Last week, a developer discovered that the iPhone has the capability to quietly connect to Apple’s servers to check an application blacklist, and then disable any installed apps that are on the list. The story was quickly defused by blogs, but today the Wall Street Journal says Steve Jobs has confirmed that there really is an application “kill switch.”
Why pay $79 per year to read the Wall Street Journal when you can read it for free? Murdoch’s crown jewel attracts readers by lowering the pay wall for visitors from Google News, Drudge, or Digg. Salon posted step-by-step instructions to help readers exploit this selective generosity.
Working mom/WSJ reporter Suzanne Barlyn discovered it wasn’t easy to return a busted Tamagotchi. The Journal also tried to return a Target shirt that didn’t make it through the wash, a $13 camera from Toys “R” Us that broke after one use, a broken flat-panel TV from Amazon, a coat that didn’t fit from BabyGap, and an oversize duffel from L.L. Bean. At each turn, they discovered retailers tossing road-blocks in their way.
Who can blame them? Return fraud soaked retailers for an estimated $9.6 billion in 2006, according to the National Retail Federation. Returning stolen merchandise for a refund is the most flagrant offense, affecting 95% of retailers last year. Computer-generated, counterfeit receipts make the practice easier. So-called wardrobing — the unethical practice of returning nondefective, used merchandise — affected 56% of companies. About 69% of retailers have modified their return policies in response to fraud, according to NRF. Changes include shorter time limits, restocking fees and requirements for original packaging.
The Journal recommends making purchases with a credit card (paid in full each month,) since retailers look up purchases electronically. We agree, but for a different reason: credit cards allow you to dispute charges. Tell us about your fun experiences returning products in the comments. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER
New Home Depot CEO Frank “Li’l Franky” Blake is making customer service “his No. 1 priority,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Blake took the reigns after the resignation of Robert “Big Bob” Nardelli. Describing the renewed focus, one Texas manager said, “We are not to let a customer go untouched.”
Mr. Blake repeatedly has told managers that the stores will be liberated from many of the time-consuming, mind-numbing tasks the home office required them to do over the past six years. Under Mr. Nardelli, stores had to measure everything from how many pallets were removed from a truck per hour to how many extended warranties each employee sold per week.
Fewer mind-numbing tasks may allow increased face-time with customers, which for Home Depot, may not be a good thing. For starters, they can focus on hiring people who don’t abuse customers, but do know the products they’re trying to sell.
In some twisted way, it makes sense when a criminal steals your identity to rip you off for thousands of dollars. You might call that normal crook behavior. But these days identity thieves, who now range from far-flung organized crime rings to local drug addicts, are also using your identity for the basics, such as groceries.
- “In December alone, an ad for impotence drug Viagra aired at around 9 p.m. during “Prancer,” a G-rated movie about a young girl who nurses one of Santa’s reindeers back to health; another spot for rival medicine Levitra appeared during an afternoon showing of the comedy “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure;” and another for Cialis graced an early-evening presentation of the holiday classic “Miracle on 34th Street.”