Previsiones tecnológicas 2014 #infografia #infographic #tech

Hola: Una infografía sobre Previsiones tecnológicas 2014. Vía Un saludo

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10 claves de liderazgo en el siglo XXI #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía con 10 claves de liderazgo en el siglo XXI. Vía Un saludo

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SEO en España 2013 #infografia #infographic #seo

Hola: Una infografía sobre SEO en España 2013. Vía Un saludo

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Cómo le fue a las Redes Sociales en 2013 #infografia (animada) #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía animada sobre cómo le fue a las Redes Sociales en 2013. Un saludo

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Consejos para viajar seguro #infografia #infographic #tourism

Hola: Una infografía sobre consejos para viajar seguro. Vía Un saludo

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Las 25 empresas con más beneficios #infografia #infographic

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5 tendencias tecnológicas para hoteles #infografia #infographic #tourism

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Las mejores empresas tecnológicas para trabajar en 2014 #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía con las mejores empresas tecnológicas para trabajar en 2014. Un saludo

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Las 4 amenazas para la seguridad digital en 2014 #infografia #infographic #internet

Hola: Una infografía con las 4 amenazas para la seguridad digital en 2014. Vía Un saludo

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6 consejos de marketing para 2014 #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía con 6 consejos de marketing para 2014. Vía Un saludo

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Algunos datos sobre Flipboard #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía con algunos datos sobre Flipboard. Un saludo

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Es tiempo de Coworking #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía que nos dice que es tiempo de Coworking. Vía Un saludo

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It’s Actually Kind Of Heartbreaking To Hear Robot Telemarketer Insist She’s A Real Person

We’ve arrived at a whole new level of robocalling, and this time the robots don’t want us to know they’re robots. Did you just get a shiver down your spine, too? Shiver jinx! This particular telemarketer for a company hawking health insurance has her own name and a tinkle of laughter to go along with her denial of actually being a robot.

Time’s Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer ecnountered the robo-woman when his cell phone rang and the voice on the other end wanted to know if he was looking for a good deal on health insurance (sassy!). Things didn’t sound quite right, so he asked point blank if she was a real person or a robot voice.

She laughs it off and says of course, she’s a “real person.” But she couldn’t answer other simple questions that weren’t part of her script, like “What vegetable is in tomato soup?”(although technically, a tomato is a fruit, but whatever) or “What day of the week was it yesterday?”

When she’s got nothing good to say or is accused of being artificially intelligent, she asks if you can hear her, and ponders whether the connection could be bad, as heard in recordings made by other Time staffers to the same number.

One of those callers keeps asking, “Are you a robot? Can you just say, ‘I’m not a robot?’ ” to which she stiffly replies, “I am a real person.” It’s kind of heartbreaking to listen to, actually. She even insists she has a name, just like you and me and Siri.

When other reporters dialed her up and answered all her non-robot-but-yeah-so-robotic-sounding questions, eventually the callers were transferred to a real live person to close the sale. And when Time contacted the company behind the phone number, it appeared to be a health company located in Ft. Lauderdale.

“We don’t use robot calls, sir,” said one person who answered the phone, before hanging up. Another person called and another non-robot employee answered, saying he wasn’t sure if the phone number that led to the robot lady was one of the company’s. He says he’ll ask around whether or not she works for the company, noting that, “First of all, we use TV, we use radio, we use Internet.” Robot voices on the Internet?

Time has the source number for the not-so mysterious robot lady here, if you’d like to have a go, and you can listen to the recordings for yourself, one below and the other in the source link. Me, I’ll just be here planning for the robot invasion because it seems their plan is almost complete.

*Thanks for the tip, Joey!

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Las palabras más repetidas en Linkedin 2013 #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre las palabras más repetidas en Linkedin 2013. Un saludo

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Tipos de webs más visitados en Internet #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía sobre los tipos de webs más visitados en Internet. Un saludo You will find more statistics at Statista

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Los 15 primeros años de vmware #infografia #infographic #software

Hola: Una infografía sobre los 15 primeros años de vmware. Vía Un saludo

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Macy’s Security Guard Accused Of Running Shoplifting Ring

A 23-year-old Massachusetts man who had recently started work as a security guard at Macy’s has been accused of doing the exact opposite of his job description. Police say that the guard and three accomplices, including his younger brother, tried to steal 83 items worth a total of $4,800 at current holiday-sale prices.

Police received an anonymous tip that the guard was the head of a shoplifting scheme, so they used a simple enough method to figure out who is accomplices might be: they looked at his Facebook friends, then watched store visitors to see whether they recognized anyone.

According to the police report, the following text message exchange was on the guard’s phone:

“When is go time at Macy’s”


That just so happens to be the time that the four alleged accomplices showed up at the store while the guard worked very hard at ignoring what they were up to.

(via CBS Local)

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Introducción a los Botnets #infografia #infographic #internet

Hola: Una infografía con una introducción a los Botnets. Vía Un saludo

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FaceBook cada vez genera más tráfico en Internet #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía que dice que FaceBook cada vez genera más tráfico en Internet. Un saludo You will find more statistics at Statista

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How Many Countries Does It Take To Produce A Single Jar Of Nutella?

You’re probably no slump at reading headlines so by now you’ve probably figured out that it takes more than one country do make a jar of Nutella. Because otherwise what would be the point, that’s not news, that’s normal and ho-hum. And yes, it takes a lot more than just say, Italy, where Nutella’s parent company Ferrero is located, to deliver hazelnut spread to the masses.

The reality is that Nutella is way more of a worldwide effort, reports Quartz, citing a case study from OECD on global value chains.

The 250,000 tons of Nutella that are sold across 75 countries all come about with the help of ingredients from countries that might have not much else in common, but they all help to make chocolatey hazelnut spread.

For example, there are factories in Europe, Russia, North American and South America. and all of those need ingredients, which come from other places: The hazelnuts are from Turkey; the palm oil is from Malaysia; the cocoa is from Nigeria; the sugar is from either Brazil or Europe; and the vanilla flavoring is from France.

And hey, now the next time you’re spreading it on toast in an effort to get your kid to eat something for breakfast other than four packets of ketchup and a mini muffin, you can also do a bit of a geography lesson at the same time.

Check out the full map showing the globalization of Nutella over at Quartz for more.

A map of all the countries that contribute to a single jar of Nutella [Quartz]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Canada Post Ends Door-To-Door Delivery In Some Urban Areas, Hikes Stamp Costs

It’s nice to know that your neighbors are having similar problems to yours, even if their solutions are different. The current problems of Canada Post that involve pension funding and the expense of dropping mail on every doorstep are very similar to our experiences down here in the United States. Their solution is one that our postal service down here has pondered, too.

The plan is to phase out door-to-door mail delivery in urban areas. Yes, forcing postal customers to leave their homes and pick up their mail at a post office or community mailbox (CMB).

Canada Post estimates that it costs $269 per year to deliver to a home mailbox, versus $117 to deliver to a box. (All figures in this story are in Canadian dollars, but the CAD-USD exchange rate is pretty much one to one right now.)

The postal service plans to phase out urban mail delivery over the next five years. About ten million people currently use CMBs, and the new plan will make the total fifteen million.

Along with the announced cut in service will come a rate hike: individual stamps will now cost $1, but only 85¢ when purchased in a book. They currently cost 63¢.

Canada Post and the USPS have a lot in common: both are self-supporting government corporations with huge pension funding responsibilities that they’re struggling to meet.

About 6,000 postal workers will lose their jobs over the next few years due to the change to CMBs.

Canada Post to phase out urban home mail delivery [CBC]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

FDA Politely Asks Drug Companies To Voluntarily Stop Providing Antibiotics For Animal Feed

Your hand tastes nice, but it could use a twist of amoxicillin... (afagen)

Your hand tastes nice, but it could use a twist of amoxicillin… (afagen)

In the face of numerous reports indicating that the practice of using medically unnecessary antibiotics to bulk up farm animals is leading to millions of people getting sick each year from drug-resistant pathogens, the Food & Drug Administration drew a line in the sand today and put an end to the practi– oh wait, I meant that the FDA has politely asked drug companies to voluntarily phase out sales of these drugs to farmers.

After an inexplicably long delay, the FDA finally released its final guidance for industry [PDF] today, in which it sets forth completely voluntary guidelines for how drug companies could phase out the sale of medically unnecessary antibiotics for the sole purpose of encouraging growth in farm animals.

While the FDA says it is “concerned about the risk that antimicrobial resistance poses to public health from the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals for production purposes,” and it has the authority to halt this practice, the agency instead chose to leave this matter in the hands of a pharmaceutical industry that makes a huge profit on these drugs, with around 80% of antibiotics in sold in the U.S. going into the feed and water of pigs, cows, and chickens (and then into consumers who eat those animals).

“FDA believes a voluntary approach, conducted in a cooperative and timely manner, is the most effective approach to achieve the common goal of more judicious use of medically important antimicrobials in animal agriculture,” reads the guidance. “FDA will be working with affected drug sponsors who wish to voluntarily withdraw approved production uses of their medically important antimicrobial new animal drugs and combination new animal drug products.”

The guidance wasn’t issued to convince the drug companies to stop the sales, but “to facilitate the voluntary process by providing useful information for sponsors intending to revise their approved labeling through a supplemental new animal drug application.”

So it’s not urging the companies to stop selling these drugs, it’s asking the companies to change the reasons for which it sells the antibiotics.

As Avinash Kar of the Natural Resources Defense Council points out, this guidance does nothing to actually urge drug companies to end these sales:

Even if the drug manufacturers stopped selling antibiotics to speed up growth, they could continue to sell them for a very similar use: to prevent diseases associated with crowded and stressful conditions on many livestock facilities. Not only is the use very similar in nature—low doses added to the feed of a large number of animals day after day—many of the antibiotics are approved for both kinds of uses.

The FDA guidance does try to preempt the expected shifting of antibiotics from production use to “therapeutic” use by putting veterinarians in charge of when farm animals will need the drugs, but Caroline Smith DeWaal, Food Safety Director for the Center for Science in the Public interest notes that there are loopholes in the guidance that could undermine the intention of the guidance.

“For example, the proposed regulation would give states an increased role in defining the veterinary oversight through their licensing and practice requirements, though some states don’t have adequate laws regarding veterinary practices,” writes DeWaal.

NRDC’s Kar also notes that this guidance just further delays any meaningful regulatory action on the issue, as the FDA now has three years to evaluate the program before deciding whether it needs to issue binding rules on antibiotics in animal feed.

By that point, at least another 6 million Americans will have gotten sick from antibiotic-resistant pathogens. And that’s assuming the FDA actually follows that three-year timeline. The agency only issued its draft guidance on this topic after the NRDC, CSPI and others filed suit against the agency in 2012 for not making good on the 1977 proposal to investigate the use of antibiotics in animal feed.

The agency says it will do a 90-day checkup on the progress of the voluntary program “to provide an indicator of the level of engagement of affected drug sponsors in the voluntary process.” You’ll forgive us if we don’t expect to hear much good news at that point.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Whoever Stole $120K Worth Of Chocolate Is Probably Planning One Heck Of A S’mores Party

I’m not saying I’m the sort who consorts with criminals but if whoever stole $120,000 worth of Hershey’s chocolate from a truck is heading off into the woods to have a big bonfire and s’mores party, well, I’m jealous. But the crime part, that’s bad.

The chocolate was loaded onto a semi-truck at a truck center in Florida’s Volusia County, where police got a phone call that a thief with an apparent sweet tooth had made off with the whole thing, reports News 13.

There’s been no luck so far tracking down the truck or its contents, but the phone all between its driver and the 9-1-1 operator is kind of fun so let’s take a look at that”

911 Operator: When was the last time you saw it?

Driver: Three o’clock yesterday [Saturday] was the last time I saw the truck. It’s hooked to a trailer as well, fully loaded, with chocolate.

911 Operator: Fully loaded with chocolate, huh?

Driver: Yeah, someone with a sweet tooth.

911 Operator: Well, you know, maybe that’s what they were going for. Who knows?

The one caveat for the thief, besides the fact that you did a bad thing and the cops are probably going to arrest you at some point, is that all that chocolate needs to stay cool. Otherwise it’ll never make it to the s’mores assembly line and will instead just end up melted all over the truck. And that would just be a gosh darn waste of perfectly good chocolate.

Truck filled with $120,000 worth of chocolate stolen in Volusia [News 13]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

How American Must A Product Be To Be Labeled “Made In The USA”?

This caribiner leash may have carried the "Truly Made in the USA" logo, but the truth is that it was an imported product.

This caribiner leash may have carried the “Truly Made in the USA” logo, but the truth is that it was an imported product.

As you finish up your holiday shopping this year, you might be feeling the desire to buy American-made products. Any number of things claim to be made in the USA, but that label itself is not an absolute guarantee that what you’re buying was indeed produced stateside.

While there are federal standards for what qualifies as “Made in America,” there is no vetting or certification process that goes on before that label can be applied.

So a company could slap a made-in-USA sticker on its products and hope it doesn’t get caught, much like E.K. Ekcessories, an outdoor accessories company that the FTC recently accused [PDF] of deceptively marketing its products with labels like “Truly Made In the USA,” and statements on its website that its products were made at the company’s facilities in Utah.

That company has since settled with the FTC and agreed to stop falsely marketing its imported products as made in America, but who knows how many other products are out there just waiting to be caught in the same lie?

So what does it take to actually count as being made in the USA?


First off, there is no specific language that manufacturers must use. To the feds, statements like “Made in the USA” and “American-made” are effectively the same. They communicate to the consumer the notion that the product was produced within the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or in U.S. territories.

Additionally, the made in America claim doesn’t need to be explicit. The FTC gives the following example:

A company promotes its product in an ad that features a manager describing the “true American quality” of the work produced at the company’s American factory. Although there is no express representation that the company’s product is made in the U.S., the overall — or net — impression the ad is likely to convey to consumers is that the product is of U.S. origin.

References to America in a product or brand’s name is a slightly trickier affair. For instance, the FTC likely won’t go after a product called USA Joysticks even if said joysticks are made in Vietnam, but if that same product were to be called “Made In USA Joysticks,” then it would likely have to fall into the made-in-USA guidelines.


Those guidelines require that a product carrying a “Made in USA” marketing claim with no immediate and clear qualifications must be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S. or its territories.

The FTC takes “all or virtually all” to mean that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. Any foreign supplied parts or ingredients should be negligible.

It gives two examples to show how it determines whether foreign parts constitute a negligible portion of the end product. The first example is a gas grill that is assembled in the USA and whose only foreign-made parts are some tubing and the knobs for controlling the flame. In this case, the FTC says that the knobs and tubing are insubstantial enough and a Made In USA claim would be okay.

The second example is a Tiffany-style lamp where everything but the base of the lamp is supplied by U.S. companies. To the FTC, the base is too integral and substantial a portion of the end product, and so an unqualified Made In USA claim would not hold up to scrutiny.


Then there is the question of where the raw materials for various components came from. Again, this depends on how much of the end product is made up of those raw materials. A computer that has some parts which contain imported metal would likely pass muster, but a wrench made mostly out of imported metal would probably not. This does not necessarily hold true for clothing with the Made In USA label (see below).

For products that are assembled in the U.S. from a mix of foreign and domestic parts, manufacturers may make qualified marketing claims like “Made in USA of U.S. and imported parts,” “Assembled in the USA from Italian leather and Mexican wood,” or “60% U.S. Content.”

However, the FTC advises companies to tread lightly when making these kinds of qualified claims, as they still imply to consumers that a large portion of the manufacturing was done stateside.


The Commission warns against using the “Assembled in USA” claim for products where the only assembly done in America is what the FTC refers to as “screwdriver” assembly. That’s when all the major parts are already put together elsewhere then shipped to the U.S. to be quickly put together. Basically, if the work being done is no more complicated than putting together some IKEA shelves, it probably doesn’t qualify as “Assembled in America.”


One industry that has been prolific in touting “American made” claims is the automobile industry. The American Automobile Labeling Act requires that each vehicle manufactured for sale in the U.S. bear a label disclosing where the car was assembled, the percentage of equipment that originated in the U.S. and Canada, and the country of origin of the engine and transmission.

Even with these additional requirements, any automaker or clothing company making a “made in America” claim in its advertising would be held to the same criteria as other products.


The Textile Fiber Products Identification Act and Wool Products Labeling Act actually requires Made in USA labels on most clothing and other textile or wool household products if the final product is manufactured in the U.S. of fabric that is manufactured in the U.S., regardless of the country of origin of materials earlier in the manufacturing process. So an all-wool sweater may be made from wool that was grown entirely on another continent, but as long as the sweater itself is wholly made in the U.S., it gets the Made in USA label.

Textile or wool products that are partially manufactured in the U.S. and partially manufactured abroad must be labeled to show both foreign and domestic processing.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Fellow Prisoners Wanted Madoff To Teach Investment Classes

madoff_mugshot.03If you had unparalleled access to one of the biggest names in investing, wouldn’t you ask that person for some advice? That’s the logic that some prisoners at the federal prison in Butner, N.C. are using. Their financially savvy neighbor is Bernie Madoff, mastermind of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. Yes, he knows something about investing.

Of course, all this presumes that Madoff is telling the truth about his prison experience, or about anything. In an interview with a Marketwatch reporter, he claimed that other prisoners ask him for investment advice all the time. They even asked him to teach a class on the subject, but for some reason the federal government wasn’t keen to let that happen.

Madoff surrendered to authorities five years ago this week. He was ultimately sentenced to 150 years in prison, which gives him lots of time to dole out investment advice to his prison buddies.

Regarding his crimes, Madoff blames the victims. They were bright enough people and should have known better, he says. “People asked me all the time, how did I do it. And I refused to tell them, and they still invested,” he now says.

My Interview With Madoff [Wall Street Journal]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Coffee Prices At This Cafe Vary Depending On How Rude You Are

What began as a bit of fun for the occasionally frustrated workers at a cafe in the French city of Nice is sticking around on the menu, with customers being charged more for coffee if they fail to ask nicely.

For those who aren’t conversant in French, the above sign lists three prices for coffee. The first is €7 ($9.64) for people who merely grunt “un café” when they order. The next tier of pricing is €4.25 ($5.85) for those who politely add a “s’il vous plaît” to their order. And if you can be extra polite and throw in a “Bonjour” and a “s’il vous plaît,” you’ll only pay €1.40 ($1.93).

“It started as a joke because at lunchtime people would come in very stressed and were sometimes rude to us when they ordered a coffee,” the eatery’s owner explains to The Local. “I know people say that French service can be rude but it’s also true that customers can be rude when they’re busy.”

The owner says he hasn’t yet been compelled to charge anyone the higher price and that the sign has resulted in his regular customers now being overly polite when they order.

“They started calling me ‘your greatness’ when they saw the sign,” he says.

[via Eater]

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

IKEA Toy With Name That Translates Into Naughty Word Sells Out In Hong Kong

You naughty boy.

You naughty boy.

He’s no Tickle Me Elmo, but another stuffed toy has been flying off the shelves at IKEA stores in Hong Kong. And not, it’s not because he’s the “it” toy this holiday season. Lufsig the wolf’s name translates into Cantonese with a very naughty meaning, apparently making him the perfect object for protestors to lob at Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong CY Leung, who some have nicknamed “the wolf.”

While Lufsig the wolf seems to just be an innocent type (besides that whole trying to eat Little Red Riding Hood), his name in Cantonese sounds a lot like a profanity that translates to something bad about female genitalia, reports the South China Morning Post.

The toy has been selling out at IKEA in Hong Kong, with shoppers lining up to buy it after an anti-government protestor tossed one at Leung over the weekend, according to the BBC.

An IKEA Hong Kong spokesman said shoppers were lining up as early as 7:00 a.m. for Lufsig and the toy was sold out by 11:10, but didn’t have any comment on the political message some are reading into the stuffed animal. His name is Lufsig wherever he’s sold all over the world, so it’s not like this is just special to customers in China.

Leung has been dubbed “the wolf” by some in China who see him as cunning, and it sounds like he’s had pretty low popularity ratings since he was appointed by a committee last year to be Hong Kong’s chief exectuive.

Ay protestors still yearning for Lufsig will have to wait for early January 2014, when IKEA says a new stock will be in stores.

Ikea toy wolf becomes Hong Kong protest symbol [BBC]

Hong Kong toymakers upset over stuffed symbol of protest Lufsig the wolf [South China Morning Post]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Potty With iPad Stand Takes Home Worst Toy Of The Year Award

This is a thing that exists and people actually pay money for.

This is a thing that exists and people actually pay money for.

A few weeks back we told you about the contenders — from the Monopoly game that’s one huge ad to the virtual Play-Doh — for this year’s TOADY Award for the worst toy of 2013. The people have spoken, and the runaway winner is the iPotty, which sounds like a combination potty/iPad accessory because that’s exactly what it is.

Yes, the toy that teaches your kid not just how to use the toilet, but also to bring $600 electronic devices with him to the toilet… The iPotty ran off with a full 45% of the vote for the dubious honor given away every year by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.

“Throughout history, kids have mastered toilet training without touch screens,” said CCFC’s Director, Dr. Susan Linn. “The iPotty is a perfect example of marketers trying to create a need where none exists. In fact, the last thing children need is a screen for every single occasion.”

Folks who voted for the iPotty to win this year’s award say the device only serves to pacify and placate children who are already overexposed to TV and the Internet.

“Toilet learning should be a time of positive interaction between child and caregiver,” explains one voter. “Also, children should be aware of the cues in their bodies as they learn. This toy takes this social/emotional focus out of the process and substitutes the hypnotism of a screen.”

Adds another, “It not only reinforces unhealthy overuse of digital media, it’s aimed at toddlers. We should NOT be giving them the message that you shouldn’t even take your eyes off a screen long enough to pee.”

With 30% of the vote, the runner-up for this year’s TOADY was the VIP Upgrade Membership by The Real Tooth Fairies, which charges users a ridiculous amount of money for an annual subscription to give their kids (we hope) access to a bunch of outfits of online fairies that reinforce harmful gender, body, economic, and cultural stereotypes.

“It’s a hijacking of one of children’s most magical tiny creatures,” complained one voter.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

While Retailers Fall All Over Themselves To Offer Price Matching, Customers Are Kind Of Like, “Eh”

We hear a lot of stories about the price-matching policies at various big box retailers like Target and Best Buy, which have evolved a lot since competition from online giants like Amazon have entered the arena. But while most stores now have some kind of price matching going on, does the average customer even really care to take advantage of it?

There’s a big push for price-matching especially during the holidays, when many retailers extend or loosen up their price-matching policies to try to ensure they snag your bucks while you’re shopping for presents, notes the Star Tribune.

It shows that retailers are on your side, they want your business and are willing to make sure you get the best price possible so you’ll give them your money. And despite pitfalls like policies that don’t allow customers to mix and match with other discounts and promotions, they’re pretty much a great way to seem competitive with other retailers.

But are we even using price-matching that often? Maybe not. After all, it does take some time to scout around at all the stores and see where the deal is best, then go back to the store if you already bought something and set the whole thing in motion.

Analysts say that only about 5% of consumers actually go out and do that, says the chief industry analyst at the NPD group. Why? Well, it could be seen as a waste of time to some people, unless they’re true blue bargain hunters who will not — nay! Cannot! — rest until they’ve got the rock bottom price.

“It’s not going to happen for me,” said one shopper who says she’s never asked for a price match. “It’s too much trouble.”

“The hassle of the parking lots and crowds isn’t worth it anymore,” said another who says he used to go after price matches when his kids were in diapers, but those days are long gone.

What about you?

Big-box retailers play match game with prices [Star Tribune]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Resumen visual de la IV Semana de las Redes Sociales #redessocialescyl

Hola: Una vídeo con un pequeño resumen visual de la IV Semana de las Redes Sociales. Un saludo

TICs y Formación Via Alfredo Vela y

Some Yahoo Users Enter Day 2 Of E-Mail Outage

letsgoIt used to be that being locked out of your e-mail for a day or two was no big hardship. Now our e-mail boxes are lifelines to finding and performing work, receiving financial documents and paying bills, and sometimes even staying in contact with people. Some Yahoo Mail users are not pleased that the sudden “scheduled maintenance” of Yahoo Mail has locked them out of their accounts since Sunday night.

Reader John is one affected user. “Yahoo said on their Facebook page that they expected the situation to be corrected by 1:30 PM Pacific time [yesterday],” he notes. That deadline passed without everyone magically regaining access. “Since then Yahoo has gone into silence — no messages, notices, or other communication regarding the outage.”

The last announcement from the company regarding the problems came in the form of this tweet, also posted to Facebook.

The Facebook version of the announcement has more than 1,700 angry comments posted as recently as a few minutes ago.

We contacted Yahoo about the outage, and will let you know what they have to say when they respond.

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

GE’s CareCredit To Refund $34.1 Million To Misled Consumers

carecreditgrab CareCredit is a medical financing service operated by the folks at GE Capital. For almost all of its 4 million customers, CareCredit is a deferred interest loan, meaning cardholders who don’t pay off their balances in full by the end of the initial promotional period are hit with all of the interest that had been accruing during those months. That would be fine (and is quite common in retail credit cards), if the company hadn’t misled consumers into thinking CareCredit was an entirely interest-free product.

Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered [PDF] GE Capital and CareCredit to refund up to $34.1 million to customers who were not given the full story about the cost of the program.

In thousands of medical and dental offices around the country, CareCredit advertised its “no interest if paid in full” plan, offering promotional 0% interest periods of anywhere from 6 to 24 months. But if the bill isn’t paid in full by the end of that period, the cardholder is slammed with an interest rate of around 26%, about twice what most people pay on regular credit cards.

The CFPB’s problem isn’t with the interest rate, but with how CareCredit marketed itself to consumers. The agency alleges that since 2009, the company has been providing consumers inadequate explanations of its credit terms, leading many CareCredit customers to become buried until mountains of unexpected interest charges, penalties, and fees.


Through its investigation into CareCredit, the CFPB found that some of the medical and dental service providers who pushed the program for GE were complicit in the deception by failing to provide adequate explanation of the terms of the deferred-interest loan. The agency says that CareCredit took a hands-off approach to enrollment process, leaving it up to the service providers who may have been ill-prepared to clarify the program.

“CareCredit’s limited involvement during the enrollment process and lack of oversight and monitoring allowed this deception to continue,” writes the CFPB. “Many staff members… who were responsible for explaining the CareCredit agreement to borrowers, had received little or no training by CareCredit, and relied only on pamphlets. In interviews with CFPB investigators, some providers admitted that they were themselves confused by the deferred-interest card.”


So first you have a situation where the people selling the product don’t necessarily know what it is they’re selling. Then you make it worse by failing to provide these customers with written copies of CareCredit agreement. Thus, these borrowers have only on the oral explanations from the person who was not trained to explain the product to begin with.


And so the CFPB has hit GE and CareCredit with an enforcement action that requires the companies to create a $34.1 million reimbursement fund, that will allow CareCredit customers to make claims that will then be reviewed independently.

The order also requires that CareCredit enhance its disclosures provided during the application process and on billing statements. These new and improved disclosures will include clearer descriptions of the deferred-interest loan. In addition to the explanation given at the point of signing the agreement, all borrowers will get a call from an actual CareCredit employee within 72 hours, and all loans of $1,000 or more will require the involvement of a CareCredit rep, rather than through the doctor or dentist’s office.

Furthermore, borrowers will subsequently receive a warning notification to alert them when the end of the promotional period approaches.

“Medical debt is already a big problem for many Americans. Poor credit card transparency should not be making the problem even worse,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Deferred-interest products can be risky for consumers in the best of circumstances, and today’s action ensures that CareCredit will no longer profit from consumer confusion. The Bureau will not tolerate financial companies that take advantage of patients and their loved ones.”

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Organic Milk Is Better For Humans Because Of Delicious Grass

Cows’ stomachs are optimized to graze on grass. As ruminants, it’s just what they do, but modern milk production doesn’t give them opportunities to wander outside and eat grass. It turns out, though, that when cows get to eat grass, the milk they produce is better for humans.

How does that work? Cows that eat grass produce milk with more omega-3 fatty acids. Those are the fats found in foods like flaxseeds and fish that we keep hearing that we should eat more of. While the science isn’t settled regarding how well omega-3 fatty acids protect humans from cardiovascular problems or why, they do seem to be better for us.

The fats in milk come from what the animal eats, after all. The same effect on fat composition happens in milk from conventional agriculture where the cows eat grass, so the key is knowing where your milk comes from and what the animals eat.

Of course, this study just happens to have received most of its funding from Organic Valley, a large distributor of organic dairy products. Scientists who didn’t receive any money from the company told the New York Times that its science looks pretty solid.

More Helpful Fatty Acids Found in Organic Milk [New York Times]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting For Verizon FiOS To Come To Your Town, Says CEO

Back in 2012, Verizon Wireless announced a marketing deal with several of the country’s largest cable operators that would let these companies sell cable/Internet/wireless bundles. We warned at the time that this would give Verizon even more reason to halt expansion of its costly FiOS network, as the company stood to make more money from the wireless business than it would from the TV/Internet service. Now Verizon’s CEO has confirmed that the company has no plans to expand FiOS beyond the existing markets.

“[D]igging up yards and deploying fiber in a lot of new markets isn’t in the cards,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam declared during the UBS 41st Annual Global Media & Communications Conference on Monday, according to FierceTelecom. “More and more things are going mobile and I think there are more opportunities to partner out of market with companies that are there versus us going in and deploying FiOS.”

This is exactly what we and others had feared when Verizon entered into that marketing deal with the cable companies. When Verizon began deploying FiOS, it was hoped that the service would compete with the cable and Internet providers that in most areas operate with little or no competition. But in the wake of the housing market collapse, the company slowed its deployment of the network.

The marketing agreement, in which Verizon products and services are sold through Comcast and Time Warner Cable, takes away any incentive for Verizon to push FiOS into new markets where it would need to build new networks. Instead, it could leverage existing cable customers to build its already massive wireless subscriber base without having to run any new fiber lines or, as McAdam says, dig up anyone’s yard.

The CEO of Big V explained the difference between FiOS and AT&T’s U-Verse system, which uses much of the existing copper phone lines rather than having to lay new fiber.

“What [AT&T] has already got is copper to the home and he’s changing out the last mile,” McAdam said. “It’s a little bit of a different situation for us. We’d have to go in and get the local franchise agreements and that always gets complicated.”

So if you’re hoping for fiber service in your area and FiOS hasn’t gotten there yet, don’t expect to see the Verizon truck roll up your street anytime soon.

[via DSLreports]

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Diner Takes Axe To McDonald’s Over Cold Fries

shininggrab Sure, here in the states we’ve got people calling 9-1-1 over missing hash browns, and folks threatening to use a sword if they don’t get free tacos, but over in France, they’ve got an angry customer who used his axe on a McDonald’s all because he got cold fries at the drive-thru.

The incident occurred early Sunday morning in the suburbs of Paris, where a 26-year-old customer was unhappy with the restaurant’s response to his complaints about the frigid frites.

He reportedly got out of his van, brandishing an axe that he then used to shatter the drive-thru window.

Just to put a fine point on it, the customer then tossed his axe into the restaurant, which is not the proper way to escalate one’s complaint.

A McDonald’s employee was received some cuts to the face from the flying, shattered glass, but did not go to the hospital.

The customer attempted to flee, presumably without getting the hot fries he so wanted, but he was taken into custody by police. [via HuffPo]

Because we can’t read about french fries in France without thinking of Better Off Dead, we present this culinary clip:

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Diseño de actividades y tareas de aprendizaje con herramientas 2.0

via Educación tecnológica