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The Consumerist

People Buying Fewer Hot Pockets After Tastes Change, SNAP Cuts

11 hours 24 min ago

(Mike Mozart)

(Mike Mozart)

It’s easy to make fun of Hot Pockets. Over the years, we’ve laughed at the dough-encased food-like objects when they’ve been recalled for containing plastic and meat considered “unfit for human consumption,” when Nestle tried to sell young foodies on the products, and even when they were declared a separate food group. Things are not well at Nestle, which is Hot Pocket HQ, right now.

Younger generations of Americans are turning against frozen and processed food in general, and even the pseudo-foodie makeover couldn’t rehabilitate the image of Hot Pockets. However, Bloomberg Businessweek points out another problem for low-cost frozen foods like Hot Pockets: at the end of last year, temporary increases to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), what were once called “food stamps,” began in 2009 and expired at the end of 2013. Hot Pocket sales fell when recipients’ SNAP allowances did.

“For our Hot Pockets brand, it was not surprising to understand the value our products offered to the SNAP consumer,” a Nestle spokeswoman told Businessweek, and a Nestle executive specifically mentioned SNAP recipients as a factor in Hot Pocket sales during a recent sales call.

Every Food Trend Goes Against Slumping Hot Pockets, Even Government Spending [Bloomberg Businessweek]

Will Pet Stores Stop Selling Puppies Entirely?

12 hours 1 min ago

(Geoff Myers)

(Geoff Myers)

Where do you get puppies? The answer isn’t just about the mechanics of canine pregnancy. In the United States today, when your household wants to acquire a dog, where do you get it from? Most people would probably start at a pet store, but due to changes in stores’ own policies and government intervention, falling in love with a doggie in the window is becoming a thing of the past.

Yes, the idea of falling in love with a dog in a pet store is so ingrained in our national ideas about pets that there was even a popular song about it.

Adopting a pet on impulse is rarely a good idea, even if you’re not drunk. However, that’s not why the industry is moving away from selling dogs in stores. Years of campaigns by animal welfare organizations have turned many pet lovers against the large commercial dog-breeding facilities required to keep stores nationwide supplied with puppies. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture does inspect these facilities, that doesn’t mean that they’re where you picture the parents of your family’s beloved Maltese living.

“The regulation of breeders is so poor that all it really does is give consumers and the general public a false sense of security that their dogs are coming from a humane environment when they’re not,” Cori Menkin of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals explained to NPR.

That doesn’t mean buying puppies is out of fashion. NPR spoke to the owner of two Petland stores in Florida who has one store that sells nothing but puppies and supplies for new puppies, and another full-service pet store that still makes 85% of its revenue from puppy sales and puppy supplies. Yet some municipalities, including one of the towns where she has a store, have proposed bans on the sale of puppies. Some of these bans have passed.

Large national chains like Petsmart and Petco have moved to a model where they do not sell dogs or cats, though, instead opening up space in their stores to house animals from local rescue groups, and having rescue clinics on store grounds. These happen to drum up business for pet supplies, too: why not pick up some food for your new cat, since you’re already inside a pet store?

In More Cities, That Doggie In The Window Is Not For Sale [NPR]

Is Arby’s Shortchanging Customers On Their Sodas?

Wed, 2014-10-22 23:13

Consumerist reader Michael noticed that his "22 oz." Arby's cup only holds 21 ounces of liquid. A quick look at the underside of the cup (see below) confirms that this cup can't possibly hold the amount of liquid advertised.

Consumerist reader Michael noticed that his “22 oz.” Arby’s cup only holds 21 ounces of liquid. A quick look at the underside of the cup (see below) confirms that this cup can’t possibly hold the amount of liquid advertised.

There is no set-in-stone standard in the fast food industry for what constitutes a “small,” “medium,” or “large” drink, so sizes will inevitably vary from eatery to eatery. But if a company sells you a “22 ounce” soft drink, it best come in a container that can hold that amount of fluid. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case at Arby’s.

Consumerist reader Michael recently bought a small drink from an Arby’s in Ohio. And printed right on the Arby’s-branded paper cup it clearly states “22 oz.”

But then Michael noticed some text on the underside of that same cup that states “21 oz.”

arbysbotton

Since you can’t put 22 ounces of liquid into a 21 oz. cup, Michael busted out the old measuring cup to confirm that the cup does indeed hold the smaller volume of liquid.

Michael says he’s not terribly upset about the shortchanging — after all, 21 oz. is still quite a bit of drink for a small size — but it does bring up the question of how widespread this particular apparent mislabeling might be, and how long Arby’s has been selling drinks in these particular cups.

To see if this issue was relegated to just the franchise visited by Michael in Ohio, we sent a Consumerist reporter to buy a small soda at an Arby’s in Arlington, VA.

Lo and behold, these cups also stated 22 oz. on the outside of the cup and 21 oz. on the underside. And the measuring cup test confirmed that the Arby’s cup could only hold 21 ounces.

We also looked at other sizes of drinks available from Arby’s, but only the “22 oz.” cups were different from the size printed by the manufacturer on the underside.

When reached for comment on this issue, a rep for Arby’s would only tell Consumerist, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are looking into the matter.”

Fast food customers already get less than they pay for at the soda fountain thanks to the huge volume of ice used to water down most soft drinks; no company should be using mislabeled cups — which could be in violation of the law — to give customers even less value.

6,215 Pounds Of Serrano Chile Peppers Recalled For Extra-Spicy Salmonella

Wed, 2014-10-22 22:51

(Dyanna Hyde)

(Dyanna Hyde)

Serrano chile peppers add delicious spiciness to your meals, but do you know what is not a delicious fresh ingredient? Salmonella. Random testing turned up signs of the pathogen in a batch of peppers sold in Meijer stores in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. Peppers in that batch may have also ended up at other retailers, including Publix, Walmart, and Harris Teeter.

Meijer has confirmed that it received peppers from the batch that may be contaminated, and there are other stores and distributors that may have. For now, the Food and Drug Administration says to maybe check with the retailer if you’ve bought any serrano chile peppers since October 2 and October 21.

Salmonella is not a fun illness. Sometimes people who are healthy show no symptoms when infected, but when they do, those symptoms can include fever, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Children, the elderly, and people who are immunocompromised can become even more ill, leading to hospitalization or death.

These peppers originated with Bailey Farms of North Carolina. If you have questions about the recall, you can contact them at 1-888-820-2545.

Bailey Farms Inc. Recalls Fresh Serrano Chile Peppers Because Of Possible Health Risk [FDA]

Company Touting Work-From-Home Opportunities Must Pay $25M To Consumers Who Made No Money

Wed, 2014-10-22 22:29

(Listener42)

(Listener42)

Here are a few clues that the employment “opportunity” you received in that email is a scam: 1) you’re required to pay your new employer hundreds of dollars for a starter kit or computer program; 2) once that program was purchased you’re encouraged to buy more programs for thousands of dollars; and 3) your new employer promises that you’ll be able to make thousands of dollars in a short period of time without ever leaving your couch. That’s about how it worked for a company the Federal Trade Commission recently ordered to repay consumers $25 million.

The FTC announced today that a federal district judge ordered business opportunity company, Zaken Corp. and its president to pay more than $25 million in refunds to consumer who fell victim to bogus claims that they could earn substantial income working from home.

According to the summary judgment, the court found that more than 99.8% of the 110,000 consumers affected by the alleged scheme didn’t make a penny.

Zaken Corp. and its president, Tiran Zaken, were found by the court to be in violation of the FTC Act and the FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule, which requires business opportunity sellers to provide specific information to help consumes evaluate a business opportunity.

The company allegedly claimed that, for a fee of $148 or more, their “QuickSell” program would help consumers find businesses with excess inventory to sell, and that they would find a buyer for the inventory and pay consumers half the sales price.

Consumers were promised they would earn at least $4,000 or more in the first 30 days and, on average, $4,280 per deal.

After consumers bought the program, they were inundated with ads to buy more business tools that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. According to the FTC, consumers were encouraged to spend an extra $2,300 if they were serious about making money. However, consumers who made the additional investment received only a directory of defunct companies’ telephone numbers.

The company and Zaken were previously banned from advertising or selling work-at-home or other business opportunities.

FTC Action Results in Court Order Requiring Work-At-Home Scammers to Pay More Than $25 Million for Consumer Refunds [FTC]

SkyMall: Because Every Child Dreams Of Owning A Jumping Hot Dog

Wed, 2014-10-22 22:22

(SkyMall)

(SkyMall)

“Do your children like jumping? Do they like hot dogs?” asks SkyMall. You’re in luck! For every child that likes the physical act of propelling oneself into the air as well as tubes filled with meat, there’s a Jumping Hot Dog for sale. Dreams really do come true!(?)

Touting bouncing toys as therapy tools used to develop balance and coordination skills, SkyMall points out that this way, “hot dogs can finally be healthy” (though who wants a healthy hot dog if you can’t even eat the darn thing?).

I’m also curious as to what makes this inflatable bouncing toy a hot dog — sure, it’s got a vague hot doggish color, but what kind of a hot dog has to label itself as HOT DOG”? And where’s the bun? Not to mention condiments. It might as well be a bouncing slug, for all that it’s got that very portly, un-hotdoglike shape and little nubbins on the top.

Consider my jumping hot dog dreams unfulfilled, until there’s a more realistic version, at least.

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.

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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]

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