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    Budget airline Wow Air ceases operations, cancels all flights

    The carrier has advised passengers to look for ‘rescue fares’ offered by other airlines

    Icelandic airline Wow Air, formerly known for its cheap trans-Atlantic fares, has suddenly shut down. Passengers have been advised to book new flights on other airlines.

    “Wow Air has ceased operation. All Wow Air flights have been canceled,” the airline said in a statement posted to its website on Thursday. Wow Air said affected travelers may be able to get reduced fares from other airlines.

    “Some airlines may offer flights at a reduced rate, so-called rescue fares, in light of the circumstances. Information on those airlines will be published, when it becomes available,” the carrier said.

    The airline said some passengers may be eligible for compensation.

    “Passengers who may have bought travel protection, or those passengers whose credit card terms may include such protection, may be entitled to claim compensation and assistance due to delays or travel disruption,” the statement continued. The airline added that “such compensation is often limited.”

    Financial struggles

    Wow Air, which began operations in 2012, had for the past six months been in negotiations to be bought by rival Icelandair and later by Indigo Partners. However, both deals fell through.

    Prior to kicking off its effort to find a buyer, the budget airline was struggling financially. In January, the airline announced plans to pare down its number of U.S. destinations to just four in an effort to get “back to the basics” and “grow again as a purebred low-cost airline.”

    The airline’s sudden collapse on Thursday has left thousands of passengers stranded.

    Icelandic airline Wow Air, formerly known for its cheap trans-Atlantic fares, has suddenly shut down. Passengers have been advised to book new flights on o...
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      Model year 2019 Audi Q7s and Q8s recalled

      The shock absorbers may loosen

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 22 model year Audi 2019 Q7s and Q8s.

      The front shock absorber forks may develop cracks allowing the shock absorbers to loosen which may impair vehicle steering and increase the risk of crash.

      What to do

      Audi has notified owners, and dealers will replace the shock absorber forks free of charge.

      The recall began March 18, 2019.

      Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Audi's number for this recall is 40O4.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 22 model year Audi 2019 Q7s and Q8s.The front shock absorber forks may develop cracks allowing the shock absor...
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      Mercedes-Benz recalls vehicles with seat issue

      The front seatbacks may not lock properly

      Mercedes-Benz USA is recalling 22,637 of the following vehicles:

      • model year 2017-2018 Mercedes-Benz C300 Cabriolets, C300 Coupes, AMG C43 Coupes, C300 4MATIC Cabriolets, C300 4MATIC Coupes, AMG C43 Cabriolets, AMG C63 Cabriolets, AMG C63 Coupes, AMG C63 S Cabriolets & AMG C63 S Coupes and
      • model year 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupes, E400 Cabriolets, E400 4MATIC Cabriolets and E400 4MATIC Coupes.

      The seatbacks of the front seats may not lock properly on the right side of the seat.

      If the seatback does not lock properly, the seatbacks may fold forward in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Mercedes will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the locking of the seatback and replace the seatback lock as necessary free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin April 26, 2019.

      Owners may contact Mercedes-Benz customer service at 1-800-367-6372.

      Mercedes-Benz USA is recalling 22,637 of the following vehicles: model year 2017-2018 Mercedes-Benz C300 Cabriolets, C300 Coupes, AMG C43 Coupes, C30...
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      In-flight issue causes Boeing 737 Max plane to make emergency landing

      The plane carried no passengers, and the issue is not linked to the problem that caused two crashes

      Following the recent crash of another aircraft of the same model, a Southwest Boeing 737 Max 8 was forced to make an emergency landing in Orlando on Tuesday after reporting an in-air problem.

      Southwest said that the flight was forced to return to Orlando International Airport on Tuesday afternoon due to a “performance issue with one of the engines shortly after takeoff.” This differed from the previous in-flight incidents, which were linked to an automated system which caused the planes to nosedive.

      The airline carrier says that the plane was not carrying any passengers, as all flights involving the Boeing 737 Max 8 have been grounded due to an emergency order issued earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

      More trouble for Boeing

      The in-flight issue is likely to create another headache for Boeing. Earlier this month, one of its 737 Max 8 aircraft flying for Ethiopian Airlines experienced a tragic crash in which 157 people on board were killed. The accident happened only five months after another aircraft of the same model crashed into the Java Sea.

      Regulators speculate that the crashes can be attributed to one of the monitors on the outside of the planes that monitors the angle of ascent. If the monitor determines that the plane is climbing too steeply, it triggers a correction that brings the nose of the plane back down.

      Several federal agencies, including the FBI, are now investigating the certification process for the planes and whether or not proper protocols were followed. Reports indicate that regulators are also looking into how Boeing marketed the aircraft and what kind of training and information it gave to pilots.

      Following the recent crash of another aircraft of the same model, a Southwest Boeing 737 Max 8 was forced to make an emergency landing in Orlando on Tuesda...
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      Apple apologizes to consumers experiencing issues with MacBook keyboards

      Consumers have complained that the company’s butterfly keyboards have unresponsive keys

      On Wednesday, Apple issued its first apology to users who are still experiencing problems with the “butterfly” keyboard on their MacBook.

      “We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.

      Apple added that the “vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard” before stating that consumers who are still experiencing keyboard issues should contact Apple Support.

      Apple’s apology was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which published a story on Wednesday that let readers choose whether to view the story with or without e’s and/or r’s in order to see the impact of a keyboard that isn’t working properly.

      Criticism over keyboards

      Apple unveiled its “butterfly” keyboard in 2015, advertising it as being “refined for greater comfort and responsiveness” compared to its standard “scissor” design. However, users began noticing that the keyboards tended to start malfunctioning after being exposed to dirt or dust.

      A lawsuit filed last May alleged that the company’s “butterfly” keyboards are “prone to fail.”

      “As a result of the defect, consumers who purchased a MacBook face a constant threat of non-responsive keys and accompanying keyboard failure. When one or more of the keys on the keyboard fail, the MacBook can no longer serve its core function: typing,” the suit said.

      Over 35,000 people have also signed a Change.org petition asking for Apple to recall the flawed keyboards.

      In 2018, Apple updated its keyboards to include a new part inside each key designed to keep dust and other particles out. However, the company never confirmed that the improvement was related to keyboard issues.

      On Wednesday, Apple issued its first apology to users who are still experiencing problems with the “butterfly” keyboard on their MacBook. “We are aware...
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      FTC launches examination into privacy practices of internet service providers

      The agency wants more information on how ISPs collect, retain, use, and disclose information about consumers

      The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent letters to seven major internet service providers demanding information regarding their privacy practices. The following broadband providers received letters:

      • AT&T Inc.

      • AT&T Mobility LLC

      • Comcast Cable Communications (Xfinity)

      • Google Fiber Inc.

      • T-Mobile US Inc.

      • Verizon Communications Inc.

      • Cellco Partnership (Verizon Wireless)

      In a statement on Tuesday, the FTC said that it’s seeking to “better understand Internet service providers’ privacy practices in light of the evolution of telecommunications companies into vertically integrated platforms that also provide advertising-supported content.”

      Additionally, the agency is asking for more information about how consumers are informed about the use of their data, as well as whether they are given the option to opt out of having their information collected.

      The Commission noted that it’s legally authorized to “enforce against unfair and deceptive practices involving Internet service providers.” The broadband providers have 45 days to submit the information requested.

      Data privacy practices under scrutiny

      The inquiry comes during a time of increased scrutiny for the privacy policies of big internet and technology companies in the U.S. Last month, the agency announced that it will be launching a special task force dedicated to monitoring competition in tech markets.

      The FTC has also been holding hearings related to the issues of competition and consumer privacy. Additional hearings on how the agency should handle consumer privacy matters are set to take place on April 9 and 10.

      The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent letters to seven major internet service providers demanding information regarding their privacy practices. The...
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      Volkswagen recalls model year 2019 Beetles and Beetle Convertibles

      The instrument cluster may not provide a visual warning when the brake system fails

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 4,064 model year 2019 Beetles and Beetle Convertibles. The instrument cluster may not provide a visual warning when a brake system failure is detected.

      If the driver is not alerted when there is a problem with brakes, he may lose control of the vehicle while attempting to brake, increasing the risk of crash.

      What to do

      Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will update the instrument cluster software free of charge.

      The recall began March 7, 2019.

      Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 90L8.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 4,064 model year 2019 Beetles and Beetle Convertibles. The instrument cluster may not provide a visual warning whe...
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      Apple launches a new, security-driven credit card

      At the end of the day, it’s still a credit card and the consumer has to ask themselves if they really need another one

      Not one to be left out of the all-things-for-all-people game, Apple threw a giant welcoming party on Monday for its new video streaming service -- “TV+” -- and its new credit card, “Apple Card.”

      Apple’s foray into fintech is a giant step for the company, but not a new one. Its “Apple Pay” is in its fourth year as a mobile payment and digital wallet service, and according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple Pay transactions soared to more than 1 billion in 2018. If you’re doing the math, that’s about 11 million per day -- thought to be more than both Square and PayPal’s mobile transactions.

      The big questions

      Just looking at its history, let alone the numbers, it’s tough to call Apple’s move into the credit card world a bad one. However, within hours after the company’s announcement, tech and financial sages came out of the woodwork to weigh in with their own take.

      Here’s what ConsumerAffairs found:

      Apple’s pitch

      As far as the upsides to Apple Card, the company has three points it wants the consumer to take away:

      1. “The card lives on your iPhone, in the Wallet app. And that makes all kinds of new things possible.

      2. When you buy something using Apple Card, you get a percentage of your purchase back in Daily Cash. Not a month from now, but every day. There’s no limit to how much you can get. And it goes right onto your Apple Cash card, so you can use it just like cash.

      3. Apple Card doesn’t have any fees. No annual, cash‑advance, over-the-limit, or late fees.”

      Security

      For one, TechCrunch’s security editor, Zach Whittaker, gave the card a nice fistbump.

      “Chief among the benefits is a range of security and privacy features, which Apple says — unlike traditional credit card providers — the company doesn’t know where a customer shopped, what they bought or how much they paid. But its one feature — a one-time unique dynamic security code — will make it nearly impossible for anyone to use the credit card to make fraudulent purchases,” Whittaker said.

      Charting new waters

      Apple isn’t alone in this venture; it has Mastercard on its side to help guide it through processes that it may be new to.

      In an interview with Mastercard’s Jorn Lambert, EVP of digital solutions, PYMTS learned that “the embrace of the Apple Card may span both the virtual and physical offerings, and...will likely prove useful in restaurants or bars where Apple Pay is not currently a payment option. The move from plastic to ‘digital first’ to ‘digital only’ may take several years.”

      But Apple Card’s joint physical and digital card offerings may be what marks a “turning point.”

      Need or want?

      Credit card companies -- short of MasterCard, which is Apple’s partner in this deal -- won’t be taking this move lying down. It’s a safe bet that credit card companies around the world are getting geared up with similar products that will offer consumers more choices.

      “They [Apple] are really lengthening this gap that other competitors can come into,” said credit card vlogger Brian Jung. “I believe from a business standpoint, credit cards are an excellent move, but as a credit card channel, I can't recommend this credit card to a lot of my people unless you guys are in it for the flex value. The only reason I would say to get this card now, in my opinion, it really is kind of a gimmick card because it is just for the name brand.”

      It’s still a credit card

      Dovetailing Jung’s point-of-view, iMore’s Rene Ritchie weighed in with this slant:

      “It’s still a credit card, and that means the interest is still real, and the business model is still awful. The entire credit card industry is still absolutely and unabashedly evil. Apple's doing some good stuff to mitigate it. They're keeping [interest rates] low. They're suggesting ways to pay debt off faster, including bi-weekly and weekly payments. They're showing you how much interest you'll be paying if you choose different payment options. They're offering payment plan options to help you get debt free.”

      “But the entire credit card system is still absolutely and unabashedly evil. If Apple has to get into bed with it, I'd much rather see something like American Express, the classic version, where you can't carry a balance and so there's no usurious interest rates and no debt-built business. Which, frankly, should be absolutely illegal anyway.”

      The verdict?

      It’s really too early to tell. The features are inviting, but like we said -- other credit card companies are likely to follow suit.

      On the fintech end, it’ll be no stroll in the park for Apple, either. It has Google’s Google Pay service to contend with. Facebook’s WhatsApp is said to be rolling out a payment feature, too. And while Apple has its iPhone to carry some of Apple Card’s load via Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay have a larger footprint around the world.

      Not one to be left out of the all-things-for-all-people game, Apple threw a giant welcoming party on Monday for its new video streaming service -- “TV+” --...
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      Asus computers hit by supply-chain attack

      Asus inadvertently installed a backdoor program estimated to have been distributed to about 1 million people

      Researchers from threat intelligence firm Kaspersky Lab said in a report on Monday that hackers compromised Asus’ Live Update tool to distribute malware to over 1 million Asus device users.

      Motherboard reported that “Operation ShadowHammer,” as the researchers dubbed the attack, allowed Asus machines to accept infected software because the hackers were able to sign it with a legitimate Asus certificate that they had stolen.

      Kaspersky Lab said 57,000 Asus device users were attacked, but the firm estimated the malware was distributed to “about 1 million people total.” The attack took place between June and November 2018.

      Targeting a select few

      Though the hackers cast a wide net, the researchers said the attack’s primarily purpose was to target only around 600 “surgically selected” Asus systems. In systems not specifically targeted by the hackers, the rogue software remained dormant.

      It’s not yet known what type of information the hackers were after.

      “The selected vendors are extremely attractive targets for APT groups that might want to take advantage of their vast customer base. It is not yet very clear what the ultimate goal of the attackers was and we are still researching who was behind the attack," said Vitaly Kamluk, Director of Global Research and Analysis Team, APAC, at Kaspersky Lab.

      The firm said it will “continue to investigate this attack.” In the meantime, Kaspersky Lab has created an online tool that consumers can use to see if their device’s MAC addresses match the ones on the target list.

      Asus responds

      In a statement, Asus said its customer service team has been "reaching out to affected users and providing assistance to ensure that the security risks are removed.”

      The company also said that it has "implemented a fix in the latest version (ver. 3.6.8) of the Live Update software, introduced multiple security verification mechanisms to prevent any malicious manipulation in the form of software updates or other means, and implemented an enhanced end-to-end encryption mechanism."

      "At the same time, we have also updated and strengthened our server-to-end-user software architecture to prevent similar attacks from happening in the future," Asus said.

      Researchers from threat intelligence firm Kaspersky Lab said in a report on Monday that hackers compromised Asus’ Live Update tool to distribute malware to...
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