Every holiday has two seasons: its actual season, and its creep season. The latter is that time of year during which people complain that it’s too soon to be selling decorations, cards, costumes, or other items for that holiday. Even things that aren’t really holidays can creep up, like back-to-school season. Here are some Christmas Creep sightings from across the country, so you’ll know where to pick up an artificial evergreen in mid-September for future reference. [More]
Only a few months after Verizon FiOS effectively gave up on its “skinny bundle” attempt to provide pay-TV customers with more flexible channel options, Dish Network is giving it a go with a new pricing model that starts at $40/month… but goes up quickly when you add on the channels you might want. [More]
With traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers continuing to lose ground to online sales, and longtime mall mainstays like Sears and JCPenney either closing locations or selling off floor space, the trend is definitely toward smaller retail footprints and focusing on the web. But the CEO of one of the world’s largest clothing retailers plans to buck that trend in a big way. [More]
With a growing number of shoppers going online, retailers no longer need the vast acreage of floor space inside their stores — like Hallmark shops inside of JCPenney, or Sears Hometown mini-stores inside of Ace Hardware. And with more people working remotely, it was only time before some retailer got the notion of carving out some rental office space for customers. [More]
While millions of Americans are no strangers to questionable debt-collection practices, a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows that the men and women in the armed forces are twice as likely than their civilian counterparts to file a complaint when a collector crosses the line.
When you sign up for telecommunications services — some combination of TV, broadband, and/or phone — you’re told you’ll pay something like $49 or $99 a month… and yet the price you actually pay can be as much as 40% or more on top of that, thanks to a heap of sometimes confusing charges and fees. Which ones do you blame the government for, and which are made up by your cable company? One business at a time, we’re going to use real customers’ bills to break it down. We’ve already looked at Comcast and TWC. This time we’re switching it up a bit to have a look at satellite, and will be dissecting a bill from DirecTV.
ESPN is easily the most expensive single channel in any basic cable lineup, accounting for around $5 of the average cable bill just on its own. Cable companies are also contractually barred from putting the all-sports network on any sort of premium tier, which is why it was big news last year when Verizon FiOS announced a new “Custom TV” pricing model that made ESPN completely optional for everyone. That’s also why ESPN’s parent company Disney sued Verizon, alleging breach of contract. Now, Verizon has revised Custom TV to include ESPN and other sports channels for customers who want them. [More]
This is the year. It’s the year you’ll wake up on Feb. 15 without the stinging sensation of intense regret that inevitably follows after mourning Valentine’s Day at the bottom of a booze bottle, covered in bits of melted chocolate stuck to you in your sleep, because your beloved turned out to be a scammer. Because this year, you’re going to be prepared for any romance scams that may come your way. [More]
The Federal Trade Commission teamed up with two states to put an end to five unscrupulous debt collection operations that illegally deceived millions of Americans. The actions, made under the “Operation Collection Protection” initiative between federal, state and local law enforcement authorities, represent $6.5 million in relief for millions of consumers. [More]
Like a number of corporate customer service Twitter account, the public replies from the @ComcastCares account are of the “Sorry to hear that” variety, often with a request for a private direct message containing more specific account information. But are these similar-sounding responses produced by a computer script or by a human being who just assumes that everyone hates the company they work for? [More]
Imagine receiving a phone call that 25% of your wages are going to be garnished because of a credit card account opened 14 years earlier that was never paid off. Making things worse, you know you didn’t have a credit card from the bank in question at that time, so it can’t possibly be your debt. This should be an easily remedied error, but not if a court has already granted a default judgment against you, making you responsible for paying back money that you didn’t owe and didn’t find out about until it was too late. [More]
Years ago, I temped for about six months in an office where an artificial evergreen tree in one lobby was always on display, decorated for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, or any other event that the tree’s owner felt like observing. I’m not sure whether that creative person or even the holiday mashup artists over at Hobby Lobby would have ever thought of this decoration that reader Jason recently shared with Consumerist, though. [More]
We take a firm stand against Holiday Creep, which is when retailers start to merchandise and decorate for a given holiday months in advance. The offending holiday is usually, but not always, Christmas. Every year around this time, we hear from exasperated shoppers who walk by a Hallmark gift shop and see their display of new Christmas ornaments, leading our readers to wonder what this world is coming to. Yet Hallmark’s Christmas displays aren’t what they seem. [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]
A certain segment of consumers have been clamoring for years for cable distributors to break up the monolithic, 300-channel bundle into a la carte offerings. For those who don’t watch sports, the logic goes, why pay for ESPN? Why pay for TLC if you don’t watch reality TV, or CNN if you don’t give a damn about news?
Given the sheer number of high-profile data breaches in recent years, and the varying levels of personal information stolen, it can be difficult to quantify how many American consumers were affected. A new survey tries to answer the questions of how many people have had their info stolen (a lot) and what consumers are doing to protect themselves (not much). [More]
Companies have been taking away your right to sue them when they screw up for years, using small, hidden clauses to require mandatory binding arbitration instead. After years of consumer groups voicing their concern over this anti-consumer practice, there’s finally a new bill in congress that proposes to bring back your right to sue.
While supporters of an open internet are excited about the FCC’s recent net neutrality ruling, some folks in the telecom and ISP world are a whole lot less happy. Many of the big businesses affected by the rule had their say in February when the vote happened, but the recent release of the full rule (all 400 pages of it) this week has become an opportunity for many groups afraid of new regulation to once again put their concerns front and center in the limelight. [More]