When a car has a major flaw, like a potentially lethal airbag, it gets recalled. Same for a coffeemaker, or a surfboard, or a prescription drug. But when that major flaw is in a product’s software — like a huge exploit that puts literally a billion consumers’ privacy and personal data at risk — there’s no universal process out there for remedying the situation. Do we need one? And if so, how can we get one? [More]
Manufacturers — of all kinds — usually try hard to get it right on the first try. From banana muffins to bicycle helmets, it’s in a company’s best interests to make their products perfect. Not only is it better for their reputation and their business, but it’s less expensive, in the long run, and causes less trouble. Sometimes, though, something just goes wrong. [More]
Here’s an important lesson on following up with paperwork: nonprofit organizations near Pittsburgh (and possibly in other regions as well) learned that when they celebrate Christmas with disadvantaged children this year, there will be no toys supplied by Toys for Tots for Santa to hand out. Why? Toys for Tots and the local organizations point their fingers at each other. [More]
A California couple was trapped in the seventh level of bureaucratic hell. They aren’t just dealing with the IRS: they’re apparently dealing with a part of the IRS whose talent for losing paperwork rivals only Bank of America. They’ve sent in their 2010 tax return four times, and the IRS keeps losing it. [More]
Having the ability to sell items in the Amazon Marketplace is a great opportunity for individuals with just a few items to get rid of. That’s the case for Allan: he’s sold a total of three items, ever. Amazon arbitrarily put a hold on his account before he sold the third one, meaning that he can’t get money from his sales for as long as a month and a half. How can he fix this? What did he do wrong? To find out, he’d have to penetrate Amazon’s bureaucracy. [More]
A new report by the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general say the federal government has paid out over $600 million in benefits in the past five years to dead people. The money was meant to go to retired or disabled federal workers. [More]
Nice Cream is a small ice cream company in Chicago that does something strange and daring in the modern food landscape: they make and sell ice cream using only ingredients with names that ordinary people can pronounce. Ingredients such as “cream,” “eggs,” and “pie.” The tiny company was a classic recession success story: a laid-off teacher experiments at home with her Cuisinart ice cream maker, and with hard work and creativity creates a delicious product that’s eventually sold at Whole Foods. But the state of Illinois doesn’t really see it that way, and Nice Cream will have to shut down or make drastic changes to its products and process in order to stay legal. They’re first, and other small-batch ice cream makers could be next. [More]
New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t believe that Danjalier already paid the fees to have his driver’s license un-suspended. Never mind that he used a credit card, the charge from the DMV posted to his credit card, and the credit card company (American Express) tried to convince the DMV that yes, Danjalier had in fact already paid them. [More]
Consumerist’s Hero of the Weekend is attorney and writer Wajahat Ali, who fought an epic battle for a home loan modification against Wells Fargo and won. Eventually. It’s a well-written and terrifying look into the financial crisis, the state of America’s megabanks, and how homeowners in need seemingly stand no chance against the towering indifference, incompetence and confusion of those megabanks. [More]
Yesterday I was musing that Time Warner Cable was passing the cost of customer care off to other businesses, by requiring customers to take half-days or full days off of work just to wait for a cable repairman. Today I think I stumbled upon another hidden economic impact of bad customer service: it’s responsible for generating a lot of the “free” content online. The next time you’re reading an IMDB entry about “Damages” or “Big Love” for example, you can thank Verizon’s collection of angry, confused, and possibly insane employees, and all the idle time they create for a customer who has to deal with them.
A Florida judge tossed out thousands of Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority and Florida Turnpike Authority toll violation citations for people getting tickets for no apparent reason because their toll transponders malfunctioned. Citizens were subjected to a “bureaucratic morass” when they tried to sort out the bogus tickets, made all the worse because their accounts were on auto-debit. [Orlando Sentinel]
Today, an advisory panel to the FDA will present its findings developed over the past year. The result is “a scathing review of the state of the FDA” that says it’s “so underfunded and understaffed that it’s putting U.S. consumers at risk in terms of food and drug safety.”
Despite all the much-publicized delays with passport applications this year, the government has announced that they’ll still be unprepared for the onslaught of applications come 2008, so if you know you’ll need a new/renewed passport you should apply now during the slow season. In January, the land and sea portion of the new passport law goes into effect, requiring everyone who travels to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean to show proof of citizenship.
A shop in England refused to sell two bottles of wine to a white-haired, balding grandfather—you know, the kind with wrinkles on his face—because he balked when the cashier asked him to prove he was over 21. The man, being ornery in that way that old folks just naturally embrace, refused: “I felt like saying ‘What do I look like? Are you a fool?'”