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    Whose lives matter to self-driving cars?

    Reports suggesting that self-driving cars can’t ‘see’ people of color, people on bikes, and others leave more questions than answers about the safety of autonomous technology

    When a recent paper suggested that self-driving cars are more likely to hit pedestrians with darker skin, it was met with some skepticism. Critics quickly..

    Get trending consumer news and recalls

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      Los Angeles launches its own Green New Deal

      The plan calls for electric vehicles and less driving. But the advocates who popularized the idea nationally aren’t impressed

      Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday announced plans for a local Green New Deal initiative.

      Under the  plan, Los Angeles residents will have to cut their driving by 50 percent over the next three decades and use transportation other than a personal car for at least half of their trips by 2035. The plan also calls for 10,000 chargers for electric vehicles to be installed across the city.

      At the municipal level, the initiative will require renovations on all city-owned buildings to make them “all-electric.” The plan also calls for an end to styrofoam and for the planting of 90,000 trees by 2021. Plastic straws and single-use containers will be phased out by 2028. Overall, Garcetti says, the plan will help Los Angeles become carbon-neutral by 2050.

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez popularized the idea of a Green New Deal following protests by the Sunrise Movement, a grassroots environmental non-profit.

      In a blog post, Sunrise Movement organizers gave a grim assessment of Los Angeles’ local answer to the national proposal.

      “That is not a Green New Deal,” the organization said.

      Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday announced plans for a local Green New Deal initiative.Under the  plan, Los Angeles residents will have to cut...
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      T-Mobile and Sprint extend merger deadline until July 29

      Justice Department officials are still looking into the claim that the merger would create a better, faster 5G infrastructure

      In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), T-Mobile and Sprint announced a deadline extension for their $26 billion merger. The telecom companies now have until July 29 to get FCC and Justice Department officials on board with their proposal to merge.

      Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the two companies had been told by Justice Department staff that the merger isn’t likely to be approved as currently structured.

      This week, Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said he’s not sure whether he will greenlight the deal.

      “I have not made up my mind,” Delrahim said in an interview with CNBC. “The investigation continues. We’ve requested some data from the companies that will be forthcoming. We don’t have a set number of meetings or a timeline.”

      Consumer groups argue against the merger

      The merger would combine the nation’s third and fourth largest telecommunications companies. Both Sprint and T-Mobile have insisted that the merger is crucial to their ability to compete with their larger rivals ahead of the nationwide rollout of 5G technology.

      The deal has hung in the balance since it was first announced last April. It has faced stiff opposition from consumer groups who argue that the merger would lead to higher prices for consumers, as well as the loss of up to 30,000 jobs.

      The 4Competition Coalition, one of the groups that has spoken out against the deal, published a statement this week reiterating that its members believe the merger should not be approved.

      “In the year since T-Mobile and Sprint announced plans to merge, they have failed to show that this deal is in the public interest and complies with antitrust law,” the group said. “The companies seem to believe PR and spin will carry the day, but we believe that, based on the facts and the law, this proposed merger should be blocked.”

      In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), T-Mobile and Sprint announced a deadline extension for their $26 billion merger. The telecom...
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      Reports of Deaths prompts recall of all Kids II Rocking Sleepers

      Infant fatalities have occurred after the infants rolled from their back to their stomach

      Kids II of Atlanta, Georgia, is recalling about 694,0000 Kids II Rocking Sleepers.

      Infant fatalities have occurred in the Rocking Sleepers, after the infants rolled from their back to their stomach while unrestrained, or under other circumstances.

      Five infant fatalities have occurred since the the product was introduced in 2012.

      This recall involves ALL models of Kids II Rocking Sleepers:

      Style Number

      Product Name

      10081

      Bright Starts Playtime To Bedtime Rocking Sleeper

      10126

      Rock & Dream Sleeper - Iggy

      10127

      Ingenuity Rock And Dream Sleeper Lucy

      10148

      Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleeper Cuddle Giraffe

      10178

      Bright Starts Pretty In Pink Playtime To Bedtime Rocking Sleeper

      10289

      Ingenuity Smartrock Poweradapt Sleeper Cambridge

      10292

      Ingenuity Rock N’ Soothe Sleeper Dayton

      10320

      Automatic Rock 'N Soothe Sleeper - Cuddle Lamb

      10380

      Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleeper Cuddle Lion

      10568

      Ingenuity Soothing Light Rocking Sleeper Vesper

      10729

      Bright Starts Toucan Tango Rocking Sleeper

      10872

      Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleeper Zoo Zoo Zebra

      10888

      DreamComfort Automatic Rocking Sleeper - Whitley

      10890

      DreamComfort Soothing Light Rocking Sleeper - Addington

      11021

      Bright Starts Rocking Sleeper Jungle Bursts

      11022

      Bright Starts Pretty In Pink Rocking Sleeper Jungle Blooms

      11063

      Rock n' Soothe Sleeper - Moxley

      11164

      Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleeper Lullaby Lion

      11171

      Ingenuity Rock N’ Soothe Sleeper SUNNY SNUGGLES

      11357

      Ingenuity Rock N’ Soothe Sleeper DAYTON

      11429

      Ingenuity Dream Comfort Automatic Rocking Sleeper Braden

      11714

      DreamComfort Automatic Rocking Sleeper - Anders

      11792

      Automatic Rock 'n Soothe Sleeper - Nolan

      11894

      Bright Starts ROCKING SLEEPER - JUNGLE GARDEN

      11895

      Bright Starts ROCKING SLEEPER - EVENING SAFARI

      11962

      Automatic Rock 'n Soothe Sleeper - Flora the Unicorn

      12115

      Automatic Rock N Soothe Sleeper – Nolan - Display

      60130

      Taggies Snuggle Me Sleeper Nestling Vine

      60131

      Bright Starts Playtime To Bedtime Sleeper

      60163

      Bright Starts Pretty In Pink Playtime To Bedtime Sleeper

      60327

      Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleeper Deluxe Emerson

      60328

      Disney Baby/Bright Starts Bows & Butterflies Sleeper Minnie Mouse

      60331

      Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleeper Lullaby Lamb

      60401

      Bright Starts Playtime To Bedtime Sleeper Playful Pinwheels

      60600

      Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleeper Deluxe Winslow

      60635

      Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleeper Deluxe Seneca

      All cloth component parts of the models identified above

      The Rocking Sleepers, manufactured in China, were sold at major retailers nationwide, including Walmart, Target and Toys “R” Us and online from March 2012, through April 26, 2019, for approximately $40-$80.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the product and contact Kids II for a refund or voucher.

      Consumers may contact Kids II toll-free at (866) 869-7954from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, or online at www.kids2.com and click on “IMPORTANT RECALL INFORMATION” at the top of the page.

      Kids II of Atlanta, Georgia, is recalling about 694,0000 Kids II Rocking Sleepers.Infant fatalities have occurred in the Rocking Sleepers, after the in...
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      Flying Tiger Copenhagen recalls toy train carts

      The steam dome on the toy train’s engine car can come loose

      Flying Tiger Copenhagen is recalling about 2,200 wooden train carts.

      The steam dome on the toy train’s engine car can come loose, posing a choking hazard.

      No incidents or injuries are reported.

      This recall involves all five pieces of the wooden toy train carts. The train carts have a blue base, and colorful wagon on top, as either the front part of the train, with two steam domes, an apple cart, a wood log cart, a milk cart and a caboose cart.

      All train carts were sold with a white label, which was placed around each cart with a nylon string. The model number (3010874) and batch number (211693US) are printed on the label.

      Each piece has been sold individually.

      The toy train carts, manufactured in China, were sold at Flying Tiger Copenhagen stores nationwide from November 2018, through March 2019, for about $2.

      What to do

      Consumers should take the recalled toy train cart away from children immediately and return it to the nearest Flying Tiger Copenhagen store for a full refund. No receipt is needed.

      Consumers may contact Flying Tiger Copenhagen toll-free at (844) 350-0560 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at info.us@flyingtiger.com, or online at www.flyingtiger.com and click on “Product Information” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Flying Tiger Copenhagen is recalling about 2,200 wooden train carts.The steam dome on the toy train’s engine car can come loose, posing a choking hazar...
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      Honda recalls Acura and Honda vehicles with timing belt issue

      The engine may stall, increasing the risk of crash

      American Honda Motor Co., is recalling 93,946 model year 2018-2019 Acura MDXs & Honda Pilots, and model year 2019 Acura RLXs, RLX Sport Hybrids, TLXs, and Honda Odysseys and Ridgelines.

      The timing belt teeth may separate from the belt, which may result in an engine stall, increasing the risk of crash.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the vehicle and replace any affected timing belt free of charge. Vehicles receiving a replacement timing belt will also have the engine inspected and any damaged components will be replaced for free.

      The recall is expected to begin June 1, 2019.

      Owners may contact customer service at (888) 234-2138. Honda's number for this recall is L4M. Acura's number for this recall is Z4L.

      American Honda Motor Co., is recalling 93,946 model year 2018-2019 Acura MDXs & Honda Pilots, and model year 2019 Acura RLXs, RLX Sport Hybrids, TLXs, and...
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      Plane seat manufacturer unveils ‘saddle-style’ seats for cabins

      The concept would allow airlines to squeeze in more passengers

      At the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2019 in Germany, Italian seat manufacturer Aviointeriors unveiled a new chair design that would put airplane passengers in a near-standing position. The concept would allow airlines to offer another option called "ultra-basic economy,” the company said.

      The latest version of the company’s Skyrider “standing seat” looks similar to a bicycle seat and requires a passenger to straddle the middle section while leaning against a back support.

      “Skyrider is concept foundation of new way to travel in the short-haul routes,” the company said on its website. “Innovation is driving Aviointeriors in developing a new concept of a family of economy seats.”

      ‘Ultra-high density’ of people

      Aviointeriors says its Skyrider standing seats may appeal to airlines eyeing different ways of fitting more passengers into cabins on flights shorter than three hours. With the seats installed, airplane cabins would be able to fit in 20 percent more passengers in the same amount of space.

      The manufacturer explained that the seats would allow for an “ultra-high density” of passengers in the cabin because each seat “ensures an increased upright passenger position, allowing installation of the seat at a reduced pitch.”

      Additionally, the newest version of the Skyrider seat “weighs 50% less than standard economy class seats and the reduced number of components enable minimum maintenance costs,” Aviointeriors said.

      So far, no airline has expressed interest in testing Aviointeriors’ standing seats.

      The unveiling of the latest iteration of the company’s standing seats comes just a few weeks after Delta revealed that it’s testing reduced-recline seats in its A320 aircraft cabins. Delta insists the move is intended to increase legroom and improve the customer experience for everyone, not cram more seats into the economy cabin.

      “It’s all about protecting customers’ personal space and minimizing disruptions to multitasking in-flight.” Savannah Huddleston, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement.

      At the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2019 in Germany, Italian seat manufacturer Aviointeriors unveiled a new chair design that would put airplane passengers in a...
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      Boeing didn’t tell a major airline an important 737 MAX 8 safety feature wasn’t working

      Southwest said it learned about it after the Lion Air crash in October

      Southwest Airlines, which owns the largest U.S. fleet of grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, was unaware a standard safety feature to warn pilots about malfunctioning sensors had been turned off on those jets.

      Boeing did not tell Southwest the alarm, known as a “disagree” monitor, was turned off until after the fatal Lion Air crash of a 737 MAX 8 in October, according to The Wall Street Journal. Five months later another MAX 8, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed on takeoff killing all on board.

      In both instances, faulty data from the angle of attack (AOA) sensor is believed to have played a role in the accidents by forcing the planes’ nose down during takeoff when the aircraft should have been climbing.

      In cases like that, the disagree monitor should light up in the cockpit, alerting the crew that the plane was responding to incorrect information. The AOA disagree light is a working function on all older models of the Boeing 737.

      In a statement to CNBC, Southwest said that prior to the Lion Air crash last year it had reason to believe the AOA disagree monitor was operable.

      “The manual documentation presented by Boeing at Southwest’s MAX entry into service indicated the AOA Disagree Light functioned on the aircraft, similar to the Lights on our NG series,” the airline said. “After the Lion Air event, Boeing notified us that the AOA Disagree Lights were inoperable without the optional AOA Indicators on the MAX aircraft.”

      After receiving that information, Southwest said it took steps to activate the AOA disagree lights on all of its 737 MAX aircraft. Southwest owns 34 of the MAX 8s while American has 24 and United operates 14.

      Effect on earnings

      Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly cited the grounding of those 34 jets as one reason Southwest’s first-quarter earnings fell below last year’s. In addition, Kelly said the government shutdown and bitterly cold weather in the first two months of the year were a drag on earnings. Kelly said the grounding could further affect operations throughout 2019.

      “We simply don't have a confirmed timeline to share with regard to when the MAX will return to service,” Kelly said in a statement. “There have been dates ranging from May to July depending on who is commenting. We have our schedule adjusted through August 5th, and if the aircraft are available to fly earlier, we will use them as additional spares to further enhance the reliability of our scheduled service.”

      Southwest Airlines, which owns the largest U.S. fleet of grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, was unaware a standard safety feature to warn pilots about malfu...
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      Apple removes rival parental control apps, prompting accusations of anticompetitive practices

      The tech giant says the apps were pulled because they pose privacy and security risks

      Apple over the weekend pulled 11 out of 17 of the most-downloaded screen time and parental control apps from its App Store because they put user privacy and security at risk, according to a New York Times report.

      The report suggested that the tech giant engaged in anti-competitive behaviors by removing the apps because, in doing so, Apple snuffed out rivals to its own Screen Time software.

      In an effort to shed light on why the apps were removed, Apple published a statement on its website explaining that the apps were abusing a kind of technology called Mobile Device Management (MDM). The tech giant stressed that use of the technology, which can give an app developer access to a range of sensitive user information, “is incredibly risky—and a clear violation of App Store policies—for a private, consumer-focused app business to install MDM control over a customer’s device.”

      “Contrary to what The New York Times reported over the weekend, this isn’t a matter of competition. It’s a matter of security,” Apple said.

      The company noted that one of its App Store guidelines states that apps “should use APIs and frameworks for their intended purposes and indicate that integration in their app description.” MDM aren’t intended to be used to track and limit phone use, Apple said.

      Accusations of anti-competitive practices

      In response to Apple’s move, two developers (Qustodio and Kidslox) filed complaints with the European Union’s competition office, arguing that Apple forced them to modify their apps in a way that would make them less useful in comparison to Apple’s parental controls, according to the Times.

      Spotify has also recently accused Apple of engaging in anticompetitive practices and limiting consumer choice on its Apple Music platform. In March, CEO Daniel Ek argued in an antitrust complaint that Apple forces rival streaming services to compete with Apple Music by charging a 30 percent tax on in-app purchases.

      Earlier this year, Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren outlined a plan to prevent large tech companies like Apple from engaging in anti-competitive practices. To keep tech giants from stifling competition, she proposed designating large tech platforms as “platform utilities” and appointing regulators committed to reversing illegal and anticompetitive tech mergers.

      “Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants,” Warren said.

      Apple over the weekend pulled 11 out of 17 of the most-downloaded screen time and parental control apps from its App Store because they put user privacy an...
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      Chrysler recalls model year 2019 Jeep Renegades and Fiat 500Xs

      Some passive safety features may be disabled

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 25,004 model year 2019 Jeep Renegades and Fiat 500Xs.

      Incorrect software may cause the occupant restraint controller (ORC) module to disable certain passive safety features, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will update the ORC module software free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin May 30, 2019.

      Owners may contact Chrysler's customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is V42.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 25,004 model year 2019 Jeep Renegades and Fiat 500Xs.Incorrect software may cause the occupant restraint controller...
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      Grant Park Packing recalls raw ground beef

      The products may be contaminated with E. coli O103

      Grant Park Packing of Franklin Park, Ill., is recalling approximately 53,200 pounds of raw ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli O103.

      The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health officials, are testing to determine if the recalled ground beef products are related to an E. coli O103 outbreak.

      The following item, produced October 30-31, 2018, and November 1, 2018, is being recalled:

      • 40-lb. bulk cardboard boxes of “North Star Imports & Sales, LLC. 100% GROUND BEEF BULK 80% LEAN/ 20% FAT” marked “FOR INSTITUTIONAL USE ONLY” with lot code GP.1051.18 and pack dates 10/30/2018, 10/31/2018, and 11/01/2018.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 21781” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to Minnesota for further distribution and Kentucky for institutional use.

      What to do

      Consumers should only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160°F using a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Darrin Bosell at (312) 421-4096.

      Grant Park Packing of Franklin Park, Ill., is recalling approximately 53,200 pounds of raw ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli O103. Th...
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      Honda recalls model year 2018-2019 Odysseys

      The vehicle may roll when parked, increasing the risk of a crash or injury

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 50,504 model year 2018-2019 Odysseys.

      Loose battery terminal connections or a degraded battery may cause the Transmission Control Unit (TCU) to unexpectedly reboot. Upon rebooting, the TCU may shift the transmission to the "Park" position, possibly damaging the parking rod.

      A damaged parking rod can allow the vehicle to roll when parked, increasing the risk of a crash or injury.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will ensure the battery terminal connections are secure and will update the TCU software free of charge. Additionally, the parking rod effectiveness will be checked.

      The recall is expected to begin June 1, 2019.

      Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda's numbers for this recall are Z4J, Y4K.

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 50,504 model year 2018-2019 Odysseys.Loose battery terminal connections or a degraded battery may cause the Trans...
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      New study finds more and more consumers are cutting the cord

      Whether you subscribe to a pre-bundled service or try to customize your own bundle, the bottom line is that TV is expensive

      Earlier this year, ConsumerAffairs reported that the rate of cord-cutting has continued its meteoric rise. Recent reports show that AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon’s first-quarter loss ran precariously close to a million subscribers.

      Now comes a new report forecasting a loss of 4.56 million American households by the end of 2019.

      The Convergence Research Group -- consultants in the internet, content, telecom, and technology arena -- found that 34 percent of American cable and satellite TV subscribers will cut the cord by the end of 2019 and likely opt for a personal bundling of services like Hulu or Sling, where they subscribe to specialty channels they have a particular interest in, like the SEC Sports Network.

      Taking the leap of faith

      Cutting the cord and cobbling together the services that are most important is all personal preference. While it would be nice if a streaming provider like Hulu offered every single thing you want, it’s likely you’ll either have to find an additional provider that offers what you’re looking for or learn to live without it.

      “Tried cord cutting once a number of years ago but just couldn’t live without all the channels and eventually went back to cable,” posted one user on CordCutters’ Facebook page. “But now that we’ve got all these live streaming and OTA (over-the-air) channels I’ve since cut the cord again and will never go back.”

      Despite how much a consumer dislikes having to pay for cable or satellite TV, cutting that cord and creating the perfect bundle can be expensive -- maybe more than basic cable.

      “There was hope within the TV industry that skinny bundles from ‘virtual MVPDs (multichannel video programming distributor)’ such as YouTube TV, Hulu and DirecTV Now would help fight cord-cutting,” is how Digiday views the current landscape.

      “And to some extent, these services have done that — but at what is proving to be a steep cost. Now, these services are raising prices and looking for other bundling and distribution options in pursuit of profitability and sustainability. What that ultimately proves, yet again, is a very simple fact: No matter how you slice, dice or bundle it, live TV is expensive.”

      Please don’t go

      Unfortunately for consumers, there are streaming providers that seem to want to hold on to customers at all costs.

      “Verizon FIOS is trying hard to lose customers,” writes one ConsumerAffairs reviewer. “I wanted a specific package that I had already been using, I signed a new 2-year contract with the understanding (including an agent sharing with me and assuring me that I will have the channels I watch in particular a golf channel) that I will get the channels I really wanted.”

      “They shared the list of channels, etc. Then within two weeks, I found that they had migrated the golf channel to another package. To get it, I need to pay an additional $10 a month. So, the motto of Verizon seems to be, ‘Let's screw the customer. Provide him with a contract and then renege on it.’"

      Earlier this year, ConsumerAffairs reported that the rate of cord-cutting has continued its meteoric rise. Recent reports show that AT&T;, Comcast, and Ver...
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      KeyBank rolls out contactless credit card

      Tapping replaces dipping and swiping

      Now that consumers have gotten accustomed to inserting their embedded-chip cards into a credit card terminal instead of swiping, the next trend may be just simply tapping the card on the terminal to record a purchase.

      KeyBank is launching Mastercard contactless credit and debit cards, in partnership with Mastercard and FIS. The new cards, which are now being issued to account holders, will allow consumers to make in-store purchases by just tapping the terminal screen. The transaction is encrypted to provide security.

      "We know that consumers value convenience and speed, and our new contactless cards make everyday purchases quick and simple, with the confidence that transactions are secure,” said Ken Gavrity, head of KeyBank Enterprise Payments. “We're thrilled to offer our customers this easy-to-use and safe way to pay."

      Built-in antenna

      Contactless cards come with a different kind of chip and a near field communication (NFC) antenna, which transmits data between the card and the terminal, usually in about half the time it takes to make a purchase using cards with the EMV chips.

      Sara Rathner, NerdWallet’s credit card expert, says the contactless cards are popular in Europe, but U.S. consumers and businesses have been slow to adopt them.

      “KeyBank is following other major credit and debit card issuers in offering this feature,” Rathner told ConsumerAffairs. “Wells Fargo, Chase, Capital One, and American Express have all started to roll out contactless payment capabilities on their products in the past few years. As more U.S. merchants update their point-of-sale hardware to accept contactless payments, consumers will adopt this faster way to pay in greater numbers.”

      While consumers may worry about the security of contactless payments, a transaction is secured by using a one-time code rather than your personal information.

      “While there’s always a risk of your credit or debit card being compromised, you have recourse if you report fraudulent charges to the issuer as soon as possible,” Rathner said.

      According to CreditCards.com, the U.S. adoption of the EMV chip card as standard may pave the way to wider use of contactless cards. That’s because many of the new terminals that accept chip cards also work for contactless cards.

      Digital wallets also use similar technology. Once you load your payment information into a digital wallet app, you can pay for purchases by holding your smartphone next to the credit card terminal. An estimated 30 million retailers are equipped to accept digital wallet payments.

      Now that consumers have gotten accustomed to inserting their embedded-chip cards into a credit card terminal instead of swiping, the next trend may be just...
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      Average gas price now just 12 cents away from $3 a gallon

      Stronger than normal spring demand keeps pushing pump prices higher

      Consumers are driving more this spring, and that extra demand has reduced supplies of gasoline and kept prices moving higher. But in all but a few states, the increase this week was minimal.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular is $2.88 a gallon, up five cents a gallon from last Friday. It’s nine cents higher than at this time last year.

      The average price of premium is $3.42, four cents higher than a week ago. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.08, just a penny more than seven days ago.

      Expect higher prices

      The Energy Information Administration reports total supplies of gasoline fell by 2.2 million barrels in the previous week, 11 million barrels lower than domestic stocks at this time in 2018. Refineries’ switchover to summer-blend gasoline is reaching its peak, further reducing supplies.

      “As a result, American motorists should expect increased pump prices as demand remains robust and stocks dwindle,” AAA said in its latest market update.

      Crude oil to make gasoline is also rising in price, mainly due to OPEC and its partners agreeing on a 1.2 million barrel-per-day production cut. At the same time, the U.S. government is tightening enforcement of its crude export sanctions on Iran, removing more of that country’s oil from the world market.

      California continues to have the most expensive gasoline by a wide margin, but the increase in the last week was only two cents a gallon. On the other hand, the average price jumped 10 cents a gallon in Alaska and rose eight cents in Nevada.

      The states with the most expensive regular gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • California ($4.04)

      • Hawaii ($3.63)

      • Washington ($3.49)

      • Oregon ($3.39)

      • Nevada ($3.38)

      • Alaska ($3.33)

      • Arizona ($3.08)

      • Pennsylvania ($3.04)

      • Illinois ($2.99)

      • Idaho ($2.99)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Alabama ($2.51)

      • Mississippi ($2.53)

      • Louisiana ($2.55)

      • Arkansas ($2.56)

      • South Carolina ($2.56)

      • Missouri ($2.59)

      • Texas ($2.62)

      • Tennessee ($2.62)

      • Virginia ($2.63)

      • Oklahoma ($2.63)

      Consumers are driving more this spring, and that extra demand has reduced supplies of gasoline and kept prices moving higher. But in all but a few states,...
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      GM recalls model year 2017-2019 Chevrolet Trax vehicles

      The vehicle may not handle properly, increasing the risk of crash

      General Motors is recalling 112,958 model year 2017-2019 Chevrolet Trax vehicles.

      A joint in one or both of the front lower-control arms may have been improperly welded, resulting in the partial separation of the lower-control arm from the vehicle.

      A partial separation of the lower-control arm from the vehicle could cause the attached front wheel to toe outward, affecting the vehicle's handling and steering and increasing the risk of crash.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the left and right front lower-control arms, replacing them as necessary free of charge.

      The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact GM customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM's number for this recall is A182202370.

      General Motors is recalling 112,958 model year 2017-2019 Chevrolet Trax vehicles.A joint in one or both of the front lower-control arms may have been i...
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      Model year 2019 VW Atlas and 2020 Passat vehicles recalled

      An incorrect driver and/or front passenger side impact air bag may have been installed

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling three model year 2019 Atlas and 2020 Passat vehicles.

      An incorrect driver and/or front passenger side impact air bag may have been installed.

      An incorrect side airbag may not deploy as intended in a side impact crash, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the side air bags as necessary free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin May 19, 2019.

      Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 69Y8.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling three model year 2019 Atlas and 2020 Passat vehicles.An incorrect driver and/or front passenger side impact ai...
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      Arctic Cat recalls snowmobiles

      Exhaust can flame from the muffler outlet

      Arctic Cat of Thief River Falls, Minn., is recalling about 14,500 Arctic Cat snowmobiles sold in the U.S. And Canada.

      When the snowmobile is being operated, the exhaust can flame from the muffler outlet, posing a fire hazard.

      The firm has received 70 reports of melting plastic around the exhaust outlet area and four reports of the plastic catching fire. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves all model year 2018 and 2019 Arctic Cat snowmobile models M8000, XF8000, ZR8000, and Norseman X8000. The vehicles were produced in a variety of color combinations and track lengths.

      The vehicles all have 8000 on each side of the front hood/side panel area and ARCTIC CAT on the rear snow-flap.

      The vehicle identification number (VIN) is stamped on the right side of the snowmobile tunnel near the right foot rest.

      The snowmobiles, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at Arctic Cat dealers nationwide from January 2017, through February 2019, for between about $13,800 and $18,000

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled snowmobiles and contact Arctic Cat to schedule a free repair. Arctic Cat is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact Arctic Cat at (800) 279-6851 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday or online at https://arcticcat.txtsv.com and click on “Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Arctic Cat of Thief River Falls, Minn., is recalling about 14,500 Arctic Cat snowmobiles sold in the U.S. And Canada.When the snowmobile is being opera...
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      Mercedes-Benz recalls model year 2019 CLA250s and CLA250 4MATICs

      The right-side doors may not be able to be opened from the outside

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling five model year 2019 CLA250s and CLA250 4MATICs.

      The right side door locks may not have been properly manufactured. As a result, the right-side doors may not be able to be opened from outside of the vehicle.

      In the event of a crash, the inability to open the right side doors from the outside could increase the risk of injury.

      What to do

      MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the door locks free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin May 3, 2019.

      Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at 1-800-367-6372. MBUSA's number for this recall is 2019030020.

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling five model year 2019 CLA250s and CLA250 4MATICs.The right side door locks may not have been properly manufacture...
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      Facebook bracing for massive potential privacy fine

      The company says $3 billion to $5 billion is ‘reasonable estimate’

      When it reported earnings Wednesday Facebook had some good news and some bad news for investors.

      The bad news was it expects to be fined around $3 billion, maybe as much as $5 billion, for its handling of various privacy issues. The good news? Despite being at the center of privacy controversy for the last 12 months, business is pretty good.

      In the first quarter, Facebook earned a profit of $2.43 billion, paying 85 cents a share. That in spite of likely paying what would be a record fine to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

      Facebook took what is known as a charge of $3 billion against its earnings, meaning that the expected fine will be subtracted from its profit. It set the $3 billion number as what it “reasonably estimated” it will have to pay as punishment for violating a consent decree on user privacy.

      “We estimate that the range of loss in this matter is $3 billion to $5 billion,” Facebook said in its news release. “The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome.”

      ‘Privacy-focused platform’

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used some of his time on the company’s conference call emphasizing his company’s commitment to privacy, laying the groundwork for a five-year effort to make Facebook what he called “a privacy-focused platform.”

      "People want to use both private and public platforms," Zuckerberg said on the conference call. "Delivering this is both in the interests of our community and our business."

      Facebook’s privacy issues began to come to light about a year ago. The company revealed that a political marketing firm had gained unauthorized access to user data and used it to target political ads during the 2016 presidential campaign.

      Previous settlement

      The anticipated fine is in regard to allegations that Facebook might have violated a previous consent decree regarding its privacy policies. The FTC opened an investigation into that possibility 13 months ago.

      At the time, FTC Acting Director Tom Pahl said the agency had reason to believe Facebook had not lived up to its promises to protect privacy.

      Last October, the British government fined Facebook nearly $642,000 for what it called “a serious breach of Britain’s data privacy law.” Topping the list of Facebook’s infractions were charges that the company “unfairly processed personal data” and “failed to take appropriate technical and organizational measures against unauthorized or unlawful processing of personal data.”

      When it reported earnings Wednesday Facebook had some good news and some bad news for investors.The bad news was it expects to be fined around $3 billi...
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      New study finds hackers target consumers who use apps to watch pirated content

      Hackers are lying in wait to send malware that steals usernames and passwords

      The hackosphere has a new twist -- hackers going after consumers who watch pirated content.

      A new study by the Digital Citizens Alliance investigation lays out a bizarre narrative where hackers go after consumers who are cheating the system via piracy apps to get video content like Netflix for free. But -- and here’s where it gets interesting -- the hackers then deposit malware into the consumers’ piracy apps in hopes of snaring usernames, passwords, and the like.

      The new study focuses on downloads from rogue apps, piggybacking an earlier study ConsumerAffairs reported on regarding downloads from websites.

      Here’s what was discovered:

      • As soon as an Alliance researcher downloaded Mobdro -- and app that touts it can “find free video streams online and brings them to your Android smartphone or tablet to enjoy” -- malware within the app forwarded the researcher's Wi-Fi network name and password to a server that appeared to be in Indonesia.

      • Once inside the server, malware then went after vulnerabilities that might give it access to files and other devices the consumer might have. In Alliance’s test, the malware skated off with 1.5 terabytes of data from the researcher's device.

      Who’s to blame?

      This is where it gets tricky. Of course, pirating content is illegal, but Alliance puts the onus on the users themselves who are assisting the hackers by giving them direct access to their home network.

      "What the investigation shows is that as piracy shifts from websites and downloads to devices and apps, hackers are adapting and finding new ways to exploit consumers," said Tom Galvin, Executive Director of Digital Citizens. "Consumers think these devices are like an Apple TV or Roku device, but they have a distinct difference: they have little to no incentive to protect their users. In other words, they are perfect for hackers."

      Galvin says the threat is doubly alarming because the consumer is, in effect, “escorting” the hacker past vital network security.

      “And it all starts so simply. A user purchases a device loaded with apps that offer free access, for example, to the latest movies in theaters or live broadcasts of Major League Baseball games. These devices – sometimes known as “Kodi boxes” or “jailbroken Fire TV Sticks” – look and behave like a Roku box, Apple TV or other legitimate devices. But instead of accessing legitimate services like Netflix or Hulu, they link to pirate apps,” Galvin said.

      These devices are becoming popular. According to a Digital Citizens research survey of 2,073 Americans, 13 percent reported that they have a device that offers pirated content in their home. The majority of Americans (59 percent) said that “most consumers are probably unaware of the security risks that can occur when plugging one of these devices into a home network.”

      Hackers are smart. Consumers need to be smarter

      You can imagine that having access to 13 percent of Netflix’ nearly 150 million users is quite a field day for hackers. Lying in wait, hackers bank on the presumption that the freebooting consumer is so caught up in the joy of being able to buy something for $75-100 that gives them access to content for free, the consumers doesn’t pay attention to the possibility that one of these apps can wreak havoc.

      “Consumers should use devices made by companies they know and shop at app stores that they can trust,” Galvin told ConsumerAffairs. “If it’s jailbroken, it means you get more choices, but you're also more likely to get malicious apps that can infect your devices."

      "Our research strongly suggests that engaging in dangerous online activity, such as using piracy devices and apps, increases your risks. Americans who said they used these devices were six more times likely to report a problem with malware.”

      The Digital Citizens investigation was conducted in conjunction with Dark Wolfe Consulting, a cybersecurity company that specializes in network security, penetration testing, and targeted malware collection.

      The hackosphere has a new twist -- hackers going after consumers who watch pirated content.A new study by the Digital Citizens Alliance investigation l...
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      Disney’s new streaming service may impact Netflix’s subscriber base

      Over 14 percent of Netflix users polled said they might leave Netflix and get Disney+

      Just under 14.5 percent of Netflix subscribers say they might leave the streaming platform and get Disney+, according to a survey recently conducted by Streaming Observer. That figure would represent a loss of almost 9 million customers for Netflix, which would translate to about $117 million in lost revenue per month.

      About 37 percent of Netflix subscribers (or about 22 million users) said they would try Disney’s $7-per-month streaming service, and one in five Netflix subscribers said they are planning to subscribe to both streaming services.

      Parents of young kids were more than twice as likely as non-parents to say they would prefer Disney+ over Netflix.

      Family-friendly content may compel parents

      Of the 602 Netflix users who participated in the survey, 23 percent of users who were parents with children aged 15 and younger said they might cancel Netflix for Disney+. Just 10 percent of respondents without children said they may cancel.

      “While Netflix has been steadily adding more kids content to its library, it’s hard to imagine it can match what Disney offers on this front, which could be a source of concern for the streaming giant,” the survey said.

      During a first-quarter earnings discussion, Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings said that he doesn’t “anticipate that [Disney+ and other new streaming services] will materially affect [Netflix’] growth.”

      However, Disney recently said it intends to grow its subscriber base quickly over the next few years by luring consumers with a more affordable monthly fee compared to rival streaming services. Disney said the service’s $7 a month (or $70 a year) price tag is intended to make the service “accessible to as many consumers as possible.”

      The company forecasts that it will have amassed between 60 million and 90 million subscribers by the end of 2024. The service is set to launch on November 12.

      Just under 14.5 percent of Netflix subscribers say they might leave the streaming platform and get Disney+, according to a survey recently conducted by Str...
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      Toyota recalls Yaris vehicles

      The front seat side airbags and curtain shield airbags could be deactivated

      Toyota is recalling about 43,000 model year 2015-2017 Yaris Liftbacks & Hatchbacks in the U.S.

      The vehicles have side airbag sensors installed in each of the front doors and wire harnesses that connect these sensors to the airbag control unit. The harnesses could corrode over time, which could cause the airbag warning light to come on.

      In addition, the front seat side airbags and curtain shield airbags could be deactivated or not deploy properly, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

      What to do

      Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will replace the wire harnesses in one or both doors, as necessary at no cost to customers.

      The recall is expected to begin in mid-June.

      Owners may contact Toyota (800) 331-4331.

      Toyota is recalling about 43,000 model year 2015-2017 Yaris Liftbacks & Hatchbacks in the U.S.The vehicles have side airbag sensors installed in each o...
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      United Airlines CEO takes a fresh pro-traveler stand

      Is this poppycock or a promise that will be made good? Only time will tell, but United wants consumers to know they hear you loud and clear.

      How about this for an opening, declarative statement: It’s not fun to fly anymore.

      “Duh!” you say?

      Believe it or not, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz agrees and says he’d like to do something about it.

      “It's become so stressful,” Munoz told ABC News. “From when you leave, wherever you live, to get into traffic, to find a parking spot, to get through security.”

      “Frankly, by the time you sit on one of our aircraft ... you're just pissed at the world. Improving the flying experience won't ultimately depend on what coffee or cookie I give you.”

      Amen.

      Munoz may be that breath of fresh air travelers are looking for. He’s not an “airline guy” per se, and he probably has more of a consumer-first attitude than his airline peers given his time in consumer services at AT&T, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo.

      He seems to be fully aware that he and United may be pushing their hopes up a hill and against the wind of their competitors who are always at the ready to slash prices, sell a couple of inches of more legroom, and charge a fortune for a dwarfish turkey sandwich.

      “The competition is less about price discounts and more about the experience and the service,” Munoz said. “I think at the end of the day, it’s better for the customer.”

      How little is too little?

      ABC’s David Kerley asked Munoz some pointed questions that many air travelers would like to know the answer to.

      When grilled about seat size -- “Have we reached the smallest (seat) we’re going to get?” -- Munoz didn’t flinch.

      “I think we’re nearing a point certainly that we can’t do that anymore,” Munoz confessed.

      Kerley then asked, “Why doesn’t your Wi-Fi always work?” Munoz couched his answer by saying that the technology involved is “complicated.” However, he went on to take responsibility for iffy on-board internet. “We will fix that. That’s how important Wi-Fi is to us.”

      Are you a frustrated flyer?

      “Somebody asked me what advice I would give to other travelers. I said empathy,” Munoz said. “I think discourse between human beings is lacking. I’ve always lived by the concept that sharing is caring. So, share with us.”

      But, Munoz asks the traveler to think about how much actual control an airline has in situations like storms -- things that are out of the airlines’ hands.

      “Why would I, on purpose, delay (your flight)? There’s always something that can’t go right. I tell our team that someone trusted us and said you would get me from here to here and that’s what they bought, that’s their product. Anything short of that has to be our issue.”

      How about this for an opening, declarative statement: It’s not fun to fly anymore.“Duh!” you say?Believe it or not, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz...
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      Toyota recalls model year 2019 Siennas

      The passenger side front seat and curtain shield airbags may malfunction

      Toyota is recalling 270 model year 2019 Siennas.

      During the manufacturing process of the passenger side front doors, a component may not have been welded properly.

      This could affect an airbag system sensor and could lead to nondeployment or inadvertent deployment of the passenger side front seat and curtain shield airbags, increasing the risk of injury or the possibility of a crash.

      What to do

      Toyota will notify owners and dealers replace the passenger side front door sub-assembly with a new one at no cost to customers.

      The recall is expected to begin by mid-June.

      Owners may contact Toyota at (800) 331-4331

      Toyota is recalling 270 model year 2019 Siennas.During the manufacturing process of the passenger side front doors, a component may not have been welde...
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      Weis Markets recalls Banana Puddin Ice Cream

      The product contains egg, an allergen not declared on the label

      Weis Markets is recalling Weis Quality Banana Puddin Ice Cream.

      The product contains egg, an allergen not declared on the label.

      There are no reports of illness to date.

      The ice cream, packaged in a 49-0z., scround container with a UPC of 041497-01305, was sold in 200 Weis Market stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and West Virginia.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product may return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Customers with questions may contact Weis customer service at (866) 999-9347 Monday through Friday, 8am – 5pm.

      Weis Markets is recalling Weis Quality Banana Puddin Ice Cream.The product contains egg, an allergen not declared on the label.There are no reports...
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      Charity scammers are out in full force less than a week after the Notre Dame Cathedral fire

      The FTC reminds consumers to ask qualifying questions and to call the agency with any concerns

      In the wake of the fire that claimed much of Paris’ famed Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is alerting consumers about scams that might play on their sympathies with the end goal of preying on their bank accounts.

      “When a natural disaster hits or a tragic event happens, you might be looking for ways to help the people in communities affected,” the FTC’s Christina Miranda warns in a video that addresses disaster-related charity scams.

      “Unfortunately, scammers are also busy trying to take advantage. You want to make sure your money gets in the hands of charities you want to help.”

      Tragedies and scams go hand-in-hand

      At ConsumerAffairs, we see this almost every time tragedy occurs. It happened with Hurricane Harvey, the Orlando nightclub massacre, and the recent California wildfires.

      Now, less than a week after the Notre Dame fire, scammers are out in full force. In a quick search of GoFundMe, ConsumerAffairs found dozens of requests for donations. Odds are that not all of them are legit.

      "These kinds of scams are proliferating globally," Alan Brill, a cyber risk expert at global consulting firm Kroll told CBS News. "And the thing that's so depressing is the scammers are so good at taking advantage of tragedy that they have a playbook."

      As a real time example, Brill pointed to a page on fundraising site justgiving.org that he has sneaking feeling is phony.

      And how did that anonymous user make their plea? Like this: "I am doing this in response to the Notre Dame Fire for Friends of Notre-Dame De Paris Inc. because I want to support and help Notre Dame."

      "The nature of the internet is such that bad people can set these sites up within minutes. They can grab photos and videos from news sites anywhere and create a very convincing site and they can lie," Brill said.

      How to protect yourself

      The FTC says being vigilant is fairly straightforward, but the consumer will have to do a bit of homework. Here’s some tips from Rosario Méndez, an Attorney with the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education:

      1. Research the organization first. Search online for the name of the organization plus the word “complaint” or “scam.” Read what others say about the organization. These organizations can also help with your research.

      2. It’s important to ask questions. If you get a call from someone asking for money to help rebuild the Cathedral, ask them how exactly your money will be used. Do some research before donating to any organization you are not familiar with.

      3. Crowdfunding sites may not monitor how donations are spent. Research any charity before you give. Online fundraisers should tell you who gets your donation and how your money gets to the charity. They should also tell you if they keep any part of your donation as a fee. These details should be clear and easy to find without hunting through fine print. If the details are not clear, consider taking your donation money elsewhere.

      4. Donations to foreign organizations generally are not tax deductible. If tax deductions are important to you, make sure the group is established in the U.S. Check the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search to see if your donation would be tax deductible. Remember that donations to individuals, like crowdfunding sites, are not tax deductible.

      The simplest way to keep from getting scammed is to contact the FTC before you send any money or make any commitment and tell them about the situation by filing a complaint at FTC.gov/Complaint. If you can, give the FTC the name of the charity or fundraiser and explain why you think it is a scam. That kind of input typically expedites a response from the agency.

      In the wake of the fire that claimed much of Paris’ famed Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is alerting consumers about scams tha...
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      Model year 2013-2016 Dodge Darts recalled

      The vehicle may not perform the shifts performed by the driver

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 298,439 model year 2013-2016 Dodge Darts with 6-speed automatic transmissions.

      The shifter cable bushing may fail allowing the cable to detach from the transmission.

      If the shifter cable detaches from the transmission, the vehicle may not perform the shifts performed by the driver.

      Additionally, despite selecting PARK with the shifter, the vehicle may roll away. These scenarios may increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the transmission side shifter cable bushing free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin on May 31, 2019.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is V34.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 298,439 model year 2013-2016 Dodge Darts with 6-speed automatic transmissions.The shifter cable bushing may fail all...
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      Torrent expands recall of Losartan Potassium and Losartan Potassium/Hydrochlorothiazide tablets

      The products contain trace amounts of an unexpected impurity

      Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited is expanding its earlier recall of Losartan Potassium tablets and Losartan Potassium/hydrochlorothiazide tablets.

      The products, used to treat high blood pressure, hypertensive patients with Left Ventricular Hypertrophy and nephropathy in Type 2 diabetic patients, contain trace amounts of an unexpected impurity, N-Methylnitrosobutyric acid that are above the acceptable daily intake levels released by the FDA.

      There are no reports to date of adverse events related to this recall.

      The expanded recall includes the following 36 lots of Losartan potassium tablets and 68 lots of Losartan Potassium/Hydrochlorothiazide tablets:

      NDCFinished Product Strength and Package CountBatch NumberExpiration Date
      13668-113-90Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 25mg, 90 countBDK1C0037/31/2019
      13668-113-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 25mg, 1000 countBDK1C0027/31/2019
      13668-113-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 25mg, 1000 count4DU1D00412/31/2019
      13668-113-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 25mg, 1000 count4DU1D00512/31/2019
      13668-113-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 25mg, 1000 count4DU1D00612/31/2019
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 90 count4DU2D00512/31/2019
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 90 count4DU2D00612/31/2019
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 90 count4DU2D0263/31/2020
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 90 count4DU2D0273/31/2020
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 90 count4DU2D0293/31/2020
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg,90 count4DU2E00712/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2D0408/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2D0418/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2D0428/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2D0172/29/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2D0253/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2D0283/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2D0458/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2D0468/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2D0478/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2D0488/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2E0422/28/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 count4DU2E0442/28/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 countBDK2E00112/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 countBDK2E0128/31/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 50mg, 1000 countBDK2E0138/31/2021
      13668-115-90Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 100mg, 90 count4DU3E0161/31/2021
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 100mg, 1000 count4DU3E0171/31/2021
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 100mg, 1000 count4DU3E0192/28/2021
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 100mg, 1000 count4DU3C0127/31/2019
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 100mg, 1000 count4DU3C0158/31/2019
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 100mg, 1000 count4DU3C0168/31/2019
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 100mg, 1000 count4DU3C0178/31/2019
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 100mg, 1000 count4DU3C0319/30/2019
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 100mg, 1000 count4DU3D0071/31/2020
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP 100mg, 1000 count4DU3D0081/31/2020
      13668-116-30Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 30 countBP02D00512/31/2019
      13668-116-30Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 30 countBP02C05110/31/2019
      13668-116-30Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 30 countBEF7D04711/30/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 90 countBP02D00612/31/2019
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 90 countBP02D00712/31/2019
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 90 countBP02D0121/31/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF7D0033/31/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 90 countBP02C05010/31/2019
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF7D0268/31/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF7D0278/31/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF7D0288/31/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF7D04511/30/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF7D04611/30/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF7E0051/31/2021
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBEF7D0053/31/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBEF7D0298/31/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBEF7D0308/31/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBEF7D04811/30/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBEF7E00112/31/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBEF7E00212/31/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBEF7E00312/31/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBEF7E00412/31/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBP02C05110/31/2019
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 50mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBP02C05210/31/2019
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF8D06011/30/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF8D06111/30/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF8D06211/30/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF8D06311/30/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/12.5mg, 90 countBX35D0241/31/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/12.5mg, 90 countBEF8D06411/30/2020
      13668-117-10Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBEF8D05911/30/2020
      13668-117-10Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBEF8E0041/31/2021
      13668-117-10Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/12.5mg, 1000 countBEF8E0051/31/2021
      13668-118-30Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 30 countBEF6D0548/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D10011/30/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D10111/30/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D10211/30/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6E00112/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6E00212/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6E00312/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6E00412/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6E00812/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6E00912/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6E01012/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6E01112/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6E01212/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBP04D01212/31/2019
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBP04D01312/31/2019
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBP04C09210/31/2019
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D0123/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D0133/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D0609/30/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D0619/30/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D0639/30/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D07610/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D07710/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D07810/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 90 countBEF6D07910/31/2020
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 1000 countBP04C09410/31/2019
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 1000 countBEF6D09611/30/2020
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 1000 countBEF6D09711/30/2020
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 1000 countBEF6D09811/30/2020
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 1000 countBEF6D09911/30/2020
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 1000 countBEF6E00512/31/2020
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 1000 countBEF6E00612/31/2020
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 1000 countBP04D0162/29/2020
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 1000 countBP04D0172/29/2020
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP 100mg/25mg, 1000 countBP04D0182/29/2020

      What to do

      Patients who are taking the recalled products should continue taking their medication, as the risk of harm to the patient’s health may be higher if the treatment is stopped immediately without any alternative treatment.

      Patients should contact their pharmacist or physician who can advise them about an alternative treatment prior to returning their medication.

      Torrent is notifying its customers by phone and in writing, and arranging for return of all recalled products to Qualanex. Instructions for returning recalled products are given in the recall letter.

      Consumers with medical questions regarding this recall or to report an adverse event may contact Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited at (800) 912-9561 from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (ET) with voicemail available 24/7, or by email at Medinfo.Torrent@apcerls.com

      Consumers with general questions regarding the return of the recalled product may contact Qualanex at (888) 280-2040 from 8 am - 9:00 pm ET).

      Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited is expanding its earlier recall of Losartan Potassium tablets and Losartan Potassium/hydrochlorothiazide tablets.The pr...
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      Just 39 percent of workers negotiated for higher pay, survey finds

      Experts say negotiating lets the company know you value your worth

      Just 39 percent of workers tried to negotiate a higher salary during their last job offer, according to a survey by staffing firm Robert Half.

      The firm surveyed professionals in 27 U.S. cities and found that those in New York, Dallas, and San Francisco were most likely to negotiate their salary. Men were more likely than women to do so, at 46 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

      But job seekers shouldn’t shy away from pushing for more pay. In fact, experts say negotiating on salary can signal to the company that you value your own worth.

      A separate survey by Robert Half found that many employers are willing -- and even expect -- to make a deal with candidates. A majority (70 percent) of senior managers said they expect to engage in some back-and-forth on salary.

      However, before asking for a higher salary, prospective employees should be aware of two common pitfalls, said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half.

      "First and foremost, avoid negotiating any part of the compensation package until after you've received a formal offer,” McDonald said. “Second, don't go into a negotiation without practicing the conversation in person with a trusted friend or mentor. Someone who has been in your position can help you prepare for the unexpected and make a stronger case."

      Salary negotiation pointers

      During the interview, it’s best to wait for the hiring manager to bring up salary, Rowan O’Grady, president of Hays Canada told Yahoo Finance. When it does come up, O’Grady recommends reiterating your excitement about the role.

      Other salary negotiation tips include:

      • Do your research. Before the interview, use an online tool such as Indeed.com to find the average salary for the position you have applied for. Be sure to consider where the job is based and the cost of living in that area.

      • Highlight your credentials. When negotiating for a higher salary, highlight your experience or educational level.

      • Be confident. Explain your reasoning with confidence, but don’t be overconfident.

      • Aim high. Make the first offer and start out with a high number. Research shows that those who start out with a high number anchor this number in their employers’ minds and receive better offers.

      Just 39 percent of workers tried to negotiate a higher salary during their last job offer, according to a survey by staffing firm Robert Half.The firm...
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      Jensen Tuna recalls frozen ground tuna

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

      Jensen Tuna of Louisiana is recalling frozen ground tuna imported from JK Fish.

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

      The ground tuna samples were found negative for Salmonella.

      The recalled product, individually packaged in clear plastic one-pound bags, is sold in white wax 20-lb., boxes as a wholesale case with twenty bags in each case with lot numbers z266, z271 and z272.

      It was sold to wholesalers in Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, New York and Washington who further distributed the product from November 30, 2018, to March 15, 2019, to restaurants and retail locations.

      What to do

      Consumers with concerns should ask their restaurants and retailers whether the tuna dish they are purchasing contained the recalled ground tuna.

      Further information is available by contacting Jensen Tuna at (985) 868-8809 Monday-Friday, 8am to 3pm, (CT) or by email at info@jensentuna.com.

      Jensen Tuna of Louisiana is recalling frozen ground tuna imported from JK Fish.The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.The ground tuna samp...
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      Sprint says its business isn’t as strong as it appeared

      The company reportedly told regulators that it will struggle as a standalone entity

      Following news that its proposed merger with T-Mobile may be on the ropes, Sprint has reportedly told regulators that its business may not be as stable as it appeared, according to the Wall Street Journal.

      “[Sprint] has touted adding new wireless connections for six straight quarters. What it didn’t say until now is that many of those gains were free lines or existing customers that switched services,” the Journal said.

      Sprint’s “recent gains in so-called postpaid connections… were driven by free lines given to existing Sprint customers,” the report continued.

      Earlier this week, the WSJ reported that Justice Department staff recently informed the two telecom providers that the merger is unlikely to be approved as currently structured. T-Mobile CEO John Legere refuted that the merger is in trouble, tweeting that the premise of the Journal’s story was “simply untrue.”

      Not on a ‘competitive path’

      Sprint told regulators that, given the state it’s in, it’s unlikely to survive as a standalone company.

      In a recent filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Sprint attempted to make a case for the merger by claiming that its ability to compete in the industry would be diminished if the merger isn’t approved.

      “Sprint is in a very difficult situation that is only getting worse,” Sprint’s lawyers wrote. “Sprint’s lack of low-band spectrum is at the root of these network problems … Simply put, Sprint is not on a sustainable competitive path.”

      The company added that its network is “deficient” and that it’s “losing customers, and it cannot generate enough cash to invest in its network, pay its debt obligations, and compete effectively.”

      “Absent completing its transaction with T-Mobile, Sprint will have limited options, and is likely to be forced down either a repositioning path and/or a restructuring path,” the FCC filing continued.

      The planned merger of T-Mobile and Sprint would reduce the number of carriers from 4 to 3, which critics argue could hurt competition and drive up costs for consumers. The companies have argued that the opposite would be true, claiming that the merger will result in more efficiencies that allow the combined company to reduce costs.  

      Following news that its proposed merger with T-Mobile may be on the ropes, Sprint has reportedly told regulators that its business may not be as stable as...
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      Sears Holdings sues former CEO who now owns the brand

      The long Sears saga continues in court

      Long before Sears declared bankruptcy and was eventually sold at auction, some stakeholders were eyeing its chairman and CEO, Eddie Lampert, with an increasing amount of skepticism.

      Now, some of them are suing Lampert, charging the executive took actions that hastened the retailer’s demise. Lampert, and his hedge fund ESL Investments, purchased the remaining Sears assets for $5.2 billion at a bankruptcy auction in February.

      The suit was filed by the Sears Holdings’ team that was given the responsibility of disposing of Sears’ assets. The complaint was filed on behalf of creditors who claim that Lampert destroyed billions of dollars of Sears’ value, driving the company into bankruptcy.

      Lampert has defended his actions as CEO, saying he was forced to sell assets in a vain attempt to pull Sears out of what he called its “death spiral.” But Sears Holdings, which filed the suit, charges Lampert in effect “gave away the store” in deals that failed to realize the full value of the assets he was selling.

      The complaint

      “Had defendants not taken these improper and illegal actions, Sears would have had billions of dollars more to pay its third-party creditors today and would not have endured the amount of disruption, expense, and job losses resulting from its recent bankruptcy filing,” the plaintiffs said in their suit.

      ESL issued a statement “vigorously” disputing the claims made in the lawsuit. It termed them “baseless allegations” and “fanciful claims.”

      In addition to Lampert and ESL, the suit names a number of other defendants, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a former board member and investor at ESL.

      Lampert eventually purchased the remaining Sears assets, including the Kenmore and DieHard brands. He said he plans to operate about 400 Sears and Kmart stores.

      When Sears filed for bankruptcy in October Lampert had stepped down as CEO, no longer running the day to day operations. However, he remained as the company’s chairman.

      Last ditch effort

      When Lampert appeared to be the only serious buyer for Sears’ assets, the retailer’s unsecured creditors went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent him from taking control. The creditors’ committee argued that the bid shouldn’t be approved because Lampert’s control gave him "undue influence to siphon value" on favorable terms.

      Lampert won and is now busy planning Sears’ relaunch in a retail environment that gets tougher by the day. He says he plans to make Sears stores smaller than in the past, focusing less on clothing and more on tools and appliances.

      Long before Sears declared bankruptcy and was eventually sold at auction, some stakeholders were eyeing its chairman and CEO, Eddie Lampert, with an increa...
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      Gas prices are still rising, but at a slower pace

      The exception is California where motorists are paying more than $4 a gallon

      The price of gasoline has not stopped going up, but at least it’s not going up as fast.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the average price of regular has risen three cents a gallon to $2.83 in the last week. That follows a nine cent rise during the previous seven days.

      The average price of premium is $3.39 a gallon, six cents higher than the previous Friday. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.07 a gallon, two cents higher than last week.

      Prices have begun to moderate ahead of their expected peak around Memorial Day weekend, but the exception is in California. The average price of regular gas in the Golden State is $4.02 a gallon -- the only state to cross that $4 benchmark. The price is up 10 cents a gallon in the last week and has risen 68 cents over the last month.

      According to AAA, the price spike has been caused by both the planned and unexpected maintenance in the state’s oil refineries.

      “Out of California’s 10 refineries, six have seen a reduction in refined products output, including gasoline, due to maintenance upgrades and necessary repairs,” AAA said in its latest market update.

      At the same time, refineries are switching over to the production of summer-grade gasoline, which is more expensive than winter blends. Currently, there is a 52 cents a gallon difference between California’s average gas price and the average price in Alabama, the cheapest state.

      The states with the most expensive regular gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • California ($4.02)

      • Hawaii ($3.60)

      • Washington ($3.44)

      • Oregon ($3.34)

      • Nevada ($3.30)

      • Alaska ($3.23)

      • Pennsylvania ($2.98)

      • Arizona ($3.01)

      • Illinois ($2.95)

      • Idaho ($2.86)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Alabama ($2.50)

      • Mississippi ($2.52)

      • Arkansas ($2.53)

      • South Carolina ($2.53)

      • Louisiana ($2.54)

      • Texas ($2.58)

      • Virginia ($2.58)

      • Missouri ($2.59)

      • Oklahoma ($2.60)

      • Tennessee ($2.61)

      The price of gasoline has not stopped going up, but at least it’s not going up as fast.The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the average price of regular has...
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      Heat Hero recalls portable plug-in heaters

      The heater can overheat, smoke and catch fire

      Heat Hero of Irvine, Calif., is recalling about 20,000 portable mini heaters sold in the U.S. and Canada.

      The heater can overheat, smoke and catch fire, posing fire and burn hazards.

      The firm has received 117 reports of overheating, including 47 units smoking and 10 catching fire, with two resulting in property damage. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves Heat Hero portable mini heaters.

      The 350W plug-in ceramic space heaters are black and measure about 10 inches tall and 5 inches wide. They have at the top an LED digital screen that displays the temperature and four control buttons, a front grill, a red on/off button on the right side, a three-prong plug on the back and a vent on the bottom.

      The Heat Hero logo is printed on the product packaging.

      The heaters, manufactured in China, were sold online at Shop.buyheathero.com from October 2018, through March 2019, for between $35 and $45.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled heaters and contact Heat Hero for a free replacement unit, including shipping. Heat Hero is contacting all known purchasers directly

      Consumers may contact Heat Hero toll-free at (877) 479-9172 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at https://shop.buyheathero.com and click on “Recall” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Heat Hero of Irvine, Calif., is recalling about 20,000 portable mini heaters sold in the U.S. and Canada.The heater can overheat, smoke and catch fire,...
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      T-Mobile’s no-fee banking app makes nationwide debut

      The company wants to help customers avoid the fees associated with traditional checking accounts

      T-Mobile's mobile banking service, which launched as a pilot program last November, is now available nationwide. The mobile carrier partnered with digital bank BankMobile to offer the service, which has no fees for overdrafts or ATM use.

      “Americans paid $34 billion in overdraft fees in 2017. That’s not even counting all the other fees banks charge. And consumers earned next-to-zero interest on their account balances. T-Mobile MONEY changes the game,” the carrier said in a press release.

      T-Mobile said checking account customers can earn 4 percent Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on balances up to $3,000 as long as they deposit at least $200 each month. For every dollar over $3,000, the account will have a one percent APY.

      Customers can also opt in to T-Mobile’s “Got Your Back” overdraft protection, so that “when the unplanned happens, they can go in-the-red, up to $50, without penalty” on the condition that they bring the account back to a positive balance within 30 days.

      Helping consumers keep their money

      The app also gives account holders a way to transfer money, make mobile check deposits, pay bills, send checks and even pay with mobile wallets, including Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

      T-Mobile says its banking app is intended to help customers keep more of their money than they would if they had an account through a big bank.

      “Traditional banks aren’t mobile-first, and they’re definitely not customer-first. As more and more people use their smartphones to manage money, we saw an opportunity to address another customer pain point,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said. “You work hard for your money … you should keep it … and with T-Mobile MONEY, you can!”

      T-Mobile's mobile banking service, which launched as a pilot program last November, is now available nationwide. The mobile carrier partnered with digital...
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      NTSB investigating ‘near crash’ at JFK last week

      American Airlines Flight 300 struck an object on takeoff

      The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating an incident last week at New York’s JFK Airport that sources say was nearly America’s worst airline disaster since 2001.

      American Airlines Flight 300, an Airbus A321, returned to the airport shortly after takeoff when it struck an object on the ground as it moved down the runway. On Twitter, the NTSB said the aircraft appeared to experience a roll as it moved down the runway and hit a runway distance marker with its left wingtip.

      “Team of 6, consisting of an investigator in charge & technical subject matter experts in vehicle recorders, flight ops, aircraft systems & performance assigned to investigation,” the agency said in a tweet. “NTSB not planning to send investigators to the scene, but will if/when needed.”

      Once airborne, the American Airlines jet, bound for Los Angeles, turned and made a safe landing at JFK. The airline said there were no injuries.

      ‘Close to crashing’

      CBS News quotes a source close to the investigation as saying “this was as close as anyone would ever want to come to crashing.” A transcript of communication between the plane and the tower reveals the pilots experienced an uncontrolled bank to the left as the plane gathered speed down the runway. The network reported that a preliminary investigation suggests the pilots momentarily lost control of the aircraft during takeoff.

      "The FAA, American Airlines, and the Allied Pilots Association will be parties to the NTSB's investigation, and the BEA of France has designated an Accredited Representative as the state of design and manufacture of the airplane with Airbus as their technical advisor."

      The incident is getting intense scrutiny in the wake of two recent crashes involving the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The crashes, coming five months apart in Indonesia and Ethiopia, occurred shortly after takeoff and resulted in the grounding of all 737 MAX aircraft.

      The NTSB has requested data from American Airlines Flight 300 and will try to determine why the plane struck a runway sign and light pole, the force of which bent a portion of the aircraft’s wing.

      U.S. crashes have become rare

      While airline crashes were once not uncommon, they have become a rarity in the U.S. over the last two decades. On November 12, 2001, American Airlines Flight 587 crashed on takeoff from JFK, killing 265 people.

      On August 27, 2006, Comair Flight 5191, a small regional jet, crashed on takeoff from Lexington, Ky., killing 50 passengers and crew.

      On February 12, 2009, Colgan Air flight 3407, a commuter jet operated by Continental, crashed in a snowstorm near Buffalo, N.Y., killing 50 people.

      The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating an incident last week at New York’s JFK Airport that sources say was nearly America’s wors...
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      Chrysler recalls model year 2019 Dodge Challengers, Chargers and Chrysler 300s

      The instrument cluster may not illuminate driver warnings properly

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 7,929 model year 2019 Dodge Challengers, Chargers and Chrysler 300s.

      The instrument cluster may not illuminate driver warnings properly

      Failure of the instrument cluster to properly illuminate may prevent the driver from receiving warnings about the vehicle's systems, increasing the risk of crash.

      What to do

      Chrysler has notified owners, and dealers will update the instrument cluster software, free of charge.

      The recall began April 8, 2019.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is V32.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 7,929 model year 2019 Dodge Challengers, Chargers and Chrysler 300s.The instrument cluster may not illuminate driver...
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      Unilever recalls Ben & Jerry’s Coconut Seven Layer Bar Bulk and Chunky Monkey Pint

      The products may contain tree nuts not declared on the label

      Unilever is recalling a limited quantity of Ben & Jerry’s Coconut Seven Layer Bar bulk and Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey pints.

      The products may contain tree nuts including almonds, Brazil nuts, and hazelnuts that are not declared on the label.

      There are reports of illness associated with the recalled products.

      The Ben & Jerry’s Coconut Seven Layer Bar bulk product is sold in a tub containing 2.4 gallons with a Consumer UPC of 076840104246 and best by date of SEP1520BJ4 They were sold in retail stores nationwide.

      The Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey pint is sold in a pint tub (473 mL) with a Consumer UPC of 076840100354 and best by dates of AUG2820BH2, AUG2920BH2, or AUG3020BH2. They were sold nationwide at wholesale and scoop shops.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should immediately discontinue using them, retain the outer container, and call (833) 236-1237 24/7 for further information.

      Unilever is recalling a limited quantity of Ben & Jerry’s Coconut Seven Layer Bar bulk and Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey pints.The products may contain t...
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      The T-Mobile-Sprint merger may be in trouble

      A published report says the Justice Department staff is leaning against it

      A published report is casting new doubt on the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, a union that already faces opposition from some consumer groups and lawmakers.

      The Wall Street Journal cites “people familiar with the matter” as saying the two telecom providers have been told by Justice Department staff that the merger is not likely to be approved as currently structured.

      None of the parties involved -- T-Mobile, Sprint, and the Justice Department -- have responded to media requests for comment.

      The Justice Department’s antitrust division is examining the proposed $26 billion deal to determine if it would negatively affect competition in the industry. The merger would reduce the number of major carriers from four to three. That, consumer advocates say, would lead to higher costs, especially since both T-Mobile and Sprint tend to serve lower-income customers than AT&T and Verizon.

      According to The Journal, Justice Department staff met with representatives of both companies in early April and expressed their concerns about the deal. They also reportedly challenged the companies’ arguments that the merger would make both entities stronger and lower costs.

      Ability to compete

      Sprint and T-Mobile have steadfastly maintained that the merger is important to their ability to compete with their larger rivals when it comes to deploying a 5G network, which is more expensive than current 4G network technology.

      In a blog post last month, T-Mobile CEO John Legere made a case for the merger, saying it would enable the creation of what he termed a “spectacular” 5G network that would allow for wireless high-speed internet service in underserved areas.

      Legere said consumers using the planned T-Mobile-Sprint home internet service would get speeds of 100 Mbps and higher. The system would be so simple, he wrote, that consumers would be able to install it themselves.

      Legere also said 5G networks will give large wired ISPs more competition than they’ve ever had before, which he predicted would lower prices for internet service. Legere has not said what 5G service would cost but has said on occasion that it would be less than what consumers are now paying for a wired connection.

      Other opposition

      In addition to reported opposition from the Justice Department, several Democratic lawmakers have spoken out against it.

      “T-Mobile and Sprint have led the way in offering wireless products and service options that are more appealing to lower-income consumers, including no contract plans, prepaid and no credit check plans, and unlimited, text, voice, and data plans,” eight senators said in a statement 11 months ago.

      In August, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) -- a union that represents 700,000 workers -- formally opposed the merger, arguing that over 28,000 jobs would be lost if the two companies are combined.

      A published report is casting new doubt on the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, a union that already faces opposition from some consumer groups and...
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      First-time homebuyers struggling with affordability, study finds

      Rising home prices continue to leave many behind

      A survey by LendingTree reveals the housing market continues to pose stiff challenges to first-time home buyers.

      The online mortgage marketplace commissioned a poll of consumers who hope to purchase their first home in the next two years. It found a strong desire among millennials to own a home, but it also revealed gaps in knowledge about the process.

      Most strikingly, the survey revealed a disconnect between what first-time buyers can afford to pay and the realities of today’s housing market. Two-thirds of the group said they have encountered a shortage of homes in their price range.

      When asked what they thought they could pay, most said they were looking for a home priced at $150,000 or less. The median-priced U.S. home -- including new homes -- is now $300,000, well out of that stated price range.

      Looking for a fixer-upper

      Perhaps because of that, 85 percent said they would consider purchasing a fixer-upper if they could get it at a lower cost. That matches our reporting from earlier this week in which 60 percent of first-time buyers said they planned to purchase a home in need of renovation.

      "The combination of rising home prices and limited entry-level homes for sale is prompting many home shoppers to consider homes that need renovating," said Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com, which commissioned that research.

      Besides affordability, the LendingTree study identified other issues many first-time buyers face. Nearly half had no idea that the closing process can be lengthy, taking an average of 43 days.

      More than 25 percent of consumers hoping to purchase their first home have low credit scores, meaning they might not qualify and will pay a higher interest rate if they do. Only 15 percent had a credit score of 740 or higher.

      Lack of funds

      Finally, many would-be homeowners simply lack the income and savings to make a home purchase happen in the immediate future. Nearly half of the first-time buyers in the survey said looking for a home they can afford is the most stressful part of the process.

      "Although the homeownership rate is lower among millennials than earlier generations at the same age, our research demonstrates that purchasing a home is still a significant milestone for many,” said Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree. “However, strengthening your financial profile is crucial for those thinking of buying a home."  

      Kapfidze suggests making a concerted effort to raise your credit score by paying all bills on time and paying down credit card balances. A higher score may make the approval process easier and will save money over the life of the mortgage by qualifying the applicant for a lower interest rate.

      A survey by LendingTree reveals the housing market continues to pose stiff challenges to first-time home buyers.The online mortgage marketplace commiss...
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      GM recalls Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain vehicles

      The rear-right seat may have insufficient welds on the head-restraint bracket

      General Motors is recalling 120 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain vehicles.

      The rear-right seat may have insufficient welds on the head-restraint bracket.

      In the event of a crash, the insufficient welds may result in an increased risk of injury for an occupant seated in the rear-right position.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the rear-right seatback frame free of charge.

      The recall was expected to begin on April 15, 2019.

      Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at (800) 222-1020 or GMC customer service at (800) 462-8782. GM's number for this recall is N192209550.

      General Motors is recalling 120 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain vehicles.The rear-right seat may have insufficient welds on the head-restraint bracke...
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      JBS Plainwell recalls ground beef

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials

      JBS Plainwell of Plainwell, Mich., is recalling approximately 43,292 pounds of ground beef.

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials -- specifically pieces of hard plastic.

      There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

      The following items, produced on March 20, 2019, are being recalled:

      • 1-lb. plastic wrapped ground beef loaf with “fresh from Meijer GROUND BEEF 80% LEAN 20% FAT” with case code 47283 and sell by date of 4/10/2019 represented on the label.
      • 1-lb. plastic wrapped ground beef loaf with “fresh from Meijer GROUND BEEF 85% LEAN 15% FAT” with case code 47285 and sell by date of 4/10/2019 represented on the label.
      • 1-lb. plastic wrapped ground beef loaf with “fresh from Meijer GROUND BEEF 90% LEAN 10% FAT” with case code 47290 and sell by date of 4/10/2019 represented on the label.
      • 1-lb. plastic wrapped ground beef loaf with “LEAN GROUND BEEF” with case code 42093 and sell by date of 4/10/2019 represented on the label.
      • 1-lb. plastic wrapped ground beef loaf with “CERTIFIED GROUND SIRLOIN” with case code 42090 and sell by date of 4/10/2019 represented on the label.
      • 1-lb. plastic wrapped ground beef loaf with “CERTIFIED GROUND ROUND” with case code 42085 and sell by date of 4/10/2019 represented on the label.
      • 1-lb. plastic wrapped ground beef loaf with “Fresh! BLACK ANGUS GROUND CHUCK” with case code 42283 and sell by date of 4/10/2019 represented on the label.
      • 1-lb. plastic wrapped ground beef loaf with “CERTIFIED GROUND CHUCK” with case code 81631 and sell by date of 4/10/2019 represented on the label.
      • 1-lb. plastic wrapped ground beef loaf with “GROUND BEEF” with case code 81629 and sell by date of 4/10/2019 represented on the label.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 562M” inside the USDA mark of inspection or printed on the bottom of the label, were shipped to retail locations in Michigan and Wisconsin.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but discard or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Misty Barnes at (970) 506-7805.

      JBS Plainwell of Plainwell, Mich., is recalling approximately 43,292 pounds of ground beef.The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials -...
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      Walmart offering subscription box service for children’s apparel

      Each box contains items tailored to the current season and children’s style preferences

      Walmart has announced that it’s partnering with subscription-box company Kidbox to launch a subscription box service specifically for baby and children’s clothing.

      The retailer’s online shoppers will be able to purchase as many as six personalized, seasonally appropriate boxes of children’s apparel each year. The platform’s “stylists” curate each box by taking into account shopper’s responses to a short style quiz.

      Each box contains four to five items of apparel for around $48. Walmart says the cost of each box is about 50 percent off the suggested retail price for the group of bundled items. After receiving the box, parents can either keep all the items or return everything for a full refund.

      Growing its apparel business

      The launch of the subscription box for children’s clothing joins other efforts by Walmart to expand its online apparel offerings.

      Last May, the company announced that it was teaming up with Lord & Taylor to add premium brands to its website. Walmart has also added more than 100 brands to its children’s apparel lineup over the past year, including Betsey Johnson, The Children’s Place, Kapital K, Levi’s, and Limited Too.

      “Walmart has done a lot over the past year to establish itself as a go-to retailer for all things fashion, and we’re honored to partner with the retailer to expand its kids’ assortment online, while also saving parents time and offering them the value and convenience of a stylebox,” said Miki Berardelli, Kidbox CEO, in a statement. “At Kidbox, we pride ourselves on understanding kids’ fashion preferences while also creating moments for them to learn about the importance of giving back,” she added.

      Competing with Amazon

      Walmart’s new partnership with Kidbox comes just a few months after Gymboree declared bankruptcy and said it planned to close 800 Gymboree and Crazy 8 stores.

      Walmart and other retailers are continuing to shift their strategies in an effort to compete with Amazon, as well as fill the void left by retailers who were unable to adapt to changing consumer preferences.

      “Our partnership with Kidbox enables us to round out our offering with additional national and premium kids’ brands,” said Denise Incandela, head of fashion for Walmart’s e-commerce business in the U.S.

      Walmart has announced that it’s partnering with subscription-box company Kidbox to launch a subscription box service specifically for baby and children’s c...
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      Infant fatalities prompt recall of Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleepers

      The infants rolled from their back to their stomach or side while unrestrained

      Fisher-Price

      of East Aurora, N.Y., is recalling about 4.7 million Rock ‘n Play Sleepers.

      Over 30 infant fatalities have occurred since the 2009 product introduction after the infants rolled from their back to their stomach or side while unrestrained, or under other circumstances.

      Since the 2009 product introduction, over 30 infant fatalities have occurred in Rock ‘n Play Sleepers, after the infants rolled over while unrestrained, or under other circumstances.

      The recall involves all Rock ‘n Play Sleepers.

      The sleepers, manufactured in China, were sold at major retailers for approximately $40 to $149.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the product and contact Fisher-Price for a refund or voucher.

      Consumers may contact Fisher-Price online at www.service.mattel.com and click on “Recall & Safety Alerts” near the bottom of the page, or toll-free at (866) 812-6518 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday for more information.

      Fisher-Price of East Aurora, N.Y., is recalling about 4.7 million Rock ‘n Play Sleepers.Over 30 infant fatalities have occurred since the 2009 product...
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      American and Southwest Airlines extend Boeing 737 MAX flight cancellations to August

      With the peak summer travel season at risk, airlines are taking extra precautions

      The Boeing 737 MAX saga continues.

      The Federal Aviation Commission (FAA) held a closed-door meeting at its headquarters on Friday, and representatives from Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines -- the three domestic carriers that own Boeing 737-MAX aircraft -- were reportedly in attendance, according to Fox Business News.

      With apparently no guarantee of safety in place from Boeing or the FAA, American and Southwest Airlines have both extended their current June 5 deadline regarding cancelled 737 MAX cancellations to August.

      “U.S. airlines and the pilot unions want to know how the work on this software fix for the 737 MAX is progressing,” Wall Street Journal aviation reporter Andrew Tangel told Fox News.

      “Ultimately, the airlines want to make sure that the airplane is going to be safe to fly and it can get passengers on these planes, and the pilots want the same thing. They’re not going to fly the plane if they’re not satisfied the plane is safe.”

      A safe summer is now the focus

      Although the companies are extending flight cancellations involving the Boeing 737 MAX, officials say they’re confident that a solution will be presented before then.

      “Based upon our ongoing work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing, we are highly confident that the MAX will be recertified prior to this time,” American’s Chairman and CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom wrote to company employees.

      “By extending our cancellations through the summer, we can plan more reliably for the peak travel season and provide confidence to our customers and team members when it comes to their travel plans. Once the MAX is recertified, we anticipate bringing our MAX aircraft back on line as spares to supplement our operation as needed during the summer.”

      The summer flying season is a key element not only for American but for every airline. Family and class reunions, trips overseas, and vacations could have been put in limbo if the planned June date couldn’t be met. This way, airlines can cancel the MAX-related flights and get those passengers on other flights. In American’s situation, that’s approximately 115 flights per day -- about 1.5 percent of American’s total daily flying -- that will be canceled through August 19.

      Southwest also announced a modified schedule which will now run through August 5, 2019.

      “Through a lens of impacting the fewest travelers, we have removed an average [of] 160 flights a day across the peak summer flight schedule, when Southwest typically operates 4200+ departures a day,” a Southwest spokesperson told ConsumerAffairs.

      In an email to the airlines’ customers, Southwest President Tom Nealon doubled down on the importance of making sure the airline can “add further stability for Customers booking their summer travel.”

      “The limited number of Customers, who have already booked their travel and will be affected by this amended schedule, are being proactively notified so that we can re-accommodate their flight plans well in advance of their travel date,” Nealon said.

      “While the vast majority of our Customers' itineraries have remained unaffected, flight schedule changes have inconvenienced some of our valued Customers, and, for that, I offer my sincerest apologies. The proactive move allows us to accommodate Customers, eliminate last-minute surprises, and focus on the integrity of a right-sized operation for the number of aircraft available to the airline.”

      A Southwest spokesperson told ConsumerAffairs that the airline is moving away from notifying passengers only days out to a more plan-friendly weeks out in hopes of giving travelers more breathing room to modify their travel arrangements. Southwest says that those notices “also share dedicated resources to facilitate further modifications within our reaccommodation practices.”

      And United? United Airlines currently has no plans to follow suit; instead, it seems the company will wait and see if solutions are forthcoming. A United spokesperson told ConsumerAffairs that its current contingency plan is in place through the end of May.

      “For our April schedule, we currently expect to have approximately 130 cancellations related to the MAX. By using larger aircraft on those routes, we have been able to protect our customers’ original itineraries by using other aircraft to cover almost all of the MAX flights,” United said.

      The Boeing 737 MAX saga continues.The Federal Aviation Commission (FAA) held a closed-door meeting at its headquarters on Friday, and representatives f...
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      Acura MDXs and MDX Sport Hybrids recalled

      The tailgate lid lights and the taillights may not function

      American Honda Motor Co., is recalling 322,897 model year 2014-2019 Acura MDXs and model year 2017-2019 Acura MDX Sport Hybrids.

      Moisture may enter the tailgate lid lights, possibly causing a loss of the tailgate lid lights and the taillights.

      Loss of the taillights reduces the vehicle's visibility, increasing the risk of crash.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will modify the tailgate lid lights and install updated gaskets and a wiring sub-harness or will replace both tailgate lid lights. The repairs will be performed free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin on April 29, 2019.

      Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda's number for this recall is M49.

      American Honda Motor Co., is recalling 322,897 model year 2014-2019 Acura MDXs and model year 2017-2019 Acura MDX Sport Hybrids.Moisture may enter the...
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      Denver Processing recalls raw pork and beef products

      The products did not undergo federal inspection

      Denver Processing of Denver, Colo., is recalling approximately 13,865 pounds of raw pork and beef products.

      The products did not undergo federal inspection.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

      The following items, produced on April 9, 2019, are being recalled:

      • Varying catch weight plastic wrapped trays containing “Pork Sirloin Boneless Chop” with “Sell By 04.18.19,” lot code 099, case code 60047, and all time stamps after 14:30.
      • Varying catch weight plastic wrapped trays containing “Pork Boneless Loin Top Loin Roast” with “Sell By 04.18.19,” lot code 099, case code 60105, and all time stamps after 14:30.
      • Varying catch weight plastic wrapped trays containing “Diced Pork Super Value Pack” with “Sell By 04.18.19,” lot code 099, case code 06385, and all time stamps after 14:30.
      • Varying catch weight plastic wrapped trays containing “Pork Loin Boneless Chop” with “Sell By 04.18.19,” lot code 099, case code 60063, and all time stamps after 14:30.
      • Varying catch weight plastic wrapped trays containing “Pork Loin Boneless Chops Family Pack” with “Sell By 04.18.19,” lot code 099, case code 19498, and all time stamps after 14:30.
      • Varying catch weight plastic wrapped trays containing “U.S.D.A. Choice Beef Chuck Pot Roast Boneless” with sell by date “0418,” lot code 099, case code 69481, and all time stamps after 14:30.
      • Varying catch weight plastic wrapped trays containing “U.S.D.A. Choice Beef Top Round London Broil” with sell by date “0418,” lot code 099, case code 69479, and all time stamps after 14:30.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 6250” within the USDA mark of inspection on the case label and directly outside of the USDA mark of inspection on the product label, were shipped to retail locations in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but discard or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions about the recall maycontact Adam Williamson at (303) 778-3168.

      Denver Processing of Denver, Colo., is recalling approximately 13,865 pounds of raw pork and beef products.The products did not undergo federal inspect...
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      Disney announces pricing for upcoming streaming service

      At $7 per month, the service for families will be more affordable than competitor Netflix

      At an “investor day” event on Thursday, Disney revealed additional details about its forthcoming streaming service called Disney Plus, which will compete with video streaming services such as Netflix.

      Disney said its new ad-free service will cost $7 a month, or $70 a year. By comparison, Netflix charges a $13 monthly fee to consumers who subscribe to its most popular plan -- a recently announced increase of $2.

      The company said Disney Plus, which will launch on November 12, will include all of Disney's kid-friendly classics, 18 of Pixar’s 21 movies, and new titles that will hit theaters this year.

      The platform will also include some content that may be of interest to parents, including “Star Wars” movies and all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons” (the latter thanks to its acquisition of 21st Century Fox). Disney Plus will not, however, include any sports content.

      “If consumers want sports, they can subscribe to ESPN+. If they want adult content, they can subscribe to Hulu, and if they want family, there’s Disney(+),” CEO Bob Iger said, according to CNBC.

      Iger said the platform’s affordability compared to rival streaming services is intended to make the service “accessible to as many consumers as possible.” Disney forecasts that by the end of 2024, it will have amassed between 60 million and 90 million subscribers.

      The company told investors that it expects to spend about $1 billion on original content for the service next year and $2 billion by 2024.

      At an “investor day” event on Thursday, Disney revealed additional details about its forthcoming streaming service called Disney Plus, which will compete w...
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      Heavy gasoline demand drives prices higher

      The average price jumped 9 cents a gallon in the last week

      Gasoline demand has been rising so far this spring -- and it shot up to summer-like level last week, pushing prices at the pump higher.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gasoline in $2.81 a gallon, up nine cents since last Friday. That’s 33 cents more than a month ago.

      The average price of premium is $3.35 a gallon, eight cents higher than a week ago. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.05, only two cents higher over the last seven days.

      The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports consumer demand for gasoline jumped last week to 9.8 million barrels a day, a huge increase over the previous week and about a half-million more barrels a day than the first week of April 2018.

      California alone is doing more than its part to raise the national average for fuel prices. Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, says gas stations in the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets now average $4 a gallon for regular while the statewide average has risen to $3.95 a gallon, up 25 cents in the last seven days.

      “It’s the first time since 2015 LA has seen such a high average,” DeHaan said in a tweet.

      California isn’t the only state to see dramatic increases in gas prices over the last week. The average price is up 13 cents a gallon in Nevada, 11 cents in Utah, and eight cents in Arizona. AAA says shrinking gasoline supplies amid high demand will likely contribute to increased pump prices in the weeks ahead.

      The states with the most expensive regular gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • California ($3.95)

      • Hawaii ($3.54)

      • Washington ($3.32)

      • Oregon ($3.22)

      • Nevada ($3.16)

      • Alaska ($3.10)

      • Pennsylvania ($2.93)

      • Arizona ($2.93)

      • Illinois ($2.88)

      • Michigan ($2.86)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Alabama ($2.47)

      • Arkansas ($2.48)

      • Mississippi ($2.48)

      • South Carolina ($2.49)

      • Louisiana ($2.52)

      • Texas ($2.53)

      • Virginia ($2.54)

      • Missouri ($2.55)

      • Tennessee ($2.56)

      • Oklahoma ($2.56)

      Gasoline demand has been rising so far this spring -- and it shot up to summer-like level last week, pushing prices at the pump higher.The AAA Fuel Gau...
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      Yoakum Packing recalls venison sausage

      The product contains pork products not listed on the label

      Yoakum Packing of Yoakum, Texas, is recalling approximately 12,388 pounds of smoked venison sausage.

      The product contains pork, which is not listed on the label.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

      The fully cooked item, containing beef, pork and other nonmeat products items produced from May 3, 2017, through March 22, 2019, is being recalled:

      • 2.5-lb. plastic wrapped bags containing frozen sausage links of “VENISON Smoked Sausage – FULLY COOKED – KEEP REFRIGERATED” and case code 35710 or 35712 represented on the label.

      The recalled product, bearing establishment number “EST. 2216” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to distributors and retailers in Texas.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume them, but discard or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Glen Kusak, at (361) 293-3541.

      Yoakum Packing of Yoakum, Texas, is recalling approximately 12,388 pounds of smoked venison sausage.The product contains pork, which is not listed on t...
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      Great American Marketing recalls meat and poultry wraps and salads

      The products may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Great American Marketing of Houston, Texas, is recalling approximately 3,329 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry wraps and salads.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

      The following ready-to-eat items, produced from March 27 through April 8, 2019, are being recalled:

      • 9.25-oz. plastic sealed cartons containing “corner store market CAESAR SALAD WITH GRILLED CHICKEN & CAESAR DRESSING” with sell by dates of 04/09/19 through 04/15/19.
      • 10.25-oz. plastic sealed cartons containing “corner store market CHEF SALAD TURKEY, HAM & CHEESE, WITH RANCH DRESSING” with sell by dates of 04/09/19 through 04/15/19.
      • 8.1-oz. plastic sealed cartons containing “corner store market CLUB WRAP Turkey, Ham, Roast Beef, Bacon Bits & Cheese” with sell by dates of 04/08/18 through 4/20/19.
      • 7.4-oz. plastic sealed carton containing “corner store market CHICKEN CAESAR WRAP Chicken Strips & Cheese with Caesar Dressing” with sell by dates of 04/08/18 through 4/20/19.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 31680” or “P-31680” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations in Texas.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but discard or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Bill Welch at (713) 682-6471.

      Great American Marketing of Houston, Texas, is recalling approximately 3,329 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry wraps and salads.The products may...
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      When you talk to Alexa, an Amazon employee may be listening too

      A recent report details how employees transcribe some audio clips

      People may have gotten used to the idea that Amazon Alexa is always listening, but they might also have comforted themselves with the thought that no human is.

      That is probably a faulty assumption.

      Bloomberg News reports that thousands of Amazon employees stationed around the world do, in fact, listen along with Alexa. The report doesn’t suggest they’re eavesdropping though. It says they transcribe what you say and feed it back into the system so Alexa can learn to better communicate with you.

      That doesn’t mean that someone is listening in every time you and Alexa have a conversation. According to Bloomberg, teams of employees listen to voice recordings in the Echo system and feed the transcripts back into the software “to eliminate gaps in Alexa’s understanding of human speech.”

      The report is based on interviews with seven people who say they have worked on the project. They say the teams are made up of contractors and full-time employees who were required to sign non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from speaking publicly about their work. They put in nine-hour days and may go through as many as 1,000 audio clips per shift.

      Amazon comments

      Commenting on the Bloomberg report, Amazon told the news agency it takes consumers’ privacy seriously.

      “We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order [to] improve the customer experience,” the company said. “For example, this information helps us train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems, so Alexa can better understand your requests, and ensure the service works well for everyone.”

      Privacy issues have long been associated with smart speakers and other interactive devices that respond to voice commands since they are always listening. It’s especially a concern when these devices are interacting with children.

      Toys like Hello Barbie and CogniToys Dino are connected to the internet and can joke around with children, responding to their questions. The kids' voices are also recorded and stored in the cloud for future reference, helping the toys "learn."

      A 2017 study by the University of Washington showed parents are increasingly concerned about their children’s privacy, especially when they learned most children told the researchers they were unaware their voices are being recorded.

      People may have gotten used to the idea that Amazon Alexa is always listening, but they might also have comforted themselves with the thought that no human...
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      House Democrats vote to restore net neutrality

      Republicans in the Senate say it is a futile gesture

      The House has approved a measure that restores net neutrality as the law of the land. But the chances of it becoming law are slim.

      That’s because while Democrats now control the House, Republicans are still in the majority in the Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the measure is not likely to ever be brought up for a vote.

      The House action was largely symbolic since many Democrats had campaigned on a promise to restore net neutrality, a policy codified in 2015 by the Obama administration but overturned by the Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

      The principle of net neutrality holds that internet service providers (ISP) must treat all network traffic the same. They can’t offer faster speeds to one kind of traffic while slowing down other kinds.

      Net neutrality supporters have warned that without this protection, ISPs -- such as AT&T and Verizon -- might favor their own content over their rivals’.

      Restores regulations

      The measure passed by the Democratic majority in the House would restore the FCC’s authority to regulate ISPs under Title II of the Communications, making them a public utility. Republicans have consistently argued that ISPs are not public utilities.

      “This legislation not only protects consumers from large corporations, but it also strengthens our economy by promoting innovation and small businesses,” said Rep. Michael Doyle (D-Pa.),, author of the bill. “Net neutrality ensures that any business, no matter how small, gets the same internet at the same speeds as giant corporate interests. That’s only fair, there should not be favorites.”

      A moot point?

      While the legislation may have no chance of passage the issue of net neutrality continues to divide Republicans and Democrats. But some industry experts have suggested the arrival of 5G internet service make the issue a moot point.

      In a recent editorial, Investors Business Daily said Verizon’s new 5G Home internet service “obliterates” the argument for net neutrality. The writer argued that 5G service offered by providers will end the monopoly of wired ISPs.

      “With 5G, the cost of bringing high-speed internet to everyone, nationwide, plunges,” the editorial states. “There's no doubt that traditional cable companies will start building out their own networks, for fear of losing all their customers to faster, cheaper 5G services.”

      With 5G, some argue there will be enough speed and bandwidth to accommodate all content providers. The editorial suggests that “the use of wires to connect homes to the internet could very well become as antiquated as those old dial-up modems.”

      The House has approved a measure that restores net neutrality as the law of the land. But the chances of it becoming law are slim.That’s because while...
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      Android 7+ phones can now be used as physical security keys

      Google has added the new option to serve as an additional layer of protection

      Google announced Wednesday that it added a new authentication method that lets consumers use their phone as a physical security key. The free option is available to those with a smartphone running Android 7.0 and up.

      “This makes it easier and more convenient for you to unlock this powerful protection, without having to carry around additional security keys,” Google said in a blog post.

      “Use it to protect your personal Google Account, as well as your Google Cloud Accounts at work. We also recommend it for people in our Advanced Protection Program—like journalists, activists, business leaders and political campaign teams who are most at risk of targeted online attacks.”

      Set it up

      To use the new security feature, connect your phone over Bluetooth to a computer running the latest version of Chrome and verify your logins. From there, follow these steps:

      • On your computer, navigate to myaccount.google.com/security, visit the 2SV settings, and click "Add security key".

      • Choose your Android phone from the list of available devices.

      • When signing in, make sure Bluetooth is turned on for the device you are signing in on and on your phone.

      Google explains that using a physical security key can beef up an account’s protection against phishing.

      “Phishing—when an attacker tries to trick you into turning over your online credentials—is the most common cause of security breaches. Preventing phishing attacks can be a major challenge for personal and business users alike. At Google, we automatically block the overwhelming majority of malicious sign-in attempts (even if an attacker has your username or password), but an additional layer of protection can be helpful,” the company said.

      Google announced Wednesday that it added a new authentication method that lets consumers use their phone as a physical security key. The free option is ava...
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      First quarter foreclosures hit lowest level since 2008

      But some housing markets are seeing an uptick in activity

      U.S. foreclosure activity fell sharply in the first quarter of the year, hitting the lowest level since the first quarter of 2008, just before an avalanche of foreclosures triggered by the financial crisis.

      The quarterly report by ATTOM Data Solutions showed there were 161,875 U.S. properties in some stage of foreclosure during the first quarter of 2019, down 23 percent from the last quarter of 2018 and down 15 percent from a year ago.

      Foreclosure activity ticked up in March but still remained far below last year’s pace. Falling 21 percent compared to March 2018 foreclosures, it was the ninth straight month foreclosures had declined on a year-over-year basis.

      ‘Well below pre-recession levels’

      "While some markets saw a slight uptick in foreclosure filings, that is above pre-recession levels, the majority of the major markets are well below pre-recession levels," said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions. "While we did see a slight increase in U.S. foreclosure starts from last quarter, bank repossessions reached an all-time low in the first quarter of 2019, showing continuing signs of a strong housing market."

      It may also signal a stronger economy with more stable employment. Additionally, stricter underwriting standards adopted by the mortgage industry after the housing market crashed in 2009 probably helped.

      During the early 2000s housing bubble, lenders made loans to borrowers without fully verifying their finances. As a result, many people who couldn’t afford homes were able to buy one, resulting in a wave of foreclosures once the market crashed.

      Today, lenders closely verify income and credit documents and require buyers to be employed for at least two consecutive years in the same industry.

      Stable markets

      The most stable housing market in the first quarter was San Jose, where foreclosure activity was down 79 percent from its pre-crash average. Foreclosures were down 77 percent in Memphis and  Dallas-Fort Worth, down 74 percent in Las Vegas, and down 68 percent in Phoenix.

      Markets still seeing above pre-recession foreclosure levels include Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Conn., Richmond, Va., Providence, R.I, and New Orleans.

      Notably, bank repossessions (REO) were lower in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Lenders repossessed 35,787 properties through foreclosure in the first quarter, down 21 percent from thefoourth quarter of 2018 and down 45 percent from a year ago.

      U.S. foreclosure activity fell sharply in the first quarter of the year, hitting the lowest level since the first quarter of 2008, just before an avalanche...
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      Wakefern Food recalls Wholesome Pantry Organic nut butters

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Wakefern Food is recalling a variety of Wholesome Pantry Organic nut butters that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses related to the recall have been reported.

      The following items, packed in 16-oz., plastic jars, with best by dates of June 2020 and earlier, are being recalled:

      • Wholesome Pantry Organic Creamy Salted Almond Butter, UPC: 04119006004
      • Wholesome Pantry Organic Creamy Unsalted Almond Butter, UPC: 04119006005
      • Wholesome Pantry Organic Unsalted Sunflower Butter, UPC: 04119005827
      • Wholesome Pantry Organic Tahini Butter, UPC: 04119005828
      • Wholesome Pantry Organic Cashew Butter, UPC: 04119006006

      The recalled products were sold in ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer and Dearborn Market stores in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island and Virginia.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should return them for an immediate refund or replacement.

      Consumers with questions may call (800) 746-7748 Monday-Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and weekends from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

      Wakefern Food is recalling a variety of Wholesome Pantry Organic nut butters that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.No illnesses related...
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      Thogensen Family Farm recalls raw frozen ground pet food

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Thogersen Family Farm of Stanwood, Wash., is recalling raw frozen ground pet food that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The following varieties, packaged in two pound packs, are included in this recall: course ground rabbit, course ground mallard duck, ground llama, and ground pork frozen raw pet food.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled products were packaged in two pound flattened, rectangular clear plastic packages and stored frozen. The front of the package contains one large white square label with the company name, product type and weight.

      The product labels do not contain any lot identification, batch codes, or expiration dates.

      The recalled products were either sold to individual customers or two retail establishments that have been notified.

      What to do

      Customers who the purchased the recalled products should discontinue using them.

      Consumers with questions may call (360) 929-9808.

      Thogersen Family Farm of Stanwood, Wash., is recalling raw frozen ground pet food that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.The following va...
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      Toyota recalls Lexus ES vehicles

      The driver knee airbag may not be fastened properly to the instrument panel

      Toyota is recalling approximately 560 model 2019 Model Year Lexus ES vehicles in the U.S.

      The driver knee airbag may have not been fastened properly to the instrument panel, which could affect knee airbag deployment, increasing the risk of injury during a crash.

      What to do

      Lexus dealers will inspect the driver knee airbag assembly and replace it with a new one, if necessary, at no cost to customers.

      The recall is expected to begin in by late April 2019.

      Owners may contact Lexus customer service at (800) 255-3987

      Toyota is recalling approximately 560 model 2019 Model Year Lexus ES vehicles in the U.S.The driver knee airbag may have not been fastened properly to...
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      Senate measure would control how social media companies access user data

      The bill aims to stop the use of ‘dark pattern’ apps and website designs

      Amid growing concern in Washington about the power of social media companies, the Senate may consider a bipartisan bill to severely limit how these companies gain access to users’ private information.

      Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Deb Fisher (R-Neb.) have co-sponsored the Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act, which would place limits on how social media companies interact with users.

      The two lawmakers contend that companies such as Facebook employ deceptive user interfaces, known as “dark patterns,” to trick consumers into providing access to their personal data.

      Psychological research

      Warner claims companies spend heavily on psychological research to learn how to design websites and apps so that users will make decisions -- such as giving access to their photos, contacts, etc. -- that they might not make otherwise.

      These design tactics are what’s known as “dark patterns” because they are manipulative and not clear and conspicuous. Warner says these formats are used to mislead consumers into adopting platform settings that are highly profitable for the companies using them.

      “For years, social media platforms have been relying on all sorts of tricks and tools to convince users to hand over their personal data without really understanding what they are consenting to,” Warner said. “Some of the most nefarious strategies rely on ‘dark patterns’ – deceptive interfaces and default settings, drawing on tricks of behavioral psychology, designed to undermine user autonomy and push consumers into doing things they wouldn’t otherwise do, like hand over all of their personal data to be exploited for commercial purposes.”

      Warner knows something about the practice. He is a former executive in the technology industry and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

      ‘A little transparency’

      “Our goal is simple: to instill a little transparency in what remains a very opaque market and ensure that consumers are able to make more informed choices about how and when to share their personal information,” Warner said.

      The measure was introduced just ahead of the one-year anniversary of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg’s appearance before Congress, where he was grilled about Facebook’s privacy policies.

      The bill is just the latest Congressional salvo fired against “big tech.” Last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced a bill to break up the large technology companies. In addition to dealing with privacy issues, Warren said  breaking up tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google will pave the way for the next generation of great U.S. tech companies to “flourish.”

      Amid growing concern in Washington about the power of social media companies, the Senate may consider a bipartisan bill to severely limit how these compani...
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      House passes changes to IRS tax-filing system

      Despite bipartisan support, the measure is not without controversy

      Democrats and Republicans in Congress find little they can agree on these days, but a bill to modernize federal income tax filing passed easily in the House with bipartisan support.

      The Hill reports the outlook for the bill appears solid in the Senate when that chamber takes up the measure.

      The bill is designed to make it easier for people to file their taxes, according to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who authored the bill. Among its provisions is an improvement in taxpayer services, beefed up identity theft protection, protection of taxpayers’ rights when they are involved in an enforcement action, and overall improvements to the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) information technology and electronic systems.

      Point of contention

      But the bill also solidifies the IRS’s relationship with commercial tax preparation software companies, making them the official tool for online tax filing. But ProPublica reports it goes farther, blocking the IRS from offering its own tax filing portal.

      “Companies like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, and H&R Block have lobbied for years to block the IRS from creating such a system,” ProPublica reports. “If the tax agency created its own program, which would be similar to programs other developed countries have, it would threaten the industry’s profits.”

      ‘Final nail in the coffin’

      Mandi Matlock, a tax attorney who does work for the National Consumer Law Center, told the group the law could be the “final nail in the coffin” for the IRS ever launching its own tax filing system.

      Most of the “no” votes against the measure came from freshmen members elected last November. Some suggested the measure benefitted the “corporate tax lobby” at the expense of taxpayers.

      Even some who voiced concerns about codifying the participation of commercial tax preparation services ended up voting for the measure, saying the benefits of the entire measure outweighed their concerns.

      Taxpayers can still use the IRS’s Free File service if their income is $66,000 or less. For those with incomes above $66,000 the IRS provides free fillable tax forms.

      The Free File service provides free tax preparation software with available free state return options. Consumers can use the Free File Software Lookup Tool to find free federal and free state return options.

      Democrats and Republicans in Congress find little they can agree on these days, but a bill to modernize federal income tax filing passed easily in the Hous...
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      Amazon planning to accept cash at Go stores

      Lawmakers have argued that cashless stores are discriminatory towards low-income consumers and the unbanked

      Amazon has revealed that it plans to add cash as a payment option at its Go stores. The decision comes amid pushback from several cities and states over the company’s lack of a cash payment option at its physical convenience stores.

      Lawmakers have noted that cashless businesses pose an issue in terms of ensuring equitable access since they aren’t accessible to consumers who don’t have debit and credit cards.

      San Francisco District Five Supervisor Vallie Brown, who in February introduced legislation to ban cashless stores, highlighted the fact that not offering consumers the option of purchasing goods with cash is discriminatory towards those in low income brackets.

      "For many City residents (for example, those who are denied access to credit, or who are unable to obtain bank accounts), the ability to purchase goods and services depends on the ability to pay for those goods and services in cash," Brown explained in a memo. "This is especially true of the very poor."

      Adding a cash payment option

      According to a report from CNBC, Amazon plans to add “additional payment mechanisms” at its Go stores. A spokesperson for Amazon confirmed the news but left a few lingering questions unanswered for the time being.

      The retailer didn’t provide a time frame for when cash would be added as a payment option at existing Go stores, nor did it say how it plans to implement cash payments at Go stores, which previously centered around the “cashierless” element.

      However, Steve Kessel, Amazon’s senior vice president of physical stores, reportedly told employees during a meeting that adding new payment methods is “an important focus for us.”

      Kessel noted that Amazon has added new payment methods to its online marketplace, including a pilot that accepts subsidized SNAP benefits and a new program called Amazon Cash which lets shoppers add cash to a digital account by bringing money to a nearby convenience store.

      “We’ll continue to extend those methods with our stores,” he added. The spokesperson who confirmed the plans said Go store customers would be able to check out, pay with cash, and receive change.

      Amazon currently has 10 Amazon Go stores, and reports have suggested that the company could open up to 3,000 cashierless stores by 2021.

      Amazon has revealed that it plans to add cash as a payment option at its Go stores. The decision comes amid pushback from several cities and states over th...
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      Cost of living rises at fastest rate of the year in March

      But most of the increase was fueled by gasoline prices

      Inflation jumped in March due to higher gasoline prices and rising food costs.

      The Labor Department reports that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.4 percent in March, twice the rate of February’s increase. Despite the sizable increase, inflation over the last 12 months is still running just under the Federal Reserve’s target of 2 percent.

      Consumers saw the biggest price hikes last month in gasoline and other energy costs. That category was up 3.5 percent, accounting for about 60 percent of the seasonally adjusted all items monthly increase.

      The index tracking gasoline prices rose sharply, along with the electricity index. With the heating season mostly over, natural gas prices were slightly lower.

      Higher food costs

      Food costs were higher last month, rising 0.3 percent. That follows a 0.4 percent increase in February. Most of the higher costs were in the produce section, with fresh vegetables rising 2 percent and fresh fruit going up 1.2 percent.

      Despite the monthly rise in the CPI, Robert Frick, corporate economist for Navy Federal Credit Union, says inflation is still fairly tame, given the slow rise in wages.

      “The index for all items except food and energy was up just 0.1 percent,” Frick told ConsumerAffairs. “The difference between this core number and headline number was mainly due to the energy index rising 3.5 percent in March. The food index also showed an increase, and in the last year that portion of CPI was up 2.1 percent, the most since 2015.”

      Nothing to alarm the Fed

      The CPI strips out food and energy costs from its main inflation number because those two sectors tend to be highly volatile. Frick says rising food costs may be a sign of economic health because consumers feel confident enough to splurge at the supermarket and at restaurants.

      “These steady-as-it-goes numbers should have little effect on the Federal Reserve's decision to raise, lower or stand pat on rates,” he said.

      Two sectors that were down in February were back up in March. Medical care costs rose 0.3 percent last month, largely due to a 0.6 percent jump in the cost of prescription drugs.

      New car costs were 0.4 percent higher last month after giving ground in February. Meanwhile, clothing prices dropped 1.9 percent in March after going up in February.

      Inflation jumped in March due to higher gasoline prices and rising food costs.The Labor Department reports that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.4...
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      Ford recalls F-150 and Super Duty Trucks with engine block heaters

      Wiring could overheat or melt

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 874,000 model year 2015-2019 F-150s and model year 2017-19 Super Duty vehicles equipped with engine block heaters that had been inspected in an earlier recall.

      In previously inspected vehicles, the engine block heater cable splice connectors may have inadvertently become damaged during that service procedure.

      A damaged block heater cable can cause an inoperative engine block heater and/or tripping of household breakers or GFCI-equipped outlets or a resistive short, which can increase the risk of overheated or melted wiring and fire while the vehicle is parked and the block heater is plugged in.

      A safety risk only exists while the vehicle is parked and the block heater cable is plugged into an electrical outlet.

      The affected vehicles include approximately 327,000 vehicles in North America, with approximately 131,068 in the U.S., and federalized territories and approximately 196,269 in Canada.

      What to do

      Customers are advised to not use the engine block heater cable.

      Dealers will disable the vehicle’s engine block heater cable by cutting off the plug end prongs and sealing the end cap with silicone sealant.

      Customers will be notified when an engine block replacement cable is available.

      The Ford reference number for this recall is 19S11.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 874,000 model year 2015-2019 F-150s and model year 2017-19 Super Duty vehicles equipped with engine block heaters that had...
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      Quality Bicycle Products recalls  Salsa Warbird Carbon and Vaya bikes

      The bicycle’s fork legs can break, posing an injury hazard.

      Quality Bicycle Products of Bloomington, Minn., is recalling about 1,900 Salsa Warbird and Vaya bicycles.

      The bike’s fork legs can break, posing an injury hazard.

      The firm has received two reports of forks breaking with one injury of minor scratches reported.

      This recall involves all 2019 Salsa Warbird Carbon series bicycles and framesets, including Ultegra Di2, Force 1, 105, Apex 1, and Tiagra bicycles and all 2019 Salsa Vaya 105 bicycles and framesets.

      The model name is printed on the frame of the bicycles.

      .

      Item Number Range

      Product Name

      BK0465 - BK0471

      2019 Salsa Warbird Carbon Ultegra Di2

      BK0472 - BK0478

      2019 Salsa Warbird Carbon Force 1

      BK0479 -BK0485

      2019 Salsa Warbird Carbon 105

      BK0486 - BK0492

      2019 Salsa Warbird Carbon Apex 1

      BK0493 - BK0499

      2019 Salsa Warbird Carbon Tiagra

      FM7480 - FM7486

      2019 Salsa Warbird Carbon Frameset

      BK6926 – BK6937

      2019 Salsa Vaya 105

      FM1016 – FM1018

      2019 Salsa Vaya Frameset

      The bicycles are sold in a variety of different colors and sizes.

      The bicycles, manufactured in Taiwan, were sold at specialty bicycle retailers nationwide from September 2018, through November 2018. The Salsa Warbird sold for between $2,000 and $5,400 and the Vaya sold for between $1,000 and $2,000.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bicycles, contact Quality Bicycle Products, and return the recalled Salsa Warbird or Vaya bicycles to the retailer where purchased for free installation of a replacement fork.

      Consumers may contact Quality Bicycle Products toll-free at (877) 774-6208 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday or visit www.salsacycles.com click on “Safety and Support” at the top of the page then “Recall” for more information.

      Quality Bicycle Products of Bloomington, Minn., is recalling about 1,900 Salsa Warbird and Vaya bicycles.The bike’s fork legs can break, posing an inju...
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      Democratic senators say they will investigate JUUL

      Lawmakers claim the e-cigarette maker has targeted teens

      As he left office, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb was highly critical of e-cigarette maker JUUL, charging the company has had a role in the increase of teen “vaping.”

      But concern about the company is a bipartisan issue, with 11 Democratic members of the U.S. Senate now voicing their concern. In a letter to the company, the lawmakers asked for answers to questions about JUUL’s marketing practices.

      The Democrats told JUUL they will not only look at how the company markets its product but also investigate its sale of a portion of the firm to Altria, a tobacco company.

      “While JUUL has promised to address youth vaping through its modest voluntary efforts, by accepting $12.8 billion from Altria—a tobacco giant with such a disturbing record of deceptive marketing to hook children onto cigarettes—JUUL has lost what little remaining credibility the company had when it claimed to care about the public health.,” the senators wrote. “While you and your investors may be perfectly content with hooking an entire new generation of children on your tobacco products in order to increase your profit margins, we will not rest until your dangerous products are out of the hands of our nation’s children.”

      Following FDA commissioner’s lead

      On his way out the door, Gottlieb took another shot at JUUL, a company he has repeatedly pressed to limit access by underage consumers to their product.

      “I hope they recognize the problem that’s been created has been created largely by their product,” Gottlieb said in an interview with Vox.

      During his nearly two years as FDA head, Gottlieb made combating the rise in underage use of e-cigarettes one of the agency’s highest priorities. He’s previously called out JUUL for its role in creating what he’s called a public health crisis, which he’s previously described as an “epidemic.”

      ‘Public health epidemic’

      Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), one of the senators signing the letter, noted that both the U.S. Surgeon General and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner have called youth use of e-cigarettes a “public health epidemic.”

      Durbin cites data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) showing 20.8 percent of high-school students and 4.9 percent of middle-school students—more than 3.6 million children—currently use e-cigarettes. Durbin says in the last year children’s use of e-cigarettes has increased by 78 percent.

      JUUL has defended itself from criticism by saying it makes its product for smokers who are trying to break their addiction to cigarettes. It said it agreed to the investment by Altria because the money it received allows the company to reach more smokers who are trying to quit.

      As he left office, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb was highly critical of e-cigarette maker JUUL, charging the company has had a r...
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      Walmart to increase reliance on ‘automated assistants’

      Robots will take care of the ‘more mundane and repetitive tasks,’ which will give associates more time to spend with customers

      Walmart announced plans today to expand its reliance on in-store technology -- such as floor-scrubbing robots, so-called “Fast Unloaders,” and new Pickup Towers -- in an effort to give employees more time to focus on other tasks.

      “Smart assistants have huge potential to make busy stores run more smoothly, so Walmart has been pioneering new technologies to minimize the time an associate spends on the more mundane and repetitive tasks like cleaning floors or checking inventory on a shelf,” the retailer said in a statement.

      “This gives associates more of an opportunity to do what they’re uniquely qualified for: serve customers face-to-face on the sales floor,” the company added.

      Walmart’s push to rely more heavily on technology will involve the rollout of 1,500 new autonomous floor cleaners (called "Auto-C”), 300 additional shelf scanners (called "Auto-S), 1,200 more FAST Unloaders that automatically scan and sort items from trucks, and 900 more Pickup Towers that will assist in retrieving customers’ online orders.

      “When a customer receives a notification via email that the item is available, they can use the Pickup Tower like a giant vending machine to retrieve their purchase,” Walmart said of its new Pickup Towers.

      Expanding reliance on technology

      In December, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer said it planned to bring robotic floor scrubbers to 360 stores by the end of January 2019. In its latest announcement, Walmart said it’s bumping up that figure; it plans to deploy the technology at 1,500 additional locations this year.

      The retailer said last year that it had debuted 30 Fast Unloaders in the U.S. and that it was on track to add 10 more each week. That figure also ballooned significantly in the latest announcement, with the company now saying 1,200 more are being added to stores.

      Walmart promises that customers will benefit from its increased reliance on robots.

      “It means a store that can function seamlessly and associates who are there when customers need them. It also means the items are on shelves where the customers expect in smarter stores all over the country,” the retailer said.

      The company said the technology will be deployed in U.S. stores “soon.”

      Walmart announced plans today to expand its reliance on in-store technology -- such as floor-scrubbing robots, so-called “Fast Unloaders,” and new Pickup T...
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      Research identifies what kitchen features that will make your house sell for more

      But Zillow says you have to mention them prominently in your sales pitch

      A picture may be worth a thousand words, but using the right words in a home listing might help sell it for more money. At least, real estate marketplace Zillow says that’s the case.

      The words have to do with a home’s features, particularly what’s in the kitchen. If you have things that buyers want, mentioning them prominently in the home description will increase traffic and the price a buyer is willing to pay.

      34 percent more

      In their Home Features That Sell analysis, Zillow researchers found that descriptions that mention “steam oven” or “professional appliance” sold for up to 34 percent more than expected. The data revealed that six out of the top ten features in homes that attracted buyers and brought more money were entertainer-friendly kitchen amenities.  

      To reach those conclusions, Zillow looked at listing descriptions from 4.6 million home sales around the country that were posted on its site in the two previous years. The analysis identified the features and design styles that made a house sell for more, compared to others in the neighborhood.

      The analysis also pinpointed the markets where that feature was most commonly mentioned in for-sale listing descriptions. Of all the trendy kitchen features, mentioning a home had a steam oven appeared to be the most powerful.

      However, it didn’t make a home sell faster. Homes mentioning steam overs, which is a wall oven that steams food, stayed on the market 22 days longer than average. But when the house sold, it sold for above the market average.

      Skylar Olsen, director of economic research at Zillow, says having the amenity and mentioning it may be a trigger for buyers.

      "Having a steam oven, a heated floor or other luxury features in the home is a signal that there are more than the home's basic features at play,” Olsen said. “These homes are special. They likely come with an elevated design sense and the extra touches valued by home shoppers who are willing to pay."

      Mention the amenities

      Olsen says sellers who have homes with these features should not be shy about flaunting them.

      Most starter homes don’t have these kinds of luxury amenities, but the Zillow researchers found that upgraded features are always worth mentioning to attract these mostly millennial buyers.

      The analysis found starter home listings mentioning “free-standing tub,” “pizza oven,” or “wine cellar” brought a bigger sale price than expected. The researchers say this likely reflects the lifestyle millennial homeowners want to live.

      That’s not to suggest that you should invest in adding these amenities to your home in hopes of selling at a higher price, only mention them if you have them. If you are considering renovations and updates to an older home, ConsumerAffairs has compiled this handy guide with some suggestions.

      A picture may be worth a thousand words, but using the right words in a home listing might help sell it for more money. At least, real estate marketplace Z...
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      Bank of America announces minimum wage bump

      The company’s minimum wage will raise incrementally over the next few years, hitting $20 per hour by 2021

      Bank of America, which recently earned a spot on LinkedIn’s annual Top Companies list, has announced that it will be raising its minimum hourly wage to $20 an hour over the next two years.

      Starting May 1, the company’s minimum wage will climb to $17 an hour. By 2021, Bank of America plans to have bumped its minimum wage another $3 to $20 per hour.

      “If you get a job at Bank of America, you’ll make $41,000” a year, Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan said in an appearance on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe.” “With the success our company has ... we have to share that success with our teammates.”

      The company said in a statement that the pay hike is part of its commitment to “being a great place to work,” as well as remaining competitive in the sector.

      Competitive compensation

      Earlier this week, LinkedIn released its annual list of the top 50 most sought-after companies to work for, and companies in the financial industry appeared to be making a resurgence. Bank of America, along with fellow banking companies Citi and Wells Fargo, placed among the top 25.

      Bank of America earned a spot at number 18, ranking slightly higher than Citi (no. 22) and Wells Fargo (no. 25). LinkedIn said it based its 2019 ranking on job demand, overall interest from job seekers, and the employee retention rate at each company.

      Back in 2017, Bank of America raised the minimum wage for its more than 205,000 employees to $15 an hour.

      In a statement announcing the most recent pay hike, chief human resources officer Sheri Bronstein said the company is raising its minimum wage “because we believe that to best serve our customers and clients, we need the best teams.”

      Other financial institutions have also raised wages in an effort to offer competitive compensation. In January 2018, JPMorgan Chase announced that it planned to boost wages to a minimum of $15 to $18 for 22,000 employees, “depending on the local cost of living.”

      Bank of America, which recently earned a spot on LinkedIn’s annual Top Companies list, has announced that it will be raising its minimum hourly wage to $20...
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      Suzuki recalls Kizashis and Grand Vitaras

      The front passenger leather seat may shrink due to high humidity and high temperature

      Suzuki Motor of America is recalling 31,302 model year 2010-2013 Kizashis and model year 2006-2013 Grand Vitaras.

      The front passenger leather seat may shrink due to high humidity and high temperature. As a result, the occupant classification system (OCS) sensor mat may not accurately detect if an adult or child is occupying the seat.

      In the event of a crash necessitating airbag deployment, an incorrect classification may result in the passenger front airbag deploying even if there is a child in the front passenger seat, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Suzuki will notify owners, and dealers will replace the seat bottom cushion, free of charge.

      The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Suzuki customer service at (800) 934-0934. Suzuki's numbers for this recall are 4011 and 4012.

      Suzuki Motor of America is recalling 31,302 model year 2010-2013 Kizashis and model year 2006-2013 Grand Vitaras.The front passenger leather seat may s...
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      American Airlines extends the cancellation of its Boeing 737 MAX flights

      The airline is getting out in front of all consumer-related questions regarding refunds, notifications, and more

      With no guaranteed fix in place to get the Boeing 737 MAX back in the skies anytime soon, American Airlines has decided to play it safe and extend all related flight cancellations through June 5.

      American -- like Southwest and United -- has had to sit on its hands since March 14 when the United States grounded all MAX-driven flights after two MAX aircraft crashes in five months.

      The take-charge positions of airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and Boeing to find a solid, long-lasting solution is good for everybody, especially the consumer whose lives and loyalty are at stake.

      “In an effort to provide more certainty and avoid last minute flight disruptions, American has extended cancellations through June 5,” American wrote in a news release. “This will result in the cancellation of approximately 90 flights each day based on our current schedule. By proactively canceling these flights, we are able to provide better service to our customers with availability and rebooking options.”

      Do you have an upcoming reservation on American?

      American is taking a proactive approach to try and cover all the bases for anyone booked on one of its flights between now and June 5. Here’s everything the airline feels the customer needs to guide them through this extension:

      Question: My flight was previously scheduled on a MAX. Will it be canceled?

      Answer: Not all flights that were previously scheduled on a MAX will be canceled, as American plans to substitute other aircraft types. In total, approximately 90 flights will be canceled per day.

      Question: My flight wasn’t scheduled to be on a MAX. Why has it been canceled?

      Answer: A flight that was not scheduled as a MAX flight might be canceled to enable American’s team to cover a MAX route with a different aircraft. The company’s goal is to minimize the impact to the smallest number of customers.

      Question: How will customers know if they are impacted?

      Answer: American’s Reservations team will contact affected customers directly by email or telephone. Customers who booked through a travel agent will be contacted by their agency directly.

      Question: My flight was canceled and I don’t want to rebook. Can I get a refund?

      Answer: Yes. If a flight is canceled and a customer chooses to not be rebooked, they may request a full refund by visiting aa.com/refunds.

      Any update from the other airlines involved?

      At press time, neither United or Southwest had announced an extension similar to American’s.

      ConsumerAffairs has reached out to both airlines and will update our readers as soon as we hear something.

      -----

      Update: 4/8/19, 12:00 p.m. (EST)
      In a statement to ConsumerAffairs, a United Airlines representative said that the company is "working diligently to reduce any customer impacts through use of alternate aircraft and rebooking and [has] contingency plans through June 05."

      Update: 4/8/19, 1:15 p.m. (EST)

      In a separate statement to ConsumerAffairs, Southwest Airlines said that it will also be revising its schedule through June 7. Below is the full statement given by a representative.

      "Today, Southwest’s flight schedule was revised through June 7 in an effort to support our Customers by reducing last-minute trip disruptions and cancelations which have been caused by the removal of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 from service for longer than anticipated. By cancelling flights through June 7 now, we can offer rebooking options sooner so that affected Customers can maintain confidence in their travel plans," said Southwest representative Brian Parrish.

      "Customers affected by flight changes are being proactively notified. We sincerely appreciate our Customers’ patience and understanding regarding these schedule changes, and we look forward to restoring the level of reliability and on-time performance that our Customers and Employees deserve and expect from Southwest."

      Parrish also noted that affected MAX 8 aircraft represent less than 5 percent of Southwest's entire fleet.

      With no guaranteed fix in place to get the Boeing 737 MAX back in the skies anytime soon, American Airlines has decided to play it safe and extend all rela...
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      Tesla and Chrysler team up in Europe

      FCA is using its Tesla association to lower emissions and avoid hefty fines

      Fiat Chrysler (FCA) is apparently paying millions of dollars to Tesla for the privilege of selling its cars in Europe under Tesla’s marketing umbrella...