Rival domain name registrar Namecheap says they’ve raised over $20,000 for an elephant charity and poached thousands of customers who switched 20,433 domain names from GoDaddy following an uproar over a video their CEO posted of himself killing a pachyderm. Bob Parsons is unapologetic, saying he did it to feed the hungry villagers and save their crops. But that’s just a moral fig leaf. In another video, Bob hunts and kills a leopard. I don’t think it ended up as steaks for hungry villagers.
What is this obsession with making products look like other products? 1-800Flowers has a bouquet of white flowers in a special basket so it looks like a cupcake. It’s called, “Cupcake in Bloom.” Then you have those tiny “just for decoration” presents with nothing inside. Discovering these at my grandma’s house as a kid, I first began to truly appreciate the world’s cruelty and caprice. There’s doorstops that are made to look like it’s a little kid reaching up for the doorknob, and pencil sharpeners that look like hotdogs. This trend strikes me as disturbing, even perverted…
We know the credit markets remain seized: late on Black Friday when no one was listening, the Federal Reserve issued a statement that its emergency lending to banks had increased over the prior week. Thus, massive amounts of money continue to flow to large financial institutions in an effort to stimulate economic activity, but by all appearances the money is not flowing into the broader economy. Quite the contrary; as the Fed lowers rates and adds record amounts of loaned cash to bank balance sheets, big banks are actually increasing consumers’ cost of borrowing and reducing their lines of credit. Witness Citibank’s recent adverse actions against cardholders.
Here’s the clip of the To The Point radio program I was on yesterday. There was a bunch of people on, you can hear me at 23:30 talking about the Grocery Shrink Ray and 37:30 talking about the customer service hotline Sprint set up for Consumerist readers. It’s a great show and I love Warren Onley’s voice, but I have some issues with the advice some of the other guests gave on the show that I need to address. Here’s what I would have said had I been asked some of their questions…
There was a NYT op-ed last week, “Go On A Savings Spree,” suggesting that, as opposed to the tax-rebate stimulus, the best way to heal the economy is for the government to create universal mutual funds for every tax-payer. At one point, author Dalton Conley writes, “Some research suggests that asset-holders behave more responsibly and are more civic-minded than those without wealth. After all, they have a stake in the future of the economy and their community…Investing motivates people of all income levels to defer gratification and become knowledgeable about the economy and society.”
You’re probably being ripped off at this very moment and you don’t even know it. Do you have frequent flyer miles? Have you checked lately to see what they’re worth? Probably a lot less than when you signed up. Everywhere we turn, companies are pulling back from the value they offered when you signed the contract and handed over your payment, and leaving fees and restrictions in their wake. Gift cards whose value dwindles over time. Credit card payment due dates getting shorter and shorter. Credit card interest rates shooting up for no reason. Impossible to fulfill warranty repairs. Overdraft fees completely disproportionate to their cost. Health insurance coverage denied for the flimsiest of reasons. The list goes on.
America lies in slumber as a new swath of rights are violated, our consumer rights. The right to a fair deal. Companies have a right to try to make a profit. We have the right to receive the goods and services we purchase at the price and quality level advertised, and the right to seek redress if these expectations are not met. You earned that money with your sweat, and now you’re just going to let someone take it from you?
Credit card companies make it impossible for consumers or markets to know the true cost of credit, according to Georgetown Law professor Adam Levitin. The professor makes his point with a pop quiz:
… what’s the interest rate on the credit cards you’re carrying? How about the default rate? Do you know what constitutes an event of default? What will trigger a penalty fee or surcharge? How much are those fees? If you’re like most Americans, you probably cannot answer many or all of these questions.