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The Consumerist

Map Of Most-Stolen Car Models In Each State Shows Car Thieves Need More Variety

Mon, 2014-08-18 22:18

mapsCar thieves either don’t have much imagination or they don’t have much to choose from when selecting which vehicles to boost. A look at the most-stolen cars in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia shows surprisingly little variety in terms of cars being swiped.

According to data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Honda Accords, Honda Civics, and full-size Chevy Pickups were the three most stolen types of vehicles nationwide.

Looking at the most-stolen vehicles on a state-by-state basis, the Accord and Chevy Pickup were the favorites among car boosters in about 2/3 of states. The Accord swept the Pacific coast in the lower 48, and most of the states along the Atlantic seaboard.

While the Civic might have been the #2 most-stolen car overall, it only topped the lists in three states (Delaware, Hawaii, New York), the same number of states dominated by Dodge Caravan thefts (Illinois, Maryland, Wisconsin). Actually, the Caravan gets a bonus point for also being the most stolen vehicle in D.C.

Full-sized Ford pickups were the most popular among car thieves in eight states (Florida, Maine, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming).

Then there were the three states who didn’t fit into the mold of the other states. The most-stolen vehicles in these states didn’t even make the top 10 nationwide.

Car thieves in Michigan appear to have a preference for Chevy; more precisely, they loved the 2004 Chevy Impala. Meanwhile, Rhode Island thieves really had a taste for Nissan Maximas… from 1997. And true to Vermont’s image of durable station wagons, the Subaru Legacy (model year 2001) was the most-stolen car in the Green Mountain State.

Animal Shelter To Person Who’s Dropped Off 100 Tuxedo Cats: Time To Learn About Fixing Your Pets

Mon, 2014-08-18 22:02
(D.P. Rubino)

(D.P. Rubino)

Dropping off pets you can’t possibly care for at the animal shelter is a good deed, to be sure — but that being said, one facility would like to have a word about fixing your pets after someone keeps leaving boxes full of tuxedo cats on its doorstep.

Because even shelters can run out of room, the local Humane Society in one California town is asking whoever left three boxes filled with 24 black-and-white cats and kittens on its doorstep recently, as well as several other loads of felines, to learn about spaying and neutering, reports

It’s the fourth time this has happened in the last year and a half, a spokeswoman said, leaving more than 100 cats on the shelter’s hands, in addition to all the others. All appear to be in good health, without fleas or diseases.

But it’s just too much.

“Every cage is full and our staff is overloaded trying to care for them all,” she explained. “It’s putting a big strain on us.”

It seems to be the same person every time, as seen on surveillance footage. But identifying that person to punish them isn’t the goal, the shelter just wants to stop the cycle of procreation now before it gets too out of hand.

“We don’t know if this person is some kind of hoarder or if they are just a well-intentioned owner,” the Humane Society rep said. “But we would really like them to know about getting their cats spayed or neutered. We’re concerned that it will keep happening and we want to break that cycle.”

In order to help all 180 cats now at the shelter get adopted to loving homes soon, officials at the Humane Society are waiving cat and kitten adoption fees through the end of August.

100-plus ‘tuxedo’ cats dumped at Marin shelter []

We’re Going To Be Humming The Awful/Genius Jingle From A Cheesy Mall Commercial All Day

Mon, 2014-08-18 21:37


Boots and pants… where can I buy some boots and pants? Or haircuts? What about haircuts? Denim! My needs to be addressed, simply and set to music. Good thing there’s an awkward/genius commercial for a mall in New Jersey to fulfill all my shopping and amusement needs.

This snappy “back-to-school” commercial featuring a local mall was uploaded to YouTube yesterday and already it has over almost 300,000 views, likely due to the ravenous hordes at Reddit.

There’s an attempt at beat-boxing, and a string of shoppers? Store proprietors? offering words into a microphone consisting solely of items that are available for purchase at the mall and urging viewers, in some cases, to go purchase those things at the mall.

In a day and age when malls are dying and no one watches TV commercials on actual TVs, it’s good to know there’s still something like this out there. It’s so awful, it’s beautiful. And therein lies its genius.

Get ready to have this little ditty screaming through your brain all day:

Former Providence Mayor’s Marinara Sauce Earned Only $3 For Charity

Mon, 2014-08-18 21:17

31LWpJYEuILVincent Albert “Buddy” Cianci, Jr. has served as the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island twice, each stint in office ending in a prison term. Now he has announced plans to run again, which made reporters curious about one of his projects to do good for humanity: his “Mayor’s Own” pasta sauce, which costs about $6 per jar and brags about “Benefiting Providence School Children” on the front. Does it? Benefit school children, that is? It might if it made any money.

The sauce, which has been on the market since 1995, is marketed as a product that donates all of its profits to Cianci’s fund that awards scholarships to college-bound graduates of the Providence public schools. The problem with this cause marketing is that the sauce is not exactly profitable. Specifically, the Associated Press calculated that it has earned a total of $3 over the last few years. Some years it posted a loss of a few thousand dollars, and other years it posted a profit of a few thousand dollars. That means that the sauce made $3 over the last four years.

Cianci and his advisors blame past distributors for the brand’s troubles, and admit that the language on the label about benefiting the children of Providence might be a little misleading. Still, they don’t want to give up producing the sauce because sales could pick up…especially if Cianci’s campaign for a third mayorship is successful.

Fortunately, the marinara isn’t the only source of income for the scholarship fund: it held fundraisers such as a golf tournament a decade or so ago, and awards scholarships out of the money it earns from investments. It currently has about $500,000 in assets and awarded 13 scholarships worth $1,000 each in 2014.


Fundraising Group Sells $1,500 Jeans Featuring Denim Ripped By Lions, Tigers & Bears (Oh My)

Mon, 2014-08-18 21:03

(Zoo Jeans YouTube)

Can’t take a selfie with a big cat, due to bans on the practice or the unavailability of an obliging lion? Wildlife fans with deep pockets were able to get perhaps the next best thing to a photo, after one animal fundraising group auctioned off jeans featuring denim ripped apart by wild animals.

“Zoo Jeans” takes animal fashion beyond stripped and spotted prints, with distressed duds that have been clawed and ripped apart by lions and tigers and bears.

A Japanese zoo fundraising group raised $3,500 selling off three pairs of jeans scratched up by big animals, reports CNNMoney. Volunteers at a local zoo wrapped bits of denim around tires, balls and other toys and tossed them in with the animals.

The resulting ravaged denim was then made into four pairs of jeans “designed by” lions, tigers and bears and sold off to benefit the World Wildlife Fund as well as the zoo.

One pair of bear-ripped jeans stayed with the club, ostensibly in some kind of “Sisterhood Of The Traveling Bear Claw Pants” scenario for staffers.

“The wild rips and tears in Zoo Jeans have been created with pure animal instinct,” the group says on its site.

But while the WWF said it did receive the donation, a spokesperson didn’t seem to pleased with the way the jeans were made.

“In principle, we don’t raise money by using animals in this way,” said the director of communications at WWF Japan.

Next hot seller on Etsy: Jeans ripped unintentionally by my cat because he can’t manage to get on my lap without hauling himself up there.

Lion-ripped jeans sell for $1,500 [CNNMoney]

Comcast Says Mobile Data Is Competitive, But It Costs $2k To Stream Breaking Bad Over LTE

Mon, 2014-08-18 20:45

Comcast keeps on claiming that mobile broadband is real competition for wired home broadband. But for most users, it’s just plain not. Not only is the speed and reliability of mobile broadband still hugely variable depending on location and time of day, but also mobile data is still clearly not competitive on price. And how much more expensive is it to keep your phone on 4G instead of grabbing the nearest wi-fi signal? Our math says that trying to use your mobile data the same way you use your home wi-fi will cost you about twenty times more per month than your wired broadband bill. You’d have to be Walter White to be able to afford to watch all of Breaking Bad over your wireless network.

The Comparison
It’s difficult to compare data plans to each other. Even among similar types (cable to cable or mobile to mobile), every plan has different parameters.

Wired home broadband companies — cable, DSL, and fiber — tend to apply a single data cap across all of their consumers, but charge more based on how high a subscriber’s connection speed is.

Wireless broadband companies — mobile and satellite — tend to give all consumers access to the same connection speed, but charge more based on how much data a subscriber uses in a month.

The fact that each carrier applies their own bundles, discounts, packages, and language to their plans makes it even harder to draw an apples-to-apples comparison among plans. So, we thought, how can we take all of these different pricing systems and use one metric to draw an even comparison for the cost of data usage?

Since Netflix is the driver of so much internet traffic, and the center of so many of the conversations around home broadband, TV seemed to be the way to go. The question we decided to answer is: How much will you pay for the data it takes to watch the entire series run of Breaking Bad in one month?

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Here’s how we did our math:

  • There are 62 episodes of Breaking Bad.
  • Each episode is about 45 minutes long, so the series runs 46.5 hours total.
  • According to Netflix, each hour of HD streaming TV uses about 3 GB of data.
  • The entire series run of Breaking Bad uses about 139.5 GB of data from start to finish.

Prices for home internet services can vary around the country, so we picked one city to use for price comparison purposes. That city is Tallahassee, FL, which has cable (Comcast), DSL (CenturyLink), and satellite (ViaSat Exede) internet services available to its residents, as well as coverage from all four of the big mobile carriers.

Since Netflix recommends a 5 Mbps connection in order to stream HD content, we didn’t count plans with maximum advertised speeds of less than 5 Mbps. We also left out T-Mobile’s lowest-priced mobile plans, as users who hit their caps are throttled down to network speeds that don’t support streaming video (instead of being charged overage fees).

Tallahassee is not currently one of Comcast’s test market cities for their “data threshold” trials, but since the company plans to take data caps nationwide we applied their current 300 GB limit to our calculations.

However, even taking Comcast’s and CenturyLink’s data caps into account, all 140 GB of AMC’s meth-centered family drama fit under the threshold for all cable and DSL plans we looked at.

For mobile and satellite plans, we calculated how much extra data over the base limit Breaking Bad would use, multiplied out all of the overage fees, and then added those charges to the regular monthly fee.

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Using traditional home, wired broadband — cable or DSL — to watch all of Breaking Bad in one billing cycle would cost the average user between $30 and $100.

Using most wireless broadband — satellite or mobile — to watch all of Breaking Bad in one billing cycle would cost the average user between $1200 and $2200.

Cost of watching Breaking Bad across all data plan types. Click to enlarge.

Cost of watching Breaking Bad across all data plan types. Click to enlarge.

There are two major points to note about all of the wireless plans:

  • Using this much data on most mobile plans is theoretical and may or may not even be possible. Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T all in some way use targeted data throttling on their highest-use customers, but none of the four clearly disclose to consumers when they’re likely to get hit. That makes it hard to get an exact calculation.
  • Sprint and T-Mobile both have “unlimited” data plans represented at the under-$100 end of the graph but those are also both subject to data throttling for consumers whose use is determined to be excessive.

Another interesting point of note is with the satellite internet. The ViaSat Exede Freedom plan, which launches today, claims to be “virtually unlimited,” with an introductory rate of $70 per month and a regular rate of $100 per month. ViaSat said in a press release that the plan will “provide at least 150 GBs of monthly data without a strict data allowance.”

That particular plan is indeed nearly competitive with cable and DSL pricing, though not with cable speeds. (ViaSat says their connection speed is about 12 Mbps, which is slightly faster than DSL and about in line with most 4G mobile plans.) The traditional satellite internet plans, however, still have very low usage limits and work out more like mobile plans.

We also averaged out the cable, DSL, mobile, and satellite plans to get a more general look at how they stack up.

Cost of Breaking Bad, averaged by technology type. Click to enlarge.

Cost of watching Breaking Bad, averaged by technology type. Click to enlarge.

The wireless average of $1369 is just under 2000% higher than the cable average of $69.

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Breaking Bad may just be a stand-in, but watching 50 hours of streaming programming in a month is really not an unusual activity for most modern households. The average American watches an approximate 84 hours per month of television, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and each year more and more content is streaming instead of broadcast over the air or through traditional cable or satellite arrangements. And that’s to say nothing of the millions of other uses for internet connections, from homework to telecommuting to socializing to video games to making cat macros.

For most of us without reliable fiber in our neighborhoods, there’s no tech out there that’s a real competition for cable. And unfortunately, for most of us, there’s also no competition among cable providers.

The landscape is slowly changing, to be sure, and someday in the future we will probably marvel that we ever ran coaxial cable to our houses at all. But that day has emphatically not dawned yet.


OnTrac Still Marking Packages Delivered Ahead Of Time

Mon, 2014-08-18 20:34



Amazon is in the business of selling you everything and getting it to your doorstep quickly. What stands in their way? The regional delivery services it partners with to get Prime packages to their customers in certain regions of the country. While the tracking information claimed that Diana’s package was delivered to her house in the early afternoon, it wasn’t. However, it did arrive at the same time as the replacement that Amazon sent.


We’ve redacted the city names to protect Diana’s privacy, but she’s confused, because the package was marked “delivered,” but different parts of the Ontrac/Amazon delivery system showed that “delivery” as taking place in three different towns, each about a dozen miles apart, only one of which is the town where Diana lives. The other two are cities where we know OnTrac has facilities.


A package can’t simultaneously exist in three places, and you also can’t mark it as “delivered” when it’s in an OnTrac facility twelve miles from the customer’s house. At least that’s what we thought. We aren’t OnTrac.

Amazon was gracious to Diana in this transaction. They sent her a replacement item with one-day shipping and extended her Prime membership by an extra month. The package that OnTrac supposedly “lost” showed up a few business days later.

Still, what Diana and other customers who have had bad Ontrac experiences would prefer would be to have their packages on the day they were supposed to arrive, not disappearing into the ether and then reappearing a few days later.

“How and why would Ontrac claim to Amazon that the package was ‘lost’ when they knew well enough where it was in order to deliver it (days later)?” Diana ranted to Consumerist. “Was it really lost? Or was it just business as usual, and it’s just that they don’t deliver on time?”

Woman Sues GM Over Claims That Car’s Seat Heater Left Her With Third-Degree Burn

Mon, 2014-08-18 20:07
(Paul Bica)

(Paul Bica)

A 26-year-old Maine woman is suing General Motors after she claims a seat heater in one of its vehicles burned her so badly that she had to get a skin graft and was bedridden for months while she healed.

The woman is paralyzed from the waist down, so she couldn’t feel the heat in the lower half of her body on the day in 2012 when she says she was sitting in the back of her friend’s Suburban, reports the Portland Press Herald.

She says she didn’t know the heater had accidentally been turned on — it was a warm day in June the day of the incident, so why would she suspect? — or that she’d been injured until the next day when she woke with a heat blister the size of her palm on her back side. Underneath, her skin was badly scarred, she learned.

It took a skin graft and months lying in bed to heal the injury, she says, leaving her unable to do anything and severely restricting her independence.

“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I think what happened was horrifying and depressing,” she said.

In a complaint filed on her behalf in the U.S. District Court in Portland, she’s accusing GM of negligence for not testing the rear seat heaters in order to keel them from hitting “dangerously high temperatures that would burn human flesh.”

Because of the position of the skin graft, any future injuries could put her back in bed again, she says.

“The risk of having a skin graft like I did, if I were to have a pressure sore on that area where the scar is, they can’t just keep taking skin and layering it,” she explains. “This means that if something else happens and I were to get a pressure sore in that area, it would be pretty serious.”

She’s seeking an unspecified amount of money for past and future medical expenses as well as other costs and “noneconomic damages in an amount to be determined at trial,” the lawsuit says.

While General Motors has recalled more than 20 million vehicles this year alone, none of those recalls have involved the Suburban’s seat heaters, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn’t gotten any consumer complaints either, an agency spokesman said.

General Motors has filed a court response denying the woman’s claim, denying that the seat heater was defective or dangerous or that it caused her injury. It also denies knowledge of a defect or failure to fix a defect.

Paraplegic from Maine, burned by heated seat, blames GM [Portland Press Herald]

1-In-3 Americans Have No Retirement Savings

Mon, 2014-08-18 19:37

While the largest portion of Americans saving for retirement started doing so in their 20s, nearly 70% of adults under the age of 30 don't have any retirement savings.

While the largest portion of Americans saving for retirement started doing so in their 20s, nearly 70% of adults under the age of 30 don’t have any retirement savings.

Thanks to medical science — and the fact that we have yet to resort to a Logan’s Run-style system that determines your maximum age — humans are living longer than our forebears did. The downside of that fact is that while you might be forced to retire from your job, you can’t really retire from paying the bills. Alas, a new survey confirms that way too many Americans are shrugging off retirement. has released its latest Financial Security Index report, showing that a scary 36% of American adults have nothing saved for their retirement years.

Not surprisingly, the youngest demographic — ages 18-29 — had the least saved, with only 31% of these whippersnappers having anything stashed away for their years spent yelling at pesky neighbor kids to shut up already.

When you look at the next age group — those between 30 and 49 — folks start acting more responsible, with 67% of them having some retirement savings. That number only increases slightly for those nearing retirement (ages 50 to 64), with 26% still lacking any savings for the non-working years that are in the offing.

Sadly, about 1-in-7 Americans of retirement age (65+) have no savings. This means they will need to continue working or depend on others for financial support.

Putting on my rose-colored glasses for a moment, it’s good to see the dramatic increase in retirement savings when people hit 30. However, the survey response doesn’t indicate how much these people are saving or whether it will be adequate for retirement.

A recent report from the Federal Reserve, found that nearly half of Americans had given little to no thought toward saving for retirement, while only about 27% had given at least a fair amount of thought to how they would sustain themselves through their final years.

Saks Fifth Avenue In Dogfight With Snaks Fifth Avenchew

Mon, 2014-08-18 18:53

sThe name “Snaks Fifth Avenchew” is an obvious parody of world-famous upscale store Saks Fifth Avenue, but lawyers for Saks aren’t laughing, recently telling the animal snack company to stop using its punny name.

The organic dog and horse treat store received a cease and desist order from the real Saks Fifth Avenue demanding the new business change its name because it infringes on the luxury department store’s brand, Reuters reports.

But Snaks’ owner, a 32-year-old from New Jersey, says she’s sticking with the moniker and continuing to churn out snacks for man’s best friend.

Much like the department store, Snaks fifth Avenchew caters to high-end customers – just of the furry kind.

The shop, which launched in April, offers a line of supplement- and vitamin-enhanced treats made from hypoallergenic ingredients. The snacks, which come packaged as human foods like cupcakes, are specifically designed to contend with allergies suffered by animals.

The owner tells Reuters that using the parody name was her way of paying the department store praise.

“I knew that Saks was able to offer me the best of what I was looking for, and I wanted to do the same thing with pets,” she says. “It was almost as if I was honoring and complimenting what they always gave to me, but unfortunately they don’t feel the same way.”

So far, the woman hasn’t heard back from Saks representatives about whether they would pursue legal action against her for continuing to use the name. Reuters reports that the law firm representing Saks declined to comment on the issue.

It’s not unheard of for well-known brand names to go after small businesses using parody versions of their brands. Last year, a federal appeals court sided against Starbucks in its efforts to stop a small New Hampshire coffee roaster from selling its Charbucks blend. The coffee colossus had more luck convincing a Missouri brewpub to stop selling a beer it alleged infringed on the company’s Frappucino trademark.

Saks Fifth Avenue barks legal threat at dog treat company [Reuters]

This Is Why Adults Do Not Belong In Chairs Designed For Babies

Mon, 2014-08-18 18:42



While there are likely many reasons adults shouldn’t be sitting in furniture meant to hold babies — namely that it’s not built for adults, it’s built for babies — three minutes of camera footage showing you struggling to get unstuck from a high chair is a pretty good example of why you should never try it yourself.

At first, this YouTube video showing a dude stuck in a wooden high chair (h/t Gawker) at a restaurant seems like it’ll be over in a blink — he just has to stretch out his body flat and let his friends slide the chair off of him, right?

Wrong. And his attempts to escape — set to a soundtrack of laughter provided by his amused cohorts –continue to be wrong for a total of three minutes.

Wiggling around with the chair on his butt? Still stuck. Push-up position? Nope. Getting pulled backwards in said position? Not going anywhere without that chair.

Is he finally freed? Will watching this one trick he uses to rid himself of a child’s chair change your life? You can watch below in any case to find out. Let’s just say you shouldn’t watch if you mind seeing a man in his drawers.

Diabetic Teen Kicked Out Of Drive-In Movie Due To Contraband Food

Mon, 2014-08-18 18:32



If you, a family member, or a friend has diabetes, you know that it’s a good idea to carry some quickly-absorbed sugar in case of a dangerous precipitous blood sugar drop. A teen in New Jersey claims that he was doing just that, not trying to smuggle snacks into a drive-in theater for family movie night. The theater happens to be a pediatrician, and he isn’t buying this excuse.

This story began two weeks ago, when a New Jersey family visited a drive-in and were kicked out because of what their son calls an emergency supplies kit. His insulin and and EpiPen were no problem, but the candy and juice box in his backpack were not allowed. The family said that the candy and juice are emergency supplies that the teen carries everywhere, since he can’t guarantee that food he can eat is available everywhere. His father explained to TV station WPVI:

He needs to have items with him to handle low blood sugar. He’s got celiac, he’s got numerous food allergies. We are bringing these items in not because they are extra items to eat, but because they are for his own safety.

Makes sense: he can’t count on acceptable food being available everywhere and in a convenient spot. The owner of the theater countered that there are gluten-free and diabetic-friendly foods, not to mention a lot of candy, available at the theater’s concession stand, and there are no exceptions to the “no outside food” rule. Selling snacks keeps the place in business, the owner told WPVI, and if he granted one exception, other people would also claim to have diabetes.

The teen called his family’s experience “humiliating,” but the theater owner won’t budge.


Man’s License Suspended Over A Ticket From 1981 After DMV Fixes Its Typo

Mon, 2014-08-18 17:50
(Alan Rappa)

(Alan Rappa)

What’s the last thing you remember about that time you didn’t get a notice that your license was suspended? That’s right, you wouldn’t remember it if it never happened to you. One man found himself with a suspended license over a ticket from 1981, something he wasn’t warned about back then because the notification letter had his name misspelled on it.

The Portland, Ore. man ended up with an invalid license, with no idea how he could’ve earned such a punishment, reports

He was pulled over earlier this month for a possible speeding ticket, but instead of writing a ticket for that, the police officer told him his license had been suspended as of July 17.

When he asked the Department of Motor Vehicles what happened, he was told that his license had been yanked due to a ticket in 1981. Thing is, he’s been renewing his license for decades, and has no memory of his license getting suspended.

“I don’t remember anything like that. If my license had been suspended, I definitely would have taken care of that,” he told KATU. “Sometimes I can be a procrastinator, but I’ve never procrastinated for 33 years!”

According to the DMV, there was an error in 1981 and a record was created with a typo in it, making it close to his name, but off by one letter. That record shows a 1981 ticket and the suspension.

A spokesperson said the system has been updated since then, and they were able to find errors and ah, fix them. Hence, the suspension finally came to light.

The man says he never got a warning letter in 1981 — though the DMV said it sent one back then… with the typo last name on it. It also claimed to have sent a warning letter at his registered address in July.

He says he recently moved from that address, and didn’t get any forwarded mail from the DMV.

Despite the mixup, the DMV says the statute of limitations isn’t valid anymore, so he won’t have to pay for the old ticket or the suspension. But if he wants a valid license, he’ll have to pay $75 to get it reinstated.

He’s refusing, based on “principle.”

“I started to pay it that day,” he said. “I thought, ‘No, this isn’t fair. This isn’t right!'”

Surprise! Man loses license over 33-year-old ticket []

Hackers Steal Info For 4.5 Million Hospital Patients

Mon, 2014-08-18 17:48



The new week begins much like the previous week ended – with news of another massive data breach. The latest hack victims are the millions of patients of Community Health Systems, which operates more than 200 hospitals in 29 states.

Re/code points to a recent SEC filing from the hospital chain, in which it reveals that it learned in July that its computer network “was the target of an external, criminal cyber attack” that lasted from April to June 2014.

CHS states that the believed source of the hack is an “Advanced Persistent Threat” group from China that was “able to bypass the Company’s security measures and successfully copy and transfer certain data outside the Company.”

The bad news is that the hack compromised “non-medical patient identification data” for around 4.5 million patients who visited the hospitals or one of its affiliated doctors during the the last five years. Data stolen in the hack included patient names, addresses, birth dates, telephone numbers and Social Security numbers

The not-horrible news is that CHS says it has confirmed the stolen data did not include credit card, medical or clinical information.

CHS says it will be offering identity theft protection services to individuals affected by the attack.

Walmart Promises To Have Humans At Cash Registers This Holiday Season… Sort Of

Mon, 2014-08-18 17:17



Nothing screams “holiday spirit” more than scouring Walmart’s stripped-bare shelves for hours looking for gifts, only to get to checkout and find that only a coupl of the dozens of available cash registers are being used. That’s when some shoppers go “screw this” and pull up Amazon on their phones or just tell their kids that Christmas is cancelled because of Walmart. To keep that from happening this year, the nation’s largest retailer is promising that each of its registers will be staffed from Black Friday through late December… at least some of the time.

Walmart’s under-staffed checkout lines are a source of trouble for the retailer during the holiday season. Big W can lose holiday shoppers to other stores that might have higher prices, but where paying doesn’t require standing in line while glaring angrily at all the unopened registers. The retailer could also lose regular customers who are just trying to buy groceries, only to find that their bananas have gone bad because the wait was so long.

So to appease everyone, Walmart pinky-swears with its new “checkout promise” that it’s going to dust off all those unused cash registers and speed people through the checkout process.

Of course, Walmart isn’t giving hard and fast times and hours for when exactly it plans to live up to this promise, telling the Wall Street Journal that it will typically be on weekend afternoons, but that it will vary from store to store.

It’s that’s the new definition of a promise, then I pledge I will give up drinking beer for the rest of my life… mostly on weekday mornings, but it will vary from day to day.

TicketMaster’s CAPTCHA Has Important Message For You About Ticketmaster

Mon, 2014-08-18 16:49

Ticketmaster is a frequent contender in our Worst Company in America tournament, and one of the most-loathed monopolies in the world. The company’s monopoly on ticket sales at many venues means that consumers have no choice but to do business with them, though. Reader Justin was doing just that when the company’s own website warned him to get out of the transaction while he still could.

In the past, Ticketmaster was known for CAPTCHAs so indecipherable that they were useless. This one is easy to read, but does it have a more important message for Justin?


“Are they trying to tell me something?” he wondered when he sent this message to Consumerist.

Taco Bell’s Dollar Cravings Menu Rolls Out Nationwide Today

Mon, 2014-08-18 16:43

dollarcravingstbIt seems like a faraway land in a far-off time when Taco Bell was working extra hard on its “We’re Healthy, Promise!” image with the Cantina Bell menu, doesn’t it? Which makes the nationwide rollout of cheaper, more Taco Bellish fare today feel inevitable, in a way.

We first heard the chain was testing its Dollar Cravings menu, a switch from the previous Why Pay More! menu, which seemed to ask a question but really didn’t, over a year ago. This will be the company’s first national value menu offering.

Today those $1 items go national, with 11 new additions including something called a beefy Fritos burrito, chicken mini quesadilla, a cheese roll up, potato soft taco and cinnamon twists.

New food and lowered prices isn’t anything new — Taco Bell is hoping the novelty of different food paired with a low price will make people buy a lot, because hey, it’s only $1 and no one is telling me to be healthy. And then come back and buy some more.

Ford Recalls The 2013 Escape For 11th Time; Also Recalls Focus Hatchback

Mon, 2014-08-18 16:42

(Amy G.)

(Amy G.)

The newly redesigned Escape isn’t working out too well for Ford Motor Company. Over the weekend, the carmaker recalled the compact SUV for the eleventh time.

Reuters reports that Ford also recalled model year 2013-14 Focus ST hatchbacks, for a total of 160,000 vehicles. The problem is the same for both recalled models — the engine could lose power or stall.

A poor electrical connection in the vehicle’s wiring harness could affect the powertrain control module. If that occurs the vehicle could stall or lose power while in use, increasing the chance of an accident.

Officials with Ford tell Reuters they are unaware of any accidents or injuries related to the recalls. Owners of vehicles will be notified and dealers will correct the issue.

Ford redesigned the popular Escape for 2013 and has had nothing but issues with the vehicle since.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there have already been three previous recalls of the vehicle in 2014 alone.

Issues initiating the previous Escape recalls have included doors opening while driving [PDF], airbag deployment delays [PDF] and engine overheating that could result in fire [PDF].

Ford recalls 160,000 Focus, Escape models for wiring problem [Reuters]

Facebook To Point Out To Your Idiot Friends That The Onion Is Not Real News

Mon, 2014-08-18 16:24



It’s both hilarious and depressing when I go onto Facebook and see that someone I know is expressing outrage — OUTRAGE!! — in response to a shocking news story they came across online on a little-known news site called The Onion. Just this morning, I awoke to find that several of my idiot friends on Facebook had shared this Daily Currant story as if it were true, and one continued to insist it was authentic even after others pointed out in the comments that it’s a satire site. In order to cut down on the humiliation suffered by its users, Facebook is now testing a “satire” tag… that people will probably still ignore.

“We are running a small test which shows the text ‘[Satire]‘ in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in News Feed,” a Facebook spokesman tells BBC News. “This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units.”

We’ve not seen any satire posts tagged that way, so we’re not sure how widespread the test is. Another issue is whether Facebook would base its satire tag on the overall content of a site or if it could be author-specific.

For example, Andy Borowitz’s contributions to The New Yorker often pop up in my Facebook newsfeed from both people who understand it is satire and from people who think it’s genuine news.

Google News has been tagging The Onion and other humor sites that pop up in search results as satire for quite some time.

Average Cost Of Raising A Kid Climbs To $245,000 — And That’s Not Including College

Mon, 2014-08-18 16:02


Planning on bringing a new bouncing bundle of joy into the world soon? You’re probably already used to shelling out some major bucks in preparation for that little one, but the spending won’t stop here: The average cost of rearing a human to the ripe old age of 18 has risen again, to $245,000 based on a middle-income family. And then comes college.

It’ll only get more expensive for 2014 babies most likely, as a kid born in 2013 will cost parents a little over $245,000 the United States Department of Agriculture estimates in its yearly report, according to CNNMoney. That’s an uptick of $4,260, about 2% from 2012.

That number seems to be on the rise year after year, as only four years ago the estimate was at $235,000. What’s another $10,000, eh? Sigh.

Depending on where you live, work and specifics of the situation can all make that number vary, of course. Urban parents in the Northeast will likely spend more like $455,000 getting their kids to 18, while low-income rural families will luck out and spend only about $145,000.

These numbers come from the cost of housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, education, child care and all the little things in life — cell phones, money for the mall (if kids still go there?) and other miscellany.

The author of the report has one bit of good news — overall costs are growing more slowly than in the past, because of low inflation. So, whew?

However, with the median income of parents staying low since the recession, and the growing costs of child care and health care, it’s going to be tough for many parents.

For example, CNNMoney notes one couple paying $1,380 each month for daycare for their son. That’s just $20 less than they pay for their mortgage.

“When I was pregnant I knew daycare would be expensive,” the mom said. “But I didn’t expect to pay two mortgages.”

And don’t forget the years after they turn 18, when you’ll be lucky if he doesn’t end up moving back into your basement and eating everything in the fridge even when you specifically told him that potato salad was for the block party, darnit.

Average cost of raising a child hits $245,000 [CNNMoney]