mardi 31 décembre 2013

Consumerist Presents The 19 Worst Ads Of 2013, Brought To You By Consumerist

worstadscollage While we all have that one friend who is constantly littering our Facebook timelines with YouTube links to “Hilarius!” [sic] commercials, most of us hate advertisements. Even the ones that are funny or interesting the first time you see them will inevitably begin to grate after you see it for the 10th time in an hour. But some ads never even earn that initial chuckle, and instead go right to pushing that nerve that makes you want to body-slam your beloved 55″ TV.

Last week, we asked you to send in your nominations for the worst ads of 2013, and many of you took precious time out of your holiday weekend to share your thoughts on the commercials most deserving of public shaming.

Okay, okay, I’ve gone on long enough… just bring on the bad ads.

• Badvertiser of the Year: Kmart

It hasn’t exactly been a blue-light special year for the once-popular bargain retailer. Not only did Sears’ ugly little cousin earn heaps of hate for idiotically choosing to open before breakfast on Thanksgiving, it also had three of the most-nominated ads from Consumerist readers.

Kmart’s ill-advised attempt at mixing adolescent genital jokes and sexy male dancers resulted in the commercial with the highest number of nominations, the so-called “Jingle Balls” spot featuring Joe Boxer undies:

The Joe Boxer ad wasn’t Kmart’s first go at juvenile humor in 2013. The retailer began its “edgy” ads in the spring with the derision-deserving “Ship My Pants” ad:

Finally, Kmart really earned its Badvertiser of the Year honor by closing out 2013 with a series of ads that capture that whole “GIF” craze that someone at Kmart’s ad agency presumably heard about from her brother’s 13-year-old daughter… in 2011:

• Special Achievement in Badvertising Award: GEICO

While GEICO didn’t have any single ad that rose to the top of the nominations pile, the insurance company did have the widest variety of ads nominated — probably because GEICO has at least four different ad series that it is flogging to death on American TV.

The most-hated of GEICO’s many, many spokesthings wasn’t the gecko or the pig, but the schticky folk duo inexplicably placed into ads to explain the poor jokes contained therein. And when you add them to the most obnoxious dromedary to ever roam the cubicles, you get this special taste of hell:

We wouldn’t be shocked if that loudmouth camel becomes a full-fledged GEICO mascot. Just look at what the company has done with the pig that some people claimed to have enjoyed from that one commercial several years back. Now it’s driving, flying on planes, attending sporting events, and getting involved in romantic relationships with human females:

Then there’s the latest addition to GEICO’s rogues gallery of shills, the “Did You Know” ads, where people try to make up for stating the company’s old marketing language by making utterly moronic statements:

There’s also the gecko, but the less said about that animated turd the better.

• Humbert Humbert Award for Stepdad of the Year: Kay Jewelers — “Open Hearts”

This creeptastic ad, featuring a soon-to-be stepdad giving a young girl the same diamond necklace he’s already given to her mom, first popped up toward the end of 2012 then quickly disappeared, presumably because Kay realized the horrifying subtext of the ad. Nope. The bling retailer was just saving it up to ick out the public again this holiday season.

Says Consumerist reader MJ, “What they don’t show you is the next scene, in which the mom dies after running out into traffic.

• The Pedestrians Be Damned Award: Zales — “Race to Black Friday”

Perhaps the car that eventually runs over the mom in the above Kay Jewelers commercial was driven by the idiot in this short Zales ad for Black Friday:

• The “We Don’t Think That’s What You Meant To Say” Award: Chevy — “Second to Nobody”

Do you have that friend who says “penultimate” when he means ultimate? Or that co-worker who thinks “lucked out” means you’re out of luck? Maybe he or she got a job writing ad copy for Chevrolet, because we don’t think that this Silverado ad was meant to imply that Chevy is in third place behind Dodge Ram and Ford:

• The Shove This Down Your Throat Award: Wendy’s

Forget that sketchy kid hanging around the playground trying to get your kid to smoke a cigarette. There’s a bigger danger in town — the Wendy’s shill who pops up everywhere people are trying to eat, but who rarely seems to be eating (though we’ve seen her do a horrendous job of faking it at least once).

Says reader Emily of the following ad, in which “Wendy” sexualizes a burger on a brioche bun for a drooling male, “I always had a hunch that this chick was some sort of skinny feeder who gets off on watching her friends get fat while she remains skinny. This just confirms it.”

• Achievement in Abuse of Long-Form Advertising: Samsung — “Geared Up”

After years of iPhone dominance in the smartphone market, the Samsung Galaxy series proved that an Android brand could stand out from the crowd to compete. At the same time, the company used this 2:30 ad to demonstrate that it should probably keep its trap shut and just let the product sell itself.

“I had thought about getting a Galaxy Watch,” comments Consumerist reader George. “Then I saw this ad and didn’t want people to assume I was a stalkerish a-hole who hounds an obviously uninterested woman into giving him her phone number.”

• Failed Attempt at Coining a Punny Catchphrase, Electronics Division: Microsoft — “Scroogled”

Getting the public to latch on to your marketing language is the dream of every ad copywriter, but it helps if your attempt at introducing that catchphrase doesn’t result in everyone watching pointing out that your company is just as guilty of the same sketchy practices you’re accusing your competitor of:

• Failed Attempt at Coining a Punny Catchphrase, Food Division: Yoplait — “Swapportunity”

It also helps if your catchphrase isn’t awkward to say and likely to earn blank stares from anyone you attempt to use it on:

• Meet the New Flo Award for Loudmouth Spokesperson Who Needs to Just Back Off a Bit: The Phillips Colon Health Lady

Because there is nothing more appropriate than loudly speaking about intestinal distress on crowded buses, planes and other public places, Phillips introduces the Colon Health Lady.

Says Consumerist reader Todd, “I think this might be a good commercial because I feel sick to my stomach after every time the Colon Health Lady pops up.”

• The “This is Why We Hate You” Award: Lexus — “Red Ribbon 2013″

In 200 years, future post-apocalyptic generations will tell tales of the decadent 21st century, in which people in gaudily huge houses not only presented each other with overpriced Toyotas, but also topped these deluxe wheels with a tacky red ribbon.

While Lexus’s red-ribbon ads have long earned boos from the public, this year’s Christmas commercial took the notion to new aspirational heights, with the impossibly handsome couple handcrafting a sparkling red ribbon to adorn the three gifted vehicles (yes, three cars) parked outside a mammoth house that might be an appropriate size for the Earl of Grantham:


• The “We Just Discovered Auto-Tune” Award: (TIE) Yoplait & McDonald’s

The yogurty yahoos at Yoplait earn their second award with this ad that had to have been made back in 2005 when Auto-Tune and crowd-sourced advertising was still in vogue:

Then there’s this McDonald’s ad featuring future Bieber-esque burnout Austin Mahone, demonstrating that he can neither sing nor stay focused on the task at hand:

• The Mute Button Award for Worst Original Jingle:

For years, daytime TV viewers have been scrambling for the remote every time they sense this commercial is about to launch into one of the most ear-destroying songs you’ll never be able to get out of your head. Today, it finally gets the recognition it truly deserves:

• The “Mangle That Tune” Award for Horrid Cover Versions of Existing Songs: Party City

Every big party season, the folks at Party City cue up some already overplayed song, change the lyric to be more party-centric, then unleash it upon the public until TV viewers’ minds turn into brain pudding.

The most cited example of Party City’s crimes against the eardrums was this tortured version of the Mambo No. 5:

Thanks to everyone who helped by nominating the ads they loathed the most in 2013, even those whose nominations didn’t make the cut. There were many, many more ads that deserved demerits this year and we wish we had time to call them all out. But if we did that, we’d be here until next New Year’s Eve.

via Consumerist

Patton Oswalt’s “Brand Tweets” Are Awesome, But Probably Not What Your Boss Wanted

First things first: If you don’t like naughty language (think: word for genitalia that rhymes with “clock”), you’re probably not going to want to read Patton Oswalt’s Twitter response to a company asking if he’d like to get paid for tweeting about popular brands. If you don’t mind a bit of potty talk and some rather cringeworthy topics, then you’re gonna love everything the comedian said. Because it’s relentlessly harsh and awesome and happy new year to us all.

While of course, there are many celebrities who will tweet about this, that and the other thing for a buck, Oswalt is not one of those gleeful endorsers — something anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the comedian would know or could discover with a quick search of his past work.

So why would a company solicit him to do just that, and on Twitter where everyone can see it, no less? Shrug. There is no reason, but it happened.

First came the tweet from a company called Brander Influencers (via Splitsider):

That’s all it took for Oswalt to start tearing down a merry path to ridicule with the below tweets, until he finally took mercy on the company and ended his tirade of hilarity. Again, be warned that there is some NSFW language and other things that might make some people uncomfortable.

We’ve gotta hand it to whoever manages the Twitter account for Brander Influencers, however, for remaining seemingly unfazed after all that.

via Consumerist

Pret A Manger Customer Not Pleased With Free Frog In Her Salad

froggyIsn’t it a good thing when you get a bonus item with your lunch? Not when that bonus item is a dead, uncooked frog hanging out in the middle of the bowl. That’s what a Wall Street Journal staffer allegedly found in her bowl at a Manhattan Pret-a-Manger. It was a tuna salad. Not a frog salad. We cannot emphasize this enough.

Here at Consumerist, we noticed a strange uptick in reports of dead animals in packaged vegetables. Most of these animals were frogs, and we came to call all animals included in food that weren’t meant to be there, from rats to insects to chunks of snake, “free frogs.”

(Warning: actual frog photo below)

This is going to happen when we eat organic greens, fresh from the field. We get it. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the dual nature of our food, as plants that once grew outside and animals that once walked around. Maybe because when we’re paying premium prices for someone to clean and chop those vegetables and make a salad for us, we expect that salad to be free of dead animals that we didn’t order.

Wall Street Journal colleagues blogged and Instagrammed about the free frog, reporting that the diner who found it was “pretty shaken.”

Pret A Manger contacted Gothamist to let them know that they’re taking the froggy very seriously.

At Pret A Manger, we take issues like this very seriously. Our lettuce is sourced from farms that do not use any pesticides on its produce, therefore organic matter does very rarely manage to pass through our production process. We are currently looking into this issue to make every effort that this does not happen again.

Photo: Woman Finds Frog In Pret A Manger Salad [Gothamist]

via Consumerist

Woman Wins Fight To Include All 36 Characters Of Her Last Name On Her Driver’s License

Say that three times fast.

Say that three times fast.

In this world, there are no guarantees. But everyone has the right to have their own name, and one Hawaii woman believes that includes the right to include her entire 36-character surname on her driver’s license. She just won the fight to include all 35 letters and one character with a new change to the state’s policy, so she can be loud and proud about its length. Teaching people to pronounce it is a whole other matter. [via the Associated Press]

via Consumerist

How To Not Suck… At Making Financial New Year’s Resolutions

It’s not quite 2014, but we’re already sick and tired of promises to help consumers make their resolutions a success. Lose 15 pounds in one week! Never crave a cigarette again! Watch your wrinkles disappear! Make sure you’re ready for intimacy whenever your partner is! Enough with the empty — or questionable — promises.

Instead, before you set your New Year’s resolutions that you break before you lose your hangover, remember that being realistic about your goals is half the battle. The other half is making it simple.

We’re not going to tell you to lose weight or quit smoking (though that may lead to money savings in lower premiums for health and life insurance), but we will offer these tips so you don’t suck at keeping your money resolutions.

Use Your 401(k)

If your employer offers a 401(k) or similar retirement plan, take advantage. These plans allow you to save money pre-tax, which means you can lower your taxable income with every dollar you contribute up to the maximum, which for 2014 is $17,500. Those 50 and older can save an extra $5,500 “catch-up” contribution for a total of $23,000. After you contribute, your money grows tax-deferred, meaning you won’t pay taxes on your earnings until you withdraw the money in retirement.

If you don’t contribute yet: Start. If you can’t contribute the max, ask your benefits administrator about matching funds. These are free dollars your employer will add to your account based on your contribution level. Try very hard to at least contribute enough to take advantage of the full match so you’re not leaving free money on the table. If you earn $50,000 a year and save 5 percent of your salary, and if your employer matches 50% on the first 4% you save, a 30-year-old could have more than $500,000 at age 65 if the account earns an average of 7% a year.

If you already contribute: Consider upping your contributions. Maybe set your sights on increasing your percentage by 1% every two months so you can slowly get used to having a little less in each paycheck. If you save 10% of your salary with the same assumptions, you could have more than $860,000 at age 65.

Try’s 401(k) calculator to see how much you could save.

Stop Guessing About Your Budget

You may have a pretty good idea of where you spend your money, but most people simply guess-timate. And you can imagine many of the guess-timators are wildly inaccurate.

It’s hard to set money goals if you’re not really sure what you spend. So get to it.

You can do it the old-fashioned way — keep a small notebook in your pocket and mark down every penny you spend. Or, you can get high-tech with apps that allow you to enter all your spending on your phone — which you probably have with you every time you take out your wallet, anyway.

Try apps such as those recommended in this story by CNN-Money and this one loved by LifeHacker and take a look at BankRate’s favorites.

Stop Using Plastic

Easier said than done, but give cash a try for a change. Or at least promise yourself you won’t use credit cards until you’ve paid off your balances from that excessive holiday spending.

While you’re on credit card hiatus, take a close look at all the cards you have and decide which is the smartest for you to use regularly. Refresh yourself with the rules of your rewards cards, too.

Cut Down on Bank Fees

BankRate offers some scary banking fee numbers for 2013. The average overdraft fee rose 3% to a record $32.20, according to the site. And the average cost for using another bank’s ATM set another record, rising 2%, to $4.13.

For the new year, vow to avoid bank fees. How? Start by refreshing your memory on how your accounts work. Review ATM charges, minimum balance fees, checking fees and more, and see if you can find an account that will do better by you. Check out’s lists of the best checking accounts, savings accounts and more.

Start a Rainy Day Fund

Unexpected expenses are a part of life, so you may as well be prepared.

Start an emergency fund. This would be money you set aside in a separate bank account that you don’t tap unless you really, really need to. You know, in case the roof caves in or you need to have teeth pulled.

Most financial advisors suggest you keep three to six months of expenses in a rainy day fund. That may seem overwhelming, but remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and all, so you can take your time building your account.

Let’s not count interest here — because let’s face it, because most savings and money market account pay a pittance these days. But if you set aside $10 per week, you’ll have $520 in a year. If you save $25 per week, you’ll have $1,300, and $50 per week will give you $2,600.

While you’re at it, start a holiday savings fund for your 2014 purchases.

Have a topic you’d like to see covered in How To Not Suck? Or maybe you’re an expert who would like to share your insight with Consumerist readers? Send us a note at

You can read Karin Price Mueller’s stories for The Star-Ledger at, follow her on Facebook, and on Twitter @kpmueller.


How To Not Suck… At Last-Minute Christmas Gifting

How To Not Suck… At Saving For The Holidays

How To Not Suck… At Charitable Giving

How To Not Suck… At Disputing Credit Report Errors

How To Not Suck… At Lowering Your Utility Bills

How To Not Suck… At Home Inspections

How To Not Suck… At Understanding Credit Card Rewards

How To Not Suck… At Getting Ready For Tax Season

How To Not Suck… At Picking A Retirement Plan

How To Not Suck… At Deciding When To DIY

How To Not Suck… At Getting Out Of Debt

How To Not Suck… At First Year College Budgets

DISCLAIMER: Any websites, services, retailers, or brands mentioned in the story above are only intended as some of many options available to consumers, and do not constitute an endorsement by Consumerist, Consumerist Media LLC (CML) or its staff. Per Consumerist’s No Commercial Use Policy, such information may not be used by others in advertising or to promote a company’s product or service. In addition, this policy precludes any commercial use of any of CML’s published information in any form, or of the names of Consumers Union®, Consumer Media, Consumer Reports®, The Consumerist, or any other of CU or CML’s publications or services without CU or CML’s express written permission.

via Consumerist

Watch Woman Totally Freak Out Over Winning $157,000 Car On ‘Price Is Right’

Let’s say you’re having a pretty lucky day, and you end up appearing as a contestant on The Price Is Right. That’s pretty awesome in itself, right? But what if there’s a $157,300 sports supercar on the line, the show’s most valuable prize ever? You’re probably gonna freak right out, and deservedly so.

On yesterday’s episode of the show, CBS says it gave away its biggest prize yet, an Audi R8. The lucky lady had appearing on the show as one of her bucket list items, so when she not only got her chance to hang out with Drew Carey on national TV but also won the insanely expensive and shiny car, well, let’s just say she was excited.

Eyes a-popping and mouth agape, the hot pink T-shirt clad contestant takes off on a few victory laps crowing her delight at winning the game “Gas Money.” Watch the video below if you’re the type that practices what your reaction would be in a similar scenario.

Or just watch it because it’s super fun and exciting.

via Consumerist

What Happens To Pizza Huts When They Are No Longer Pizza Huts?

Anyone who has ever seen a Pizza Hut knows what a Pizza Hut looks like. Worldwide, people recognize that wacky trapezoidal roof, even though new Pizza Huts no longer have them. What happens, though, when a Pizza Hut closes down or moves, but the building remains? What about other global chains with instantly recognizable building formats? These buildings have not-terribly-secret second lives, if you know where to look.

Two amazing sites, Used to be a Pizza Hut and the venerable Not Fooling Anybody,

Notable ex-Pizza Huts include this sex shop in Australia:


This police station in Des Moines, Iowa:


What happens when other chain buildings get re-used? Here’s a great example: a former Taco Bell that became a restaurant serving Philadelphian cuisine in Arizona.

Used to be a Pizza Hut (via Atlantic Cities – thanks, Tenille!)

via Consumerist

Editors’ Picks For Favorite Posts Of 2013

edpicks Earlier today, we published a round-up of the most popular Consumerist posts from 2013. That list only represents about .2% of all the stories posted to Consumerist in the last year, meaning thousands of important, funny, interesting, and helpful posts didn’t make the cut. So we each looked back at the year that was to pick the stories that meant the most to us.

Laura Northrup:

Favorite Post: Walmart Now Offers “Naughty” Costumes For Toddler Girls

Why It’s My Favorite: It had everything: cute children, Walmart, a discussion of how the meanings of words shift in contexts and over time, and angry people e-mailing us to call me a pervert. I maintain that the bigger problem with the costume was that it doesn’t look anything like a leopard.

Honorary Mentions:

Hobby Lobby May Have Overreacted To Theft Of $5 Worth Of Iron-On Letters;

Sears Admits: People Only Come To Our Stores To Park;

Nation’s Two Largest Funeral Companies To Merge, Form Bereavement Voltron

Bertolli Takes Advantage Of Barilla’s PR Problems, Says Their Pasta Is For Everyone

Chris Morran:

Favorite Post: Former Staffers: Bank Of America Rewarded Us For Lying To Homeowners, Losing Paperwork, Denying Modifications

Why It’s My Favorite: In the years following BofA’s ill-advised acquisition of Countrywide Financial, the bank attempted to blame the too-common complaints — lost paperwork, delayed filings, rushed foreclosures, inept customer service — on the bad paperwork it had inherited from Countrywide. But these sworn statements from former BofA employees highlighted the bank’s calculated, systemic attempt to push homeowners toward foreclosure.

BofA has subsequently tried to discredit these employees, but the mud slung by the bank focused on making the former workers look like bad people, rather than attempting to prove that the claims made in the statements are false.

Honorable Mentions:

After A Dine-And-Dash, Is It Legal For A Restaurant To Take Money From A Waiter’s Tips?;

How Far Off Were The Predictions Of 1967′s Home Of The Future?;

23 Things Debt Collectors Are Not Allowed To Do;

Proof That Bank Of America’s Twitter Account Is Moderated By Robots Or Morons (Or Moronic Robots)

Mary Beth Quirk

Favorite Post: There Is No Such Thing As An Apple Core

Why It’s My Favorite: Sure, it’s simple, but it was one of those posts that I felt personally attached to because I was physically eating an apple and living through the experience of realizing there really is no core. I also love it when there’s a topic that is so polarizing — without having to involve anyone or any entity other than the person who cannot fathom eating an entire apple. I connected with that apple in its corelessness, and it changed my food-eating habits… I’d like to think it affected other people as well.

Honorable Mentions:

Slushie Machine Wonders What It Ever Did To Naked Woman Attacking It At Gas Station;

15 Explanations For Company Name Mashups You Never Knew You Wanted Explained;

11 Company Slogans That Say What We Know To Be The Real Truth;

5 Foods That Have More Sugar Than A Krispy Kreme Doughnut

Meg Marco:

Favorite Post: We Are In The Era Of “Nightmare” Bacteria And Nobody Seems To Care

Why It’s My Favorite: When the CDC says the word “nightmare,” it’s time to pay attention. I think that if people stopped to take a closer look at the way we, as a society, and, hell, as an organism, are stupidly wasting antibiotics, they’d rethink their behaviors. For the most part, people who are alive today don’t remember what medicine was like before the widespread availability of antibiotics. If we don’t pay attention to how we are using them now, we may not have to remember.

via Consumerist

Raise Your Hand If You’d Move Out Of A House Hit By Cars 11 Times In 30 Years

There you are, sitting in your living room watching some TV when WHAM! An SUV comes roaring through the wall of your house. “Oh, honey, not again!” you mutter to your husband. Yes, again: One house in Indiana has had the misfortune of being struck by cars not once, not twice, but about 11 times in the last 30 years.

In what sounds like an insurance company’s worst nightmare — and also your own nightmare if you happen to appreciate a house that is intact — the Indy Star says the couple who live in the home were minding their own business on Sunday, watching the Colts game in their living room.

Suddenly a Chevy Equinox crashed through the wall, missing the woman by perhaps a foot.

“This time I thought she was dead, five inches away from it,” the husband told WTHR. “I had no idea how something didn’t hit her. She was sitting just on the other side of the wall there.”

When you have to say “this time” there could possibly be a bigger problem here, no? And that problem could be the fact that the house is near a railroad crossing, where speed could be an issue in many of the 11 or so crashes that have happened at the house, according to the fire department. Drivers could be trying to beat a train at the crossing, instead of getting stuck waiting for it to go by.

In this particular case, the 29-year-old driver wasn’t seriously injured, despite going through the windshield. She told officials that she’d been going too fast over the railroad tracks near the house and lost control of the car.

Despite the occasional danger that exists simply by living in the house, the woman’s mother who lives on the other side of the duplex home says she’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

“I’m staying,” she says. “They’ll have to carry me out.”

Indy house hit by vehicle for 11th time in 30 years [Indy Star]

Vehicle crashes into house – again [WTHR]

via Consumerist

Raiders Of The Lost Walmart Shopping For Games For New PlayStation 2

Sure, the PS4 is now on the market, but not everyone keeps up with the hottest and latest consoles. For those people, especially if they have no idea what year it is, Walmart offers copies of decade-old PS2 games at comically high prices.


“This copy of PS2 NBA 2005 was in the large bin mixed with bargain CDs and DVDs,” notes reader Ian, who made this amazing find at a Walmart store in Florida.

via Consumerist

Walgreen’s Will Provide Some Prescriptions For A Month To Backlogged Health Care Enrollees

One problem facing people who have been trying to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act but who haven’t been able to do so successfully is the dilemma of how to get certain medications once January hits. Walgreen’s says it’ll hand out a month’s worth of some prescriptions at no upfront cost to those people.

A variety of problems have hit many consumers trying to sign up for healthcare and some insurance companies say as a result, they’re not getting the right information in order to process all the forms needed to get people enrolled, reports Reuters.

So Walgreen’s is offering a bit of a helping hand by telling any customers who’ve enrolled in healthcare but don’t have the proper identification from an insurance company yet can simply bring in the proof of their efforts from now through the end of January at a pharmacy and get a month of generic medication.

It’s not entirely free forever, however — after the customer gets an ID number, Walgreen’s will then push through the insurance claim and will hold the customer responsible for any co-pay they should’ve had to pay originally.

Walgreen offers month of prescriptions to backlogged Obamacare enrollees [Reuters]

via Consumerist

First Hobbit Movie Was The Most Pirated Film Of 2013

hobbitgrab While one might assume that the most popular movies are automatically the films that pirates would flock to download for free, the latest list of most-pirated flicks has some surprising results.

It may not be too shocking to see that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — the first in Peter Jackson’s three-part cash-grab expansion of the not-terribly-lengthy Tolkien book — tops TorrentFreak’s list. The film, released toward the end of 2012, did manage to gross more than $1 billion internationally in theaters.

What is more surprising is the showing of Iron Man 3 — the highest grossing movie of 2013, with more than $1.2 billion in global box office receipts — in fourth place. That puts the Robert Downey Jr. superhero flick behind Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Fast and the Furious 6, neither of which came close to raking in the cash of the third Iron Man movie.

One could argue that The Hobbit and Django received more downloads than these others because they were released several months earlier, giving pirates more opportunities to download them.

Both Fast & Furious 6 and Iron Man 3 were released in May, and yet the speedy-car movie outpaced the fantasy folks by an estimated 300,000 downloads, according to TorrentFreak.

Other surprises include Silver Linings Playbook being the fifth most pirated title of the year, as it was only the 34th most popular movie at the box office. Similarly, Gangster Squad was the 54th highest grossing movie released in 2013, but seventh on the most-pirated list.

Meanwhile, huge 2013 hits like Despicable Me 2 ($918 million worldwide gross) and Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($795 million) didn’t even make the top 10 list for TorrentFreak. Granted, the second Hunger Games movie just came out in November, but the Despicable Me sequel was released stateside in July. Guess pirates don’t care about scoring illegally shared films for kids.

You can see the whole list at

via Consumerist

Consumerist’s Most Popular Stories From 2013

postsofyear 2013 ends in a few hours, and in the year since we last popped champagne corks and pretended to know the words to “Auld Lang Syne,” we’ve posted more than 5,000 stories to Consumerist, covering everything from Wall Street to Capitol Hill to the drive-thru lane. Some of these posts attracted a few more readers than others.

Here are the 10 posts that received the most interest from Consumerist readers:

1. EA Makes Worst Company In America History, Wins Title For Second Year In A Row!

In which the video game publisher again beats out Bank of America to win the Golden Poo.

2. Waitress Who Posted No-Tip Receipt From “Pastor” Customer Fired From Job and Diner Thinks That Saying He’s A Pastor Allows Him To Stiff Waiter On Tip

In which a waitress posts a rude receipt note online, then loses her job even though she never revealed the customer’s name… and tells Consumerist all about it afterward.

3. Using The EECB Gets Me A SimCity Refund, But What About Everyone Else?

In which customers go up the ladder to get a worthwhile response from EA following the badly botched release of its long-awaited Sim City update.

4. Time Warner Boosts My Speed, Cuts My Bill: I Just Happen To Live Near Google Fiber

In which Time Warner Cable’s actions quietly demonstrate the urgent need for pricing competition in the consumer broadband market.

5. Waiter Praised For Refusing To Serve Family Who Insults Child With Down Syndrome

In which a Houston-area waiter puts his job at risk by standing up to customers who made rude comments about a young customer in the next booth.

6. Here’s A Photo That May Change Your Mind About Having Taco Bell For Lunch Today

In which an idiot California teen earns his way to the unemployment line by having himself photographed licking a stack of taco shells.

7. Geek Squad Accused Of Stealing, Distributing Customer’s Naked Photos. Yes, Again

In which Best Buy shows that its employees could use a refresher course on the whole “don’t snoop on customers’ devices” thing.

8. EA Admits It “Can Do Better” But Blames Worst Company Success On Homophobes And Whiny Madden Fans

In which the Worst Company In America winner places the blame for its bad reputation on hate groups and people who didn’t like Peyton Hillis on the cover of Madden NFL 12.

9. Straight Talk’s Unlimited Data: Actually Sort Of Limited

In which everyone learns that prepaid wireless service is just as anti-consumer as post-paid.

10. How Not To React To Internet Criticism: The Epic Facebook Meltdown Of Amy’s Baking Company

In which Gordon Ramsay thanks his lucky stars his producers convinced him to visit a small Arizona eatery owned by two of the most high-strung people to ever grace the TV.

Later today, we’ll be posting our editors’ picks for those stories near and dear to our hearts that didn’t make the top 10 for the year.

via Consumerist

Is Saving $1/Month Worth Entirely Ditching HD On Netflix?

Netflix-SD-tier Netflix has begun testing a new pricing option for some streaming customers. It’s $1/month cheaper than the standard $7.99/month plan most customers pay for. What do you give up to save that dollar? HD access and the ability to stream videos on multiple devices simultaneously.

The $6.99 plan, which the company says will not necessarily be offered to everyone, limits all streaming to standard definition and only allows the subscriber to have one device streaming Netflix video at a time. That means no HD streaming and no account-sharing, even within your own family. The standard $7.99 plan allows for one account to have two users streaming simultaneously, and there is an $11.99/month plan that ups that limit to four simultaneous streams.

For people that watch Netflix over dependable high-speed broadband connections straight to their TVs, giving up the HD option may not seem like a worthwhile exchange to only save a dollar. But customers with slower and less reliable Internet access — or people who primarily watch Netflix on their wireless devices — may be able to save a buck without seeing too noticeable a dip in quality. Having not been able to compare the streams side-by-side it’s impossible to say for sure.

Netflix is likely hoping that this option might help ease some of the tensions between the company and cable/Internet providers, some of whom have been accused of deliberately allowing Netflix feeds to become backed up during peak periods, rather than taking simple steps to ease the logjam.

Most streaming rental services, including iTunes and Amazon, offer customers both HD and SD options, with the HD version usually costing a little more to rent or purchase. And Netflix already allows customers the option of receiving a lower-quality stream so as to not be such a data hog.

For now, Netflix is simply positioning the lower-priced tier as a test option that may not even be rolled out.

“We always are testing new things and this is a test for a $6.99 single stream plan,” a Netflix rep tells AdWeek. “Not all people will see this option and it may not be something we ever offer generally.”

via Consumerist

Brewpub Shows Starbucks “The F Word” After Legal Demand To Stop Selling “Frappicino” Beer

An excerpt from the brewpub's response to Starbucks' cease-and-desist request (via Facebook)

An excerpt from the brewpub’s response to Starbucks’ cease-and-desist request (via Facebook)

Still stinging from yet another legal defeat against a small New Hampshire coffee company over the “Charbucks” brand, the Starbucks legal team appears to be going after lower-hanging fruit, sending a cease-and-desist letter to a small Missouri brewpub that dared to sell something called Frappicino beer.

The owner of Exit 6 Pub and Brewery in Cottleville, MO, posted the legal letter on his company’s Facebook page last week.

“As you probably know, Starbucks Coffee Co. is the owner of a number of world-famous trademarks, including the well-known FRAPPUCINO trademark,” reads the letter, which then takes issue with Exit 6′s Frappicino, which the letter notes “only differs from Starbucks Coffee Co.’s FRAPPUCINO mark by one letter, and is phonetically identical.”

Starbucks feels that the use of the similar sounding names “is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception among consumers” and requests that Exit 6 stop using the term “Frappicino” and have the beer de-listed from the Untappd website on which Starbucks located the beverage.

We have no idea if Exit 6 makes good beer or food, but the reply to the cease-and-desist order was worth a laugh.

In a tongue-in-cheek attempt to avoid further confusion, the response from the owner opts to refer to “Frappuccino” as “The F Word,” and his tone matches the haughty legalese that is always packed into c&d notices.

“As you probably don’t know, Exit 6 is the proud owner of no trademarks,” reads the response, “including our own name much less than the name ‘F Word’ and nothing about Exit 6 is incontestable.”

Whereas the original Starbucks letter establishes the company’s bona fides by needlessly stating that Starbucks had sold millions of cups of coffee in the U.S. and abroad, the brewpub’s response notes that “Exit 6 has proudly sold at least 38 drinks in Cottleville, MO.”

The response also points out that, while there was that one-letter difference between the Starbucks trademark and the Exit 6 beer, the brewpub owners has actually planned on copying the name.

“Luck for us, we’re poor spelers,” reads the response.

However, in spite of the plan to use the Frappucino name, the owners say they never had any intention of confusing consumers.

“We never thought that our beer drinking customers would have thought that the alcoholic beverage coming out of the tap would have actually been coffee from one of the many, many, many stores located a few blocks away,” explains the letter. “I guess with there being a Starbucks on every corner of every block in every city that some people may think they could get a Starbucks at a local bar. So that was our mistake.”

The brewpub has also pledged to stop selling its “Starbuck-McDonalds-Coca Cola-Marlboro Honey Lager.”

In order to atone for its sins, Exit 6 chose to send Starbucks a check for $6, thus covering all of the profits it received from the three Frappicino beers customers mentioned buying on Untappd. The owners hope it can go toward Starbucks’ legal fees, as it certainly cost the coffee colossus more than that just to have its lawyer send the form letter.

“We just want to help a business like Starbucks,” concludes the response. “Us small businesses need to stick together.”

Local brewpub’s sarcastic response to Starbucks letter [ via]

via Consumerist

‘Wichcraft Sandwich Shops Reveal Credit Card Hack From 3 Months Ago

The 'wichcraft location in New York City's Bryant Park. (Photo: @wichcraft)

The ‘wichcraft location in New York City’s Bryant Park. (Photo: @wichcraft)

While it’s certainly not on the scale of the recent Target breach, ‘wichcraft, the chain of sandwich shops co-founded by Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio, announced yesterday that its payment card system for locations in NYC and San Francisco was compromised for several weeks earlier this year, giving hackers access to customers’ names, card numbers, security codes, and expiration dates.

According to a statement posted on the chain’s website [PDF], the hack began around Aug. 11 and continued until Oct. 2. While the company says it immediately took steps to prevent future hacks and that it’s working with law enforcement to help investigate the incident, there is no information provided as to why no announcement was made about the breach until Dec. 30.

“We take our obligation to safeguard your personal information very seriously,” reads the statement. “We are alerting affected customers about this incident so they can take steps to help protect their information.”

As happens in these situations, ‘wichcraft is reminding people to check their credit reports, and that they can get a free report once a year from each of the three main credit bureaus via

“We encourage you to remain vigilant by reviewing your account statements and monitoring your free credit reports,” writes ‘wichcraft. “If you believe your payment card may have been affected, we recommend that you immediately contact your bank or card issuer.”

‘wichcraft customers who wish to speak directly with someone at the company can call (866) 942-4272, ext. 6, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST.

via Consumerist

lundi 30 décembre 2013

Honesty Pays Off With $11K Reward For Cabbie Who Returned Gambler’s Lost $300K

Just because it’s past December 25 doesn’t mean the Christmas spirit has left the proverbial building: An honest cabbie who turned in a bag stuffed with $300,000 in hundred-dollar bills will likely be making very merry after receiving an $11,000 reward for being a do-gooder.

The Las Vegas cab driver got a $5 tip from the poker player he drove from the Cosmopolitan to the Palms Place, but could’ve treated himself to a larger one when he found the brown paper bag with the cash inside, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

But instead, honesty won out and he spent the afternoon tracking down the money’s owner in order to return it to him, saying he didn’t want someone else’s money.

The grateful high-stakes player showed his appreciation for the act of decency with a $10,000 reward, while the cabbie’s employers said the company would chip in an extra $1,000 as well as a gift certificate worth $250 for dinner.

I’ve never been to Las Vegas but I imagine it’s the kind of town where there are lots of bags filled with cash and not so many nice people willing to return them when they’re lost, so this is especially heartwarming.

Cabbie who handed over $300,000 gets big reward [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

via Consumerist

Is This Video Evidence That Walmart Grossly Over-Ordered For The Holidays?

walmartoverstock We’ve talked in the past about Walmart’s staffing and inventory issues, where some stores have empty shelves but full back rooms because there just aren’t enough employees around to deal with all the shelving. But a new video from an investment advisor firm claims to demonstrate that the nation’s largest retailer has so much leftover inventory from this holiday shopping season that it’s overflowing into the store.

The Vine video below was taken by the folks at Belus Capital Investors. According to the firm, this space with packed with loaded pallets is not the store room for a Walmart, but is actually the outdoor center of a store.

“[T]he company has stuffed its designated stockrooms too much with slow-moving inventory, for example large screen TVs, that a bit of creativity had to be tapped to store more truckloads of merchandise,” writes Belus. “Put all of this together and you get one read: higher than appreciated by the Street forward margin risk.”

This second video claims to show aisles still fully stocked with Christmas decorations days after the holiday:

Belus’ Brian Sozzi tells that Walmart likely purchased too much in the way of decorations and wrapping paper because the retailer is out of touch with its core, bargain-hunting customer.

“The Walmart mom is trying to figure out how to use the stuff from last year instead of buying new wrapping paper,” explains Sozzi.

In a bit of a silver lining for Walmart, Forbes predicts that the recent massive credit/debit card data breach at Target will result in Walmart, Costco and other competitors picking up shoppers who are either worried about visiting Target again or upset with the store for failing to keep their info secure.

via Consumerist

Is EA Due For A Third Worst Company In America Crown?

eapoowinner We haven’t even begun to ask for nominations from readers for the next Worst Company In America tournament, but some are already making the case for once again giving the Golden Poo trophy to reigning two-time WCIA winner Electronic Arts.

In an article published over the weekend, the Motley Fool’s Kevin Noonan makes the argument that even while EA’s growth in recent years has been positive, the way the company treats its customer base may be dooming the video game publisher to another season the WCIA finals.

“With regard to quality control, it would be disingenuous to describe EA’s software output in 2013 in terms more flattering than ‘dismal,’” writes Noonan, citing the monstrous gaffe that was SimCity, a game that required the user to be online, but for which the company provided utterly inadequate server support, leaving many people unable to play.

And in spite of EA’s promise for better products and improved support, the company is currently still being publicly thrashed for the broken release of Battlefield 4, a game that was released with known disastrous glitches that have taken weeks to be resolved, and which has resulted in a lawsuit against the company.

But, points out Noonan, for all the griping about EA and its broken games and horrendous service, a large number of consumers are still willing to plunk down their money for EA products.

“[T]he market has yet to rebuke EA’s tendency to release incomplete games,” he writes, saying that from a business standpoint it was probably the right move for EA to unleash a cracked product to the market rather than wait to fix Battlefield 4 and miss the holiday shopping season.

Only a short time before the Battlefield boner, new EA CEO Andrew Wilson said his company’s two consecutive WCIA wins were a “wake-up call,” and promised to focus on providing the customer with a better gaming experience.

But perhaps what he really should have said was that the company’s decision to ignore those Golden Poos and continue releasing shoddy product should be a wake-up call to consumers, who should vote with their wallets and choose to not buy EA video games until the company learns to respect its customer base.

via Consumerist

Butterfinger Challenging Reese’s Stranglehold On The Peanut Butter Cup Industry

When you think of peanut butter cups, you’re probably picturing a Reese’s version of the candy because really, the brand has got quite a lock on the candy in our collective consciousness. But lo, behold! A challenger is nigh and its name is Butterfinger.

While I’ve always thought that someone should start shilling The Princess Bride-branded Buttercup’s Buttercups, usually the only alternatives to Reese’s are smaller off-brand versions. But Nestle’s Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups are on the horizon, slated for a January 2014 arrival, reports the aptly named

As for the candy itself, it looks a heck of a lot like Reese’s. Because when there’s only one big name competitor, why stray from the familiar? Butterfinger’s version is shaped a bit different, with “an angle towards the top which means that the ratio of chocolate to filling changes at the perimeter versus the center.”

Ah, the knowledge of a candy blogger. Not a bad gig, if you can get it. Or you can just eat lots of candy and never write a word about it, but know in your heart you are a connoisseur.

“There are a lot of similarities between the Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It’s probably not a coincidence,” she explains.

For the whole review check out the source link, or wait to have your own peanut butter cup-off.

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups []

via Consumerist

Coming Soon: Vending Machine Calorie Counts

The Affordable Care Act doesn’t just mean highly entertaining conversations over dessert amongst your relatives this holiday season. There’s one new requirement that’s been sort of overshadowed by health insurance exchanges and electronic medical records: companies that own more than 20 vending machines will have to post calorie counts for the items they sell.

Wait…don’t individually wrapped snack foods already have calorie counts? Sure, but those are on the back or side of the package, under glass. The new counts would have to be visible before you choose an item, helping consumers to make more sensible and less calorific choices. In theory.

The new requirements mean that about 5 million vending machines nationwide will display calorie information. That’s at a total cost to the industry of $25.8 million to set up machines, and $24 million per year to maintain and update the calorie counts.

The owner of one snack machine company interviewed by the Associated Press said that the new requirements would mean offering less variety in items as her five employees maintain the inventory and the nutrition information in hundreds of machines.

Still, if only a small percentage of snackers every day looked at those numbers and picked an item with 100 fewer calories, it could mean millions in savings for the country’s health care system. Not that this is all that comforting to the owners of vending machine companies, who complain that they have to make a large investment with nothing in it for their industry.

The Food and Drug Administration will draw up guidelines for the calorie-count program early in 2014, and they’ll roll out to machines after that.

Restaurants with more than 20 locations will have the same requirements, but many of them have a head start in posting calorie counts, spreading them nationwide after some municipalities started requiring them. Some soft drink companies already have a head start on posting stats on their vending machines, too.



Healthy Offerings Or No, Study Says Teens Will Pile On The Fast Food Calories Anyway

via Consumerist

Alleged Original iPhone Prototype Pops Up On eBay For $1,499

iphoneproto An eBay seller says his wife is making him part ways with some of the stuff he’s collected over the years, which is why he’s listed what he claims is an engineering prototype of the original Apple iPhone for sale for $1,499.

“These were used to test the iPhone’s various features,” reads the product description on the eBay page. “To do so, a special test software was installed, which is still running on the device perfectly.”

He points to the signal strength values etched into the device’s rear plating as evidence that this is a bona fide Apple article.

“I am collecting Apple products for ages and I know of only 5 such devices in existence,” he writes. “I saw another one a few weeks back on eBay, but the auction was stopped (possibly by Apple ).”

He even takes a jab at the infamous incident involving the iPhone 4 prototype that was lost at a bar and then sold to Gizmodo, saying about the original prototypes, “These come from a time, where prototypes were not ‘lost’ in bars or pubs.”

Because it still running the original testing operating system and not anything resembling the current version of iOS, the seller makes it clear that this is not a phone you can use to make calls with.

“It is a pure collectors item,” he explains, justifying the 4-digit price tag, which is more than seven times what you’d pay for a brand new iPhone 5S with a 2-year contract, and about twice what you’d pay for a new, unlocked 32GB iPhone 5S.

We just wonder if an armed robber would see the resale value in the prototype or if he’d treat it like a clunky old LG Quantum.

[via LA Times]

via Consumerist

Would You Pay $375 To Attend A New Year’s Eve Party At Applebee’s?

While you couldn’t pay me any amount of money on a normal day to go anywhere near Times Square, aka the neon wasteland colonized by wandering droves of tourists, Applebee’s is hoping the lure of the New Year’s Eve ball drop will entice diners to actually pay to venture to the area on its most crowded night. A whopping $375, to be exact.

Yes, you read that right: You can pay almost $400 for a dinner at Applebee’s, where a full meal can sometimes cost a paltry $10, served with a side of flair.

Two of the chain’s franchises in the Times Square area are hosting what Applebee’s calls “a night to remember” in this year’s annual offering, reports MarketWatch.

That hefty chunk of change covers four hours of partying with a buffet, an open bar (darn straight that bar better be open for $375), a DJ and food made by “some fairly sophisticated culinary people,” says the head of the New York area’s 38 restaurants.

But of course, all that is basically just extras. The real show will be the big ball drop at midnight, as well as watching through the windows as spectators try to figure out how to urinate into empty water bottles instead of trying to wiggle out of the morass.

While sure, it’d be nice to be able to sit down on a chair instead of squatting in the street until your feet lose all feeling, the reality is still paying $375 for a meal at Applebee’s. So is it worth it to be so close to the action?

$375-per-person New Year’s feast – at Applebee’s? [MarketWatch]

via Consumerist