Faster! Leaner! Meaner! Ben Popken rounds up Consumerist.com’s top stories of the week, from psychotic stewardesses to deadly foreclosures. This week we introduce a new feature: printing out the internet and turning it into a puppet show.
It’s Consumerist Videodrome #1! Wherein I make several important announcements about new changes coming to the site and show off my new cat.
This week Meg and I received the National Consumers League’s Consumer Education and Leadership Award for our work on Consumerist. The award was given during the Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture. The annual event commemorates the work of pioneering media activist Everett C. Parker, notable for his work in getting a racist TV station’s FCC license revoked in 1971. We’d like to share the video and the remarks we gave:
By Ben Popken and Meg Marco
If you have any broken, ugly jewelry lying around in a drawer somewhere, you’ve probably taken notice of a company called Cash4Gold that promised to pay “top dollar” for your not-so-precious precious metals. If you’re like us, you might have even seen a post on ComplaintsBoard.com by a former employee exposing Cash4Gold.
The whistleblower’s post appeared on ComplaintsBoard last November. We featured it this February, as part of our ongoing coverage of Cash4Gold, after the company raised its public profile with a multi-million dollar Super Bowl ad. The post was indeed written by an ex-employee, Michele Liberis, who is now being sued by the company for defamation. Recently, Cash4Gold added Consumerist and ComplaintsBoard as co-defendants in its lawsuits (PDF) against Liberis and another former employee, Vielka Nephew (PDF), in an attempt to force us to take the information down. Liberis and Nephew have chosen to stand up to Cash4Gold’s legal attack, and so have we.
Pretty basic stuff but sometimes people need a reminder. Check page 92 in the latest RD issue for more on what the dangers are and how to protect from them. I had a great interview with badass Avivah Litan, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner research, that we only got to use one line from. I hope to publish it on Consumerist soon.
Here’s the video of the Consumerist/Consumer Reports panel Tuesday night with with Craig Newmark, Bob Sullivan, Rachel Sklar, and Ben Popken. Moderated by Consumer Reports Editorial Director Kevin McKean, the topic was “Protecting The Endangered Consumer: High Impact Journalism In A Low-Budget Era.” Highlights….
There’s about 30 spots left if you want to go to the Consumerist/Consumer Reports party/panel-discussion this Tuesday night from 6-8pm at the 92Y at 200 Hudson in New York, NY. Come Hear Ben Popken, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, MSNBC’s Red Tape Chronicles Bob Sullivan, and The Daily Beast’s Rachel Sklar. Moderated by Consumer Reports Editorial Director Kevin McKean, the topic is “Defending The Endangered Consumer: High Impact Journalism in a Low-Budget Era.” Also in attendance, Consumerist bloggers Meg Marco, Carey Greenberg-Berger, Chris Walters, Alex Chasick and Laura Northrup. Should be a good time. RSVP for a free drink at email@example.com.
Here’s the clip from my piece and appearance on CNBC’s On The Money on Friday night. I attended a Robert Allen Institute get rich in real estate seminar, interviewed some attendees, and gave tips on what to watch out for in “money-making opportunity” scams. Here are some red flags to beware:
- Promises of fast and easy money
- The person who brings you in gets a cut of your profits, and then you get a cut off new people you bring into the system
- Requires large upfront fees before you really understand what’s going on
As one interviewee told me, anyone who’s got a killer investing strategy is out there doing it, they’re not giving free seminars about it. Watch the video, inside…
I should be on On The Money again tonight, CNBC, 8pm eastern. Turn on, tune in, drop out.
TV stations looking to save money can do so by interviewing guests remotely over Skype, as WTVT in Tampa did, live, with me this morning. No more paying for car service or bottled water!
For those of you who wanted a transcript of the NPR interview I did yesterday about the Grocery Shrink Ray, we added one here.
NPR’s Michele Norris on “All Things Considered” did a nice interview with me about that deadly Grocery Shrink Ray sweeping supermarkets across America. It looks like it just aired, you can listen to it online here. If you want to look at previous stories in the Grocery Shrink Ray series, check ’em out here. And if you have a example of a product that is shrinking in terms of volume or net weight and you want to submit it to us for a possible post, just send it on in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media interest in The Grocery Shrink Ray sweeping across America continues, I was interviewed recently by CNNMoney.com, The Brian Lehrer Show, and Agence France-Press. Everyone knows prices are higher and manufacturers need to pass them on somehow. I don’t like the method of shrinking sizes while keeping the prices the same. Or when they combine it with a package redesign, hoping we’ll be so distracted by a new spigot that we won’t notice we’re getting less. My local pizza parlor went about it differently. They raised prices and taped up two articles explaining how rising wheat costs are driving up the cost of making pizza. They didn’t, however, cut their pies into 12 slices instead of 8.
Here’s the clip of yours truly, Ben Popken, on FOX 13 Tampa yesterday talking about the Grocery Shrink Ray that all the writers on the site have been doing a great job of covering. The interview was done over Skype webcam and I think it came out pretty well. “Shrinkage” and “downsizing” may be nothing new, but I think we’re going to see more goods shrinking and by greater degrees in the coming months. It’s practically a secret inflation. At the end of the story they say that some manufacturers are considering doing away with gallons of milk and instead selling 3/4 of a gallon, for the same price. If that happens, I think a lot more messages like the recording of the good ol’ boy upset over the downsized Jimmy Dean’s sausage are going to be left on customer complaint lines across America. As the guy in the New York Daily News shrinking package article (which I was also quoted in, whoo), said, “Soon people will be buying empty bags and empty boxes.”
Attention Floridian Consumerists! Provided everything goes according to schedule, I will be on Fox Tampa Thursday during the 10pm newscast, talking about the mysterious Grocery Shrink Ray sweeping across America.