Archive for the 'Consumer Affairs' Category

Target Store Knows a Girl is Pregnant Before Her Father Does

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

ShopperHow concerned are you about your privacy in regards to companies you do business with? The first linked article describes (in length) how corporations are using data collection and analytics to learn private details about their customers, with a particular emphasis on Target identifying which of its customers are pregnant and sending targeted coupons to those women. The second article highlights one of the more interesting situations that Target encountered, where a father found out that his 16-year old daughter was pregnant only after she received baby-related coupons from the company.

I personally have no problem with companies collecting my data and using it to send me useful coupons or to market stuff they think I want to buy. King Soopers, my grocery store, sends me targeted coupons all the time—and it saves me a good deal of money. But there are a lot of people out there who find this type of thing spooky and a bit frightening. It’s all perfectly legal, but that glimpse into the world of big data analytics is unsettling to many. The third linked article lists additional areas where some institution knows more about you than you may want them to know.

Here at Chad’s News we’ve already written that cell phone privacy and online privacy don’t exist.

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When to Purchase the Cheapest Airline Tickets

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

ShopperDid you know that when you purchase an airline ticket can have an impact on the price? Buying tickets on Tuesdays or over the weekend can get you a better deal. Also, purchasing them seven weeks before the trip will usually get you the best fare.


Appeals Court in Favor of Automated DVR Ad-skipping

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

TelevisionThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit confirmed a lower court’s ruling that Dish Network’s Hopper, a DVR that automatically skips commercials when playing back recorded content, does not violate copyright law. Whether or not the decision is appealed, this case will produce a landmark ruling.

(via Kim Komando)

Credit Card Checkout Fees Begin Today

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

ShopperBeginning today, US merchants in 40 states have the option of charging checkout fees for Visa and MasterCard credit card purchases, to cover the surcharges they pay. In the past this has been prohibited by the credit card companies, but that’s no longer the case due to a preliminary lawsuit settlement. The fee can vary from 1.5% to 4% of the purchase price and cannot be more than the amount paid by the merchant. Usage is voluntary, and initial adoption is expected to be slow and limited to smaller merchants. Only actual credit cards are affected—prepaid cards and debit cards are exempt, even if you select “credit” as the payment method. Ten states have passed laws prohibiting checkout fees: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. Note that American Express and Discover are not part of the settlement, but their merchant agreements allow checkout fees provided they are consistently applied to all cards.

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(via Slashdot)

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Many Hotel Keycard Locks Can Be Easily Circumvented

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

ThiefBack in July, security researcher Cody Brocious demonstrated how to easily circumvent keycard locks that are manufactured by Onity (a popular brand). Now thieves are using the technique to steal items from locked hotel rooms. To make things worse, however, many hotels won’t be fixing the problem any time soon.

(via Kim Komando)

Update: Onity has changed its mind and is now offering a partial recall of the affected locks, but only to certain customers.

Press “1” to Lower Your Interest Rates … NOT!

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

ThiefI get these calls periodically. They claim to be from account services and offer to lower my credit card rates. They sound pretty legitimate, and at first I thought they might actually be from my bank, but I don’t have any active credit cards. I’ve pressed “1” to ask them to quit calling me, but they tend to hang up. They also hang up when I tell them that I don’t have any credit cards. So now I ask them how they can live with themselves, knowing that they scam people. They usually hang up after that as well. The action being taken by the government has not had any apparent effect on the calls, but I can hope.


Get Your Guns N’ Roses Greatest Hits Album for 25 Cents

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

MusicDon’t know how long this offer will last, but Amazon is selling the MP3 version of the Guns N’ Roses Greatest Hits album for a mere 25 cents.

Thanks to Pam Cooper for this topic.

Update: Unfortunately the offer is no longer valid—the album is back to its regular price.


Tech Gadgets You Shouldn’t Buy

Monday, December 5th, 2011

ShoppingHere’s a list of tech gadgets that you probably should NOT purchase during the Christmas season, many of them because smartphones and tablets already have the gadget’s functionality. The linked article does allow for exceptions, but generally recommends against purchasing these types of items:

  • Feature Phones (non-smartphones)
  • Standalone GPS Units
  • Netbooks
  • Pocket Camcorders
  • Portable Gaming Consoles
  • Portable Media Players (think iPod)
  • Point-and-Shoot Cameras


Floods in Thailand Affect Hard Drive Supply

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Hard DriveHeavy flooding in Thailand is going to cause a short-term drop in the supply of hard drives, so expect prices to increase as demand goes up.

(via Kim Komando)

Update: Slashdot has an article with more information.

No, We Do NOT Want 3D!

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

3D GlassesTelevision manufacturers and the motion picture industry are pushing 3D technology, even though many consumers don’t want it. For me, it’s the glasses and the eye strain that are the kiss of death. I already wear glasses, so putting another pair on over top of them is awkward and uncomfortable. The linked article also lists reduced picture quality as a reason to abandon 3D.


75% Of AOL Subscribers Are Overpaying

Monday, March 21st, 2011

AOL LogoI’ve read horror stories of elderly people who’ve paid thousands of dollars to rent their phones from the phone company (dating from the breakup of AT&T back in the 1980s). Well, it appears that AOL is making money from a similar situation. According to an article in The New Yorker (subscription required) by Ken Auletta, 75 percent of AOL subscribers are paying a $25/month dial-up fee despite the fact that they have DSL or cable internet. If correct, these overpayments add up to $1 billion each year. And as with the phone rentals mentioned above, these customers tend to be elderly.

(topic via Slashdot)

Smart Thieves Steal Small Amounts From Lots of People

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

ThiefAccording to the Federal Trade Commission, a thief or group of thieves stole $10 million in fraudulent credit card charges over four years by keeping the thefts small (less than $10), spreading them among more than a million cardholders, and never charging the same person more than once. Many cardholders didn’t even notice the charges, but there were enough complaints that the FTC finally took action and filed suit—although they don’t actually know who’s responsible for the thefts.

(via The Consumerist)