DESCUENTO LECTORES

Spam y comunidades de Google + #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre Spam y comunidades de Google +. Vía Un saludo



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Las webs más visitadas de Latinoamérica #infografia #infographic #internet

Hola: Una infografía con las webs más visitadas de Latinoamérica. Vía Un saludo



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Reputación hotelera #infografia #infographic #marketing #tourism

Hola: Una infografía sobre Reputación hotelera. Vía Un saludo



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My Post Office Stacks Mailed Packages On Lobby Floor, Shrugs

Reader C. visited the post office recently, and what he saw upset him. The good news was that his post office was doing brisk business. It was early in the morning still, but it received a lot of packages. The bad news was that these packages were piled on the floor in the lobby.


“[A]pparently the back area was so jammed with already-mailed packages that there wasn’t any more room to send them through to the other side,” he complained to Consumerist. Photos? Of course he took photos.


packages


parcel_drop


Isn’t that good news? Hurray, people supporting the postal service! Hurray, a busy local government entity! Yes, but there’s a problem with this workflow, too. “Any joker could simply walk in and walk out with several armloads of packages,” notes C. “and no one would ever know what happened! Hell, I could have done it if I’d wanted to.”


C. told the people behind the counter about his package-related concerns. He also contacted his local postmaster, but didn’t hear anything back. We passed his photos and story on to representatives of the U.S. Postal Service, but we didn’t hear anything back either. It could be that this is just how they’re dealing with an era when they have to cut back on staffing levels, but computer-addicted customers keep buying and selling stuff online and printing their own postage at home. Or maybe C. caught them on an off day.




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Cómo hacer marketing de contenidos de leyenda #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía sobre cómo hacer marketing de contenidos de leyenda. Vía Un saludo



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15 frases sacadas del #SMMDay #infografia #infographic #socialmedia #citas #quotes

Hola: Una infografía con 15 frases sacadas del #SMMDay. Vía Un saludo



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Las 5 mejores características de Linkedin para tu empresa #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía con Las 5 mejores características de Linkedin para tu empresa. Vía Un saludo



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Plan de empresa para fotógrafos emprendedores #infografia #infographic #entrepeneurship

Hola: Una infografía con un plan de empresa para fotógrafos emprendedores. Un saludo Download the infographic: The 2014 Photo Business Plan Workbook



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Ask Tax Dad: How Do I E-File? What’s A Deduction, Anyway?

TAXDADSEZHistorically, our staff Certified Tax Cat has handled readers’ questions about taxes, but he took feline early retirement and hug up his oversized eyeglasses. Filling in for him is Laura’s dad, a retired accountant and real live independent tax preparer. Exclusively on Consumerist, Tax Dad answers your questions.


Our question today comes from a reader named Laura who does not work here:



I won $2400 in the Florida state lottery this year, and I also have $2400 in losing scratch offs that I want to use to help possibly offset the taxes. Can I use Turbotax, or do I need to head to H&R Block?



Congratulations on your win. The good news is that there is no Florida state tax on your winnings, since Florida has no personal income tax. And “no comment” on H&R Block.


Of course, the IRS does consider your $2,400 to be taxable income, and you will or should receive a tax statement on that. As far as deducting your gambling losses up to $2,400, the qualifier would depend on whether you can itemize your deductions on Schedule A. If so, the gambling losses would qualify as a miscellaneous deduction.


What is Schedule A? You often hear people refer to things as “tax-deductible.” This means that you can enter it on your tax form, and it will reduce the amount of your income that you have to pay taxes on by the same amount. Common expenses that people deduct include mortgage interest, student loan interest, and charitable donations.


Whether you need to document all of these items (called “deductions” in tax land) separately depends on the total of items that you would deduct. To make life simpler, the IRS has a standard deduction that applies to most people of modest means with relatively simple taxes. For tax year 2013, the standard deduction for an individual is $6,100. If you’re married or have dependents, that amount goes up.


If you have other qualifying deductions, such as mortgage interest, property taxes, or donations, the gambling losses could put you over the standard limit. The section of the your tax return that you use to list all of these deductions is called Schedule A.


And yes, TurboTax would help you with this. Access TurboTax through the IRS FreeFIle website and you can use the program and file for no cost if you earn less than $58,000. Downloadable forms that you can fill out on your computer are available for people who earn $58,000 or more, but you have to know how to file a tax return in order to use those forms.


A NOTE ABOUT E-FILING


Those of you over 30 may recall the “Good ol’ Days” of filing income tax returns, which involved sitting at the kitchen table on April 15, armed with a sharp pencil, good eraser, all the prior year’s “Important Tax Documents Enclosed” and hammering out a reasonable tax return in time to beat the midnight mailing deadline. Then came the rush to the nearest Post Office to stand in line for a pre-midnight postmark. Lower income filers had it much easier, copying their W-2 onto a short form 1040A and mailing it in. For a while, one could even call the IRS and file by phone.


All this is ending now with modern technology. IRS and many taxing states are heading toward having everyone file their returns electronically, resulting in fewer errors, faster refunds, and more consistency. With few exceptions, paid preparers must file all returns electronically, and the IRS encourages most individuals to do the same.


For the do-it-yourself filer, there are now a number of tax programs out there to choose from, ranging in price from $20 to $100, sometimes with additional fees for state returns and for electronic filing.


The IRS, however, to encourage electronic filing, now makes many of these programs available thru its E-File website, for those with income of less than $58,000. They also make available fillable forms online for people with higher incomes than that.


Many of these programs are very user-friendly: simply fill your information in the correct blanks and your federal and state taxes are electronically filed, and you can print copies for your records. You will be notified immediately of errors like wrong social security numbers, and math errors are mostly eliminated. Most state sites (those with state taxes) also allow free filing through them.


Proceed with caution, though. If you enter one of these programs through their own website instead of starting with the IRS, there may be charges involved. Some let you complete your returns for free, but charge a fee for electronic filing. Some will complete your Federal return and file it for free, but charge you for filing your state return. To avoid this, start on your state taxation department’s site: for example, here’s where you would start here in New York.


You can shop around, but also some of them do not reveal fees until after you have completed the process.


Disclaimer: The nature of free advice is that you often pretty much get what you pay for. Questions answered in the “Ask Tax Dad” column should not serve as a substitute for consulting a tax preparer, accountant, tax attorney, or certified tax cat of your very own. Tax Dad regrets that he cannot offer advice privately over e-mail.


Have a question for Tax Dad about your federal or state tax returns? Send it to us at tips@consumerist.com with “ASK TAX DAD” in the subject line. We’ll run the answers as soon as we can get him to stop Photoshopping pictures of wild grouse.




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

7 cosas a hacer después de publicar un post en tu blog #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía con 7 cosas a hacer después de publicar un post en tu blog. Vía Un saludo



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La carta presentación en la búsqueda de empleo #rrhh #empleo

Hola: Una presentación con la carta presentación en la búsqueda de empleo. Un saludo



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Los tóxicos de tu oficina van a acabar contigo #infografia #infographic #rrhh

Hola: Una infografía que nos dice que los tóxicos de tu oficina van a acabar contigo. Un saludo Courtesy of: TimetoCleanse.com



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El rápido ascenso de Vine #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre el rápido ascenso de Vine. Un saludo



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La geolocalización como oportunidad para los emprendedores rurales #entrepreneurship

Hola: Una infografía sobre la geolocalización como oportunidad para los emprendedores rurales. Un saludo



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Planning Your Funeral At The Mall — Creepy Or Convenient?


People talk about the death of shopping malls in America, but it may be death that is breathing new life into some of these retail relics.


The AP reports that Forest Lawn, the operators of several cemeteries and mortuaries in Southern California, has spent the last two years selling its services via a number of in-mall kiosks in the area. And it’s only one of the funeral home chains turning toward more traditional retail locations to do business.


“We try to reach our audience where they are at and the mall is a great way to do that,” a rep for the company tells the AP. “And it’s also, perhaps, a way to reach people who might be a little leery about coming directly into one of our parks.”


That may not be such a bad move. Sure, there are plenty of funeral and burial plans that can be arranged well in advance, but there is just something grim about visiting a funeral home or a cemetery for shopping purposes.


“Funeral planning is something everybody knows they must do, but at the same time it’s something nobody wants to do,” explains the executive director of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. “Nobody gets up on a Saturday morning and says, ‘Gee, it’s a nice day. I wonder if I can go out and get myself a burial plot.’”







by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Algunas formas de ganar dinero en Internet #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía con algunas formas de ganar dinero en Internet. Un saludo Online Royalties; Make Money Online via HostGator.



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Historia del almacenamiento de datos #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía con la Historia del almacenamiento de datos. Un saludo The History of Data Storage



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Senator Endorses USPS Plan To Enter Financial Services Arena, Offer Payday Lending Alternative


With traditional banking institutions finally out of the payday lending game, who’s left to swoop in to take care of the unbanked? Apparently, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) thinks the United States Postal Service has what it takes.


In an op-ed on the Huffington Post Sunday, Warren endorsed the idea that the USPS could use its infrastructure to extend basic banking needs, such as debit cards and small-dollar loans, to those who are ignored by the banking industry, ThinkProgress reports.


“With post offices and postal workers already on the ground, USPS could partner with banks to make a critical difference for millions of Americans who don’t have basic banking services because there are almost no banks or bank branches in their neighborhoods,” she wrote.


Last week, the Postal Service Office of the Inspector General issued a white paper suggesting the USPS could make nearly $9 billion by partnering with banks to offer financial services to those Americans who are unbanked or under-banked.


In an interview with Consumerist last week, Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Ruth Goldway echoed the report’s findings saying post offices would be an excellent resource for providing safe, secure access to basic financial services.


Providing payday loan-like services would be one of the cornerstones of the Postal Service’s financial plan and could potentially save Americans hundred of millions of dollars each year, the USPS report says.


The USPS would offer small-dollar loans with low-interest rates. As an example, the report compares a traditional $375 payday loan to a “postal loan” of the same amount. The traditional loan has a 391% interest rate, adding up to $520 in fees, while the “postal loan” would come with a mere 28% APR and $48 in fees.


For the financial services dreams of the USPS to come true, they would have to find banks to partner with. And while banks are promising to find alternatives to their shuttered small-dollar, high-interest payday loan-like services, they are also facing tougher requirements by federal regulators.


More stringent regulations are the reason Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Regions Bank, Bank of Oklahoma and its affiliates and Guaranty Bank discontinued their deposit advance programs last month.


After the banks announced the discontinuation of deposit advance programs the National Consumer Law Center urged them to follow certain criteria, including capping the annual percentage rate at no more than 36%, when considering new small loan programs for consumers.


Elizabeth Warren Proposes Replacing Payday Lenders With The Post Office [ThinkProgress]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Crisis mundial de aprendizaje infantil #infografia #infographic #education

Hola: Una infografía sobre la crisis mundial de aprendizaje infantil. Un saludo



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10 consejos para ser Content Curator #marketing #socialmedia

Hola: Una presentación con 10 consejos para ser Content Curator. Un saludo



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Police: Man Pulled Gun On Cookie-Hawking Girl Scout


When you see a co-worker pass around the inevitable Girl Scout cookie order form and grumble about how you had to do door-to-door sales back when you were a kid, keep this story in mind. A family alleges that a Girl Scout selling cookies in a California neighborhood had a gun pulled on her by a potential customer.

The girl’s father accompanied her on her sales call, and phoned police. The neighbor was taken into custody and his weapon seized.


For the sake of the girls and the cookies, we hope that this isn’t a sign that we’re about to see a repeat of the Girl Scout Cookie Crime Wave of 2013.


Man Allegedly Pulls Gun On Girl Scout Selling Cookies [CBS Chicago]




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Wendy’s Announces New Requirement To Ensure Crate-Free Pork Production By Suppliers


Wendy’s is taking their commitment to animal welfare seriously. No, they aren’t going to stop selling animal products, but they are taking steps to ensure their pork suppliers are accountable for phasing out gestation crates.

On Monday, Wendy’s International Inc. announced the next step in its animal welfare standards program by requiring pork suppliers to submit quarterly progress resorts detailing their efforts to stop the use of the controversial gestation crates, the Los Angeles Times reports.


In Monday’s statement, Wendy’s officials said they hope to end the use of crates entirely by 2022. The company first announced in 2012 that it would work to eliminate the crates.



As a part of this commitment, we now require every raw material and finished product supplier to submit quarterly progress reports that reflect the percentage of stall-free pork supplied to Wendy’s. Additionally, as a result of recent announcements by two suppliers who currently make up the majority of our raw materials (pork) business, we are confident we will continue to make progress towards our goal of eliminating the use of sow gestation stalls in our supply chain by the end of 2022. We maintain our commitment of achieving gestation stall-free sourcing, and welcome the ongoing and expanded cooperation from our suppliers.



The use of gestation crates has been criticized as cruel, but proponents of the practice say it is to protect the pregnant animals from other aggressive pigs.


In recent years, several companies have denounced the used of the crates.


In 2012, Burger King and McDonalds vowed to stop the use of gestation crates. Both companies said they hoped to entirely quit the practice by 2017.


Later in 2012, Safeway, the second-largest grocery store in the U.S., joined the ranks saying they would stop buying from suppliers employing gestation stalls.


Wendy’s requiring reports on gestation crates from pork suppliers [The Los Angeles Times]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

It’s Nothing Personal: Hundreds Of Patch Employees Laid-Off During Conference Call

Conference Call Canning.

Conference Call Canning.



If you’re going to fire hundreds of employees, at least have the guts to do so individually. After years of dedicated, time-consuming work, hundreds of online media employees were let go during a series of conference calls last week; taking “it’s nothing personal” to an entirely new level.

On Wednesday, hundreds of Patch editors were laid off during what can only be described as an impersonal rehearsed conference call. The lay-offs leave only a few hundred employees to maintain more than 900 hyper-local sites, the New York Times reports.


With hundreds of employees across the country, maybe it’s safe to assume the higher-ups at Patch just wanted to get the bad news over with so they used a conference call? But still, such an informal “thanks for your work, but you’re no longer needed” message has to sting.


Still, the cold touch and complete disregard to the editors and advertising sales representatives is alarming. Although, maybe not totally unexpected. Remember when CEO Tim Armstrong fired an employee during an all-company call last year?


Media blogger Jim Romenesko posted a transcript and recording of the conference call on his site.


Patch Chief Operations Officer, Leigh Zarelli Lewis provided the straight-forward firing to employees:



“Patch is being restructured in connection with the creation of a joint venture with Hale Global. Hale Global has decided which Patch employees will receive an offer of employment to move forward in accordance with their vision for Patch and which will not. Unfortunately, your role has been eliminated and you will no longer have a role at Patch and today will be your last day of employment with the company.”



The news of lay-offs, billed as a reorganization, came just weeks after the company was sold to Hale Global. It remains to be seen what exactly Hale has in store for the remnants of Patch.


Wednesday’s cuts come after another significant round of lay-offs in August. However, many of those employees were allowed to stay on with the company until October.


The hyper-local news organization was once a shining star for AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. Armstrong helped to create Patch and later assisted in its purchase by AOL in 2009.


In December, Armstrong seemed optimistic on the future of Patch, saying the company had more digital traffic than many traditional media players.


Still, after losing hundreds of millions of dollars, Patch’s time was clearly running out this last December. After making a pledge to AOL investors that Patch would be profitable by the end of 2013, Armstrong was forced to go back on this promise and the majority stake of the company was sold to Hale Global.


Listen when Patch lays off hundreds of employees on a conference call [SFGate]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

15 Things You Really Should Buy At The Dollar Store


Dollar stores: they sell almost everything that you might want, and a lot of things that you didn’t know you wanted. There are items available at these cheaporiums that you don’t need, or didn’t even think you needed before you saw them. Then there are items that, if you can find them in a dollar store, you shouldn’t even bother to shop for them anywhere else.

Over at MoneyTalksNews, they rounded up some items that are best purchased in a dollar store. Sometimes. Maybe.


1. Greeting cards


No, the cards available for a dollar or even for fifty cents at your local dollar store don’t have music, buckets of glitter, and probably don’t have recognizable cartoon characters. However, they cost a buck or less.


2. Party supplies


Hats? Streamers? Confetti? Disposable tablecloths? If you need decorations in a common color or for an ordinary event like a birthday or graduation, consider the dollar store. They’re all there, slightly crappier than their more expensive cousins at discount or party stores. If you need licensed decorations for your American Idol finale party, then you’ll need a specialty store.


3. Gift bags, boxes and wrapping paper


I love the dollar store for gift bags, which I then proceed to re-use through as many gift cycles as my friends and family will tolerate. Tissue paper, wrapping paper, bows, and pretty gift boxes are also great deals at the dollar store.


4. Seasonal décor


Get your glittering bunnies and wooden trees here! Some offerings are surprisingly not terrible. Maybe avoid anything with electric components and candle holders, though, for safety’s sake.


5. Reading glasses


If you need the simple kind that just magnify words, the glasses at the dollar store are inexpensive and you won’t feel as bad when you inevitably lose them.


6. Hair accessories


Elastics, barrettes, headbands: they’re not the fanciest at the dollar store, but you get some great deals.


7. Pregnancy tests


MoneyTalks News recommends buying pregnancy tests at the dollar store, but there are even better options if you know where to look: a grand multiparous friend recommends buying in bulk if you plan to go through a lot of these. (Worst-case scenario? You only need to use one, and waste thirty bucks.) If you’re in a hurry and don’t need to buy in bulk, though, the dollar store is a good choice.


8. Vases


Almost as good as thrift stores for these.


9. Mugs and glasses


Not the best quality, but not worse than what you might find at a pricier discount store. With glasses, you don’t need to buy a full set: they’re usually open stock.


10. Dishes and silverware


Okay, it ain’t “silver”ware, but same argument as item #9.


11. Plastic Storage containers


Go elsewhere if you need heavy-duty bins, but for lighter items, the dollar-store version will do.


12. Picture frames


They might be fine as is, or you might have to embellish them with paint or anything else that you think of.


13. Bagged or boxed candy


Sometimes you can even find discontinued or rare candy at the dollar store that isn’t available elsewhere, like Coffee Crisp in the U.S.


14. Socks


They’re not the fanciest, but they can be the cheapest. Novelty socks printed with animals or holiday designs are an especially good deal at dollar stores. Don’t bother with most other clothing and accessories available in dollar stores, though.


15. Washcloths and dish towels


You don’t need fancy washcloths: having a clean one matters more. Same with dish towels, though you should keep an eye on the quality.


Definitely Buy These 15 Things at a Dollar Store [MoneyTalksNews] (via CRAM)




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Report: iPhone Catches Fire While In Teen’s Back Pocket


Having a hot electronic gadget that’s all the rage is one thing, but having it actually be so hot that it burns its owner is an entirely other unfortunate reality. A teenage girl in Maine found that out the painful way when her iPhone reportedly caught fire in her pocket one morning at school.


The eighth-grader was about to start her first class of the day at about 7:40 a.m. when she sat down in the classroom and heard a “pop” in her back pants pocket, reports the SeaCoast Online. That combined with the smoke coming from her clothing prompted her to do what we’ve all been taught — stop, drop and roll.


Teachers covered her in a blanket while she tried to get out of the pants (her pals had already ordered the boys from the room because as any eighth-grader will tell you, having the opposite sex see you in a public state of undress is just the absolute worst.”


The principal said that the phone fell out and appeared to be visibly “burnt.”


“It was something that I don’t think people had ever seen before. I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said.


Local authorities believe that when the student sat down, the phone’s battery “shorted out.” The girl was taken to the hospital and treated for “moderate” burns and released. The state fire marshal is investigating.


Teenage girl burned when iPhone catches fire [SeaCoastOnline.com)




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Credit Union Sues Target Over Credit Card Hack


A credit union in Pennsylvania has filed a lawsuit, one that could potentially include 100 other credit unions as plaintiffs, against Target in an attempt to recoup is losses in the wake of the retailer’s recent massive data breach.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that First Choice Federal Credit Union in New Castle, PA, filed the suit in a federal court in Pittsburgh on Friday.


The breach, which occurred during the height of the holiday shopping season, exposed credit and/or personal information for more than 100 million Target shoppers.


Some banks, like JPMorgan Chase and Citi, have proactively replaced debit cards for customers affected by the theft and millions of other consumers have taken it upon themselves to have their debit and credit cards replaced as a precaution.


The First Choice complaint says that it and other financial institutions have been slammed with “significant costs associated with, among other things, notifying its members of issues related to the Target Data Breach, closing out and opening new customer accounts, reissuing members’ cards, and/or refunding members’ losses resulting from the unauthorized use of their accounts.”


Last week, the Consumer Bankers Association estimated that its member institutions have already spent more than $150 million to replace cards, figuring an average replacement cost of $10/card.


The suit seeks compensation for losses, attorney fees and “an order enjoining Defendant from any further improper retention of customer data.”




by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Passengers’ Antitrust Suit Against Gogo In-Flight Internet Allowed To Move Forward


A class-action antitrust suit filed by airline travelers against the operators of Gogo in-flight Internet has cleared a huge legal hurdle. A federal court has given the green light for the suit to move forward.

The lawsuit alleges that Gogo maintains an 85% market share on in-flight Internet and that its contracts with the airlines makes it difficult for carriers to drop the service in favor of Gogo’s competition, some of whom only charge a fraction of what Gogo goes for.


Gogo’s system relies on ground-to-air tower transmission, which requires that a plane reaches a certain altitude before Internet access can be turned on. The plaintiffs claim this is inferior to competing satellite-based services that have no altitude requirement.


In the complaint, the plaintiffs also allege that Gogo’s contracts are so restrictive as to be an illegal restraint on trade.


Gogo denies the plaintiffs claims about its market share and its deals with airlines, but the judge ruled the plaintiffs have demonstrated enough of their case that these matters should be determined in a trial.


Passengers win ruling in fight over Gogo’s in-flight Wi-Fi “monopoly” [GigaOm.com]




by Chris Morran via Consumerist

United Airlines Cuts Cleveland As A Hub After Losing Millions There In Recent Years


Cleveland is likely reeling today with the news that United Airlines is ditching the city as a hub, cutting about 60% its departing flights from the city starting in April. The downsizing is a result of United losing tens of millions of dollars in the city in recent years, executives said in a letter to employees today.


According to the letter from United’s board chairman/chief executive officer/president Jeff Smisek, the company couldn’t keep pouring money into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, reports the Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer.


“Our hub in Cleveland hasn’t been profitable for over a decade, and has generated tens of millions of dollars of annual losses in recent years,” Smisek’s letter said. “We simply cannot continue to bear these losses.”


Many of the cuts will be on flights that used to be operated by Continental Airlines before it merged with United — generally regional departures. Cuts will be ongoing into June, until finally there will be about 72-peak-day flights from Cleveland, serving 20 destinations with non-stop flights.


And of course one big concern whenever there’s a massive cutback like this? Job losses. Employees are saying that ticket agents and ground crews will be hit hardest by the cuts, while Smisek’s letter notes that 430 airport operations positions and 40 catering jobs will be no more.


While Cleveland has been supportive thus far, Smisek says “the demand for hub-level connecting flying through Cleveland simply isn’t there. We must make the right business decisions, even when those decisions are painful.”


“I know that these changes will be difficult for many of you, and this outcome is not what any of us wanted,” he wrote.


This fear has been looming on the horizon for many in the city since United merged with Continental — which had a base in Cleveland — in 2010. United already has hubs in nearby-ish cities Chicago and Newark, N.J., rendering Cleveland somewhat unnecessary as a hub.


United Airlines says it will drastically cut flights from its unprofitable Cleveland hub [The Plain Dealer]




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Kansas Cable Lobbyists Deny Hatred Of Google Fiber, Will “Tweak” Restrictive Bill Language


Cable lobbyists seem to be buckling under the pressure of consumer unrest in Kansas. Last week, the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association announced a protectionist bill that would all but squash some city’s hopes of getting improved broadband service.

On Monday, the KCTA, whose members include Cox, Time Warner Cable, and Eagle Communications, said they would “tweak” the bill’s language to make it less restrictive, Ars Technia reports.


While it wasn’t specified how the language would be tweaked, officials with the board maintain the bill was created with the protection of consumers in mind.


KCTA president John Federico told Ars Technica the board stands firm on their belief that municipalities should not use taxpayer dollars to directly compete with private telecom providers.


Under the bill’s (PDF) current language, cities and towns may not provide to one or more subscribers, video, telecommunications, or broadband service, with the exception of unserved areas. The bill goes on to define unserved as an area where 90% of the households lack access to broadband service.


The bill also garnered attention for its restrictions on public-private partnerships, that could prevent future broadband programs, similar to Google Fiber, from operating in the state. Kansas City is home to the country’s first Google Fiber municipal network, which is in direct competition with Time Warner Cable in the area.


Federico denied the bill had anything to do with Google entering the telecommunications fray in Kansas City.


Kansas City laid out significant incentives for Google to come hook up their city to a speedy, reliable network. Existing broadband providers like Time Warner Cable did not particularly appreciate Google’s receiving those incentives. Cable companies in general are not exactly fans of municipal networks. And yet the added competition among broadband carriers, or even the specter of it, works out well for consumers.


The bill was scheduled for discussion Tuesday, but KCTA members said they would ask for a postponement.


Other states have attempted similar legislation in recent years; a bill barring municipal broadband in Georgia failed to pass in 2013.


Cable lobby will “tweak” bill banning municipal broadband in Kansas [Ars Technica]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Today In Major Credit Card Breaches: Hotels, Hotel Restaurants


Major credit card hacks: they’re not just for big box retailers or upscale department stores anymore. The newest place your credit card info is being stolen from? Hotels.


You’ve probably never heard of the White Lodging Services Corporation, but you very well may have stayed in one of their hotels. Hotel chains have franchises, just like fast food restaurants, and White Lodging operates approximately 170 various hotels all over the country, including some Sheraton, Hyatt, Hilton, Westin, and Marriott locations.


The data breach appears to have taken place over the vast majority of 2013, as security expert Brian Krebs reports. Investigators working through a pattern of credit card fraud found that what the cards all had in common was a stay at a White Lodging hotel between March 23, 2013 and the end of the year.


The affected cards seem mostly to have been used not for room reservations, but for other uses–particularly restaurants and gift shops–inside the affected hotel locations, Krebs reports:



Sources say the breach appears to have affected mainly restaurants, gift shops and other establishments within hotels managed by White Lodging — not the property management systems that run the hotel front desk computers which handle guests checking in and out. In the case of Marriott, for example, all Marriott establishments operated as a franchise must use Marriott’s property management system. As a result, the breach impacted only those Marriott guests who used their cards at White Lodging-managed gift shops and restaurants.



Marriott told Krebs that White Lodging is, “in the midst of the investigation and are in close contact with the banks and credit cards companies. We are working closely with the franchisee as they investigate the matter.”


If you stayed in a hotel in 2013, or ate at a restaurant in one, it’s worth checking to see if it was a White Lodging property, just in case.


And as we keep seeing again and again, if you’ve used a credit or debit card pretty much anywhere, you should be aware of breaches and take steps to protect yourself. A need for vigilance is the downside of convenience, these days.


Hotel Franchise Firm White Lodging Investigates Breach [Krebs On Security]




by Kate Cox via Consumerist

Time Warner Cable Customers Lose Signal During Super Bowl


“Whatever you are passionate about, Time Warner Cable invents ways for you to enjoy it even better,” Time Warner Cable declares in commercials that run for its subscribers. Unless you’re passionate about professional football, live near Los Angeles and you’re a Time Warner customer still using a standard-definition TV. Then you had to scramble for an antenna during the second quarter of the game. [LA Times]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

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Store Loses Super Bowl Bet, Gives Away $7 Million Worth Of Furniture

furnituregalleryA furniture store in Houston has to give $7 million worth of furniture away to its customers after losing a bet on the Super Bowl. Don’t feel bad for the store owner, though: from his point of view, this is a good thing. Not because he’s a terrible business owner, but because the promotion got customers in the door, got the store’s name in the news, and just might create long-term customers.


“We’re trying to create customers for life and make the store relevant and fun,” store owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale told TV station KHOU. Free furniture is super fun.


Here’s how the promotion worked: the store owner picked a team by flipping a coin. That team was Denver. Customers who spent $6,000 or more on furniture before Sunday evening would receive their purchases for free if the Seahawks won. They did.


Of course, that $7 million figure isn’t quite true: that’s the retail cost of the free couches and mattresses, not what the store originally paid for them. It’s the profit and overhead that the local chain will forgo, in exchange for lots of goodwill and good publicity. You’d think that McIngvale would have learned his lesson: most shoppers chose either the Broncos or the Seahawks to win their respective division championships when the store had a similar promotion a few weeks ago. For that sale, customers could choose which teams they wanted to bet on, and win their furniture if they were right.


Mattress Mack Refunds More Than $7 Million to Customers for Lost “Super Bowl Bet” Promotion (Thanks, Rachael!)




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Telemarketers Must Pay $14.75 Million Judgement, Because Scamming People Is Wrong


When you’ve make a promise to no longer defraud consumers, you might want to stick to that promise. Otherwise, like two Florida businessmen, you could be on the hook for $14.75 million.


The Federal Trade Commission announced Monday that a U.S. district court in Florida issued a contempt order against Byron Wolf and Roy Eliasson for continuing to operate a scheme defrauding consumers. The duo has been ordered to pay $14.75 million, the same amount they alledgedly scammed from consumers.


Wolf and Eliasson were found in violation of a December 2008 permanent injunction and final order that barred them from making a range of misrepresentations to consumers, billing consumers without their authorization, and failing to make required disclosures in future business endeavors.


The FTC reports that within months of the 2008 settlement, in which Wolf and Eliasson paid $11 million, the duo had devised a new plan to defraud consumers through Membership Services, LLC.


In the scheme, they used deceptive phone and internet solicitations to target recent loan applicants and misled them into believing they would provide them with cash advances, loans, or lines of credit.


According to the court, while the defendants sent messages to consumers communicating they had been “approved” for a loan, none of them ever received a loan. Instead, many of their bank accounts were debited $49.95 or more a month after they provided their financial information to the defendants.


The 2008 settlement came after the FTC sued Suntasia Marketing, Inc., for deceptively marketing negative-option programs to consumers. The company allegedly defrauded consumers and charged their bank accounts without their consent for a variety of programs, including membership in discount buyer’s and travel clubs.


The FTC’s announcement Monday highlights the agency’s commitment to monitoring every order of compliance, and quickly dealing with those that do no follow settlement agreements.


Court Finds Telemarketers In Contempt; Imposes $14.75 Million Judgement [Federal Trade Commission]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Aereo Expands To San Antonio, Runs Out Of Capacity In NYC

aereoantennaeThe loophole behind Aereo, the service that lets people watch broadcast TV from Internet-connected devices, is that for every streaming viewer, there’s one teeny antenna at Aereo HQ. This helps the company get around copyright restrictions, since each viewer of local broadcasts has their own antenna (just not in their home.) The company recently announced that it’s run out of capacity in New York City, the first area where it launched, and is expanding to the San Antonio, Texas metropolitan area.


The San Antonio television market includes 30 over-the-air channels that Aereo subscribers will gain the ability to steam on their computers and other streaming devices. These include local affiliates ABC, NBC, Aereo foe CBS, Fox, CW, PBS, UniVision, and Telemundo. There are also special-interest channels available over the air, such as kids’ programming from Smile of a Child.


Curious whether you’ll be able to subscribe? Here are the counties in Texas where Aereo will be available beginning on February 1Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, De Witt, Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Goliad, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, La Salle, Lavaca, McMullen, Medina, Real, Uvalde, Wilson and Zavala.


Aereo Announces Launch Date for San Antonio [Press Release]

Sold out in New York, Aereo to expand to San Antonio [CNET]




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist