vendredi 29 novembre 2013

Cops Shoot Alleged Thanksgiving Night Shoplifter Dragging Officer With Car

Some Black Friday shoppers brawl over discounted junk, and some people aren’t interested in paying those discounted prices at all. Not because they’re staying home: don’t be ridiculous. Brown Thursday turned dangerous in Illinois when a police officer shot an accused shoplifter. For shoplifting? No, for dragging a fellow officer whose arm was stuck in his car door.

Kohl’s opened their doors at 8 P.M. on Friday, and called the police over apparently shoplifters at 10:10 P.M. Police say that they arrived and confronted one of the accused shoplifters as he left the store. Instead of having a friendly chat, the man jumped into the passenger side of a car. An officer pursued the car on foot, but the suspect slammed the car door on the officers arm before he could be arrested. Then the car drove off,

A second officer on the scene ordered the driver to stop, eventually firing at the car and hitting the driver in the arm. The officer who was dragged sustained a shoulder injury.

The alleged shoplifter, the driver, and another apparent accomplice have all been arrested.

Cops shoot driver dragging officer in Black Friday incident at Romeoville Kohl’s [Sun-Times]

via Consumerist

Here Are Some Videos Of People Who Spent Thanksgiving Fighting Over Discounted Junk

Can we pour one out for the memory of Thanksgiving, the once-loved holiday that took a shot to the gut yesterday when hordes of bargain-hunters chose to forego time with family and loved ones in favor of overhyped discounts on clearance items, and then died forever when the first punch was thrown, presumably minutes after the doors opened. For those of us who didn’t go shopping last night, here are some reminders why…

The shooter of this clip says he was booted from the Walmart while recording some moron bully people over what appears to be a crappy TV set. The store would rather eject the man recording the video than do anything about the violent, angry shopper:

More Black Friday nastiness from outside of Fort Worth, TX:

A scrum over TVs that will probably break within the first two months:

Meanwhile, here is our favorite image being passed around with the heavily trending #walmartfights hashtag.

via Consumerist

Pizza Hut Wants To Hire Back Manager Who Refused To Work Thanksgiving

pizzahuthat Earlier this week, a Pizza Hut manager in Indiana was all over the news for taking a stand against his bosses’ demand to open the restaurant on Thanksgiving — and losing his job in the process. Now the folks at Pizza Hut HQ are finally talking about the subject and say it was all a big misunderstanding.

“We fully respect an employee’s right to not work on a holiday, which is why the vast majority of Pizza Huts in America are closed on Thanksgiving,” the company tells CNN. “As a result, we strongly recommended that the local franchisee reinstate the store manager and they have agreed. We look forward to them welcoming Tony back to the team.”

So will he go back to his 10-year gig at the Hut?

“That’s something I can’t decide right away,” he told CNN. “I’ll start looking into stuff tomorrow… All my friends are telling me how cool it is and how proud they are — ‘You’re my hero’ and stuff you don’t expect to hear. No, I’m just some guy who told his boss ‘No’ and got burned. There are people who save lives.”

via Consumerist

Consumerist Friday Flickr Finds

Here are nine of the best photos that readers added to The Consumerist Flickr Pool this week, picked for usability in a Consumerist post or for just plain neatness.

Our Flickr Pool is the place where Consumerist readers upload photos for possible use in future Consumerist posts. Want to see your pictures on our site? Just be a registered Flickr user, go here, and click “Join Group?” up on the top right. Choose your best photos, then click “send to group” on the individual images you want to add to the pool.

via Consumerist

mercredi 27 novembre 2013

Take Us Shopping With You This Black Friday

Going shopping this long weekend? Working in the retail frenzy? We want to hear your tales of commerce, mayhem, bargains, chaos, fun, and greed. You know, Black Friday. Don’t forget to put the Consumerist Tipster App for iOS or Android on your smartphone so you can beam your experiences right to Consumerist HQ. If you don’t have a smartphone, we like regular old e-mail just as much.

via Consumerist

A Whole Bunch Of Stuff To Make With Your Inevitable Thanksgiving Leftovers

Unless you are celebrating Thanksgiving with a group of ravenous piranhas, you’ll likely have food left over from your Turkey Day feast. Sure, you can spend the next week making delicious turkey and stuffing sandwiches, but there’s a lot of variety to be had from those ingredients stored in plastic containers in your fridge.

The one thing lots of people never think to do, but which is incredibly easy and useful, is to use the bones of the picked-apart bird to make stock. There are plenty of stock recipes out there; here’s one from the NY Times. went to four local chefs to get their takes on what to do with leftover turkey, like this sandwich that combines turkey and fried oysters, or this one that heaps smoked sausage and sour cabbage (complete with beer) on top.

Get all autumnal with the Washington Post’s recipe for Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini With Butternut Squash Sauce.

Gothamist has this piece about the completely misnamed (but potentially yummy) Turkey Sushi And Stuffing Waffles.

Over at Huffington Post, there’s a good roundup of interesting leftover-based recipes, covering everything from “Leftover Pop Tarts” to Turkey And Chorizo Breakfast Hash to Turkey Chinese Congee.

Of course, there’s always Alton Brown with his “Bird to the Last Drop” Turkey Leftover Soup.

Or, to steal a line from Patton Oswalt, you could just pile all of the leftovers into a single bowl and plow through it like a death row prisoner on suicide watch:

via Consumerist

Bar Staff Still Waiting For Money A Month After Mystery Tippers Leave $10,000

Staff at a Notre Dame campus bar in South Bend, Ind. got a pretty spectacular surprise last month when a group of three generous men left two tips totaling $10,000, despite the fact that they seemed to be rooting for the opposing team. But because it’s not every day that such a sum lands in your lap, the staff is still waiting to get that cash due to fraud concerns.

“Fight on,” the cardholder wrote on his receipt on Oct. 19 after he paid the tab for his fellow University of Southern California fans who had been watching their team play Notre Dame. Then he added a $5,000 tip on their $84.06 bill, reports the South Bend Tribune.

“We were all looking at this like, is this a joke?” said a former bartender at the bar.

But the generosity wasn’t done yet — when the game was over the men came back and spent another $164.50 — and left another $5,000 tip.

Because he used his American Express card both times, the company and Notre Dame haven’t cleared the tips yet. There’s a worry about fraud, which means the three servers have yet to split the money.

“We’ve been working with American Express to determine the validity of the tip, and we hope and expect that question will be resolved soon,” a Notre Dame spokesman said, adding the university was in touch with American Express because of the “suspicious nature of the transaction.”

An American Express spokeswoman also doesn’t know when or if the servers will get their moolah, as the company can’t say when it’ll decide if the tips are legitimate.

As for the identity of this tipper or tippers, it’s unclear if it’s connected to someone using an Instagram account chronicling similar instances of largess around the country.

“They were trying to keep it confidential,” the former bartender says of the whole incident. “We had no reason to think it wasn’t real.”

Mystery tipper leaves $10,000 at bar [South Bend Tribune]

via Consumerist

Pizza Hut Manager Walks Away From Job Rather Than Open On Thanksgiving

pizzahuthat A 10-year employee of Pizza Hut claims he was given no choice but to leave his job when faced with the company’s demand that the restaurant open on Thanksgiving.

“Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two days that they’re closed in the whole year and they’re the only two days that those people are guaranteed to have off and spend it with their families,” the Indiana resident tells WSBT-TV.

He says that during the meeting where it was announced that being open on Thanksgiving would be mandatory, he asked, “Why can’t we be the company that stands up and says we care about our employees and they can have the day off?”

Though Pizza Hut HQ has remained quiet on the topic, one of the manager’s bosses tells WSBT that he quit.

The former manager did write a letter explaining his position, which reads, “I am not quitting. I do not resign, however I accept that the refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company… I hope you realize that it’s the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible.”

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

[via HuffPo]

via Consumerist

Goldieblox Ends Beastie Boys Parody Dispute By Taking Down Ad

girlsparodysm Everyone loved the online ad from GoldieBlox that used a parody version of the Beastie Boys song “Girls” to help make its point about encouraging girls to be interested in toys that are more science-y than princess-y. Even the Beastie Boys praised the ad…but that doesn’t mean they want their music used to sell a commercial product.

“As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product,” the surviving band members wrote in an open letter to Goldieblox. No exceptions, even for adorable future engineers.

The toy company took their ad down later today. It’s been replaced with a version featuring instrumental music on the company’s website, and the original YouTube video is no longer public.

“We want you to know that when we posted the video, we were completely unaware that the late, great Adam Yauch had requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising,” the company wrote in their blog post announcing their plan to back down on the whole “parody” and “fair use” argument. Of course, if Team Goldieblox were paying attention last summer when the Beastie Boys sued Monster Energy Drink over their distribution of the group’s tunes, they would know that the late Adam Yauch had a clause in his will that specifically prohibited the use of any of his music in ads. Not that the group allowed it when he was alive, either.

Here’s the new version of the ad, with a similar but not copyright-violating instrumental song as the backdrop.

Our letter to the Beastie Boys [Goldieblox blog]

via Consumerist

Keep Entertained While Trapped With Your Family This Weekend

Don’t want to spend Thanksgiving weekend watching football with cousin Sally or you can only listen to your brother’s new Tuvan throat singing album a few dozen times before it starts to sound repetitive? Then it’s time to take your phone/tablet/laptop/Omnitool into the room that used to be yours before your mom turned it into her office/photography lab, and binge-watch your way through the weekend. Thankfully, the good people at have put together this handy list of older TV shows that will help you pass the time. []

via Consumerist

“Don’t Guess The ZIP Code” And 8 More USPS Tips To Avoid Holiday Shipping Glitches

Whether you’re heading out into the Black Thursday maelstrom or waiting until later, if you’ve got loved ones who don’t live near enough for an in-person gift delivery, odds are you’ll be doing some shipping this holiday season. But there’s nothing worse than a present that shows up banged, dinged or never at all. The U.S. Postal Service doesn’t want that either, so it’s offering up a few handy tips to avoid shipping glitches.

Because they’d likely rather avoid customer complaints during the holidays, the USPS passed along nine useful tips that might seem like common sense, but we’re sure they’ve seen pretty much everything. Like, don’t just guess at what a ZIP code is. There’s the Internet for that kind of thing.

1. Never guess a ZIP code: “NO ZIP is better than a WRONG ZIP,” the USPS says. Or just type the address into any search engine and find out what it really is.

2. Being sloppy won’t help: Make sure addresses are printed clearly and include all the right information. If Cousin Betsy lives in an apartment building, don’t leave that out. If she’s on Pine Lane, make sure you don’t write street. Common sense, yes, but this must happen or otherwise the USPS wouldn’t be telling us about it.

3. No one wants an unexplained noise/drained toy: Wrap batteries separate from toys instead of leaving them in, if they’re included. We can just imagine the hilarious annoyance of an unremitting bleep bloop beep bop at the post office. Or on the other hand, the sad face of a child who has to be told the toy is out of juice and Dad forgot to buy more AA batteries.

4. Leave tracks: Put a card in the package that includes not only where the package is supposed to go, but where it’s come from. That way if the mailing label gets mucked up or falls off, or the box splits apart, the package can be returned or delivered.

5. Be up front: On that note, make sure both the “to” and “from” information is on the front of the package only. Splitting them up can lead to confusion, as I learned when I received a card from myself after putting the return address on the back of an envelope.

6. This is one time to not recycle: We know, the environment loves a recycler. But the USPS says by reusing mailing boxes you’ve shipped things in in the past, your package could be in danger — the boxes weaken in the shipping process. And a weak box equals a present gone missing.

7. Speaking of boxes, strong is better: Mailing something heavy? Pick a box that’s strong enough to protect what you’ve got inside. The USPS helpfully points out that its Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express boxes are free at the post office.

8. Leave space for cushioning inside: Enough said. More cushion, less pushin’. On the box’s sides, of course.

9. Fragile things are best intact: “Stuff glass and fragile, hollow items, like vases, with newspaper or packing material to avoid damage,” suggests the USPS. If you’re including a framed photograph, remove the glass and wrap it separately. No one wants a box full of shattered glass (especially not Annie Lenox, har har).

via Consumerist

Retailers Try To Win Over Employees Who Work This Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving barrier has been breached by retailers, and the previously untouchable holiday is now just another day on which to have a big sale. In an attempt to win over employees who may not be too thrilled about having to eat Thanksgiving dinner at noon so they can make it to work on time, some stores are providing perks to workers who sacrifice their Turkey Day in the name of doorbuster deals.

The L.A. Times reports that Walmart is giving 25% discounts on certain purchases to employees who work this Thanksgiving. More importantly, they will get an additional day’s pay equal to that worker’s average daily pay in the 12 previous weeks.

Meanwhile Toys R Us employees get to wear jeans and sneakers… because if you’re going to tear them away from their families, they might as well be comfy.

Kohl’s and the Gap Inc. trinity — Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic — will be doing vague, fun things for workers, which mostly seems to indicate that there will be snacks.

One mall that is part of the Simon Property Group chain will be hosting a five-hour, multi-course Thanksgiving dinner for employees.

Target claims that its workers will get additional pay beyond the standard holiday wages.

Macy’s, the company that is arguably to blame for commercializing the holiday by sponsoring that unholy caravan of massive, inflatable cartoon characters through the streets of Manhattan (and right to the chain’s flagship store) says that this survey sent to employees back in late September to see if the store should open on Thanksgiving was all in the service of giving employees time to tell their families that they will be working on the holiday.

If any readers who work this Thanksgiving want to tell us what their employers did — if anything — to make the day more pleasant, feel free to let us know at

via Consumerist

Gingerbread Goes Inclusive With Sugar Cookie Chanukah House

chanukah_houseLooking for a fun Thanksgivukkah(TM) activity this weekend while your Christian neighbors put up their tree? Why not try frosting together the adorable sugar-cookie Chanukah House from Manischewitz?

We associate gingerbread houses with Christmas, but there’s nothing inherently Christmassy about them. They’re just some very large cookies held together with frosting and decorated with a shameless waste of candy. Anyone can do that!

Reader Rudy submitted this to us, noting, “My jewish buddy has never heard of these.” Yet, to our surprise, they’re not new: Amazon has reviews for them dating back to 2012. These reviews caution that it’s overpriced, and families could just buy a regular gingerbread house and make their own blue icing if they wanted to. Then there’s the problem with mail-ordering a box of cookies in the first place: the package isn’t designed to be mailed individually.

There is absolutely no way this can arrive with the cookies in one piece. The cookies are shrink wrapped and the just loose inside the box. Slamming around via UPS or USPS just impossible to not to end up with cookie sand instead of cookie walls.

So look for it at your local grocery store. Or don’t buy it at all. Pretty, though, isn’t it?

Manischewitz Do-It-Yourself Chanukah House Vanilla Cookie Decorating Kit [Amazon]

via Consumerist

Customers Still As Unsatisfied Today As They Were In 1976

Three decades on, we're still telling companies, "Up your nose with a rubber hose." (bluwmongoose)

Three decades on, we’re still telling companies, “Up your nose with a rubber hose.” (bluwmongoose)

Before we all get to giving thanks and whatnot, let’s have a discussion about the stagnant state of consumer satisfaction. A new study on “customer rage” shows that people are really no more or less satisfied with how businesses resolve complaints.

The study (from the trio of W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, Customer Care Measurement & Consulting, and NOVO 1) looked at the various ways in which companies respond to complaints and how consumers react. The first study of its kind was conducted by the White House in 1976.

Back then 23% of respondents said that the company’s attempt to resolve a complaint had left them completely satisfied, while 44% said the resolution provided by the business was at least acceptable.

And according to the new study, that second number was exactly the same (44%) in the 2012 survey. Meanwhile, the percentage of consumers who are completely satisfied as dipped slightly to 20% during the last three-and-a-half decades.

Thus, the majority (56%) of consumers today feel like they are walking away from customer complaints completely empty-handed.


While a billionaire buffoon like Comcast’s Brian Roberts might think it’s a good thing that his company has some billion+ customer interactions a year, he’s ignoring the fact that this many calls, e-mails, and chats means that the average Comcast customer has to reach out to the company numerous times during the year.

And as the Rage survey shows, the more times a customer needs to deal with a company to get a complaint resolved, the lower the rate of satisfaction.

Customers who get their issue resolved in one call with the company are 1.5 times more likely to be satisfied than those who require two calls, and more than twice as likely than those with three or more calls. Sadly, the average consumer requires four attempts at contacting the company before reaching some sort of resolution, so the odds of being satisfied are against you.


Over the years, countless readers have said to us, “I don’t even care about getting my money back, I just want an apology,” or “Getting a refund was fine, but it’s a hollow victory without some sort of apology.” And the results of a new study on customer rage show just how big an impact a little “our bad” from a business can have.

According to the survey, when a company provides simply monetary relief to a customer, the satisfaction rate is only 37%, which is better than an apology alone. That only works to satisfy around 21% of the time.

But the combination of money and an apology is greater than the sum of its parts, as adding an apology to some sort of monetary relief doubles the satisfaction rate to 74%.


Many companies offer ways for customers to complain via the brands’ websites, and about 19% of survey respondents said that’s exactly what they did. But nearly double that percentage (35%) are simply going on Facebook and other social networking sites to vent in a public forum so that not only the company, but all their friends, family, and others can read about the problem.

via Consumerist

Unclear Whether Ex-Dunkin’ Donuts Worker Accused Of 20 Robberies Was After Donuts

We can understand that there’s a temptation to sneak a little extra something for yourself on the side when you work somewhere that has so much bounty — oh wait, stealing money? Thought this Dunkin’ Donuts robbery story was about pilfering doughnuts, hmm. Money, that’s somewhat of a different issue.

Police and the FBI worked together to arrest a former Dunkin’ Donuts employee who they say is responsible for more than 20 armed robberies in the Boston area, reports CBS Boston.

And no, alas, it doesn’t seem like his heart was set on doughy goodness, just money. The 23-year-old was arrested at home after weeks of investigation into the armed robberies at local donut shops. He used to work for the chain and in at least one instance entered through the drive-thru window.

Things were so serious the police were offering a $10,000 reward (again, in cash, not baked goods) but it’s unclear whether anyone helped nab the suspect.

“We are working with the Canton PD to determine if a tip led to the arrest of the suspect,” a Dunkin’ spokeswoman said in a statement. “If not, we intend to donate the reward.”

Former Employee Charged In Boston Area Dunkin’ Donuts Robberies [CBS Boston]

via Consumerist

Let’s Prepare Thanksgiving Dinner From 1929

dinnerSure, putting on a Thanksgiving dinner isn’t cheap or easy today, but what about mere weeks after the Stock Market Crash of 1929? A few years ago, I found a sample holiday menu plan in a newspaper article from 74 years ago, and wondered: what would this feast for four people for $7.89 cost today?

At the time, I was working in the news library at the Albany Times Union. It was Thanksgiving 2008, the global economy was collapsing all around us, and the editorial page editor had sent me looking to see what his predecessors had to say during the previous collapse, 79 years earlier. I found it, but on the way to that page in the microfilm reader, I also found this handy sample menu complete with detailed price information.

I took the shopping list from the 1929 menu with me to my local grocery store in order to find out what this spread would cost today. Then I took the prices given in the article from 1929 and adjusted them for inflation. (I did a less detailed version of this post in 2008.)


There were a few things missing from the shopping list that would have been commonplace in 1929. I couldn’t find lard at the grocery store in my upscale suburb, for example. We’re more likely to use vegetable shortening to make a pie crust today, Mincemeat was also nowhere to be found. It would probably fascinate a home economist or the average homemaker from 1929 to learn that ready-made pies were all around and cost only $4.

Turkey (1929): 8-pound turkey at $6.69 per pound ($.49) = $53.52

Turkey (2013): 8-pound turkey $.49 per pound frozen; $.99 per pound fresh = $4.92 or $7.92

Box of Gelatin (1929): $2.73 ($.20)

Box of Gelatin (2013): $1.33

2 pounds onions (1929): $2.73 ($.20)

2 pounds onions (2013): $1.20

1 loaf bread (1929): $1.37 ($.10)

1 loaf bread (2008): $1.39

1 pint light cream (1929): $5.46 ($.40)

1 pint light cream (2013): $2.49

1 quart milk (1929): $1.91 ($.14)

1 quart milk (2013): $1.39

1 pound mixed nuts (1929): $6.15 ($.45)

10 ounces mixed nuts (2013): $4.99

1 head lettuce (1929): $1.78 ($.13)

1 head lettuce (2013): $1.99

1 pound butter (1929): $7.51 ($.55)

1 pound butter (2013): $2.48

2 grapefruit (1929): $3.41 ($.25)

2 grapefruit (2013): $2

2 oranges (1929): $1.37 ($.10)

2 oranges (2013): $1.58

1 apple (1929) $.68 ($.05)

1 apple (2013): $.60

1 banana (1929): $.55 ($.05)

1 banana (2013): $.30

1 pound grapes (1929): $1.39 ($.10)

1 pound grapes (2013): $1.58

5 pounds potatoes (2013): $2.50

1 quart potatoes (1929): $2.05 ($.15)

1 dozen rolls (2013): $2

1 dozen rolls (1929): $2.80 ($.18)

1 pint cranberries (2013) $1.58 ($.10)

12 oz. cranberries (2013) $2.50

Flour (1929): $.68 per pound ($.05)

Flour (2013): $2.50 for 5 pounds ($.50 per pound)

Sugar (2013): $1.09 per pound ($.08)

Sugar (2013): $2.99 for 4 pounds ($.75 cents per pound)

1 loaf cheap bread (1929): $1.58 ($.10)

1 loaf cheap bread (2013): $1.49

1/2 pound cheese (1929): $2.73 ($.20)

1/2 pound cheese (2013): $1.50

We made the price conversions using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator. Food prices are from the Price Chopper store in Slingerlands, N.Y. and include some Thanksgiving-themed sale items.

via Consumerist

Harvesting Cranberries For Your Thanksgiving Sauce Is “Kind Of A Fun Job”

Perhaps you think cranberry sauce is somehow grown in a can and plops out just when you need it for Thanksgiving dinner. Or maybe some kind of berry fairy goes along picking cranberries from a bush and leaves them on the doorstep when it’s time to make the sauce. Only one of those things are true. Okay, neither is. Cranberries have a backstory and it doesn’t start in a can or on a bush.

We’re sure plenty of you do know that cranberries come from bogs, but for the rest of us, that’s where they lie in wait on their vines until what I will call cranberry fishermen come to harvest them.

CNNMoney does a much better job of explaining the work of the 700 family-owned farms that are part of the Ocean Spray co-op.

One of these farmers narrates the story of how cranberries are harvested when it comes time, as workers in waist-high waders shluff around helping the machines separate the berries from their vines, at which point they’re gathered into what looks like a big bathtub.

“We call it beating the berries,” he says of the machine that basically picks the berries from their vines. And if it looks like kind of a great time, what with all that berry herding, well, it is.

“It’s kind of a fun job,” he admits with no small amount of pride.

Sign me up.

See where cranberries come from [CNNMoney]

via Consumerist

Map Combines Airport Delays And Weather So Your Travel Misery Can Have Company

Miserable? Someone else is too.

Miserable? Someone else is too.

Because you can’t turn a corner on the Internet or TV news without someone telling you how awful the holiday travel will be this year due to the horrendous, scary and otherwise inconvenient weather, it can be a bit of a bummer to be at an airport right about now. But you aren’t alone — your travel misery can have company by way of FlightAware’s MiseryMap, which combines weather and airport delays to get the complete, miserable picture. [FlightAware]

via Consumerist

Butterball CEO: No, Our Turkeys Are Not Full Of Butter

Earlier today, we looked at the creation stories of more than a dozen famous company names, but we didn’t mention the curious moniker of the turkey company whose name has become closely associated with Thanksgiving.

In an interview with the AP, Butterball CEO Rod Brenneman clears up an apparently widely held misconception about the butter content of his company’s birds:

Many people think Butterball turkeys have butter in them, but they don’t. Basically the name came about because of their plump size and golden color. We’re proud of the Butterball name. There is no talk or joke about being a butterball at this company. Only about our turkeys. They’re plump.

Just about everyone knows that Butterball has long operated a turkey hotline for concerned consumers to call in with questions about how to prepare the bird, or just to talk turkey. But this is the first time that the company has hired men to man the hotline phones.

Brenneman says it’s a response to the growing number of calls coming in from men who are flustered by how to thaw, prepare, cook, and serve a turkey.

“One in four calls we get at the Turkey Talk Line are men, believe it or not,” he tells the AP. “We stepped back and looked at the changing Thanksgiving table and men are becoming more and more a part of, not only the carving of the turkey, but the cooking of the turkey.”

via Consumerist

Sears Commercials Through The Decades: Jingles, Car Repair, Bruises

lifeatsearsSears: it was an iconic American retailer, and now has become more of a cautionary business tale as it struggles for relevance and tries to shed more real estate and scrap itself for parts. Many years ago, though, Sears was a central shopping experience in Americans’ lives. Americans who bought boom boxes and played “Space Invaders.”

Back in 1980, Sears was where “America shops for value.” For full-length mink coats.

Later in the ’80s, they adopted the slogan “more for your life.” Along with a jingle. Oh, the jingle.

Remember the ’90s “softer side of Sears” campaign? Still can’t get this out of my head, maybe because I don’t remember the “more for your life” jingle.

Today…we’re not really sure what it is that Sears is trying to sell.

Advertising in the era of the digital video recorder has to be watchable and interesting. Sears’ plan: disguise their ads as a TV program, then ambush the viewer and the characters within with… well, just watch.

How about a fake trailer for a terrible-looking movie?

(Thanks to tipster Rowell for curating most of these ads for us.

via Consumerist

How To Not Suck… At Lowering Your Utility Bills

Stick what in my toilet? Let what hang out? Recycle… what? So many questions and so many odd suggestions, all in the name of trimming your utility bills. There are plenty of things you can do to cut costs. And with the cold weather coming — or already here for many of us — it’s a great time to see what you can do to stay warmer and save some cash.

This is by no means a definitive to-do list, but here are some surefire ways to save you a few bucks.

Start by subjecting your home to a home energy audit, during which a tech would check all the usual suspects for energy loss in your home. Many utility companies offer these audits for free. You can perform your own energy audit, or hire a pro.

The audit is no good if you stick it in a drawer, so once those problem areas in your home have been identified, make sure you finish the job and update, insulate, and do whatever else is needed.

If you decide to make energy-efficient home improvements, many companies and federal and state governments offer financial incentives for which you may qualify. Check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency to see what’s available for you.


Many of you will react to the following suggestions with “no duh” or “doesn’t everybody already do that?” The answer is “no,” which is why we bring up these basic bill-saving suggestions…

Use a programmable thermostat: You’ll be able to set with precision the temperature you want in your home. You can have the heat or AC at a minimally acceptable temperature when you’re not home or when you’re sleeping, and you can program a more comfortable temp for when you’re home and awake. The installation should take a beginner DIY-er about two hours.

Block the cold air: Check your windows and doors for winter breezes. If you can feel a draft, it’s time for this do-it-yourselfer goodie. Treat your windows and glass doors with clear plastic insulation (sort of like shrink wrap for your windows) and weatherstrip. If you have the cash and your windows are old, consider new EnergyStar-rated windows.

When you buy new, buy efficient: Do your homework before you buy and look for energy-efficient appliances. These may cost more at first, but your energy savings over the life of the product should save you money in the long-run.

Shut doors and vents: If you’re not using a room, it doesn’t need to be perfectly warm or cold. Shut vents in those rooms to save.

Use shades and curtains: Window coverings don’t just keep out prying eyes. A good set of heavy curtains will help keep out the cold and the heat.

Service your stuff: Regularly have your heating and AC units checked by a pro to make sure they’re in top working — efficient — order. Flushing out your water heater, for example, will eliminate debris and build-up and make your unit more efficient. Also be sure to change the filters on all your appliances, heating and cooling equipment.

Go Alphabet Soup for Lighting: LED and CFL lighting options use less energy and last longer than old-fashioned bulbs. Upgrading 15 of the inefficient incandescent light bulbs in your home could save you about $50 per year, according to the Department of Energy.

Let it all hang out: Use a clothesline or a drying rack rather than a clothes dryer, which costs about $85 a year to operate.

Create good habits: Just like your mamma taught you, make sure to shut off the lights when you leave a room.


Here are some suggestions that not everyone has thought of…

Pack your freezer: Your frozen chicken legs and mint chocolate chip ice cream are like solid blocks of ice, so your freezer won’t have to run so often to stay chill.

Use fans year-round: It makes sense that a ceiling fan would cool your home in the warmer months, but you can also use your fan for good in the winter. Set your fan to run clockwise to push warm air down in the winter months.

Nuke it: Your microwave uses about two-thirds less energy than your stove. Also, if you’re reheating leftovers or heating up something like soup, you can usually microwave it in the same dish you’ll be eating out of, so fewer things to wash. Speaking of which…

Use your dishwasher: Yup, your dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. But don’t use the drying cycle in the dishwasher, just save the money and let them air dry.

Phantom loads: Three-quarters of home electronics still use energy when they’re turned off. Your computer, DVD player, VCR (do you still have a VCR?), television and others still suck power — think of the clock and other lights that stay on all the time. To cut back on “phantom” energy use, invest in a power strip and turn it off when you’re not using what’s plugged in. (That is, if you can stand seeing those blinking lights when you turn the darned things back on.) Don’t leave your phone, tablet and laptop chargers plugged into the wall when you’re not charging. And when you’re in the market for new electronics, look for those with stand-by modes.

Toilet savvy: Save on water bills by placing a heavy object in your toilet’s water tank, which will decrease the amount of water that fills your tank with each flush. Don’t worry — the experts say your flush will be just fine without all that H2O. A brick may seem like the obvious choice, but it may degrade over time and damage your tank, so use a plastic water bottle filled with some pebbles or sand instead. And though it might work, we don’t recommend using gold bars. Finally, while we’re talking about the throne, be wary of inventions that are too good to be true.

Go halfway: Turning the valves for your sinks halfway off will still give you plenty of water to brush your pearly whites and wash up.

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 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