jeudi 25 mai 2017

Costco Is Thriving Because People Still Don’t Buy Their Toilet Paper Or Steak On Amazon

As retailer after retailer closes up shop, and big box stores like Target and Walmart put increased focus on e-commerce, Costco continues to not only stay open, but to grow, despite having virtually no online retail presence. Why? Because people aren’t yet turning to Amazon to fill up their kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.

The warehouse retailer announced its latest quarterly earnings today, and in a call with analysts, Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti shared the news that comparable store sales for the last nine months are up 3%, and sales across the whole company are up 8% compared to the same period last year.

Costco is beating the odds by offering things that. things that are impossible or annoying to order online. Most of what people go to the warehouse club for is food, and the top sellers in food are booze, deli items, and candy. While other physical stores (except Walmart) complain that foot traffic is down, Costco knows that its members are visiting 4% more often than they were last year.

Gasoline is an important thing that brings customers back to the physical store, getting customers into the parking lot. While they’re there, they might as well walk around the store and see what special items are around that day.

That’s another factor that Galanti cited: The “treasure hunt,” or finding special one-off items that won’t be there next week or even tomorrow. Sure, it’s exciting to grab a box of Kirkland Signature golf balls online, but people just love an in-person treasure hunt.

Costco is very slowly expanding its online presence, running fulfillment out of 19 distribution centers. It comprises 3.5% of the company’s sales and increases modestly.

Consumers overall have been resistant to grocery shopping online, wanting to pick out their own produce.

Specific to Costco, in some markets, Instacart is catching on, partly because it makes Costco’s inventory available (at a markup) to non-members in 40 cities, with orders coming from 240 stores.

What Costco doesn’t plan to do, Galanti emphasized a few times in response to analyst questions, is keep up with competitor Walmart (which also owns the warehouse chain Sam’s Club) by acquiring e-commerce companies and increasing its online sales in less than a year. You know, like how Walmart bought Jet.

“We’re doing things offensively, not defensively, online,” he told listeners, mentioning e-commerce acquisitions directly or indirectly multiple times during the call. Instead of imitating competitors like Walmart, Costco plans to do its own thing and gradually offer more of its merchandise to online shoppers.



Bipartisan Bill Would Open Up Cuba To Tourist Travel Again

Though multiple U.S. airlines now fly directly to Cuba, tourism is not on the list of 12 travel categories that are eligible to visit the island nation. A newly introduced Senate bill with bipartisan support intends to do away with that restriction and open up Cuba once again to all Americans.

If passed, the Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017 [PDF] would restore travel for U.S. tourists to Cuba, which would be welcome news for airlines who have been underwhelmed by the response to the 2016 decision to end the all-out travel ban.

At the time, airlines were clamoring to claim the limited number of routes available to Cuba. However, while travel restrictions were eased, flying to Cuba meant filing an application with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Only 12 categories of travel are currently allowed, including visits to family, journalism, official government business, and humanitarian work.

Having to file an application with the federal government is a huge speedbump for travel to an island that had been a quick resort getaway for Americans before the travel ban was put into place decades ago. As a result of the waning demand, Frontier Airlines and Silver Airways dropped their Cuban routes in early 2017, while other carriers, like JetBlue and American, shifted to flying smaller jets to Cuba to minimize the number of empty seats.

Even those people who did go through the OFAC application process and traveled to Cuba faced another problem: Their credit and debit cards wouldn’t work. Do you want to get on a flight with all the money you’ll need for a week’s vacation in cash? Probably not. The new legislation seeks to address that problem by ending the current ban on banking transactions to Cuba.

While there’s still a chance this bill won’t pass, it is a rare piece of major legislation that has wide bipartisan support. The act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona and Democratic Sen. Jeff Leahy of Vermont. In all, there are at least 10 Republican senators and 45 Democrats and independents, meaning it would only need five additional votes to be passed by the Senate.

The question now is whether GOP leadership, namely Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, will let this bill go to the Senate floor for a vote.



hhgregg Stores Are Down To Mangled Stoves And Fixtures

We are in the final days of hhgregg, the bankrupt appliance, electronics, and furniture retailer, conjuring that mixture of sadness and aggressive bargain-hunting that happens at the end of any retail operation. What’s left in the stores? If the one in Cincinnati is any indication, there’s nothing left but appliances that are dented or even mangled.

One shopper that TV station WCPO talked to found a nice 85% off deal on a Samsung French door refrigerator, but other shoppers found that the remaining selection was pretty much picked over.

“Scrap,” one shopper interviewed in the parking lot said. “There’s nothing but scrap in there.”

That might be generous. While there are a lot of potentially useful retail fixtures, there are also some baffling items sitting around. A lone twin mattress (no box spring) sat on the ground, while a trio of stoves clustered together looked like they had literally fallen off a truck.

The only appliances left were scratched or dented ones, but they were usable. There were bargains to be had if the store had exactly what you wanted, but there isn’t much left.

An offer to buy what’s left of the company fell through after it filed for bankruptcy, and the chain is liquidating the 200 locations that it still had. Your local store will still be open as long as there’s anything left inside to sell.



For-Profit Colleges Sue To Stop Rule That Protects Students Of Failed Schools

Federal regulations that aim to protect and refund student loan borrowers defrauded by their schools could end before they even go into place, thanks to a lawsuit filed by the for-profit college industry.

The California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools, a trade group representing for-profit and private colleges in the state, filed a lawsuit [PDF] against the Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos this week seeking a court order to stop the planned July 1 implementation of so-called Borrower Defense rules.

The lawsuit, filed with a federal court in Washington, D.C., claims that these rules could lead to more closures of vocational schools, leaving students with fewer choices when seeking higher education.

According to the lawsuit, the Dept. of Education lacks the legal authority to uphold the “arbitrary and capricious” rules.

“The Final Rule threatens the existence of many CAPPS member institutions,” the lawsuit states. “The increased costs and the dramatically escalated threat of meritless claims and litigation, both before the Department and in court, will be crippling for many schools.”

The Rules

A bit of a refresher on the rules: The Department of Education unveiled the massive proposed overhaul of the Borrower Defense rules in June 2016 and finalized the measures in Oct. 2016, aiming to hold schools accountable in a court of law when they screw over students.

The 927-page rule touched on everything from how and when a student should be reimbursed for loans when their school unexpectedly closes to how schools can employ anti-lawsuit arbitration clauses.

Under the rules, schools that want federal aid would be prohibited from using mandatory arbitration clauses that prevent students from filing lawsuits in court and ban class actions altogether. In the education field, forced arbitration is almost exclusively used by for-profit schools. The would allow students to <i>choose</i> arbitration for resolving disputes but they could no longer be forced into giving up their right to sue.

In an effort to add more transparency to the process, schools would also be required to tell the Secretary of Education each time arbitration or judicial claimed were filed against it. Additionally, the schools would have to share information about whatever comes out of those disputes, regardless of whether they happen in the courtroom or in arbitration.

As for students who attend a school that closes, the regulations provide a number of specific benchmarks for situations in which the previously seldom-used Borrower Defense process would be available to students.

For instance, in order for students to be eligible for relief, there would have to have been a breach of contractual promises between the school and the student; a state or federal court would have had to rule against the school regarding the educational services for which the loan was made; and the school would have had to make a “substantial misrepresentation” about the nature of its educational program.

The rules opened the door for the consideration of a group-wide discharge in cases where a school shuts its doors and borrowers’ claims are similar.

Additionally, schools would be monitored for a number of early warning signs of closure or fraudulent activity:
• Lawsuits from a state attorney general, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau;
• Schools defaulting on their debt obligations;
• A substantial number of Borrower Defense claims brought against the school;
• Schools that receive more than 90% of their revenue from federal aid;
• Schools where more than half of its eligible graduates are not meeting federal Gainful Employment standards;
• The school’s accrediting body takes an action that could result in the loss of accreditation.

More Rules, More Closures?

CAPPS contends these rules will likely “shutter many vocational schools without any reasonable justification and will needlessly leave many non-traditional students with few or no educational options.”

The group maintains that it isn’t just looking out for its own members with the lawsuit, instead claiming that many traditional schools are at risk under the proposed regulations.

“The final rule exposes all schools to massive new liability, and likely will be particularly harmful to schools serving low-income and minority students,” the suit states.

Of course, CAPPS’ argument raises the question of why the industry is so afraid of being sued or of being monitored for potential fraud.

One need only look at the massive scandals and failures at some of the nation’s biggest names in for-profit education to see why supporters say these rules are needed.

For-Profit Failures

The Dept. of Education first announced its planned overhaul of the regulations in Aug. 2015, shortly after mega-for-profit education chain Corinthian Colleges Inc. filed for bankruptcy and closed the doors of its Everest University, Heald College, and WyoTech campuses.

The proposal was finally unveiled after the University of Phoenix began losing students, Brown Mackie College announced the closure of dozens of locations, and lawsuits and investigations were opened into ITT Technical Institute and other colleges.

In just the year since the proposal was made, the for-profit college industry has seen even more problems:

• July 2016 — Bridgeport Education, the he operator of for-profit colleges Ashford University and the University of the Rockies, revealed it was being investigated by the Department of Justice over its federal student aid funding. Two months later, the company was ordered to forgive $23 million in student loans and pay an $8 million penalty over allegedly illegal student lending practices.

• Sept. 2016 — ITT Education Services abruptly closed all 130 locations of its ITT Technical Institute campuses, leading to yet another rash of students seeking borrower defense certification. The for-profit operator had been subject to a number of inquiries in recent years, including a federal fraud investigation and lawsuit from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  

• Sept. 2016 — The Dept. of Education revoked the recognition of troubled for-profit college accreditor The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools following increased scrutiny after the collapse of Corinthian Colleges in 2015.

• Sept. 2016 — Lawmakers called for the Department of Veterans Affairs to restrict federal aid from Computer Systems Institute after an investigation found evidence the schools allegedly defrauded students.

• Sept. 2016 — Minnesota-based Regency Beauty Institute announced it would close the doors of its 79 campuses across the country.

• Oct. 2016 — DeVry Education Group was ordered to stop claims in advertisements that 90% of students get jobs after graduation.

• Nov. 2016 — Heritage College and Heritage Institute — which operated 10 campuses around the country focusing on health sciences — closed their doors abruptly.

• Dec. 2016 — DeVry Education Group agreed to pay $100 million to settle federal regulatory charges that it used deceptive ads to recruit students.

• Feb. 2017 — New Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office announced a $2.75 million settlement with DeVry University related to the company’s use of deceptive ads to recruit students.

While the above isn’t a complete list of the for-profit colleges to face trouble in the last year, they are examples of why the new Borrower Defense rules are needed.

“These rules didn’t come out of thin air; they were in direct response to the well-documented abuses committed in previous years by failed schools like Corinthian and ITT Tech,” Suzanne Martindale, staff attorney for our colleagues at Consumers Union, tells Consumerist. “For too long, predatory education companies like these engaged in aggressive and deceptive marketing to students, promising great education and job prospects. What those students got in return was all too often just a pile of debt.”

The Department created these rules and standard processes to right these wrongs and to ensure they didn’t happen in the future.

“All these rules do is balance the scales, so that a school that breaks the law can’t take the money and run while students are left holding the bag. The Department must vigorously reject these attacks and stand up for students,” Martindale adds.

The question now is whether Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — a noted supporter of the for-profit college industry — will fight to save the rule or if the Department intends to cede victory to CAPPS. A rep for the Dept. tells Consumerist that it does not comment on pending litigation.



Here Are The 408 Stores Payless ShoeSource Wants To Close Next

Payless ShoeSource, the world’s most reliable source for glitter-covered ballet flats for under $10, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April, and immediately began the closing process for 400 stores, around 10% of its footprint. Now the chain has asked the bankruptcy court for permission to close an additional 408 stores — and we have the list.
400 stores, representing around 10% of its footprint.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a final list of stores that will be closing. It’s a list of stores where the company hasn’t been able to negotiate a good enough rent concession, and it’s asking for permission to close these stores if the retailer and its landlords can’t negotiate a rent that both parties are happy with. There will be a hearing on this motion, among others, on June 8.

State Town Location
AL BIRMINGHAM 9256 PARKWAY EAST
AL HOOVER RIVERCHASE GALLERIA
AR FORT SMITH 8319 ROGERS AVE
AR LITTLE ROCK 10101 MABLEVALE PLAZA DRIVE
AR LITTLE ROCK 11400 W MARKHAM ST
AR ROGERS PINNACLE HILLS PROMENADE
AR TEXARKANA 202 ARKANSAS BLVD
AZ GILBERT CROSSROADS TOWNE CENTER
AZ MESA GILBERT GATEWAY TOWNE CENTER
AZ PHOENIX HAPPY VALLEY TOWNE CENTER
AZ PHOENIX INDIAN VILLAGE SHOPPING CENTER
AZ PHOENIX LEGACY VILLAGE
AZ SCOTTSDALE THE PAVILIONS AT TALKING STICK
AZ TEMPE THE GROVES SHOPPING CENTER
AZ TUCSON 4140 E 22ND ST
AZ TUCSON PARK MALL
AZ TUCSON TUCSON MALL
CA ANAHEIM ANAHEIM HILLS FESTIVAL
CA ANAHEIM ANAHEIM PLAZA
CA ANAHEIM E ANAHEIM SHOPPING CENTER
CA ANTIOCH CENTER AT SLATTEN RANCH
CA APPLE VALLEY JESS RANCH MARKETPLACE
CA ATWATER APPLEGATE RANCH COMMERCIAL CENTER
CA BAKERSFIELD GOSFORD VILLAGE
CA BAKERSFIELD VALLEY PLAZA
CA BANNING SUN LAKES VILLAGE
CA BRENTWOOD SAND CREEK CROSSING
CA CERRITOS CERRITOS TOWNE CENTER
CA CHINO CHINO TOWN CENTER
CA CHULA VISTA BROADWAY PLAZA
CA CLOVIS CLOVIS COMMONS SC
CA COMPTON GATEWAY TOWNE CENTER
CA CORONA BUTTERFIELD STAGE SQUARE
CA CORONA CITRUS VILLAGE
CA CUDAHY CUDAHY PLAZA
CA EL CAJON MAIN STREET VILLAGE
CA FRESNO 3172 E TULARE AVE
CA FRESNO MARKETPLACE AT EL PASEO
CA FULLERTON FULLERTON METRO CENTER
CA GILROY GILROY CROSSING SC
CA GLENDALE GLENDALE FASHION CENTER
CA HAWTHORNE 11825 HAWTHORNE BLVD
CA HAWTHORNE 14300 OCEAN GATE AVE
CA HIGHLAND HIGHLAND AVENUE PLAZA
CA HUNTINGTON BEACH 9842 ADAMS
CA LA VERNE LA VERNE TOWNE CENTER
CA LAKEWOOD 2710 CARSON ST
CA LIVERMORE PLAZA 580
CA LONG BEACH BELMONT PLAZA
CA LONG BEACH LONG BEACH TOWNE CENTER
CA LONG BEACH LOS ALTOS PLAZA
CA LOS ANGELES 2336 E CESAR E CHAVEZ AVE
CA LOS ANGELES 536 E MANCHESTER AVE
CA MERCED 1822 W OLIVE AVE
CA MODESTO 2601 OAKDALE RD STE A
CA MODESTO VINTAGE COMMONS SHOPPING CENTER
CA MONTEREY PARK ATLANTIC SQUARE SHOPPING CENTER
CA NORTHRIDGE NORTHRIDGE FASHION CENTER
CA OXNARD ESPLANADE SC
CA OXNARD SHOPPING AT THE ROSE
CA PICO RIVERA PICO RIVERA TOWNE CENTER
CA PINOLE PINOLE VISTA CROSSING
CA PLEASANTON METRO 580
CA RANCHO SANTA MARGARI SANTA MARGARITA TOWN CTR
CA REDWOOD CITY WOODSIDE CENTRAL SC
CA RIALTO 681 E FOOTHILL BLVD
CA RICHMOND MACDONALD 80 RETAIL CENTER
CA RIVERBANK CROSSROADS SHOPPING CENTER
CA SACRAMENTO 5095 STOCKTON BLVD
CA SAN DIEGO CLAIREMONT TOWN SQUARE
CA SAN FRANCISCO 934 MARKET STREET
CA SAN JOSE 1950 TULLY RD
CA SAN JOSE RIVERHILL PLAZA
CA SAN JOSE THE PLANT SHOPPING CENTER
CA SAN LEANDRO SAN LEANDRO PLAZA
CA SAN LUIS OBISPO SAN LUIS OBISPO PROMENADE
CA SANTA ANA BRISTOL‐MCFADDEN PLAZA
CA SANTA ANA RIVERVIEW WEST MARKETPLACE
CA SANTA BARBARA 627 STATE ST
CA SANTA BARBARA TURNPIKE CENTER
CA SANTA FE SPRINGS GATEWAY PLAZA
CA SANTA ROSA STONY POINT PLAZA SHOPPING CENTER
CA SANTEE SANTEE TROLLEY SQUARE
CA SONORA SONORA CROSSROADS
CA STOCKTON PARK WEST PLACE
CA SUN VALLEY CANYON PLAZA SHOPPING CENTER
CA TEMECULA REDHAWK TOWN CENTER
CA TORRANCE 20020 HAWTHORNE BLVD
CA TURLOCK MONTE VISTA CROSSING
CA TUSTIN LARWIN SQUARE
CA UNION CITY UNION LANDING
CA UNION CITY UNION SQUARE MARKETPLACE
CA UPLAND COLONIES CROSSROADS
CA VALLEJO VALLEJO CORNERS
CA VICTORVILLE VICTOR VALLEY TOWN CENTER
CA VISALIA PACKWOOD CREEK S/C
CA VISALIA VISALIA MALL
CA VISTA NORTH COUNTY SQUARE
CA WATSONVILLE CABRILLO CENTER
CA WEST SACRAMENTO RIVERPOINT MARKETPLACE EAST
CA WESTMINSTER WESTMINSTER MALL
CA WHITTIER THE QUAD AT WHITTIER
CA WHITTIER WHITTWOOD TOWN CENTER
CO ARVADA NORTHRIDGE SC
CO AURORA AURORA PLAZA S/C
CO AURORA TOWN CENTER AT AURORA
CO GRAND JUNCTION MESA MALL
CO LITTLETON SOUTHWEST PLAZA
CT GROTON GROTON SQUARE SC
CT MANCHESTER THE SHOPPES AT BUCKLAND HILLS
CT VERNON ROCKVILLE TRI‐CITY PLAZA
CT WATERBURY 950 WOLCOTT ST
CT WATERBURY BRASS MILL CENTER
CT WEST HARTFORD PROSPECT AVENUE PLAZA
FL ALTAMONTE SPRINGS ALTAMONTE MALL
FL CLEARWATER CLEARWATER MALL
FL DAVIE LAKESIDE TOWN SHOPS
FL HIALEAH 6850 W 12TH AVE
FL HIALEAH COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA NORTH
FL HOLLYWOOD HOLLYWOOD HILLS PLAZA
FL HOLLYWOOD SHERIDAN PLAZA
FL JUPITER CHASEWOOD PLAZA
FL MIAMI 19400 S DIXIE HWY
FL MIAMI 7276 S W 117 TH AVENUE
FL MIAMI FLAGLER PARK PLAZA
FL MIAMI KENDALL LAKES PLAZA
FL MIAMI BEACH 215 LINCOLN RD
FL MIRAMAR THE FOUNTAINS OF MIRAMAR PLAZA
FL NORTH MIAMI BEACH MALL AT 163RD ST
FL NORTH MIAMI BEACH SHOPS AT SKYLAKE
FL OAKLAND PARK NORTHRIDGE SHOPPING CENTER
FL ORLANDO 6600 INTERNATIONAL DRIVE
FL PEMBROKE PINES PEMBROKE LAKES MALL
FL PEMBROKE PINES WESTFORK PLAZA
FL TALLAHASSEE GOVERNOR’S SQUARE MALL
FL WESTON WESTON COMMONS
GA ATLANTA BUCKHEAD CROSSING SUITE 47
GA ATLANTA PERIMETER MALL
GA CALHOUN INDIAN HILLS SHOPPING CENTER
GA FORT OGLETHORPE FT OGLETHORPE SC
GA LITHONIA FAIRINGTON CENTRE
GA WOODSTOCK WOODSTOCK SQUARE
HI KANEOHE WINDWARD CITY SC
IA WEST DES MOINES JORDAN CREEK MALL
IL BOLINGBROOK THE SHOPPES AT TWO RIVERS PLAZA
IL BROADVIEW BROADVIEW VILLAGE SQUARE SC
IL CHICAGO 13 N STATE ST
IL CHICAGO 2800 N MILWAUKEE AVE
IL CHICAGO 4547 N BROADWAY
IL CHICAGO ADDISON MALL
IL CHICAGO HALL PLAZA SHOPPING CENTER
IL CHICAGO RIVERSIDE SQUARE
IL CHICAGO THE BRICKYARD
IL CICERO HAWTHORNE WORKS SHOPPING CENTER
IL DECATUR BRETTWOOD PLAZA SC
IL ELGIN CLOCKTOWER PLAZA
IL HODGKINS THE QUARRY SHOPPING CENTER
IL JOHNSBURG THE SHOPS AT FOX RIVER
IL LINCOLNWOOD LINCOLNWOOD TOWN CENTER
IL NAPERVILLE WESTRIDGE COURT
IL PEORIA NORTHWOODS MALL
IL QUINCY QUINCY MALL
IL SKOKIE VILLAGE CROSSING
IN MERRILLVILLE 6096 BROADWAY
IN MUNCIE 227 E MCGALLIARD RD
IN MUNCIE MUNCIE MALL
IN PLAINFIELD PLAINFIELD COMMONS
KS DERBY DERBY RETAIL SHOPPING CENTER
KS TOPEKA WEST RIDGE MALL
KS WICHITA 2570 S BROADWAY ST
KS WICHITA TOWNE WEST SQUARE
KY FLORENCE FLORENCE MALL
KY LOUISVILLE MALL ST MATTHEWS
KY SHIVELY 3928 7TH STREET RD
LA BATON ROUGE MALL OF LOUISIANA
LA JENNINGS 1715 ELTON ROAD
LA METAIRIE 4325 VETERANS MEMORIAL BLVD
LA MONROE PECANLAND MALL
MA BROCKTON CRESCENT PLAZA
MA DORCHESTER UPHAMS CORNER
MA HYANNIS FESTIVAL AT HYANNIS
MA NATICK NATICK MALL
MA NORTH DARTMOUTH NORTH DARTMOUTH MALL
MA QUINCY 1534 HANCOCK ST # 38
MA WATERTOWN WATERTOWN MALL
MA WOBURN WOBURN MALL
MD BALTIMORE GALLERY AT HARBORPLACE
MD BALTIMORE MONDAWMIN MALL
MD BALTIMORE WHITE MARSH MALL
MD COLUMBIA MALL IN COLUMBIA
MD FREDERICK FRANCIS SCOTT KEY MALL
MD GAITHERSBURG LAKEFOREST MALL
MD GAITHERSBURG MONTGOMERY VILLAGE CROSSING
MD HAGERSTOWN VALLEY MALL
MD HYATTSVILLE PRINCE GEORGES PLAZA
MD SILVER SPRING ELLSWORTH PLACE MALL
MD SILVER SPRING WHITE OAK S/C
MD TOWSON TOWSON TOWN CENTER
ME WESTBROOK WESTBROOK PLAZA
MI DEARBORN 12850 MICHIGAN AVENUE
MI GRAND RAPIDS WOODLAND MALL
MI GRANDVILLE RIVERTOWN CROSSING
MI HIGHLAND PARK THE GATEWAY AT DETROIT
MI JACKSON 3210 E MICHIGAN AVENUE
MI MADISON HEIGHTS MADISON PLACE
MI REDFORD REDFORD PLAZA S/C
MI STERLING HEIGHTS LAKESIDE MALL
MN ROCHESTER APACHE MALL
MN WOODBURY WOODBURY COMMONS
MO BLUE SPRINGS ADAMS DAIRY LANDING
MO COLUMBIA COLUMBIA MALL
MO MAPLEWOOD MAPLEWOOD COMMONS
MO SAINT LOUIS SAINT LOUIS GALLERIA
MS BATESVILLE LODEN CENTER
MS CLEVELAND 408 E SUNFLOWER RD
MS GREENWOOD HIGHLAND PARK SHOPPING CENTER
MS LAUREL PINETREE VILLAGE
NC CHARLOTTE GALLERIA SHOPPING CENTER
NC GREENSBORO FOUR SEASONS TOWN CENTRE
NC GREENSBORO LAWNDALE CROSSING
NC WILSON HERITAGE CROSSING
NE OMAHA WESTERN SPRINGS SC
NE PAPILLION THE SHOPPES AT MARKET POINTE
NH EPPING EPPING CROSSING
NH WEST LEBANON K MART SHOPPING CENTER
NJ CHERRY HILL CHERRY HILL MALL
NJ GLASSBORO COLLEGETOWN SHOPPING CENTER
NJ HILLSBOROUGH HILLSBOROUGH PROMENADE
NJ LYNDHURST LYNDHURST TOWNE CENTRE
NJ MOORESTOWN MOORESTOWN MALL
NJ NORTH BERGEN WALMART CENTER
NJ PARSIPPANY MORRIS HILLS SHOPPING CENTER
NJ RIO GRANDE 1705 WILDWOOD BLVD
NJ VINELAND CUMBERLAND MALL
NJ WOODBRIDGE WOODBRIDGE CENTER MALL
NM ALBUQUERQUE CORONADO CENTER MALL
NM LOS LUNAS 2270 MAIN STREET NW
NV LAS VEGAS THE MEADOWS MALL
NV LAS VEGAS WESTLAND FAIR
NY ASTORIA 22‐48 31ST ST
NY BAY SHORE GARDINER MANOR MALL
NY BELLMORE 2410 MERRICK RD
NY BRIDGEHAMPTON BRIDGEHAMPTON COMMONS
NY BRONX 186 W 231ST ST
NY BRONX 209 E FORDHAM RD
NY BROOKLYN 1432 ROCKAWAY PKY
NY BROOKLYN 1713 CHURCH AVENUE
NY BROOKLYN 459 FULTON ST # 461
NY BROOKLYN 510 FULTON ST
NY BROOKLYN 712 BRIGHTON BEACH AVENUE
NY BROOKLYN GEORGETOWN SHOPPING CENTER
NY CENTRAL ISLIP CENTRAL ISLIP TOWN CENTER
NY DUNKIRK VINEYARD PLAZA
NY ELMONT ELMONT SHOPPING CENTER
NY FLUSHING 3122 FARRINGTON ST
NY FLUSHING 42‐01 BELL BLVD
NY FLUSHING SKY VIEW SHOPPING CENTER
NY FRANKLIN SQUARE ROCKBOTTOM SC
NY GLEN COVE 71 FOREST AVENUE
NY HEMPSTEAD THE HUB AT HEMPSTEAD SHOPPING CENTER
NY JACKSON HEIGHTS 37‐40 74TH STREET
NY LOCKPORT TOPS MALL
NY MASSAPEQUA NORTH MASSAPEQUA SC
NY MIDDLETOWN GALLERIA AT CRYSTAL RUN
NY MOHEGAN LAKE CORTLANDT TOWN CENTER
NY NEW HARTFORD 1 SANGERTOWN SQUARE MALL
NY NEW HYDE PARK LAKE SUCCESS SC
NY NEW YORK 175 DYCKMAN ST
NY NEW YORK 2143 3RD AVE
NY NEW YORK 437 5TH AVE
NY NEW YORK 556 W 181ST
NY NEW YORK 600 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS
NY SMITHTOWN VILLAGE COMMONS SC
NY STATEN ISLAND STATEN ISLAND MALL
NY WATERTOWN SALMON RUN MALL
NY WHITE PLAINS THE GALLERIA AT WHITE PLAINS
NY YORKTOWN HEIGHTS JEFFERSON VALLEY MALL
OH BOARDMAN SOUTHERN PARK MALL
OH CLEVELAND LEE HARVARD SC
OH COLUMBUS EASTON GATEWAY
OH LANCASTER RIVER VALLEY MALL
OH MENTOR CREEKSIDE COMMONS
OH MENTOR GREAT LAKES MALL
OH MIAMISBURG 71 S SPRINGBORO PIKE
OH PORTSMOUTH 2332 GALLIA STREET
OH REYNOLDSBURG BROAD STREET PLAZA EAST
OK ADA ARLINGTON CENTER
OK MOORE RIVERWALK CENTRE
OK NORMAN SOONER MALL
OK OKLAHOMA CITY PENN PARK SHOPPING CENTER
OK OKLAHOMA CITY QUAIL SPRINGS MALL
OK OKLAHOMA CITY WESTGATE MARKETPLACE
OR CLACKAMAS CLACKAMAS PROMENADE
OR HAPPY VALLEY CLACKAMAS TOWN CENTER
OR SALEM SUPER WALMART PLAZA
OR SPRINGFIELD GATEWAY MALL
PA ALLENTOWN WEST VALLEY MARKETPLACE
PA ALTOONA LOGAN VALLEY MALL
PA CAMP HILL CAPITAL CITY MALL
PA CRANBERRY KIMBERLY PLAZA SC
PA DOYLESTOWN BARN PLAZA SC
PA ERIE ERIE MARKET PLACE
PA EXTON EXTON SQUARE MALL
PA LANCASTER PARK CITY CENTER
PA PLYMOUTH MEETING PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL
PA ROYERSFORD THE COURT OF UPPER PROVIDENCE
PA SCRANTON VIEWMONT MALL
PA SELINSGROVE SUSQUAHANNA VALLEY MALL
PA WHITEHALL WHITEHALL MALL
PA WILKES BARRE WILKES BARRE MARKETPLACE
PA WILKES BARRE WYOMING VALLEY MALL
PR ARECIBO PLAZA DEL ATLANTICO
PR BAYAMON PLAZA RIO HONDO MALL
PR BAYAMON REXVILLE TOWNE CENTER
PR CAGUAS PLAZA CENTRO I
PR CAROLINA LOS COLOBOS SC
PR CAROLINA PLAZA ESCORIAL
PR DORADO DORADO DEL MAR SC
PR GUAYNABO PLAZA GUAYNABO SC
PR HATILLO PLAZA DEL NORTE MALL
PR HUMACAO PLAZA PALMA REAL
PR ISABELA PLAZA ISABELA
PR SAN JUAN 65TH INFANTRY SHOPPING CENTER
PR SAN JUAN CALLE FORTALEZA 254
RI PROVIDENCE PROVIDENCE PLACE MALL
SC FLORENCE MAGNOLIA MALL
SD RAPID CITY RUSHMORE MALL
TN CORDOVA GERMANTOWN PKWY
TN DICKSON 500 HIGHWAY 46 S
TN DYERSBURG DYERSBURG MALL
TN KNOXVILLE KNOXVILLE CENTER
TX ALLEN ALLEN CENTRAL MARKET
TX AMARILLO WESTGATE MALL
TX AUSTIN 9300 SOUTH I‐35
TX BROWNSVILLE 1064 FM 802
TX BROWNSVILLE LAS TIENDAS PLAZA
TX CORPUS CHRISTI MOORE PLAZA
TX DENTON DENTON TOWN CROSSING
TX EL PASO 500 S EL PASO ST
TX EL PASO 7845 N MESA ST
TX EL PASO LAS PALMAS MARKETPLACET
TX EL PASO SUNLAND PLAZA
TX FLOWER MOUND HIGHLANDS OF FLOWER MOUND
TX FORT WORTH 3310 MANSFIELD HWY
TX FORT WORTH HULEN MALL
TX GARLAND BROADWAY PLAZA
TX GRAND PRAIRIE LAKE PRAIRIE CROSSING
TX HARKER HEIGHTS MARKET HEIGHTS SHOPPING CENTER
TX HARLINGEN 1102 S EXPRESSWAY 83
TX HOUSTON 10100 BEECHNUT DRIVE
TX HOUSTON ANTOINE TOWN CENTER
TX HOUSTON HARRISBURG‐WAYSIDE SC
TX HOUSTON MARKET SQUARE AT ELDRIDGE PKWY
TX HOUSTON NORTHWEST MARKET PLACE
TX HOUSTON SHOPS AT ROYAL OAKS
TX HOUSTON WILLOWBROOK MALL
TX HUMBLE DEERBROOK MALL
TX KATY KATY SHOPPING CENTER
TX LAREDO 2400 E SAUNDERS ST
TX MCALLEN CENTRAL MARKETPLACE
TX MCALLEN MARKET AT NOLANA SHOPPING CENTER
TX MCKINNEY MCKINNEY TOWNE CROSSING
TX PALMHURST PALMHURST SHOPPING CENTER
TX PASADENA FAIRWAY CENTRE
TX PEARLAND THE CENTER AT PEARLAND PARKWAY
TX PLANO HERITAGE CENTER
TX RIO GRANDE CITY WALMART SUBDIVISION
TX ROCKWALL STEGERTOWN CROSSING
TX ROUND ROCK PALM VALLEY PLAZA SHOPPING CENTER
TX SAN ANTONIO 11915 PERRIN BEITEL RD
TX SAN ANTONIO BROOK CORNER SC
TX SAN ANTONIO BUENA VISTA PLAZA
TX SAN ANTONIO NORTH STAR MALL
TX SAN ANTONIO ROLLING OAKS MALL
TX SAN ANTONIO THE SHOPS AT LA CANTERA
TX SAN ANTONIO WESTLAKES SHOPPING CENTER
TX SAN ANTONIO WESTOVER PLACE SHOPPING CENTER
TX SHERMAN SHERMAN TOWN CENTER
TX SUGAR LAND FIRST COLONY MALL
TX TEMPLE MARKET PLACE SHOPPING CENTER
TX THE WOODLANDS THE WOODLANDS MALL
TX UVALDE UVALDE RETAIL CENTER
VA ALEXANDRIA PLAZA AT LANDMARK
VA CHANTILLY CHANTILLY CROSSING
VA FAIRFAX FAIR LAKES CENTER
VA MANASSAS MANASSAS MALL
VA NEWPORT NEWS PATRICK HENRY MALL
VA SPRINGFIELD SPRINGFIELD MALL
VA VIENNA TYSON CROSSINGS
VA VIRGINIA BEACH HILLTOP NORTH SHOPPING CENTER
VA WILLIAMSBURG MONTICELLO MARKETPLACE
WA AUBURN AUBURN NORTH S/C
WA BELLINGHAM BELLIS FAIR MALL
WA COVINGTON COVINGTON PLAZA
WA ISSAQUAH COMMONS AT ISSAQUAH
WA LYNNWOOD ALDERWOOD MALL
WA MONROE 14991 N KELSEY ST
WA PUYALLUP SOUTH HILL PLAZA
WA SEATTLE WESTWOOD SHOPPING CENTER
WA SPOKANE NORTHPOINTE PLAZA
WA SPOKANE SHADLE SC
WI APPLETON FOX RIVER MALL
WI EAU CLAIRE OAKWOOD MALL
WI LA CROSSE VALLEY VIEW MALL
WI MILWAUKEE 6400 N 76TH ST
WI OSHKOSH 1925 S KOELLER STREET
WI WAUWATOSA MAYFAIR MALL
WV VIENNA GRAND CENTRAL MALL

 



People Whose Names Were Used In Anti-Net Neutrality Spam Want FCC To Investigate

FCC Chair Ajit Pai recently shrugged off concerns about the hundreds of thousands of bogus, identical anti-net neutrality comments filed with the Commission, saying it was something for his IT folks to look into. But the real human beings whose names were used on those fake filings are not as indifferent, and are calling on Pai to investigate.

The spambot’s work first came to light earlier in May, when more than a hundred thousand identical anti-net neutrality comments came pouring in to the system in a highly suspicious way.

A few weeks later, the docket overall is up to nearly 2.7 million comments — of which, at last estimate, approximately a half million were from the bot (It’s hard to determine how many at this exact moment, because the ECFS search function is currently not producing correct results.)

Not only is whoever is behind the bot submitting the same fake comment en masse, but also it’s doing it with stolen names and identities that probably were purloined in data breaches. So advocacy group Fight for the Future set up a tool making it easy for anyone to search the database for their own name, and then say if they actually submitted “their” comment or not.

Fight for the Future says it has received “dozens of verified reports” from people who never submitted the comments that exist in their names. So far two of those include friends of “recently-deceased individuals” that confirmed their friends “could not have posted the comments posthumously.”

Zombies aside, the group today published a letter from 14 individuals all around the country whose identities were used by the bot — and they are not happy about it.

“Our names and personal information were used to file comments we did not make to the Federal Communications Commission,” they write to FCC chairman Ajit Pai and chief information officer David Bray.

“We are disturbed by reports that indicate you have no plans to remove these fraudulent comments from the public docket,” the letter continues. “Whoever is behind this stole our names and addresses, publicly expose our private information without our permission, and used our identities to file a political statement we did not sign onto.”

The writers call on the FCC to remove all of the fraudulent comments, as well as to notify anyone who was impacted and to share information about the investigation into who is behind it.

“While it may be convenient for you to ignore this, given that it was done in an attempt to support your position, it cannot be the case that the FCC moves forward on such a major public debate without properly investigating this known attack,” the writers conclude.

So far, Fight for the Future says, just over 2,400 people have used the group’s Comcastroturf site to contact their state attorneys general, asking for investigations.

“In my nearly 30 years of being an Internet user, I’ve been extremely judicious about using my real name online,” one Massachusetts man told Fight for the Future. “On those rare times when I have chosen to do so, it’s been for something I feel strongly about. To see my good name used to present an opinion diametrically opposed to my own view on Net Neutrality makes me feel sad and violated.”

Meanwhile, the docket is still open until mid-August for everyone to leave their own thoughts. If you — a real person, preferably currently alive — would like to share with the FCC your non-bot thoughts about its plan to kill net neutrality, here’s how.



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