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]
Yahoo email users complained that the system blocked messages about a Wall Street protest, accusing the company of censorship. Via Twitter, Yahoo says that there was no intentional censorship and the blockage was due to an unintentional spam filter setting that has now been fixed. [More]
If you buy a Greyhound bus ticket for someone else, Greyhound will charge you a flat $18 “gift ticket fee,” which must be the worst named fee in the history of transportation. On short rides, like a one-way trip from Cambridge, MA to Hartford, CT, it bumps the price up from $22 to $40. [More]
Executives love to justify price increases or staff reductions by hauling out the customer service argument, because then any complaint you make can be framed as self-defeating. (“Don’t you want better service?”) On that note, Spirit’s CEO Ben Baldanza told travel blogger Christopher Elliott last week that the new carry-on bag fee is really intended to reduce gate delays. Remember to send a thank-you card to Baldanza. [More]
Citibank Freaks Out Customers With Weird 7-Day Rule On Withdrawals, But It's Not As Devious As It Looks
Some Citibank customers recently received notice that the bank reserved the right to require 7 days written notice before authorizing a withdrawal on checking accounts. (It’s also on page 23 of Citi’s Client Manual [PDF].) As you can imagine, this freaked some people out. A Citibank rep quickly moved to clarify the rule, and he pointed out that it’s actually required by federal law for certain types of accounts, and it’s not unique to Citibank, and they don’t intend to enforce it. [More]
In just a little over a week, the CARD Act will go into effect, and a new set of rules will apply to credit card issuers. Here’s a great summary of what will change and what won’t, so you’ll know what to expect. For instance, did you know that cards issued to business entities rather than individuals are exempt? [More]
Earlier this month, Netflix made a deal with Warner Bros. to delay new DVD releases for 28 days. Over at Hacking Netflix, the CEO of the company goes into some detail on why he approached Warner Bros. to begin with (it was his idea, not theirs), and why he thinks it will work out better for everyone except those customers who signed up expecting all new releases all the time. [More]
At least one official with the FCC is not impressed by Verizon’s latest explanations of its Early Termination Fees (ETFs) and Mobile Web billing practices. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn released a statement (pdf) last night where she called Verizon’s explanation “unsatisfying” and “troubling,” and she closed with the fighting words, “I look forward to exploring this issue in greater depth with my colleagues in the New Year.” [More]
Last month, David Pogue at the New York Times published a tip from a self-described Verizon employee. The employee accused Verizon of deliberately rigging its system to trap customers whenever they accidentally press the “Get It Now” or “Mobile Web” buttons on their phones–even if they cancel the operation immediately, they’re charged a fee of $1.99 each time. Both Pogue and the FCC asked Verizon to explain why this happens. Verizon’s response: it doesn’t, and Pogue and the hundreds of people who wrote in to confirm this practice are all crazy. [More]
Padding chip bags with air is a pretty well-understood practice by now–supposedly it helps prevent the chips from being crushed. But what’s the purpose of similar packaging tricks in frozen fish, or boxes of instant rice? After a recent Consumer Reports article questioned the amount of air in packages at the grocery store, New York Times reporter Andrew Adam Newman asked two of the manufacturers for an explanation. [More]
Does the phrase “hostile takeover” give you a mental picture of Vikings swarming into an office building and taking over by brute force? The term is in the news due to proposed takeovers of Cadbury and Barnes & Noble, but that’s not quite what the term means. Marketplace’s Paddy Hirsch and his trusty whiteboard explain.
The business and financial news are full of something called “derivatives.” But, okay, what is that? You’re not the only one who’s wondering. That’s why Paddy Hirsch from the public radio program Marketplace put together a whiteboard, some stick figures, and a bunch of metaphorical turkeys to explain it all to us.
Jesse, who wrote to us last week to complain about Ryder’s broken guarantee, has contacted us again with a follow up. We also spoke with Ryder directly to ask how their “Guaranteed Availability” promise actually works, so that future customers know what to expect.
Remember Jim? His Comcast cable box randomly responded to the emergency alert system (EAS) by tuning in to QVC. According to a source inside Comcast, rogue lightning strikes set off the EAS, even though there wasn’t an emergency. Two things happen when the EAS activates: the cable box switches to a local channel, and Comcast replaces the local programming with an alert. In Jim’s case, the box switched to the emergency channel—which happened to be QVC—but since there wasn’t an emergency, there was no special broadcast. So what can you do next time your cable box independently declares an emergency?
Last week, we posted that a popular web hosting company—GoDaddy, although we didn’t name it at the time—provided a strange customer service experience to a commenter. Cyberguy was contacted via phone by someone from their “Office of the President” after emailing them, but then Cyberguy couldn’t get their rep to state clearly which company he was representing. Cyberguy was rightly suspicious. Was GoDaddy outsourcing its own executive customer service?