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]
In 2012, it looked like the Federal Trade Commission might finally be cracking down on hotel “resort fees,” mandatory surcharges added above the listed price of some hotel rooms. At the time, the agency sent warnings to 22 different hotel operators warning them that they weren’t doing enough to disclose these fees, but no legal actions have been taken since, in spite of the fact that some popular tourist destinations are hiding their resort fees until the final payment screen. And judging by the FTC’s latest response to these concerns, you probably shouldn’t expect this to change in the near future. [More]
Last year, author Kevin Trudeau was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for repeatedly violating pledges to stop lying about the content of his book The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About. Yesterday, nearly a decade after Trudeau was first held in contempt over his misleading claims about this book, a federal judge gave the go-ahead for a plan to finally issue refunds to consumers who purchased the title. [More]
Last week, an advertising watchdog group called out Walmart’s website for selling more than 100 products labeled as “Made in the U.S.A.” even though they were manufactured in other countries. Now comes a local news report showing that the confusing problem isn’t relegated to Walmart.com. [More]
In order to minimize surprise when it comes time to pay, airlines in the U.S. now need to include all mandatory fees in their published airfares, but the same isn’t true for hotels. Many destinations now tack on so-called “resort fees” that claim to cover things like access to in-hotel gyms and pools, but which are mandatory for all guests whether you use those amenities or not. Even though these required add-on charges can significantly increase a guest’s total bill, hotels do not have to include the fee in their listed rates. [More]
While there is no official review process required for labeling a product as “Made in the U.S.A.,” a company can get into legal trouble for misusing that label, as doing so may constitute false advertising. A new report from an advertising watchdog group claims that Walmart’s website has more than 100 examples of products incorrectly marketed as made in America. [More]
For 125 million gamers who prefer to play on their computers, Steam is the online retailer of choice, especially when it runs one of its huge seasonal sales. But while these promotions, like the current “Monster Summer Sale,” offer what appear to be deep discounts, Steam is also repeatedly accused of artificially inflating prices to make these savings look better than they are. [More]
Seven months after the Federal Trade Commission sued AT&T’s wireless division for allegedly misleading customers about “unlimited” data plans, and nearly two months after a judge denied AT&T’s attempt to dismiss the case, the Death Star is still trying to choke the government’s lawsuit into submission. [More]
For the most part, we can’t say many glowing things about the debt collection industry that has, in the past, been known for using a litany of abusive and deceptive practices to pry money from consumers. Three such companies will no longer be bothering people after the Federal Trade Commission temporarily shut down the operations for engaging in nearly all of the hallmarks of shady collectors: threatening lawsuits or arrest, impersonating law enforcement and government officials and illegally contacting supposed debtors. [More]
Federal regulators, state officials and prosecutors and law enforcement officers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia partnered today to charge four cancer charities and their operators for running a scheme that swindle consumers out of $187 million in charitable donations. Two of the charities have agreed to settle the charges and dissolve their businesses, while two other plan to fight the charges in court. [More]
After pleas from sewage workers and hearing from plumbers who say flushable wipes are actually not flushable or good for sewer systems, one company that makes wet wipes for retail partners has agreed to stop marketing its products as safe for flushing, unless it can substantiate that claim. [More]
American consumers have spent $65 million on Amberen, a supplement meant to ease the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. These symptoms can include hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, and weight gain. Did Amberen help with these symptoms, as promised? No, the Federal Trade Commission says: it mostly helped to lighten customers’ bank accounts, and has filed a complaint against the company that sells it. [More]
Last year, Michigan joined the list of states that require car manufacturers to use dealerships to sell their vehicles, effectively banning Tesla from selling its pricey electric vehicles to Michigan residents. Now, staffers at the Federal Trade Commission are chiming in, urging Michigan lawmakers to consider repealing this ban. [More]
For years, the Federal Trade Commission has been combatting scammy marketers of weight-loss products who use fake news sites, fictional reporters, and bogus celebrity endorsements, but people keep trying to pull these cons on consumers. This morning, the FTC announced yet another takedown of a sketchy diet pill marketer using lookalike news sites to sell its products.
A friendly reminder to AT&T wireless customers: as a result of their $105m settlement with the FTC, the company has to pay refunds for cramming. The application deadline for refunds is May 1 — that’s tomorrow. You can visit the settlement website to see if you’re eligible or to submit a claim.
Two years ago, the Federal Trade Commission shut down a Brooklyn-based telemarketing scheme that bullied elderly consumers into paying for a medical alert service they never ordered or wanted. Now a federal court has hit the telemarketer’s repeat-offender operator with a $3.4 million penalty. [More]