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98-Year-Old Traveler Says Airline Rolled Her Into Baggage Claim, Forgot About Her

Fri, 2015-09-25 23:13

DFW_travelerEvery year, a 98-year-old woman who lives in Spain flies to Texas to visit her daughter. She took American Airlines this year, and everything went well until she arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth airport, where she was supposed to be met by an attendant. A miscommunication meant that instead, she was left in the baggage claim, strapped to a wheelchair and unable to find anyone to help her.

How does this happen? While the woman is pretty mobile for her age, the family requested to have someone wheel her around the airport. That attendant apparently thought that she would be taking a connecting flight, and left her in the area where international travelers pick up their baggage to go through customs for the next attendant to pick up. She wasn’t catching another flight… and her family wasn’t allowed in the customs terminal.

She was left there for ninety minutes in a wheelchair that she couldn’t operate herself, needing to use the restroom and quite upset. Her family reports that she pleaded for help in Spanish, and either no one passing by or working in that terminal speaks any Spanish, they thought she was a confused person with dementia, or they’re all meanies.

Eventually, another attendant noticed a passenger who didn’t belong, and reunited the woman with her family. He also asked for a tip, pointing out that the mixup wasn’t his fault.

In a statement, American Airlines representative said, “We are immediately contacting the contractor we work with, AirServ, and are taking this matter very seriously.” The contractor didn’t get back to CBS Dallas-Fort Worth before the broadcast.

98-Year-Old Says She Was Strapped, Left In Wheelchair At DFW Airport [CBS DFW]

Cops Looking For Suspects Who Dressed As Rick James, ‘Super Fly’ Character To Rob Indiana Bank

Fri, 2015-09-25 22:59

(Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department)It’s not quite time for Halloween, but two bank robbers in Indiana are already in the mood for costumes: police are on the lookout for two men who dressed up as legendary musician Rick James and Youngblood Priest, a character from the 1972 movie Super Fly, who are accused of holding up bank tellers at gunpoint.

Eschewing the bank robber’s uniform of pantyhose worn over the face, on suspect sported a braided wig and sunglasses in the style of the “Super Freak” singer, while his accomplice was styled in the manner of the classic ’70s film in a fedora and shoulder-length locks, according to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (h/t USA Today).

The robbery went down on Sept. 19, but it has somehow taken this long for the Internet to catch wind of the nattily dressed duo and freak out accordingly over the novelty of the situation. Police say the armed twosome entered the bank around noon last Saturday and demanded money, eventually fleeing with an “undisclosed” amount of cash.

They’re also suspects in another robber a few days later, where Rick James guy stuck with his outfit, but Youngblood decided to go more for that modern “guy in a Colts hat” look. Awk-ward.

Two suspects sought after robbery on northwest side:

— FOX59 News (@FOX59) September 22, 2015

Walmart’s Streaming Video Service VUDU Discounts All Of This Year’s Emmy-Nominated Shows To $.67

Fri, 2015-09-25 22:14

gotpe2For folks who might enjoy, say, Game of Thrones and Veep, but not enough to pay for HBO or HBO Now just for those two shows, or someone who wants to watch House of Cards without getting a Netflix subscription, Walmart’s streaming service VUDU might make sense: it charges per episode for TV shows, instead of requiring an upfront subscription fee for access to its libraries. VUDU is now sweetening the deal on some shows, knocking the per-episode price of all 2015 Emmy nominees and winners down to $0.67.

It’s worth noting that that price is only for the standard definition version of those titles, which usually costs about $1.99 — HD will still cost $2.99 and HDX is $3.99 for most TV shows.

That being said, it’s still a good deal for folks looking to knock out a few seasons of popular TV shows that everyone keeps telling them they need to watch, but that they just haven’t gotten around to yet because seriously, it was a really busy summer and work has been crazy, so they just don’t have time to start a new show right now.

It isn’t just the most recent season of the show, either — all episodes in each show are included in the $0.67 deal, ostensibly priced in honor of the Emmy’s 67th awards show.

As MarketWatch points out, this means users could watch all five seasons — 50 episodes worth — of Game of Thrones for $33.50. Homeland? You’re in for $30.15 for 45 episodes. In comparison, you could try to watch 50 episodes of GoT in one month on HBO Now and pay just $15, but then you’ll be paying with time spent watching 50 episodes of one show in a month.

It’s unclear at this point how long the deal will last, but we’ve reached out to VUDU and will update this post when we hear back.

My VW Was Recalled For Emissions Issues In April, Does That Mean It’s Fixed?

Fri, 2015-09-25 21:54
California resident Jan bought a 2014 VW Sportwagen after researching the car and its good-for-the-environment persona.

When Consumerist reader Jan bought her 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen with a “clean diesel” engine, the thought she was going to get great gas mileage and maybe help the environment. Sure, there was an emissions-related recall earlier this year, but she had that fixed at the dealership. Except, as she’s learning in the wake of the latest VW recall, her car is still in need of fixing.

Jan’s story is like that of about 472,000 consumers who also own VW and Audi vehicles that the Environmental Protection Agency says contain “defeat devices” that only turn on a vehicle’s full emissions control system when it’s being tested. So a car using this software might be producing more pollution than state and federal standards allow when it’s on the road.

What makes Jan’s story a little different is that back in April she was one of thousands of California residents to received a recall notice [PDF] from VW saying her car was in needed of an “emissions service action.”

“When I got the recall notice in April, I was a little suspicious,” Jan says. A friend of hers who received a similar notice was also concerned.

We now know this recall was an attempt by the carmaker to stave off federal regulators who were questioning discrepancies in lab tests and real world emission levels for the vehicles.

Like thousands of others presumably did, Jan took her car to the dealer [PDF] for the software upgrade.

“When I took it in at the dealer, they said they just had to update computers, so I didn’t think much of it,” she says of the fix administered in June.

Five days later she took it to be smog tested. California requires vehicles be tested every two years. It passed and she has a certificate of correction that says her car is in tip-top emissions shape.

But in the wake of the Sept. 18 EPA order recalling model year 2009 to 2015 Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle, Golf, and Audi A3, as well as model year 2014 to 2015 Volkswagen Passat sedans for violating the Clean Air Act, the question is now: Was Jan’s car really repaired?

Jan says she’s been told by other VW owners and in news reports that while the car company took the lead back in April, there are now questions whether or not that software update fixed anything.

“I am kind of suspicious – when I took it in in June and they did the update, does that mean they fixed the issue [of bypassing emissions tests] or did they do something else,” asks Jan. “Does that mean my car’s okay?”

In short: no.

Dave Clegern, a spokesperson with the California Air Resources Board, tells Consumerist that the April recall was part of a 2014 agreement between the manufacturer, the EPA and CARB to fix what VW deemed a “technical glitch.”

The April recall was part of  to fix what VW called a technical glitch.

“They told us it would fix the testing anomalies we found, but it did not,” he says.

For now, Clegern says consumers such as Jan should sit tight.

“At this point consumers don’t need to do anything. We’re meeting with VW to fully understand the scope and impact of what they’ve done,” he tells Consumerist. “They must then bring us a fix which is viable from an engineering standpoint. At that point we will tell them to go forward with a recall. When a consumer receives that letter, they should get the repair done.”

Of course, consumers such Jan who feel they were tricked into buying their car can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and may want to consider doing the same through their particular state’s attorney general’s office.

“You try to do something good, especially in California with the smog issue,” Jan says. “You try to walk softly on the earth, the thought of driving around in a gross polluter doesn’t make me very happy.”

Man Takes $900 Worth Of Drills From Sears, Leaves Making Chicken Noises

Fri, 2015-09-25 21:38

(Fuzzy Gerdes)One way to commit a crime is to create a distraction, and maybe that’s what a man at a Sears store in New Hampshire was trying to do when he allegedly filled a cart with power drills and made chicken noises when employees tried to stop him. It did work: he got away, and now police would like to know his whereabouts.

CBS Boston has a still image from surveillance video, and fortunately for everyone, there’s no audio. It would be interesting to find out what kind of chicken noises startle Sears employees: did he cluck, or crow like a rooster? Would he have escalated to dancing like a chicken if they had confronted him further, or if police had caught him in the movie theater parking lot where he was last seen?

The four drills are worth a total of $900, so police would like to catch up with him. The man is described as white and dark-haired and in his twenties or thirties, and he is able to run in flip-flops.

Man Making Chicken Noises Steals Drills From NH Sears [CBS Boston]

McDonald’s Now Offering A 100% Organic Burger… In Germany

Fri, 2015-09-25 21:27
(Mike Mozart)

In an attempt to turn around sluggish sales and capture the always desirable millennial market, McDonald’s has introduced new and revised old menu items: offering kale, beefing up the Quarter Pounder, and adding all-day breakfast just to name a few. The company’s latest ploy: an organic hamburger. But there’s a catch — it’s only available in Germany.

Starting Oct. 1 to Nov. 18, McDonald’s in Germany will offer customers what it’s calling “McB” burgers, sourced from organic beef in the country and Austria, Reuters reports.

“We have made a great effort to secure sufficient quantities of meat which satisfies the organic requirements and our own quality claims,” Holger Beeck, chief executive of McDonald’s Germany, says.

The limited time sale of a 100% organic burger is the latest initiative by the Golden Arches to revamp its sourcing.

Earlier this month, the fast food giant announced it would switch to cage-free eggs by 2025. Before that the company said in March that it would stop buying meat from chickens raised with antibiotics.

McDonald’s to offer first-ever organic burger, in Germany [Reuters]

Hasbro Goes After Bronies With High-Priced Line Of “My Little Pony” Toys Marketed To Adults

Fri, 2015-09-25 21:18

mylittlebronyEven if you’re not aware of a group of folks called “Bronies” — mostly male* adult fans who really love My Little Pony — Hasbro is totally clued into the potentially lucrative market. As such, it’s releasing a new line of My Little Pony toys designed specifically to appeal to Bronies, with a price to match.

Hasbro collaborated with Integrity Toys Inc. for a “high end collectible” series dubbed <3 My Little Pony, aimed at adult fans of the TV series, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, reports Forbes.

“There’s a tremendous adult market,” Integrity Toys spokesperson Carol Roth told Forbes, stating something anyone who’s ever been on the Internet probably knows. “Bronies have inspired entire pop culture phenomenon. The reality is most My Little Pony collectors are in their 20s to 60s and possibly even older than that.”

My Little Pony toys for children go for about $5 and $20, but the new line will sell “in the low three figures,” Roth says.

“The entire look and feel of the packaging makes it clear this is not a child’s toy,” she said. “From the quality of the fabrics, to the type of closure used, to the crafting style, they’re designed the same way high fashion is designed with really strong attention of detail.”

Just try to explain that to your kid when they accidentally open that tempting, brand-new My Little Pony figurine stashed in the closet that they thought was their Christmas present but really was being saved to maintain its value on the collectibles market.

*Female fans are known as ladybronies or pegasisters.

Hasbro Cashes In On Bronies With $100-Plus ‘My Little Pony’ Toy Line [Forbes]

Florida Man Accused Of Stealing More Than 4 Million Pounds Of Citrus

Fri, 2015-09-25 20:06

(tjean314)Sure, we’ve heard of crop theft in the past (tangerines, pumpkins, corn, onions) but when it comes to sheer volume of pilfered produce, a new report out of Florida takes the cake (if the cake is made out of oranges and grapefruit): authorities there have arrested a man accused of illegally obtaining more than four million pounds of citrus fruit — worth more than $500,000 — from five different people and companies.

An investigation by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced by Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam in a press release Friday says the man allegedly started working his citrus scheme in March 2014, when he signed contracts with a local company allowing him to harvest citrus from three of its groves.

Authorities allege that in the months that follow, the suspect — who isn’t a licensed citrus dealer — harvested oranges and grapefruit from the groves, hauling off about 50,000 boxes full of fruit valued at $533,000, and, he admits, didn’t pay the company a cent, according to the press release.

He didn’t stop there, allegedly: officials say he snuck into a Bartow grove owned by an individual and took away 180 boxes of citrus. When he was busted, he wrote a check for only half of what the citrus was worth, the commissioner’s office said, and never paid the rest.

He also entered into a written agreement with a fifth grove, allegedly harvesting $6,000 worth of citrus that he didn’t pay for.

Police have arrested the suspect and charged him with fresh-squeezed organized scheme to defraud, one count of first-degree grand theft, two counts of third-degree grand theft and two counts of dealing in citrus without a license.

Why Does Farmer John Sell Different Sausages At Regular And Discount Grocery Stores?

Fri, 2015-09-25 19:00

You can’t blame Charles for thinking that the products that he bought at two different grocery stores were the same thing. They’re both Farmer John maple sausages. Both packages contain 8 sausages, and weigh 8 ounces uncooked. Yet they have different nutritional profiles. He thinks this is because one comes from a discount grocery store. Is that the case?

Here’s the front of the packages of each sausage, since he happened to have both on hand. The fresh product comes from SaveMart, which is a standard grocery store. The frozen package comes from Food4Less, a Kroger-affiliated discount grocery chain.


Here’s the nutritional information, which differs between the sausage types.


“Farmer John is basically producing two different packages of sausage,” Charles writes, “and the one they sell at Food4Less has higher calories, higher carbs and more fat than the sausages sold in the SaveMart purchased package.” He points out that it’s more difficult to make an immediate comparison between the packages, because one has a serving size of two sausages and the other has a serving size of three. You can’t compare the two at a glance if you happen to shop at both stores: you’d need to do the arduous math of dividing by two or three.

Charles called up Farmer John, who is a Hormel brand and not a kindly neighborhood hog farmer. A customer service representative explained to him that if the two products have different bar codes, that means they’re separate products, even if they appear to be the same sausage. Yet Charles didn’t find this answer acceptable: why did the discount grocer’s sausage have a slightly worse nutritional profile?

We contacted Hormel to try to find out more, and they told us pretty much the same thing as Charles: never mind the standard/discount grocery store divide; these are different products.

A Hormel representative explained:

These products are two unique recipe formulations with different attributes, however the flavor profile is the same. Freezing meat products at below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, helps reduce the rate of spoilage or bacteria outgrowth. As such, this is the reason frozen items have a longer shelf life.

Yet the product with a longer shelf life isn’t the one that’s at the discount grocery: those were the fresh sausages. Maybe the discount version simply has slightly worse cuts of meat and slightly more carb-laden fillers, which leads to the different nutritional profile and, of course, lower price. That’s what Hormel seems to imply here without saying, “Yep, those are the cheap sausages.”

We Should All Be So Lucky To Have A Friend Who’ll Buy You A Coffee From Thousands Of Miles Away

Fri, 2015-09-25 18:31

(emilybean)Times used to be, if you wanted to let a friend living thousands of miles away know you were thinking about them, you’d have to write a letter, give it to a guy on a pony who’d race away with it into the sunset and then wait for days or weeks for the mailman to bring their response. At least I think that’s how mail used to work. But now, you can just order up a coffee for your buddy and let them know they’ve got a free pick-me-up waiting for them to pick it up.

Consumerist reader Ann says she read our post about Starbucks’ mobile ordering app rolling out nationwide this week, and noticed that her friend had posed the question on Facebook of whether or not the tool could be used to order from any Starbucks, anywhere in the U.S.

“My work-spouse (everyone has one of those, right?) moved across the country a few months ago, and yesterday afternoon he wondered via Facebook if someone could us this new feature … across the country,” she writes.

So she tried it — without telling him until the order was complete. Not only did the app allow her to order the coffee, it had her back, asking her if she was really sure she’d be able to pick up a coffee in nine minutes from 2,000 miles away.

“It was such a sweet and fun experience to surprise him with his afternoon coffee break paid for and waiting on him from a few hours and a few thousand miles away,” Ann writes, adding that it’s probably not what Starbucks had in mind with the app, but that it was a really cool way to stay somewhat connected to her friend — “and maybe the closest I will get to tele-porting and time travel,” she added.

Of course, it’d be good to make sure your friend or loved one will actually be near the Starbucks you’re ordering from before you set it up. Or heck — what about other mobile ordering apps? Why not give the gift of extra guacamole on that burrito for a friend who loves Chipotle for lunch, or an unexpected free Panera bread bowl to warm the soul? Stealth and sneakery may be in order to pinpoint a location and lock down your friend’s schedule from afar without arousing suspicion, but it sounds like the reward is worth it.

Court Okays $50M Comcast Settlement But Some Customers Won’t Even Get The $15 Bill Credit

Fri, 2015-09-25 18:02

(Steven Depolo)Eleven months after Comcast reached a $50 million deal that would close the books on a class-action lawsuit originally filed back in 2003, the settlement has been approved by a federal court. However, because the window for filing a claim has already closed, a number of the affected 800,000 customers won’t get a bill credit; just two free months of The Movie Channel.

The lawsuit alleged that cable subscribers in the Philadelphia area had been the victims of Comcast’s anti-competitive actions in the region.

Comcast, which is headquartered here in Philly, came to dominate the market by acquiring smaller pay-TV providers in the area. The company would also swap franchises with other providers to consolidate its footprint.

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.”

The large class of plaintiffs — which had effectively been anyone who’d been a pay-TV subscriber in the region during this time — sought hundreds of millions in damages from Comcast.

Any hope of such a large settlement was shattered in 2013, when Comcast convinced the U.S. Supreme Court that this plaintiff class should not have been certified because its members were coming from different parts of the area that had been previously been served by various smaller cable companies. Comcast claimed this resulted in a group of plaintiffs whose potential damages varied too much to be considered a single class of plaintiff.

The lawsuit was allowed to move forward following the gutting by SCOTUS, but with a significantly narrower definition on the plaintiff class than it had previously. It was with this more focused collection of plaintiffs — which 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 — that Comcast made the $50 million deal in 2014.

Of that total, around $33 million is slated to go to current customers, who had a choice between a $15 bill credit, six free pay-per-view movies, four months of faster broadband, or two months of The Movie Channel.

Problem is, even though the settlement has just been approved now, the window for filing a claim closed in July. Current customers who didn’t file a claim will get the default offer of two months of The Movie Channel.

The settlement puts a price tag of $43.90 on those two months of the Showtime-operated, second-tier premium cable channel. But many pay-TV providers only charge around $12-15/month for TMC, and some will just throw it in with a Showtime subscription.

We’ve asked both Comcast and the plaintiffs’ attorneys why this is deemed an acceptable substitute for bill credit.

We’ve also asked the attorneys if their firms would be willing to receive their compensation (estimated at around $15 million) in the form of free movie channels. If we hear anything back from either Comcast or the lawyers, we will update.

Sanderson Farms Recalls 554,090 Pounds Of Chicken That May Be Contaminated With Metal Fragments

Fri, 2015-09-25 17:50

(Chris Goldberg)Sanderson Farms is recalling more than 554,090 pounds of chicken products because they may have been contaminated with metal shavings, due to a malfunction with an ice-making machine somewhere along the line.

A processing facility that encountered bits of metal complained to Sanderson Farms, alerting it to the issue, says the U.S. Food Safety & Inspection Service.

The chicken items were produced on Sept. 17-18, 2015, and include four kinds of products [click here for the labels]:

70-lb. cases containing “YOUNG CHICKEN PARTS JUMBO CLIPPED TENDERLOINS” with case code 45092.
70-lb. cases and 1800-lb. combos containing “FRESH YOUNG CHICKEN PARTS BREAST FRAMES” with case code 45969.

The products bear the establishment number “EST. P-247” inside the USDA mark of inspection, and were shipped to processing facilities in Georgia and Louisiana.

The company says none of the products included in the recall were shipped to grocery stores or packed directly for consumers, however.

“The product included ice packed chicken products sold to three customers who use the products for additional processing into further processed chicken products,” Sanderson Farms said in a press release. “The Company has identified all of the products and notified its customers to place the products on hold, return them to the Company and further execute the recall of these products.”

Thus far there haven’t been any confirmed reports of injury from the chicken products, but the FSIS says that if you have do wind up with any of the recalled items, don’t eat them — return them to place of purchase or throw them away.

West Coast Grocery Chain Haggen To Close Most Stores After Expansion Gone Wrong

Fri, 2015-09-25 17:32

(Patrick) The purchase of nearly 150 grocery store locations in the Northwest meant to provide consumers with more options in the face of a mega-merger between chains Albertsons and Safeway has come to a rather disastrous end: Haggen Inc. plans to close most of those locations after its quick expansion turned sour and the company filed for bankruptcy.

Haggen, which operates primarily in the Pacific Northwest, announced Thursday that it will close all but 37 stores in Washington and Oregon less than a month after filing a $1 million lawsuit against Albertsons, claiming the larger brand was working to eliminate the competition, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The closures include at least 100 stores in Arizona, Nevada and California.

“Although this has been a difficult process and experience, we will remain concentrated in the Pacific Northwest where we began,” Chief Executive John Clougher tells the L.A. Times.

Troubles began for Haggen when the relatively small chain agreed late last year to acquire 146 Albertsons and Safeway stores in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

The company claimed in a lawsuit against Albertsons earlier this month that the rapid expansion from 18 stores to more than 150 put a strain on its operations, leading Haggen to close 26 stores.

Shortly after filing the lawsuit, Haggen filed for bankruptcy. The L.A. Times reports that the company plans to liquidate merchandise and furnishings, but that it has secured financing to keep some stores running.

Analysts tell the L.A. Times that the downfall of Haggen was to be expected, as the company relied too heavily on information from competitors.

“Nobody thought they could pull this off,” David J. Livingston, founder of supermarket research firm DJL Research, said. “This isn’t just David and Goliath. This is David and Goliath and Goliath is handing David a faulty slingshot.”

Grocery chain Haggen is leaving California, Nevada and Arizona [Los Angeles Times]

EPA Overhauling Emissions Tests To Catch “Defeat Device” Cheaters

Fri, 2015-09-25 16:43
(Eric Arnold)

A week after ordering Volkswagen to recall 500,000 vehicles that contain “defeat devices” designed to cheat emissions tests, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would overhaul its compliance processes to ensure vehicles meet standards not only in controlled environments but in real-world driving conditions.

In a conference call with the press this morning, the EPA said it would send letters to all automakers informing them that the agency is stepping up its auto testing activity in light of VW’s violations.

Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air & Radiation, said the agency could require testing of any vehicle in an environment that would resemble normal driving conditions, which would better allow investigators to detect software used to evade emissions standards.

Such software – which disables air-emissions controls during normal driving conditions – was found in the 472,000 VW and Audi diesel engine sedans. VW announced this week that the defeat devices were actually present in nearly 11 million vehicles worldwide.

“These violations are very serious,” McCabe said on the call, noting that the process change will “ensure automakers are meeting the Clean Air emissions standards and that consumers are getting what they are paying for.”

Chris Grundler, Director of EPA’s Office of Transportation & Air Quality, said such testing is at the heart of making sure automakers deliver on the Clean Air Act.

“We will continue to adapt,” he said. “We are putting manufacturers on notice that our testing will now include more evaluations and test. We wont’ tell them what these tests are, they don’t need to know. They only need to know we will keep vehicles longer and driving them more.”

Grundler declined to provide additional information on the tests but said the agency had formed partnerships with agencies in California and Canada.

“The smart engineers have come up with come clever ways to test,” he said of the adapted process that will start immediately.

As for the current situation with VW, Grundler said the investigation continue to probe the manufacturer’s “sophisticated scheme” and that they are working to determine steps to fix the vehicles.

He noted that the newest cars – those in model year 2015 – should be fixed rather quickly, while older models will likely take engineering to be remedied. He reiterated that the affected cars are safe and legal to drive.

However, Grundler points out that all car manufacturers must receive an EPA certificate of conformity before they can sell vehicles, something VW has not been granted for its model year 2016 diesel cars.

“The agencies are not convinced that the information provided by the company means the vehicles will operate as required,” he said. “They will require further conformity tests before deciding to accept or deny certificate to VW.”

New Scam Preys On Facebook Users’ Desire For A “Dislike” Button

Fri, 2015-09-25 16:34

This is not a real thing. There’s one relatively simple way scammers can hook their prey: by knowing exactly what you really want and acting like they’re giving it to you. But as much as you want to be able to express something other than “like” with a button on Facebook, it’s not here yet, and it’s not going to be invite-only when it does arrive.

Soon after Facebook’s head honcho Mark Zuckerberg said the social network was preparing to debut a new button that wouldn’t necessarily be a “dislike” button, but that could convey empathy for people in situations where a “like” isn’t quite appropriate, scammers are hard at work trying to convince users that they’ve got the goods.

The folks at Hackread (h/t CBS News) report on a scam that’s circulating around Facebook newsfeeds recently, prompting users to click to “get newly introduced facebook dislike button on your profile.” If the uncapitalized Facebook doesn’t tip people off, those who click land on a page that imitates the Facebook brand, and instructs the viewer to share the page and sent it to five groups to activate the button.

Security researchers writing on Naked Security say that clicking those links result in different scam sites that have nothing to do with Facebook or a “dislike” button, both of which try to get people to sign up and give away personal information.

When Facebook does release its alternative to the “like” button, rest assured — you won’t have to do anything special to get access to it, install it or otherwise activate it.

Facebook has said it might start testing the new button in the near feature, and then eventually roll it out more widely to users.

Scammers Targeting Facebook Users with Dislike Button Scam [Hackread]

Verizon Joins Yearly New iPhone Party, Not Price War

Fri, 2015-09-25 16:12

(Mike Mozart) This year is the first iPhone upgrade cycle after all major carriers have eliminated or de-emphasized device subsidies, and carriers are apparently anxious to scoop up new customers: especially the big spenders of the phone world, people who simply must have the newest phone model every year. Verizon WIreless apparently thinks that it’s above the price war, but is happy to offer annual upgraders a special financing option.

While competitors Sprint and T-Mobile battle it out over price, Verizon figures that the real value is in being a Verizon customer. For your carrier, or for Apple, the value is also in your one-year-old iPhone, which has value on the refurbished market. Verizon is happy to take your ancient iPhone and sell it to someone less enthralled with the newest technology, since it’s still worth a few hundred dollars.

While it’s not a “rental” program exactly, you’re paying over half of the value of the phone (at least $325) for the privilege of using it for a year.

Verizon begins offering annual iPhone upgrade plan [CNET]

Hyundai Recalls 470,000 Sonatas Because Engines Shouldn’t Contain Debris

Fri, 2015-09-25 15:59

(Van Swearington) A properly running engine is a vital part of driving a car, for that reason, Hyundai has initiated a recall of nearly 470,000 sedans that could contain debris in their motors.

The recall covers 470,000 model year 2011 and 2012 Hyundai Sonata vehicles equipped with a 2.0 liter or 2.4 liter gasoline direct injection engine.

According to a notice [PDF] posted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the affected vehicles may contain metallic debris that was not fully removed during manufacturing of the engine crankshaft.

If the debris remains, oil flow may be restricted through the connecting rod bearings, causing connecting rod damage and possible engine failure.

As a result, a worn connecting rod bearing will produce a metallic, cyclic knocking noise from the engine and possible engine failure, which increased the chance of a crash, Hyundai says.

Owners of the vehicles will be notified by Hyundai and dealers will inspect and replace the engine assembly, if necessary.

Office Depot, Staples Merger Under Scrutiny In Europe

Fri, 2015-09-25 15:35
(Jim Chambers) (frankieleon)

The $6.3 billion merger between the top two office supply chains has hit yet another bump: the European Union opened an “extensive” investigation into the would-be union of Staples and rival Office Depot.

Reuters reports that EU antitrust regulators are probing the possibilities of price hikes should the two chains walk down the aisle.

The EU said on Friday that the deal could hurt business customers with international contracts in Europe and those with national contracts in the Netherlands and Sweden.

“The transaction could eliminate an important competitor and reduce the choice of suitable suppliers in already concentrated markets, which could lead to price increases,” the EU said.

Sources told the Boston Globe weeks ago that such concerns were mounting, including in the United States, as FTC’s investigations now focus on how a combined mega-office supply store could restrict competition when it comes to commercial customers restocking paper, pens and other necessities for the workplace.

Staples and Office Depot are currently the top two office suppliers in the U.S. contract business, with the next closest company being W.B. Mason which serves only select regions of the U.S.

Analysts believe that in order for the Staples/Office Depot merger to gain approval, the larger of the two chains – Staples – would have to divest a significant portion of its contract division, including distribution centers and certain client contracts.

Reuters reports that the EU will decide by Feb. 10 whether to clear or block the merger.

A spokesperson for Staples tells Reuters that the company will “work cooperatively with the European Commission regarding the acquisition of Office Depot.”

Staples and Office Depot first announced their plans to walk down the aisle back in February, after receiving significant pressure from shared investor Starboard Value in December.

The two companies – which have faced significant competition for office supply sales from online companies like Amazon – previously tried to tie the knot 17 years ago, but those efforts were thwarted by the federal regulators.

UPDATE 1-EU launches extensive probe into Staples’ bid for Office Depot [Reuters]

Delta Flight Delayed Three Hours After Tarantula Escapes From Carrier

Fri, 2015-09-25 15:32

Idea for a new movie: All Your Nightmares On A Plane, featuring every kind of creepy, crawly slithery thing that’s ever gotten loose on a plane and freaked the heck out of everybody. Joining that old standby of a snake on a plane — and we’ve seen a few of those — and its pal in arachnid creepiness, the scorpion, is a familiar fuzzy guy that might make your skin crawl: a tarantula, who got loose from its carrier and delayed a recent Delta Air Lines flight while humans scurried around trying to find it.

The flight was scheduled to take off from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport around 7 p.m. Wednesday, heading to Atlanta, reports WSB-TV.

But Delta said baggage handlers on the ground noticed that a baboon tarantula (which frankly, I wouldn’t want to encounter in a dark alley) had escaped its carrier, prompting the captain to ground the plane in Baltimore overnight so it could be searched for any other spiders that may’ve decided to take a walk.

“It was not in the passenger cabin and customers were not on the aircraft when the tarantula was discovered,” a Delta spokesman said in a statement.

The captain clued in passengers and told them they’d be switching planes for the flight “out of an abundance of caution,” which we can only imagine they had no problem with once they realized a furry orange spider was hanging out somewhere. Passengers arrived in Atlanta about three hours behind schedule.

There’s also good news for the owner of the spider, as another spokesman told the Baltimore Sun that the tarantula was apprehended, and the airline contacted the handler to verify it was the only spider in the cage. Maybe that’s why it left in the first place, ever think about that? Even freaky furry spiders need love.

Tarantula delays Delta flight from Baltimore to Atlanta [WSBTV]

Consumerist Friday Flickr Finds

Fri, 2015-09-25 14:00

Here are seven of the best photos that readers added to the Consumerist Flickr Pool in the last week, picked for usability in a Consumerist post or for just plain neatness.

(Clyde Stringer) (Freaktography) (.sanden.) (Steve) (Bjarne Winkler) (Nicholas Eckhart) (Debbie Mercer) (elnina_


Want to see your pictures on our site? Our Flickr pool is the place where Consumerist readers upload photos for possible use in future Consumerist posts. Just be a registered Flickr user, go here, and click “Join Group?” up on the top right. Choose your best photos, then click “send to group” on the individual images you want to add to the pool.