuit

Tue, 2014-10-28 20:31

These pink and white stripes are not pretty.

These pink and white stripes are not pretty.

A few weeks ago, we shared with you the saga of the self-destructing MacBooks, machines manufactured in 2011 with an unfortunate tendency to overheat their discrete graphics cards, rendering the computers unusable and their owners sad. Now lawyers representing MacBook owners have filed a class action lawsuit.

The computers in question in this case are 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro machines manufactured and sold in 2011. The price of these computers started around $1,800 at the time. Users claim that the discrete graphics card, which handles the more graphics-intensive tasks that most people in the market for a lunch tray-sized Macbook use their computers for, is defective. The lawsuit argues that some users had problems with their computers from the very beginning. The problem is that the computers’ three-year-long extended warranties are expiring, but the computers are still in use and still defective.

The lawyers argue that since Apple actually recalled some MacBooks made in 2008 for a similar issue, the company would have known that their original solution of a software patch was insufficient.

The graphical issues and system failures with the 2011 MacBook Pro Laptops were nearly identical to problems that plagued the 2008 MacBook Pro laptops, which were eventually recalled. Yet rather than issuing a recall for the 2011 MacBook Pro Laptops, Apple hurriedly release a software patch intended to address graphical stability in the 2011 MacBook Pros. The software patch was ineffective because, as Apple knew from its experience with the 2008 MacBook Pro Laptops, the defect at issue is physical and cannot be fixed with a software patch.

Class actions rarely lead to a quick resolution. For example, lawsuits against the company over various self-destructing power adapters for notebook computers led to cash settlements or replacement adapters for customers…two years after the suit was filed.

In this lawsuit, the lead plaintiffs ask Apple to reassess past warranty claims for affected computers, reimbursing users for any repairs that they paid for out of pocket. If any computers belonging to class members are found to be beyond repair, they ask Apple to replace them.

Book et al. v. Apple, Inc. [Lawsuit] (PDF Download – via MacRumors)

Go-Cart Maker Hit With $4.3M Penalty For Failing To Immediately Report Dangerous Defects

Tue, 2014-10-28 20:08

A South Carolina minibike and co-cart manufacturer agreed to pay $4.3m to settle charges from CPSC.

Through its recall power, the Consumer Product Safety Commission aims to protect Americans from unreasonable risks found in the things they buy.  And when companies  know about a defective product but don’t tell the CPSC right away, they can end up facing millions of dollars in penalties for delaying a recall. Just ask the South Carolina go-cart manufacturer hit with the agency’s largest-ever penalty.

The CPSC announced Tuesday that Baja Inc. and its corporate affiliate, One World Technologies Inc., agreed to pay a $4.3 million civil penalty to the agency to settle charges that the company failed to immediately report the defects and injury risks associated with 11 minibike and go-cart models that were recalled in 2010.

According to the initial recall, nearly 308,000 minibikes and go-carts contained gas caps that could leak or detach from the fuel tank, creating fire and burn hazards.

Tuesday’s settlement resolves charges that by the time Baja had submitted a full report to CPSC in July 2010, the company had already received four reports of fires from leaking gas caps and burn injuries to consumers.

Additionally CPSC says Baja implemented design changes to remedy consumer complaints about a stuck throttle, but did not notify consumers or the agency of the changes.

Under federal law, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are required to report to within 24 hours of obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, create an unreasonable risk for serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule.

In addition to paying the $4.3 million penalty, Baja and One World must maintain a program designed to ensure compliance with the safety statutes and regulations enforced by the CPSC. As part of the settlement, Baja and One World did not admit wrongdoing.

Baja and One World Technologies Agree to $4.3 Million Civil Penalty, Internal Compliance Improvements for Failure to Report Defective Minibikes and Go-Carts [CPSC]

Minnesota Company Trades Workers’ Completed Time Sheets For Free Beer

Tue, 2014-10-28 19:50

adagencybeerIf there’s anything that can get sluggish workers to complete their tasks on time, it’s free cake. No wait, it’s free candy. Fooled you all — it’s definitely free beer, at least in the case of one Minnesota ad firm providing a bit of liquid motivation at work.

Minneapolis-based firm Colle + McVoy came up with a unique system to make sure that employees remembered to fill out their time cards in a, well, timely manner, reports (warning: link has video that autoplays).

Sure, there’s the money you won’t get unless you file that paperwork, but workers can also get a free glass of beer by way of the company’s own design, The Tapserver.

The high tech machine doles out the ale once a worker has scanned their key card, and its software confirms that the deed has been done, clearing said worker for happy hour takeoff. There are a few choices on tap to choose from as well, though no words on whether snacks are also served because that would just be too awesome.

Sentiment about completing time cards is now up 90%, but it remains unclear whether on-the-job napping is also up as well. It has to be.

Mpls. ad agency gives free beer for time cards []