Who would you say knows the most about you? Your family or friends, perhaps? Wrong. You likely have never met – and will never meet – the people who know the most about you: data brokers. These companies follow your every move on- and off-line to collect billions of data points about your life in an attempt to better target you for marketing campaigns and fraud prevention, among other things. [More]
Conditions at the two salmonella egg farms in Iowa are so bad that you’d think they were Tylenol factories, according to recent FDA inspections. Wait, I mean the first and only inspections. [More]
Here’s yet another reason to go for generic drugs when you can: drug makers keep raising prices on brand name products. If you group generics and brand names together, drug prices rose by 3.4% in 2009, according to an industry report. However, if you look at just brand name drugs as the AARP did in a new report, the average price hike was 8.3%. An earlier AARP report from May points out that if you look at specialty drugs “widely used by people in Medicare” then the hike jumps to 9.2%. [More]
The 2009 Consumer Complaint Survey Report is out, and it says that among the 18 states that participated in the survey, complaints about auto dealers topped the list for the second year in a row. However, the fastest-growing category of complaints were about fake foreclosure relief offers. [More]
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that debt collectors can’t use a “bona fide error” defense to avoid being sued for misinterpreting the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). In other words, if a debt collection agency makes a demand that’s in violation of the Act, it can’t say it didn’t know any better. Well, it can, but you can go right ahead and sue. [More]
Are you tired of the high fructose corn syrup battles? Today the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, released a report that said Americans on average eat enough salt every second to kill a
humpback whale kraken. I have not actually read the report, but it probably said something like that. It also said that public education campaigns have failed to reduce sodium intake, and voluntary self-regulation by the food industry hasn’t been effective. [More]
It’s a big deal when Consumer Reports awards a “Don’t Buy” rating to a vehicle, and when it announced earlier today that the 2010 Lexus GX 460 should be avoided because of safety risks, the story started popping up all over the web. Now only 12 hours later, Lexus has announced that it is asking dealers to temporarily stop selling the vehicle while it looks into the situation, and that it’s taking the Consumer Reports claim “very seriously.” [More]
The FCC has released a scan (PDF) of the five-page executive summary of the National Broadband Plan that it will present to Congress in two days. Although the summary is packed with recommendations, here’s a couple that a lot of broadband customers might be interested in: the FCC wants to develop “disclosure requirements for broadband service providers” so that consumers can make the best choice for service, and it wants to map broadband services across the country to better identify “specific geographies or market segments” where there’s not enough competition. [More]
I’ve stopped shopping at the two large drugstores in my neighborhood because they’ve put all the antiperspirant behind plastic flaps, like bagels at a supermarket. When you lift the flap to grab a Right Guard or Speed Stick, an alarm goes off that makes it clear to everyone in the store that you’re a potential criminal with stinky pits. My guess has been that this embarrassing anti-theft deterrent is needed because there’s almost no staff at either store anymore, and a new retail survey and a couple of loss prevention experts seem to back that up. [More]
The United States Postal Service is continuing its long slide into suckage according to a new report delivered by Postmaster General John E. Potter this morning. People sent far less mail last year (“more than double any previous decline,” says the Washington Post) and labor costs continue to rise, which helped the USPS lose $3.8 billion in 2009. [More]
When an insurer decides whether to offer you a new policy, or whether to raise rates on a current one, he most likely pulls a CLUE report that lists any homeowner or automobile insurance loss claims (or sometimes even just inquiries) that you’ve made over the past 3-7 years. Hopefully you monitor your consumer credit report for errors, but as you can see, that’s not the only one you should keep an eye on.
Do you hate Bank of America? Well take today’s earnings report and wallow around in it like Ann-Margret in beans, becuse the bank has posted a loss of $1 billion before dividends to preferred shareholders—”When those dividend payments are included, the loss was $2.24 billion,” reports the New York Times.
Was anything you own made with forced or child labor? It’s more likely than you think. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor finally released a long-awaited report on the use of child labor or forced labor worldwide. The unsurprising result: Children and forced laborers work in agriculture, mining, and manufacturing worldwide.
The Senate just released 88 pages of a confidential 270+ page marketing plan by Forest Laboratories, created in 2004 and focused on how to get doctors to prescribe the antidepressant Lexapro over similar but cheaper alternatives such as Celexa. The New York Times notes that the line between marketing and education seems to be heavily blurred, which may not surprise you. There are, however, two interesting notes for consumers who may be taking Lexapro.
It’s a tricky business, trying to make the world safe for consumers. Long ago, during my short-lived mystery shopping career, I had the assignment to sign up for a membership at a warehouse club. I was treated so poorly by the staff member registering new members that day that had I been spending my own money and not on assignment, I would have walked out.
American Express and Discover will no longer bill customers who exceed their credit limits, according to company spokespeople. The creditors aren’t eliminating the fees because they care about their customers. No, they’re providing what American Banker calls “the first concrete examples of how a new law will restrict issuers’ abilities to turn a profit.” The new CARD Act that Congress passed in May requires consumers to opt-in before they can exceed their credit limits. Since overlimit fees, which can reach $39, aren’t very profitable for creditors, they decided to ditch the fees altogether.