Consejos para gestión de crisis en Redes Sociales #infografia #infographic #marketing #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre consejos para gestión de crisis en Redes Sociales. Vía Un saludo

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This Petco Coupon Excludes Everything I Would Buy At Petco

Pet owners: if you had a 25% coupon code for Petco, what would you load your cart up with? Food? Litter? Toys? Treats? If you’re using a current coupon that the retailer has for online shoppers, only half of those things are eligible for the discount. Oh, boo.

The coupon is simple enough: free shipping on most items, and 25% off most items, with some exceptions.

EXCLUSIONS: Dog food, cat food, cat litter, dog litter, ice melter, wild bird food, live fish & rock, aquatic gravel and accents; crickets, live food and frozen food; Seresto, K9 Advantix, Advantage, and Frontline; products with Manufacturer Minimum Advertised Price; out-of-stock items, Donations, Petco Gift Cards and eGift Cards; Repeat Delivery orders and subscriptions; items shipped through white glove delivery or LTL delivery; orders exceeding the maximum weight limit of 300 lbs.; and applicable taxes.


Overall, this isn’t a bad coupon. We’ve seen some terrible coupons in our day, and most of these exclusions are common-sense items. Litter is heavy, and we understand not shipping it for free. Gift cards? Of course; no one expects coupons to work on those. Well, hardly anyone.

Jennifer was unhappy, though. “What else would I buy from this retailer that does NOT fall under the below exclusions?!” she wrote to Consumerist. “Seriously, this is sheer madness.”

We wouldn’t go that far, but maybe the Consumerist K9 Unit’s insatiable thirst for soft treats and novel squeaky toys has ruined our perception. So, pet owners, what’s your opinion?

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Por qué necesitamos Google + para el SEO #infografia #infographic #seo #marketing

Hola: Una infografía sobre Por qué necesitamos Google + para el SEO. Vía Un saludo

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Ficha para pasar la ITV a tu página de FaceBook #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía con una Ficha para pasar la ITV a tu página de FaceBook. Vía Un saludo

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Chevron Says Sorry For Fracking Fire The Only Way It Knows How: With Pizza Coupon

Next time I set fire to a small town, I must remember to contact the local pizza place to inquire about a bulk order.

Next time I set fire to a small town, I must remember to contact the local pizza place to inquire about a bulk order.

Last week, an explosion at a Chevron natural gas fracking operation in northwestern Pennsylvania resulted in a fire that lasted for days and may have cost one rig worker his life. Let’s not forget the environmental damage and other possibly hazardous longterm effects. If you were a mammoth oil company like Chevron, how would you appease the local citizenry? By providing them pizza coupons, of course.

Reads the note distributed to 100 local residents:

Dear Neighbor,

We are sorry to have missed you. We wanted to provide you with a status update on the February 11 incident that occurred on Chevron’s Appalachia’s Lanoce 7 H well pads in Dunkard Township and see if you had any questions or concerns that we could address.

Chevron recognizes the effect this has had on the community. We value being a responsible member of this community and will continue to strive to achieve incident-free operations. We are committed to taking action to safeguard our neighbors, our employees, our contractors and the environment.

If you have any questions, please call our toll free community line at 1-877-847-8408.

Thank you,

Chevron Community Outreach Team

And attached to the letter, a coupon for 1 large pizza and a 2-liter soda at a local pizza joint.

That’s right. It’s not even for a dollar amount; just a pizza and soda. Want a cheesesteak? That’ll cost ya. Who do you think you’re dealing with, Exxon?

Oddly enough, the offer of a pizza (and a soda, let’s not forget the soda!) in exchange for putting residents through a fiery ordeal strikes some as a bum deal.

But not to worry, the folks at Chevron are taking this seriously.

In a statement to Gizmodo, the company writes (bolded for emphasis):

The situation at the Lanco well site in Pennsylvania remains serious and teams are working around the clock to safely approach and shut in the well. There has been considerable construction activity adjacent to the site, resulting in increased traffic and congestion in the area. Recognizing that our neighbors have been affected by these activities, we are out in the community every day to listen to and address concerns. We have also offered a token of appreciation for their patience during this time, and our commitment to the community goes far beyond this and our outreach is ongoing.

Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of our missing colleague and we appreciate the strong support we have received from nearby residents as we work to respond to this incident in a safe manner.

So quit your yapping, people of Bobtown. They could have just bought you some frozen pizzas and told you to roast them over the embers of your backyard.

The Chevron Guarantee: Our well won’t explode…or your pizza is free! []

The Chevron Promise: If our fracking well explodes, the pizza is on us! [No Fracking Way]

Chevron: Sorry Our Gas Well Exploded, Here’s a Free Pizza [Gizmodo]

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Los clientes quieren atención omnicanal #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía que nos dice que los clientes quieren atención omnicanal. Un saludo

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Cómo crear pines virales en Pinterest #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre cómo crear pines virales en Pinterest. Vía Un saludo

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SCORM: contenidos interoperables #infografia #infographic #education

Hola: Una infografía sobre SCORM: contenidos interoperables. Vía Un saludo

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Las 9 primeras dudas del blogger #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía con las 9 primeras dudas del blogger. Vía Un saludo

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10 mayores miedos de los emprendedores #infografia #infographic #entrepreneurship

Hola: Una infografía sobre los 10 mayores miedos de los emprendedores. Vía Un saludo

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El fin de Windows XP #infografia #infographic #microsoft

Hola: Una infografía sobre el fin de Windows XP. Un saludo

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Is This Target Add-On Item 50% Off Or Free? Neither

freecleanerDo you remember this shelf tag at Target? It showed us that even the most mundane cleaning-product sale can trigger an existential crisis. The sign promises a free cleaning product if you buy a broom, and also 50% off that same cleaning product. Is the Clorox product 50% off? Is it free? Where am I? Is this real life?

We wrote to Target to ask which sale was the correct one, but they never answered us. That’s okay: we can just check on things on the ground.

Fortunately, brave reader Steve saw the sign, and who doesn’t need a broom? He picked up items in the promotion, and headed to the checkout to find out whether the cleaner was 50% off or free. The answer was…neither.

“A manager refused to honor the sign,” he wrote to Consumerist, “since it was ‘not clear if it should be free or 50% off’ and said the register was correct in pricing the cleaner at full price.”

Thank you for finding the answer for us, Steve. We should have known that the answer would be “neither” or “the cleaner costs twice as much if purchased with the broom.” That’s the only way that things make sense at Target.


At This Target, 50% Off And Free Are Pretty Much The Same Thing

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

FDA May Trim Some Of Those Lengthy Warnings In Prescription Drug Ads

We’re all familiar with prescription drug commercials that are basically 5 seconds about how there’s some awesome drug for your “moderate-to-severe” fill-in-the-blank condition, followed by 25 seconds of happy families playing in parks accompanied by the sound of speed-red disclosures about a vast array of warnings and possible side effects. The FDA is now looking for you opinion about whether it should look into trimming down all that fine print.

Earlier today, the FDA began seeking public comment on a proposed investigation into whether or not to ease the regulations governing the level of disclosures in prescription drug ads.

The regulations currently governing these ads require that present the product’s major risks of the advertisement. This fine print — whether spoken, as you’ll find on TV or radio spots, or printed in magazine ads — is generally referred to as the “major statement.”

The FDA says there is concern (from whom — consumers or drug makers?) that “the major statement is often too long, which may result in reduced consumer comprehension, minimization of important risk information and, potentially, therapeutic noncompliance due to fear of side effects.”

It also says there is a conflicting concern (again, without identifying the source of said concern) that these ads “do not include adequate risk information or leave out important information.”

Ever the peacemaker, the FDA sees a possible resolution in limiting the major statement to only those risks “that are serious and actionable, and include a disclosure to alert consumers that there are other product risks not included in the ad.”

It gives the example of an ad that would rattle off a couple of major side-effects — let’s say hair loss, weight gain, and death — that would be followed by a statement like “This is not a full list of risks and side effects. Talk to your doctor and read the patient labeling for [drug name] before starting it.”

The FDA hypothesizes that this format — presenting only the most dire risks, along with a disclosure that there may be others — “will promote improved consumer perception and understanding of serious and actionable drug risks.”

To test that hypothesis, it proposes a study in which participants — each of whom self-identify as having been diagnosed with one of three possible medical conditions, will be randomly assigned to view one of four possible versions of an ad.

One version will represent the current state of prescription ads with a commercial that uses the full major statement without the disclosure regarding additional risks.

A second version of the ad will include the full major statement plus the disclosure about additional risks.

The third version will include an abbreviated statement of risks without the disclosure about additional risks.

And in case you hadn’t guessed, the fourth version will include an abbreviated statement of risks and the disclosure about additional risks.

The participants will then respond to questions about information provided in the version of the ad they watched.

If you want to chime in with your opinion on this study, go to this page on before April 21, 2014.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Cómo mantener viva tu creatividad #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía sobre cómo mantener viva tu creatividad. Un saludo

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6 sombreros para pensar #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía sobre los 6 sombreros para pensar. Un saludo

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Nestlé Recall: Because Even Hot Pockets Shouldn’t Contain Beef “Unfit For Human Food”

hotpocketrcallmain Can someone please find Jim Gaffigan and hold his hand while he hears this news? After a beef processing plant announced a recall last week of almost nine million pounds of meat “unfit for human food,” Nestlé has announced it’s pulling certain flavors and batches of Hot Pockets from the shelf. And yes, I can hear the jokes you’re making.

Your personal feelings on the edibleness of Hot Pockets aside, Nestlé USA’s Prepared Foods Division announced that it’s voluntarily pulling Hot Pockets brand Philly Steak and Cheese in three different pack sizes as well as Hot Pockets Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese, in the two-pack box.

Those two products are the only products involved in the nationwide recall, the company notes, and it’s linked to Rancho’s recall (“which affects many companies,” Nestlé makes sure to point out).

The company says though it didn’t buy any meat directly from Rancho, it took a look into its supply chain to see if any other businesses it deals with did so.

From this review, we have confirmed that a small quantity of meat from Rancho was used at Nestlé’s Chatsworth, California production operation, a facility devoted entirely to HOT POCKETS® brand sandwiches. The affected batches of the two varieties in our range of HOT POCKETS® brand sandwiches are being removed from the marketplace.

Anyone who purchased affected batches should not eat them, but instead return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. No illnesses have been reported yet, says the United States Department of Agriculture. You can call Nestlé Consumer Services at (800) 392-4057.

The list of affected products is below:


Also, if you’ve never heard Jim Gaffigan riff on Hot Pockets, now is the time:

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Groupon On “President” Hamilton: Gotcha! We Did That On Purpose, Haha!

(Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie)

(Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie)

It was fun while we lasted: We had a sneaking suspicion there’s no way Groupon could be so ridiculously idiotic as to think that Alexander Hamilton was ever a U.S. president, and it turns out we were right. The company admitted that the whole Presidents Day deal was a bid for attention. Well, you got it. [via Chicago Tribune with autoplay video]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Cómo hacer una infografía #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía sobre cómo hacer una infografía. Un saludo

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White House Wants FCC To Support Net Neutrality, Won’t Order It To Reclassify Broadband ISPs

The White House today issued a response to a petition asking the Obama administration to intervene with the FCC to preserve net neutrality. Although the response “reaffirms” and “strongly supports” the administration’s commitment to net neutrality, that support does not extend to telling the FCC what to do.

The petition, which received over 105,000 signatures, asks the Obama administration specifically to intervene in the cause of net neutrality by directing the FCC to reclassify broadband ISPs as common carriers.

Several consumer advocates have called on the FCC to act through reclassification, including former FCC commissioner Michael Copps. Calling broadband ISPs common carriers would require them to treat all traffic equally, but making such a change would be an uphill battle for the agency, which would face political and business opposition.

The White House response certainly talks the talk, saying, “Preserving an open Internet is vital not to just to the free flow of information, but also to promoting innovation and economic productivity.” It then goes on to agree that “Absent net neutrality, the Internet could turn into a high-priced private toll road” that would, among other things, prevent the next generation of potential entrepreneurs from creating economic growth.

However, other than the simple reaffirmation that the administration approves of net neutrality, the petition response is mostly a non-response. The White House punts directly back to the FCC, saying:

The petition asked that the President direct the FCC to reclassify Internet service providers as “common carriers” which, if upheld, would give the FCC a distinct set of regulatory tools to promote net neutrality. The FCC is an independent agency. Chairman Wheeler has publicly pledged to use the full authority granted by Congress to maintain a robust, free and open Internet — a principle that this White House vigorously supports.

In the month since an appeals court ruling, the FCC has not yet publicly explained a plan for preserving net neutrality. Congressional Democrats introduced a bill meant to protect consumers in the interim, but it’s not law yet either.

Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a speech last week that he intended to outline a plan “in the coming days.” Those “coming days” don’t appear to be here just yet, but hopefully consumers get action from the FCC sooner rather than later.

Reaffirming the White House’s Commitment to Net Neutrality []

by Kate Cox via Consumerist

Los nuevos emprendedores de España #infografia #infographic #entrepreneurship

Hola: Una infografía sobre los nuevos emprendedores de España. Un saludo

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Monitorización ninja #internet #marketing

Hola: Una presentación sobre Monitorización ninja. Un saludo

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Qué quieren las empresas locales de su web #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía sobre qué quieren las empresas locales de su web. Vía Un saludo

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Cómo comparten online las parejas #infografia #infographic #internet

Hola: Una infografía sobre cómo comparten online las parejas. Un saludo You will find more statistics at StatistaArchivado en: Infografía, Sociedad de la información Tagged: Infografía, internet, tic

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Woman Spends $567 To Buy All The ‘Indecent’ T-Shirts In Mall Store

One of the PacSun shirts the shopper purchased because she felt they were indecent.

One of the PacSun shirts the shopper purchased because she felt they were indecent.

If you see a product in a store that you think is indecent or should otherwise not be on sale to the public, what’s your reaction? Maybe you complain to the store manager, or take your issue to the local media. If you feel it’s so bad that it violates the law, you might contact the proper authorities. But do you spend quite a bit of cash to rid the store of the items in question?

That’s what a woman in Orem, Utah, did when she recently spend $567 at a local PacSun clothing store to snap up all the retailer’s tees featuring half-dressed women on them.

It appears that the particular line that the shopper has a problem with is the V/SUAL Heartbreakers from Vans Style, which use photographs of women in lingerie on the shirts.

The woman tells the Provo Daily Herald that she came across a window display for the new line and was not pleased with what she saw.

“I had a conversation with the store manager,” she explains. “She said she did refuse to put the accompanying banner up with the display because it was much worse, but that she couldn’t take down the T-shirts without talking to her corporate office, but the promo was over Wednesday anyway. She said she told them it might not go over well.”

Management at the mall, which does have a rule against vulgar displays, says that other customers had complained about the PacSun shirts.

“This is hard to police because of freedom of speech,” said the mall manager, who says it is up to the Orem city attorney to determine whether the display violates local obscenity ordinances.

“That sounds all well and good,” says the concerned shopper. “But why would they have to go to the city attorney when it’s obviously against the mall lease.”

And so she purchased $567 worth of the shirts, which she plans to return to the store for a refund one day before the return window closes.

“I hope my efforts will inspire others to speak up within their communities,” she tells the AP. “You don’t have to purchase $600 worth of T-shirts, but you can express your concerns to businesses and corporations who promote the display of pornography to children.”

Of course, this sort of effort also has a tendency to backfire. It’s unlikely that most people would have heard or cared about a limited run T-shirt collection at a 600-chain retailer without this story going public. PacSun may have to refund her the $576 when she returns the shirt, but she’s unintentionally given the store many thousands of dollars worth of free publicity.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Debt Collection Company Actually Admits It Did The Wrong Thing After Bad Online Review

Does anyone currently see any pigs fluttering past the window? Or maybe there’s a new ice skating rink in hell? Because a debt collection company has actually admitted it was wrong. Specifically, the company that owned the supposed $3,500 debt a businesses levied against a customer who posted a negative review about an online shopping experience.

You might remember the aggravating tale of a man who tried to buy something on, only it never arrived. It was a gift, it never showed up, and he was ticked, so he wrote an online review saying as much.

Not only did KlearGear turn around and smack him with a $3,500 fee for violating its “non-disparagement clause” — which didn’t even exist when the man’s wife took to the Internet and criticized the company.

Regardless of that and the fact that such a thing is probably unenforceable, it reported the non-payment of that debt to credit agencies, effectively mucking up his credit pretty bad and keeping him and his wife from paying their bills and getting important loans.

Public Citizen filed a lawsuit against KlearGear back in December on behalf of the couple, and now the collection agency involved has agreed that the so-called “debt” wasn’t actually a real debt.

That lawsuit named debt collector Fidelity Information Corp., which now says it’s done an independent review of the case and reported back to credit agencies that the debt was erroneous. That means KlearGear is off the man’s credit report, finally, after 18 months.

The couple has voluntarily dismissed Fidelity from the lawsuit as a result, but KlearGear is still on the hook in the legal battle. So far the company has yet to respond to the complaint.

KlearGear update: debt collector agrees that “non-disparagement clause” debt is void [Public Citizen]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

1-800-Flowers Misses Valentine’s Day Delivery, Sends $20 Apology Vouchers

dead_tulipsThe sheer volume of orders of gifts delivered on Valentine’s Day means that someone will inevitably be unhappy with what they receive…or don’t receive. 1-800-Flowers customers were upset about the non-delivery, late delivery, or utter crappiness of their orders.

Not all gift recipients were left with empty vases, though. One Twitter user posted this handy “spot the differences” image on Twitter on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes the differences between an arrangement that someone ordered and what they received are subtle and even understandable during a busy time for florists. This… is not so understandable.

The company got around to responding on Twitter… today, on February 18th.

Maybe the company just got a bad batch of tulips. Here’s what another customer reported receiving:

It’s one thing to have the buds closed when the flowers arrive: getting buds rather than blooms just means that the flowers aren’t at their peak yet, and the recipient will have the pleasure of watching them open up and become all beautiful and stuff. Sending flowers that are limp or a vase full of greenery with incidental tulips isn’t okay, though.

Coincidentally, the response came after CNN featured the photo in their story about the drooping tulips. The customer finally managed to get through and receive a refund on Valentine’s Day, but even a refund doesn’t really make up for sending your love a clump of limp tulips as an expression of how you feel about her.

At least you get swift and personable service after the company contacts you via Twitter, though, right?

Someone’s paying attention, though: the company’s stock has fallen almost 6% over the course of the day as this story spread across the newsphere.

1-800-Flowers botches Valentine’s Day – and apology, too [CNN]

Why (FLWS) Is Down Today [TheStreet]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Goodbye Cords: Toyota Is Testing Wireless Charging Station For Hybrids, Electric Cars

wireless parking Are you the owner of an electric car? Hate finding the charging station, then having to get out and actually plug-in your car? Well, fret no more because Toyota is testing a new, easy-to-use wireless battery-charging system.

The system charges a the battery of a plug-in hybrid or a pure-electric car by having the car park on top of it, Autoweek reports.

The system employs magnetic resonance that results from changes in magnetic field intensity between the coil positioned on the ground under the car and a receiving coil built into the undercarriage of the vehicle.

Part of the system includes a new parking-assist program that would help the driver position the car in a parking spot for the charging system.

To test the system, Toyota has given three modified Priuses to customers in Japan for one year. The customers will test ease of use, user satisfaction, misalignment rates and charging behavior.

If testing is successful, the new system could be introduced for personal and commercial use in a couple of years.

Toyota begins testing wireless recharging for electric cars [Autoweek]

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Birds Eye Creates “Mashtags” Potato Shapes So You Can Eat The Internet

Consuming the World Wide Web, one potato shape at a time.

Consuming the World Wide Web, one potato shape at a time.

Because it’s just not enough to consume the Internet with your eyes/brain, Birds Eye is trying to get people to eat the darn thing with its new Twitter-themed “Mashtags” potato shapes. Ah yes, potato shapes — the redheaded step children of French fries and tater tots.

While Business Insider says “now you can eat what you tweet,” I don’t think any of these new shapes spell out “Someone please deliver me a pizza and a vat of ranch dressing.” But you get the point.

“The addition of Mashtags to our food range is an exciting development for Birds Eye. Social media is all about conversation and we’re confident Mashtags will resonate across various groups of people,” a senior brand manager at Birds Eye told BI.

It’s not just about hitching the company’s apple wagon to the social media star, he adds — it’s to make people stop using the Internet itself and talk to each other… about the Internet?

“We’re constantly looking for ways to innovate and inspire consumers and hope that Mashtags will get people talking around the table and help to make mealtimes more enjoyable.”

For now it sounds like these Internet consumables will only be available in the UK, starting next month. The rest of us will just have to go back to licking mobile devices in the hopes that we can get some of that Internetty flavor.

Birds Eye Created Hashtag-Shaped Potatoes To Help Remind You Of The Internet [Business Insider]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

NSA, Homeland Security Admit They Shouldn’t Have Blocked Sale Of Parody Merchandise

The two logos that resulted in cease-and-desist letters from the NSA and DHS (

The two logos that resulted in cease-and-desist letters from the NSA and DHS (

No one likes being made fun of or humiliated (okay, some people do, but that’s part of a much larger discussion), but you can’t throw your authority as a big, scary federal agency around to stop people from mocking you, even if they’re making some money doing so.

This is a lesson that has (we hope) been learned by the folks at the National Security Agency and the Dept. of Homeland Security who have reached a settlement with a T-shirt designer after they banned from selling shirts and other merchandise that parodied these two fun-loving organizations.

It all began back in 2011, when the NSA and DHS sent cease-and-desist letters to Zazzle, one of the largest online marketplaces for custom-produced merch, ordering it to stop offering certain jokey products made by one seller. These products included things like the faux NSA shirt that read “Peeping While You’re Sleeping” and “The only part of government that actually listens,” or the mugs featuring the logo for the Department of Homeland Stupidity.

The NSA had claimed that the merch violated the National Security Agency Act of 1959, which sets limits the commercial use of NSA official seals, while DHS claimed the violation of three separate criminal statutes in its cease-and-desist letter.

In 2013, the creator of these products, which he has sold through his own website for years and are available on Zazzle competitor, filed suit [PDF] against the NSA and DHS in a federal court in Maryland.

The suit, filed by Public Citizen on behalf of the shirts’ creator, argued that the use of the NSA and DHS graphics did not create any likelihood of confusion about source or sponsorship, and no reasonable person would believe that the agencies themselves produced merchandise with those messages. The plaintiff also contended that none of the statutes cited by either agency forbids the parodic use of the logos, and that if those statutes did grant those rights, then that would be in violation of the First Amendment.

In a settlement agreement [PDF] made public today, the NSA agreed to send a follow-up letter to Zazzle’s attorney to clarify that the use of these logos were intended as parody and “should not have been viewed as conveying the impression that the designs were approved, endorsed, or authorized by NSA.”

Meanwhile, DHS will tell Zazzle that it may have made an “overbroad” interpretation of the statutes cited in its cease-and-desist letter and that these laws don’t apply to “uses of the name, initials or seal of an agency for purposes of commentary about the agency.”

“I’m glad the case helped reaffirm the right to lampoon our government,” said the shirts’ creator in a statement through Public Citizen. “I always thought parody was a healthy tradition in American society. It’s good to know that it’s still legal.”

NSA and DHS Finally Acknowledge: Parodied Merchandise Does Not Violate Federal Law []

NSA and Homeland Security Settle First Amendment Lawsuit Over Parody Logos [WSJ Law Blog]

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Couple Fought Wrongful Foreclosure In Court, Emerged Victorious

houseIt’s nice to hear about a battle of consumer vs. bank that ends with a consumer victory. Better still when it means that the consumer gets to stay in their home, which they were in danger of losing to foreclosure. That’s the heartwarming story of one California couple who fought back in court.

They spoke to a local TV station with the mission of letting other California homeowners know that they too have a weapon against wrongful foreclosure. Anyone can sue. They didn’t name their bank on the air, but did explain how after the confusion of the housing bubble and packaging of mortgage-backed securities, sometimes it isn’t immediately clear who owns the mortgage on a given house. It’s possible that the entity foreclosing on a house has no right to do so.

“This is of course something the banks want no one to know about,” their attorney explained to the TV station, “because otherwise you would have everyone running to the court trying to file a claim.”

Homeowners in other states may not be so lucky: as you may remember, California passed legislation a few years ago that gives homeowners special protection from abusive lenders and potentially wrongful foreclosures.

Rancho Cordova Couple Turns Tables On Lender’s Foreclosure Attempt [CBS Sacramento]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

FTC: Spammers Responsible For Millions Of ‘Free Gift Card’ Text Messages To Pay $2.5M

You did not win a free $1,000 gift card like that text message tells you. It’s a scam, and the companies behind it are now paying million of dollars in settlements.

Twelve defendants that allegedly operated websites enticing consumers with bogus offers of “free $1,000 gift cards” for major retailers have agreed to pay $2.5 million, the Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday.

The South Carolina- and California-based defendants allegedly hired marketers to send more than 180 millions spam text messages notifying consumers they had won a free gift card. When in reality, the messages were used as a way to gather and then sell consumers’ personal information to third-party marketers.

According to the complaint, which was first filed in March 2013, when consumers clicked on the link provided in the text message they would be taken to a page to register for the free prize. During the registration process the marketers collected personal information about the consumer to be sold to third parties, the FTC said in a statement.

“This case halts a nationwide operation that took in millions of dollars by promising consumers free gift cards that it never delivered,” Jessica Rich, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “We’re pleased to stop these unwanted messages and protect consumers’ personal information.”

Under the settlement All Square Marketing, LLC; Threadpoint, LLC; PC Global Investments, LLC; Slash 20, LLC; Matthew Cook, Robert Nicolosi, Christopher McVeigh, and Michael Mazzella are required to pay $1,320,000, while SubscriberBASE Holdings, Inc.; SubscriberBASE, Inc.; Jeffery French and Jason Liester are required to pay $1,180,000.

As part of the settlement, the corporate defendants are banned from being involved in the distribution of unwanted span text messages, as well as from misrepresenting whether a good or service is “free”.

Operators of Phony ‘Free $1,000 Gift Card’ Websites Will Pay $2.5 Million in FTC Settlement [Federal Trade Commission]

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Thieves With Hammers Pull Smash-And Grab On Costco Jewelry Cases During Store Hours

Sometimes the crimes that sound like they could never be pulled off — especially in broad daylight with witnesses all over the place — end up being ridiculously successful. A couple of allegedly no good, very bad consumers took the most obvious and literal route for a smash-and-grab at not one, but two Georgia Costco,s using hammers to smack open the jewelry case. And then they of course, grabbed stuff, because that’s how a S&G works.

This was no Mission Impossible, midnight burglary involving some kind of slinky black outfits and laser avoidance techniques, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Police say the duo brazenly bashed open the cases in during shopping hours.

Officials say the two men were caught on camera walking up to the case around 7:40 one night. They pulled out a hammer and broke the glass, cops say, shoving thousands of dollars worth of jewelry into a bag and fleeing the scene.

“Absolutely, these individuals chose what they wanted to take,” a police spokesman said. “It took less than 10 seconds. And dozens of customers were in the store.”

Apparently they’d scouted out the store earlier in the day and probably thought “Hey, what could break glass? Ding, ding.

So far the suspects are on the lam, and cops think this isn’t the first time they’ve struck Costco — a similar crime went down after that one. Both times the suspects dropped their hammers, so they’ll probably regret it when it comes time to hang new pictures on the walls. Ha, take that! No decor for you!

Police seek Alpharetta, Cobb Costco jewelry smash-and-grab thieves [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Beachfront Site Keeps Washing Away? FEMA Calls Area “Low Risk,” OKs Condos

It’s no surprise that waterfront property can be particularly prone to flooding. From the disasters of Katrina, Ike, and Sandy to the more everyday risks, building next to the water means you run a risk of finding that water in your living room one day.

That’s why flood insurance exists. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides that insurance, and they use FEMA’s flood risk maps to set their rates. You might guess that those FEMA maps would say that a low-lying beachfront luxury condo development in an area that’s flooded several times before would be considered high-risk. And yet as NBC News reports, you’d be wrong.

Generally speaking, properties with outstanding mortgages located in high-risk areas are required to carry flood insurance. In general, the system does work about the way it sounds. If you build on the banks of a river that’s known to overflow every couple of years, your federal flood insurance rates are going to be sky-high. If you live 20 miles from the nearest body of water and your house is on top of a hill, then your flood risk is probably a lot lower, and flood insurance for you is both optional and cheaper.

In 2012, Congress passed an act calling on FEMA and other agencies to reform the NFIP. Among the changes, insurance rates for properties in particularly high-risk zones are supposed to increase to match the “true flood risk.” This is where all those supposedly low-risk low-lying beachfront condo developments come in.

As NBC found in their analysis, FEMA has rewritten their maps to place over 500 coastal properties into lower-risk zones. Among the properties that have been marked as lower-risk are buildings that have flooded in storms before.

Although there are remapped properties (interactive map) in almost every coastal state nationwide, NBC points to one particularly egregious example along the Gulf Coast in Alabama.

The resorts of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in Alabama “include a stretch of beach that was flooded by Hurricanes Erin and Opal in 1995, Danny in 1997, Georges in 1998, Ivan in 2004, and Katrina in 2005,” NBC says. The flooding from Ivan was the worst, when 14 feet of water slammed into the area, destroying buildings and causing flooding up to a mile inland.

That beach area in Alabama, logically, was classified as being at very high risk from a storm surge. But “was” is the operative word there. Now, it’s not:

Nearly all of the condominium towers are no longer in that high-risk zone, including a 17-story condominium built where the old Holiday Inn was wiped away by Ivan’s winds and waves, and another where the McDonald’s was a total loss. From 2011 through 2013, FEMA granted applications remapping 66 out of 72 waterfront condo towers in Gulf Shores to lower-risk flood zones or off the flood maps entirely. Four others have applications pending. Just two applications have been denied. And next door in Orange Beach, the map lines have been redrawn around four high-rise condo buildings.

Property owners benefit hugely from having their buildings placed into lower-risk categories. One building’s condo association collected over a quarter million dollars in insurance from Ivan. Formerly, they paid over $143,000 annually into the NFIP. Since the reclassification, NBC says, their premium is down to just over $8400 a year–a 94% drop.

Another condo building nearby, that collected just shy of $890,000 in damages from Ivan, has seen its rate drop 97%, from about $218,000 annually down to $6845.

Individual homeowners, who can have trouble with flood insurance, aren’t the ones benefiting. NBC says that nearby owners of single-family homes are paying up to $12,000 a year in flood insurance premiums, “as much as several large condo buildings combined.” Nearly all of the recently-exempted properties NBC found are either large commercial developments, or the multi-million-dollar second homes of the fabulously wealthy.

The changed risk assessment also affects how people build, an expert told NBC News. When a property in an area prone to flooding is considered at low risk, the owners may not build for flood conditions and so end up with an even higher chance of having their properties completely wiped out when the water rises.

The difference between premiums collected and damages paid has to come from somewhere, of course, and that “somewhere” is from elsewhere in the great morass of the federal budget. The NFIP currently has a deficit of $24 billion. The increased rates resulting from the reform act of 2012 were supposed to help dig the program out of that hole, but if high-risk properties are paying low-risk rates, that’s not going to happen.

Why Taxpayers Will Bail Out the Rich When the Next Storm Hits [NBC News]

by Kate Cox via Consumerist

Bitcoin Continues To Take Over: First U.S. ATMs Open In Seattle, Austin This Month

bitcoinwhatmb2 The wait is over. You can finally swap bitcoin for cash at the ATM. Okay, you can only do it at two ATMs in the United State, but it’s still a big step for the digital currency.

Robocoin announced Tuesday that it will install the first bitcoin ATMs in Seattle and Austin later this month, Reuters reports.

The kiosks will allow consumers to swap bitcoin for cash, or deposit cash to buy more bitcoin by transferring funds to or from a virtual wallet on their smartphones; unless you’re an iOS user. The ATM requires users to scan government-issued identification to help prevent fraud.

The Las Vegas-based company installed a bitcoin ATM in Vancouver last year, and plans to open a second in Calgary, Alberta this month. ATMs in Europe and Asia are also planned.

The use of the digital currency has steadily increased across the United States in recent months. said did it $126,000 in sales on the first day it accepted bitcoin earlier this year.

In January, the Sacramento Kings franchise announced it would accept bitcoin as payment for tickets, team merchandise and concessions by March 1.

Back in December, someone purchased a Tesla Model S with 91.4 bitcoins at a Lamborghini dealership in Newport Beach, Calif.

The value of the computer-traded currency fluctuates widely. Currently, one bitcoin is valued at $636, while in December the value was closer to $1,000.

First U.S. bitcoin ATMs to open soon in Seattle, Austin [Reuters]

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Blind Man Sinks 3-Point Shot At College Game, Wins McDonald’s Value Meals For A Year

Raise your hand if you can sink a three-point shot. Okay, fine, I get it, you’re all great at basketball. Now raise your hand if you could do it with your eyes closed. Not so hot now, are we? That’s what makes it so awesomely remarkable and cool that a blind man hit a three-point shot during halftime of a college basketball game — winning him free McDonald’s for a year.

In a video that’s lighting up the Internet recently, fans at a College of the Ozarks basketball game go absolutely crazy when 54-year-old Michael hits the three-point shot perfectly, without being able to actually see the basket.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, KSPR-TV has a follow-up story that shows just how many setbacks he’s had to deal with, and how he’s triumphing over all those obstacles.

While playing around on the court for the piece, the man nailed three-pointers left and right. That’s partly due to his involvement with a group called Champion Athletes of the Ozarks, a group that works “with individuals with all types of disabilities, all types of developmental disabilities,” explains a rep for the organization. Members play all kinds of sports, including baskteball.

“He would never have needed our program had the head injury not happened,” she explains of Michael.

Six years ago he had a series of falls that led to him going blind, and then in 2010 he lost much of his mental capacity. In 2013 he joined up with the program, and has been doing things that just can’t be copied.

“I know that if I do my best then everything else will be okay,” he says. “I like basketball so much that a lot of times it’s just being with the other athletes and thinking about how great it is to be able to play basketball.”

And then there’s the prize — free value meals from McDonald’s for a year. He says he doesn’t have much of an idea of what a year is but heck if he’s not going to enjoy it.

Check out the videos below to see his shot as well as KSPR-TV’s interview with Michael, who again, is better at basketball than you. Pretty awesome stuff.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Blind man who hit 3-pointer has incredible story [KSPR-TV)

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

United’s Reservation System Wreaking Havoc At Airports Today

Twitter user @ashleyralston posted this photo of the massive line (and few people working) at a United reservations counter this morning.

Twitter user @ashleyralston posted this photo of the massive line (and few people working) at a United reservations counter this morning.

In a scene reminiscent of two embarrassing 2012 incidents, United Airlines is doing a lot of apologizing today after a problem with its reservation system has resulted in long lines at airports around the country.

The @United Twitter feed is currently littered with “very sorry” and “we are aware” responses to angry travelers who have been stuck in line for up to several hours at some airports.

“We are experiencing issues with our passenger service computer system,” United said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. “We are working to resolve this as quickly as possible and apologize to our customers for any inconvenience.” currently says that 375 United flights (about 16%) have been delayed today. The big question is how many passengers are not making it to on-time flights because they can’t check in?

This situation reminds us of the problems United was having in the months after its merger with Continental Airlines.

Back in Aug. 2012, a system outage left travelers stranded at airports while the airline employees were helpless to do anything for them.

Then three months later, another crash shut down the nation’s largest airline’s system for a few hours.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Student Loan Debt Preventing Consumers From Buying First Homes

First-time home buyers accounted for only a third of the homes purchased over the last year. The below-average number is thanks in part to American’s growing student loan debt. With high monthly payments and increased credit risk, student loan debt is keeping some first-time home buyers from entering the housing market; a trend that doesn’t appear to be turning around anytime soon.

Officials with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau say rising student debt, along with its implications on the housing market, could prove to be one of the most painful aftershocks of the Great Recession, the Washington Post reports.

Housing experts say the decline has to do with student loan debt carried by prospective homeowners. Student loan debt has tripled from a decade ago; an unsurprising figure considering tuition continues to increase year after year. Today, 71% of students leave college with an average of $29,400 in student loan debt.

Consumers with student loan debt face an uphill battle when it comes to purchasing a home thanks in part to a new federal rules that went into effect last month. The new rule gives mortgage lenders broad legal protections as long as they do not approve loans for buyers whose total months debt exceeds 43% of their monthly gross income.

Additionally, the Federal Housing Administration is looking to scrap a waiver that helped many first-time home buyers in the past. Currently, the agency allows mortgage lenders it works with to ignore student loans debt that’s been deferred a year or more when assessing a borrower’s eligibility for a loan.

Not only does higher student loan debt make for more high-risk borrowers, but higher monthly payments on loans means more consumers are struggling to scrap together enough money for a down payment. The National Association of Realtors reported that 54% of first-time home buyers said student loans made it tough to save money.

A recent Georgetown graduate told the Post that with $75,000 in student debt she struggled for years to come up with a down payment on a condominium. Finally, her parents came to her rescue.

Fellow first-time homebuyers are finding other ways to reduce their debt, such as going to work in developing countries for tax benefits or selling advertising on their graduation caps.

Student debt may hurt housing recovery by hampering first-time buyers [The Washington Post]

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Why Just Cutting The Mold Off That Leftover Pizza Probably Isn’t A Good Idea


This pizza isn’t moldy… YET. (Coyoty)

Don’t be ashamed. You’ve done it, I’ve done it, we’ve all done it. That cheese is the only thing in your refrigerator, you’re hungry and too lazy to go scavenging the mean streets for fresh food. But it’s got a wee bit of mold on it — it’s totally fine to cut that mold off and eat the rest, right? Well, maybe not so much.

The thing about mold is, what you see is not only all that you’ll get, explains DNews (h/t to Lifehacker for the link) in this very informative video.

Basically, though you might think you’re cutting off only the part of the loaf of bread or fruit that has the mold on it, the stuff grows in strands called hyphae that aren’t visible to the naked eye. So if the food is soft and porous, that mold could be spreading its nasty tendrils throughout.

When it comes down to it — you’ll probably be okay if you cut mold off hard, non-porous foods like carrots or salami,for example. But that moldy pizza, soft cheese, bread or fruits? Just take a deep breath and get rid of it. It’s for the best.

Check out the video for more:

Can You Cut the Mold Off Food and Eat It? [DNews]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Clothier Sends Daughter From Minnesota To Costa Rica To Deliver Pants In Time For Wedding

There’s customer service, and then there’s sparing no expense to make sure your customer’s wedding isn’t ruined by flying your own daughter to a tropical destination so she can hand deliver the groom’s pants. That’s called dedication.

A Minnesota clothier went way, way above and beyond when he put his daughter on a plane to Costa Rica carrying $500 suit pants that his groom customer had forgotten. He needed them for his wedding and FedEx, UPS and airline package services couldn’t help, reports the Minnesota Star-Tribune.

The daughter works for her dad’s men’s store and took off Sunday morning at around 6 a.m., flying 11 hours to Costa Rica with the pants. She then waited an hour for a driver and bumped over back-roads to get around and washout before successfully arriving at the beachfront resort to deliver the traveling pants in time for the Monday wedding.

The happy couple hadn’t even realized the pants had been left behind until the store owner contacted the bride through Facebook, and of course, said they weren’t expecting such a special delivery. Turns out the rest of the suit had obscured the hanger that should’ve held the pants, so no one realized they simply weren’t there.

“We are incredibly speechless,” the bride emailed.

“We just want you to have best wedding ever,” the clothier replied.

“Now, thanks to you and your family, we will!” she responded. “I cried. You, Sir, are incredible!”

Sounds like it’s all in a day’s work for the store owner, who added, “We just want to take care of people so they have a great experience. It’s a big day for them. We certainly weren’t going to disappoint them.”

While of course there’s no way that every single business owner could afford such extreme acts of customer service, it’s heartwarming to know that there are those out there willing to literally, go the distance. Or at least have their daughters do so.

“I feel like I am carrying treasure through the jungle,” she said of her trek. “It’s pretty intense, but feels pretty great.”

Talk about customer service: Clothier delivers forgotten pants to groom in Costa Rica [Minnesota Star-Tribune]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

HTC To Now Replace Some Shattered Phone Screens For Free

It's too late for this poor HTC Pure, but new HTC One, HTC One mini and HTC One max devices will include one-time free screen replacement with HTC Advantage. (Ninja M.)

It’s too late for this poor HTC Pure, but new HTC One, HTC One mini and HTC One max devices will include one-time free screen replacement with HTC Advantage. (Ninja M.)

Some of us are klutzy. No matter how hard we try, we break things. And the more expensive they are, the more likely we are to drop them on, say, the cold concrete floor of Citizens Bank Park. In an effort to lure in butterfingered smartphone owners like yours truly, HTC is now offering one-time free screen replacement on some new devices if the damage is done in the first six months of ownership.

As part of its updated HTC Advantage warranty plan, the manufacturer will cover screen breakage on new HTC One, HTC One mini, or HTC One max devices.

Unfortunately for those of you reading this story through the cracks of your current HTC One, the plan only covers devices bought starting today, Feb. 18, and afterward.

HTC Advantage, which also guarantees that each new device will continue to receive timely Android updates for two years after its U.S. launch, doesn’t cost anything to the customer, but it’s also something some HTC owners don’t know about because the carrier they bought their phones from didn’t exactly make a big deal about it.

As The Verge’s Chris Welch wisely points out:

“The big question is whether carriers will bother informing shoppers about this new initiative. Their existing insurance plans are a proven and lucrative source of revenue, and HTC’s newfound generosity may give customers pause in shelling out an extra monthly fee to Verizon, AT&T, or another wireless provider.”

by Chris Morran via Consumerist