mercredi 20 septembre 2017

Cases Of KIND Bars Recalled For Lack Of Walnut Declaration

Tree nuts like walnuts can trigger life-threatening allergies, and they’re one of the food items that must be declared on the outside of the food package. Cases of KIND chocolate and nut bars had that declaration on each bar, but the company is now notifying customers that the exterior cartons lacked the declaration.

What to look for

“The recalled products may be safely consumed by those who do not have an allergy or sensitivity to walnuts,” the company notes in its recall notice. “People who have an allergy or sensitivity to walnuts should not consume these products.”

Only 12-count boxes were affected: Individual bars that you may have purchased aren’t part of the recall.

Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt (12-Count Box)
Lot Code: BK16264A1
Best Before Date: 12/20/2017

Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt (12-Count Box)
Lot Code: BK16308A1
Best Before Date: 2/4/18

If you have questions about the recall, or to obtain a refund, you can call 855-884-5463, Option 1, or email customerservice@kindsnacks.com.

A potential issue regarding certain product(s)

We learned about this from reader Naomi, who received an email from Amazon that was weirdly vague about what was actually wrong with the bars that she had purchased. Her family had eaten them long ago and she didn’t remember any ill effects, but what was going on?

“We have learned of a potential issue regarding certain product(s) that our records indicate you purchased through the Amazon.com website,” the email said. It gave details about the item and about contacting KIND to find out what was going on.

“We regret any inconvenience this may cause you but trust you will understand that the safety and satisfaction of our customers is our highest priority,” Amazon concluded the note.

The recall notice is a bit tricky to find on KIND’s website, and the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t distributed a press release yet. We contacted KIND, which sent us a direct link to the recall notice. We also contacted Amazon, and will update this post with the mega-retailer’s response if we hear anything back.



Target Debuts Maps Of Stores So You Don’t Have To Talk To Employees

Big box stores are, well, big. So big, in fact, you might get lost looking for the toilet paper. But instead of sheepishly approaching an employee, you can now just follow the map on your phone — at Target, anyway. 

Target announced today that customers can soon traverse their local stores using maps of the locations within the retailer’s mobile app. The system will be available in nearly half its stores by the upcoming holiday season.

The feature, described as a “GPS for your shopping cart,” uses a system of in-store beacons and Bluetooth technology to show customers their current location on the map as they move through the aisles.

Shoppers can use the map to find the next item on their shopping list. For example, Target customers can already create a list on the store’s app. While shopping they can click on that item and the new map will show them exactly where it is located in their local store.

In addition to helping customers find where they’re going, Target notes that the app will also point out nearby Cartwheel deals.

“Now you’ll never have to miss out on an opportunity to save,” Mike McNamara, Target chief information and digital officer, said in a statement. “This promises to make it easier than ever to find what you’re looking for, so you can fill up your cart and get on your way.”

Integrating a GPS-like map into its app isn’t entirely surprising for Target. For years, the retailer has experimented with mapping stores to make shopping easier for customers.

In Nov. 2014, Target issued an update to its app that told shoppers what’s in stock and where to find those items inside the store. This feature was more broad, showing customers the aisle the item was located in, but not directions to that area.



Judge Dismisses FTC Case Accusing D-Link Of Selling Vulnerable Devices

Back in January, the Federal Trade Commission filed a case against D-Link, a company that makes networking equipment and connected-home devices. It alleged that D-Link deceptively marketed its products as advanced and safe when they were vulnerable to attacks that range from stealing personal information to peeping through security cameras. This week, a judge dismissed the FTC’s case, noting that the agency didn’t present any consumers who were actually harmed.

Not the latest wireless security features

In the FTC’s original complaint against D-Link [PDF], the Commission alleged that the gadget-maker “engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices” by selling routers, webcams, and other connected products that had known problems that were easily fixed, promoting them as using “the latest wireless security features.”

Some of these vulnerabilities had been known to hackers for the better part of a decade. Leaving connected devices and routers vulnerable makes it possible that the devices could be recruited for a botnet, part of a zombie computer army used to stage attacks on any target that the hacker wishes.

“Simple annoyance and inconvenience”

The judge noted in his opinion [PDF] that if the FTC had focused on the deception claim in its complaint against D-Link, the case would have had a better chance. Instead, the agency focused on how D-Link left open vulnerabilities in its devices, which could have potentially harmed millions of consumers in the United States.

Here’s the problem: The FTC didn’t provide specific examples of harm done to consumers for the judge to evaluate, or specific instances when the products were breached. It’s possible that someone’s devices were exploited or broken into, but it’s also possible that no devices were broken into at all.

The judge wrote in his opinion dismissing the case that without proof as part of the case that actual consumers were harmed, the case doesn’t stand up.

“The FTC does not identify a single incident where a consumer’s financial, medical or other sensitive personal information has been accessed, exposed or misused in any way, or whose IP camera has been compromised by unauthorized parties, or who has suffered any harm or even simple annoyance and inconvenience from the alleged security flaws in the [D-Link] devices,” he wrote. “The absence of any concrete facts makes it just as possible that [D-Link]’s devices are not likely to substantially harm consumers, and the FTC cannot rely on wholly conclusory allegations about potential injury to tilt the balance in its favor.”

In a statement, the Cause of Action Institute, a nonprofit representing D-Link in this case, called the charges “baseless” and called the judge’s order to dismiss the case a “well-reasoned decision.”

The FTC had no comment yet on this result when Consumerist contacted the agency today. The agency can revise and re-submit its complaint against D-Link based on the judge’s opinion.



Congratulations America, You Gave Airlines $7.1B In Baggage And Change Fees Last Year

For the better part of the last decade, airlines have been tacking on fees for everything from checking bags to allowing customers to cancel or change their flights. While spending $25 now and then for the convenience of not dragging your bags around the airport might not break the bank, those fees add up — to $7.1 billion. 

That’s according to a newly released report [PDF] from the U.S. Government Accountability Office that examined impact of airlines increasing optional service fees over the past six years.

While airlines have introduced a variety of new fees for optional services and existing fees over the past decade, the GAO report focuses on changes to checked baggage fees and change/cancellation fees.

According to the report, the revenue for 11 U.S. airlines made from these two fees increased from $6.3 billion in 2010 to $7.1 billion in 2016.

Specifically, baggage fees increased 12% from $3.7 billion in 2010 to $4.2 billion in 2016. Reservation change and cancellation fees increased 14% from $2.5 billion in 2010 to $2.9 billion in 2016.

In all, these fees made up 3.3% of airlines operating revenue in 2010 and 3.5% of revenue in 2016.

Why The Increase?

The GAO notes that the increase in revenue from baggage and cancellation and change fees can be partially attributed to an increase in passenger traffic.

Total passenger traffic for airlines in the U.S. increased 14% from 721 million travelers in 2010 to 825 million travelers in 2016.

Still, the report suggests that the increase in revenue from these fees also comes as airlines have “unbundled” airfare. Airline officials tell the GAO that this was done in order to allow passengers to customize their flights by paying only for services that they want.

Additionally, airline officials said that charging fees for optional services allows the airlines to offer lower base airfares to customers.

However, the GAO found that might not actually be the case.

Baggage Fees

In the case of baggage fees, GAO’s review of airlines showed that on average customers who paid for at least one checked bag paid more in total for the airfare and bag fees than they did when airfares included checked baggage.

The report found that of the five “network” airlines — Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, and United — only Alaska increased its checked baggage fee from $20 to $25 over the past seven years.

However, Hawaii and Delta each eliminated a previous checked baggage discount of $3 that was provided to travelers who paid for checking bags online before arriving at the airport.

When it comes to low-cost carriers, the GAO found a different story.

Frontier, Spirit, and Allegiant each increased the fee range for first and second checked bags during this timeframe. The airlines charge varying baggage fees based on when the passenger pays the fee; specifically, paying a bag fee online and in advance of the flight is less expensive than paying the bag fee at the airport on the day of travel.

While the fees for first and second checked bags remained fairly stable, the GAO reports that more than half of the airlines examined increased charges for overweight bags. In 2010, overweight bag fees ranged from $50 to $175, and in 2017, they ranged from $30 to $200.

As for oversized bags, GAO found that six airlines increased the fees, while other narrowed them. For example, Delta changed between $175 and $300 for an oversized bag in 2010, while it switched to a flat fee of $200 for the bag by 2017.

In 2010, oversized bag fees ranged from $35 to $300, and in 2017, they ranged from $75 to $200

Changing Or Canceling The Reservation

Baggage fees weren’t the only optional costs increasing for airlines. Six of the airlines examined by the GAO increased cancellation and change fees from 2010 to 2017.

In 2010, the airlines charged from $50 to $150 to change or cancel a domestic reservation; in 2017, this fee ranged from $50 to $200.

Of the five network airlines, the GAO found that each increased their fees from 2010 to 2016.

American, Delta, Hawaii, and United each increased the fee $50, while Alaska increased its fees between $25 and $50.

Low-cost carriers also increased fees. Allegiant increased its fee $25 for each segment; Frontier either increased or decreased its fee depending on travel from $50 to $100 to a flat $99; JetBlue’s fee went from $100 to a range between $75 and $150.

Southwest Airlines does not charge a change fee, while Spirit decreased its fees from a range of $100 to $110 to $90 to $100. Sun Country also decreased its charge from $75 to $50.

To confuse matters even more, some airlines’ change fees apply only to one segment of the trip, not the entire booking. For this reason, it is important to read up on your chosen airline’s policies.

The Future

The GAO report points out that the DOT has taken or proposed a range of actions to improve the transparency of airlines’ fees for optional services.

For instance, the DOT has taken steps to increase monitoring and enforcement of airlines’ compliance with existing transparency regulations; collecting, reviewing, and responding to consumers’ complaints; collecting additional data on revenue generated from fees; and educating airlines and consumers about existing regulations and consumer rights related to optional service fees.

Still, the agency notes that more could be done. To that end, the DOT has ongoing regulatory proceedings.



FEMA Tweets Number For Phone Sex Line Instead Of Disaster Relief Effort

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is offering help to Florida residents with a program called “Operation Blue Roof,” which provides fiber-reinforced tarps to homeowners to cover damaged roofs until they can arrange repairs. The only problem is, one federal agency appears to have accidentally directed folks to a phone sex line instead.

A Consumerist reader pointed us to a two-day-old Tweet from FEMA Region 4’s account, suggesting people who need help can call 1-800-ROOF-BLU or visit the program’s website. Although the Tweet was visible this afternoon, it has since been taken down. Here’s what it looked like:

Callers who dial that number, however, are greeted by an automated message welcoming callers to “America’s hottest talk line,” where “hot ladies” are purportedly waiting to talk to guys, and women can talk to “interesting and exciting guys” for free (apparently, women do not get hot guys).

The correct number, as listed on Operation Blue Roof’s website, is 1-888-ROOF-BLU, not 1-800-ROOF-BLU.

At least some people were paying attention to the original Tweet, however, as one Twitter user pointed out that the number was wrong before the Tweet was pulled:

We’ve reached out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as FEMA, and will update this post if we hear back. Though we haven’t yet gotten a response, the Tweet in question was removed after we contacted those agencies, and FEMA Region 4 posted a new Tweet with the correct number:



Don’t Be Fooled By Fake Equifax Data Breach Information Sites

The Equifax breach, as we now all know, is completely terrible: Roughly 143 million customers in the U.S. had their personal data compromised. Concerned consumers are, naturally, looking for information — but fake sites or scams are everywhere.

The real site that Equifax is hosting for running updates on the data breach is EquifaxSecurity2017.com. Those three terms, in that order.

It’s important to note that — because clones, trying to get you to hand over even more personal data to would-be scammers, abound. A list of fake Equifax breach sites shared on Pastebin currently has more than 1,000 entries, including every typo and letter variation you can think of.

Unfortunately, even Equifax has gotten confused by the proliferation of fakes.

Motherboard writer Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai pointed out on Twitter that Equifax was giving an incorrect site URL to customers who complained to its official @Equifax Twitter handle.

Equifax deleted the Tweet several hours after users noticed the error, but an archived version still exists.

Another Twitter user observed that Equifax has, in fact, given out the wrong URL several times on Twitter, going back to September 9.

Luckily, the variant Equifax was mistakenly Tweeting out isn’t an actual phishing site; it’s an attempt by a web developer to call attention to the fact that Equifax made a monumentally bad decision by launching an insecure, easily spoofed site to begin with.

Phishing scams — attacks that gather your personal data by pretending to be from a legitimate source — have popped up all over in the wake of the Equifax breach.

Our colleagues at Consumer Reports have created a guide outlining how you can best protect yourself if Equifax lost all your sensitive data. And the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General’s office have shared tips to help consumers avoid falling for an Equifax-related scam.



Lyft, Budweiser Partnering Up Again To Fight Drunk Driving With Free Rides

Just like last year, Lyft and Budweiser are teaming up to offer drinkers a safer option for getting home than climbing behind the wheel of their car: They’ll be handing out 150,000 round-trip rides in some states through the end of the year.

While the 2016 promotion involved 80,000 $10 ride credits, the two companies will hand out $20 in ride credits at a time for this year’s “Give A Damn” campaign.

Rides will be available in 10 states: New York, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Texas, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.

To get the $20 credit, you’ll have to check Budweiser’s Facebook or Instagram page every Thursday at 2 p.m. ET to get a unique ride code, which you can then plug into the Lyft app to claim your credits for two $10 one-way rides.

It’s worth noting that you must be at least 21 to take advantage of the promotion, and those credits must be redeemed for rides taken between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. local time that Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night.