samedi 31 mai 2014

vendredi 30 mai 2014

MetroPCS Customers Must Surrender To T-Mobile, Trade In Phones

MetroPCS is now part of T-Mobile. Last year, before the merger was finalized, we speculated that their union could result in better service for T-Mobile customers, but price increases for MetroPCS customers. One potential consequence of the merger that we hadn’t considered is that that some MetroPCS customers will have to get new phones.

It’s not all MetroPCS customers; only those who purchased their phones since the two companies got engaged in July of last year. The good news for customers is that the company will let them swap their current phones for a comparable one. This swap won’t be entirely free, though. Customers will owe sales tax on their new phones, for a maximum of maybe $50. The trade-in value on their now-useless old phones will offset the taxes, though.

Are you affected by this change? Do you think the phones T-MetroPCS is offering are really comparable, or were you planning to upgrade anyway? Drop us a message at and put “T-MetroPCS” in the subject line.

Call Kurtis: Millions of MetroPCS Phones Could Stop Working After Cell Tower Upgrades [CBS Sacramento]

Yet Another Car Dealership Begs For Perfect Survey Scores

We aren’t in the car business. We won’t pretend that we know how automakers should run things. However, the evidence shows us that maybe the current system of evaluating dealerships isn’t working out so well. It gives them incentives to lie and falsify data, not to provide good customer service.

Reader Neil scanned this document that he received from his local Honda dealer, even though it looks like he ran it through a copier five times and then faxed it to us from 1994. “Normally when I encounter survey pleading it is done verbally by an individual,” he notes.


This kind of document was new to Neil, but it’s familiar to us here at Consumerist. It’s a desperate act by the local dealership that’s only a symptom of a bigger problem at American Honda and in the whole auto industry.

In the past, we’ve shared shady doings on the other end of those customer satisfaction surveys. In 2007, an insider told us that dealerships fake those survey results whenever possible. “Customer satisfaction surveys are a joke, at the dealer I worked for we would bribe customers with free gas if they let us fill out their surveys when they come in the mail,” a helpful Kia salesperson told us. Our readers have been told that if they put down anything but the very highest ratings, they are effectively stealing food out of the mouths of the salesperson’s children. They’ve also been offered free stuff for giving the dealership a perfect score.

A salesperson wrote in to tell us that this is more or less true: one customer who takes the survey and maybe doesn’t like the coffee in the dealership’s showroom or the finance department and answers a few questions with an 8 out of 10 means that the salesperson who helped them is penalized $100 on the sale.

It’s not just car dealerships, either: other franchised businesses use the same model, and require rows of perfect scores or the store gets a failing grade.

The customer experience is important, and we like surveys. It’s not fair to use surveys to hold employees to an impossible standard

5 Airline Employees Accused Of Smuggling Cash Through Boston Airport In Money Laundering Sting

While we’ve heard about plenty of thieving airport workers in the past, rifling through luggage and picking up money and merchandise as they go, officials at Boston’s Logan International Airport arrested five airline employees for a different kind of luggage crime — smuggling cash in bags as part of an alleged money laundering operation.

Four JetBlue employees and one Delta Air Lines employee were arrested on charges of abusing their airport security clearances to shoo bags full of hundreds of thousands of dollars past security checkpoints, reports the Boston Globe.

The JetBlue workers are all ground crew, while the Delta employee is a customer service ramp agent.

A federal agent said in a sworn statement that the arrests were the result of a sting operation, involving a witness in cahoots with the government. That witness told the suspects a drug-trafficking organization needed help smuggling cash from sales past the Transportation Security Administration checkpoints.

According to officials, the workers smuggled $417,000 in cash, bringing it from areas like the curbside drop-off or other public places and slipping it past locked doors straight to areas like departure gates.

Beyond that, two of the suspects are accused of smuggling cash aboard commercial flights from Boston to Florida nine times. Nine times (consider your John Hughes knowledge if you think that was a typo).

“Security at our nation’s airports is paramount, and the conduct alleged today is alarming,” US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a statement. “Thanks to the hard work and commitment of the federal and state investigators and airline security personnel, a potentially dangerous breach in security was identified.”

Airline employees allegedly smuggled cash past Logan security [Boston Globe]

Once Upon The ’80s, Someone Really Approved This Ad

touch-someoneEvery advertisement tells a story. The story that this advertisement tells is that ladies can’t even exercise without yapping on the phone, and that FaceTime was invented sometime before 1984.

“Let’s show two women connecting over the phone over an undetermined distance,” someone must have said. “We want people to make long-distance phone calls while they do other things, so maybe show them in skintight leotard and tights ensembles, in a yoga pose that pulls all focus to their crotches.”

(Thanks to Flickr pool member SA_Steve for bringing this ad to our attention.)

Dog Poo On Plane Leads To Emergency Landing

NFL producer Chris Law Tweeted this photo of the cleaning crew taking care of the doggie dump while grounded in Kansas City.

NFL producer Chris Law Tweeted this photo of the cleaning crew taking care of the doggie dump while grounded in Kansas City.

While human beings can apparently urinate in the aisle of a passenger jet without the plane needing to make a pit stop, and it’s fine and dandy to fly a plane full of people sick with the norovirus to their destination, a little dog poop on a US Airways flight is cause to bring a transcontinental flight to a screeching halt and bring in a clean-up crew.

This is what happened earlier this week aboard the US Air flight from L.A. to Philadelphia, when a dog in the cabin just couldn’t wait a few more hours to go for a W-A-L-K.

The canine was apparently brought into the cabin as a service animal for one of the passengers on the flight, but lost control of his bowels. It didn’t help that passengers (and the dog) sat on the tarmac for a couple of hours before they even took off.

“About an hour into the flight, I started smelling this terrible smell,” one passenger tells Inside Edition. “I look up the aisle way and there’s a dog pooping right in the middle of the aisle. It’s a big dog, three or four feet tall or long, and he was just going!”

He says that the smell was so bad that some people were dry-heaving and others actually vomited.

And it got worse when the dog let loose for a second round of poo. The passenger says that the cabin crew ran out of paper towels, at which point the pilot announced they would be making an unscheduled pit stop.

So the plane landed in Kansas City, where a cleaning crew boarded and took care of the toxic dump.

The passenger says the dog’s owner was apologetic and offered to send Starbucks gift cards to everyone.

Of course, this being the age of Twitter and in-flight WiFi, the entire ordeal was shared in real-time by passengers. You can read a mess of poo-related Tweets at NBC Philadelphia.

100 People Waited In A Rainy Line For 24 Hours To Score Free Chick-fil-A For A Year

What would you do for 52 free meals? Would you forgo the delights of home and sleeping in your own comfortable, dry bed to camp in line overnight through the rain? Because that’s what 100 people hungry for free Chick-fil-A did in Baltimore.

In what sounds like one of those situations where the poor souls stuck together for extended periods of time come together in shared misery, the first 100 people in line at the local Chick-fil-A seemed pretty pleased with the whole thing, rain aside.

“I’ve got one year, 52 meals, for chicken. I’ve waited 24 hours. This is the seventh time I’ve done this,” one customer told CBS Baltimore. “I’m happy. It’s good friendship. Good community. We get to be with friends and we love it here.”

Others are repeat waiters too, and have been rewarded yet again for their fortitude in the face of 24 hours of awfulness with a card loaded with 52 free meals.

The store just opened, and its owner says the staff is ready to go, with this first wait just a test of what’s to come.

“We had a dedicated crew through the rain and everything. They stayed happy. There were here all night. They were raring to go first thing this morning. I’ve never seen people so excited,” said the owner.

Really? Never? Free food is great and all, but then there’s the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, teenage boys at a comic book convention and me on payday, so, start looking around. Excitement is everywhere.

Despite Rain, 100 People Don’t Chicken Out & Get A Free Meal For A Year From Chick-Fil-A [CBS Baltimore]

One Week Until Free Donuts For All At Krispy Kreme

free-krispy-kreme-donutDid you miss Krispy Kreme’s celebration of heroes where they gave out free dozens of donuts? That’s okay: next week, the chain will offfer free donuts for all. Sorry, you’ll have to bring your own beef patties and cheese if you want to construct a cheeseburger. One free donut per person; participating locations only. [Foodbeast]

L.A. Sues JPMorgan Chase For Pushing Minorities Into Cruddy Mortgages

After filing similar suits against Well Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America, the city of Los Angeles is now going after JPMorgan Chase for allegedly pushing minority loan applicants into riskier and less-affordable mortgages than they were eligible for.

The complaint [PDF], filed this morning in a federal court, alleges that Chase “has engaged in a continuous pattern and practice of mortgage discrimination in Los Angeles since at least 2004 by imposing different terms or conditions on a discriminatory and legally prohibited basis.”

These sorts of allegations have dogged many of the nation’s largest lenders since we first reported on the practice back in 2008. These banks have been accused of systematically steering minority applicants into subprime loans that were not generally offered to white loan applicants.

This process is known as redlining, wherein banks deny credits based on an applicant’s particular neighborhood or race; or reverse-redlining, in which lenders target certain neighborhoods and racial groups with subprime financial products.

“JPMorgan engaged in redlining, and continues to engage in said conduct, by refusing to extend mortgage credit to minority borrowers in Los Angeles on equal terms as offered to non-minority borrowers,” reads the complaint. “JPMorgan engaged in reverse redlining, and continues to engage in said conduct, by extending mortgage credit on predatory terms to minority borrowers in minority neighborhoods in Los Angeles on the basis of the race or ethnicity of its residents.”

The complaint includes statements from whistle-blowers with information on Chase’s redlining practices.

“If you wanted to target the Hispanic community you had to have certain words in there that you’d want to use to attract [the borrowers],” reads one statement, which adds that it was easier to get minority applicants approved for adjustable-rate loans but that loan officers did not always explain the repercussions of what happens when that sweetheart 1% APR starts to take off like a rocket a few years into the loan.

“That’s where a lot of clients were misled,” continues the statement. “They thought it was a 1 percent fixed [rate].”

When the cost of adjustable-rate loans jumped in 2007-2008, these borrowers were no longer able to afford their homes and many were lost to foreclosure. This drove housing prices down.

This rash of foreclosures — which the city contends could have been prevented had these borrowers received loans they deserved — resulted in a loss of property tax revenue for the city. The city cites one report claiming that there were 200,000 foreclosures in Los Angeles from 2008 through 2012, resulting in a $481 million loss of city property tax revenue.

“L.A. continues to suffer from the foreclosure crisis — from blight in our neighborhoods to diminished revenue for basic City services,” L.A. City Atty. Mike Feuer said in a statement. “We’re fighting to hold those we allege are responsible to account and to help bring back every community in our City.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Chase has failed to live up to its obligations post-recession.

“JPMorgan has induced foreclosures since 2009 by failing to extend branch support to minority neighborhoods, pulling existing Bank support from minority neighborhoods, declining to offer refinancings or loan modifications to minority customers on fair terms, and otherwise denying minority borrowers equal access to fair credit,” reads the complaint.

Chase denies the allegations and says it intends to fight the city’s complaint.

“We are disappointed the L.A. City Attorney is pursuing an adversarial approach to address city finances impacted by the recent economic downturn,” reads a statement from Chase to the L.A. Times. “While the downturn was beyond our control, we will continue to partner with Los Angeles in the recovery.”

The city’s suits against Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Bank of America are still pending, and the banks all deny any wrongdoing.

However, Wells Fargo did reach a $175 million settlement with the Justice Dept. in 2012 over similar allegations, and Bank of America settled for almost double that amount in 2011.

And last fall Wells agreed to pay out nearly $40 million to settle allegations made by the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development that it neglected bank-owned homes in minority neighborhoods.

Gross Alert: Man Charged With Stealing $350,000 Worth Of Human Skin From A Hospital

Because what other picture would work with this story? (The.Comedian)

Because what other picture would work with this story? (The.Comedian)

First things first — make sure you’ve already ingested and digested your midday meal fully if you’re the squeamish type, or very much dislike Silence of the Lambs. Because a medical company sales representative has been charged with boosting more than $350,000 worth of human skin from a hospital over several years.

The 54-year-old man was arrested this week and charged with theft, receiving stolen property and tampering with records, reports the Associated Press. No word on whether arresting officials were all like, “Eww, seriously? Just eww.”

According to authorities, the man worked until September as a sales rep for a regenerative medicine firm, managing accounts for the bioscience department of a Philadelphia-area hospital. He was allowed to order as many skin grafts for the hospital whenever he wanted as part of that job.

But the hospital only needed a few grafts at the time, officials said, and he allegedly ordered up more than 200 without authorization between November 2011 through July of that year. The hospital didn’t receive them, so authorities eventually went looking for the missing skin.

Police say they don’t know why he allegedly stole the grafts, worth $1,700 each, or what became of them. A spokesman for his former employers says he would have had no use for human skin grafts as part of his job as a sales rep. But the fact remains that you can’t steal skin without some repercussions.

And here is where we all try to banish the thought of a human skin suit from our brains. Sorry, had to do it. You were warned.

Man charged with stealing human skin from hospital [Associated Press]

Here Are Two Graphs Any Parent Of A College-Bound Kid Didn’t Want To See Today

1323347920137_529-CPE_FINAL-9 As we’ve mentioned numerous times over the last few years, college tuition costs have skyrocketed during the past two decades, far outpacing inflation and saddling an entire generation of college-educated Americans with student loan debt that can take many years to pay off. All the while, college graduates aren’t making as much as they did when college was more affordable. Surely the trend of soaring college costs has to level out, right?

Not according to these projections from J.P. Morgan Asset Management, which estimate that the total cost (tuition, room, board, fees) of a college education will continue to increase at a rate of 5% per year.

That means that the school that cost someone $40,000/year in 2013 will more than double to $90,000 by 2030. That adorable toddler whose every move you’re documenting on Facebook could be putting you in the poorhouse in 17 years when he starts working on his degree in Frisbee history.

Even the significantly less expensive public colleges will exhaust most parents’ bank accounts, with costs expected to jump from around $18,000 a year in 2013 to nearly $41,000 by 2030. So even if your local Big State U. has an acceptable Frisbee Studies department, your kid will still probably need to take out student loans just to get through.

And since those costs could continue to increase each year, by the time a child born today graduates from college, her education could run her anywhere from $186K for four years to more than $400K. Not many jobs being offered to recent graduates that will help pay down that level of student loans:


[via BusinessInsider]

Let’s All Move To Wisconsin, Land Of Plenty

Full disclosure: I grew up in Wisconsin (as some may have noticed due to frequent mentions of cheese and the almighty Green Bay Packers) but hear me out when I say everyone should just move there: According to a new report, Wisconsin has more bars than grocery stores — at a rate of 2.7 times more.

Over at is a handy chart culled from Google Places API based on two things: The number of bars in the United States and the number of grocery stores. Unlike earlier versions of the same kind of mapped data, this time the magnitude of bars vs. grocery stores was included on the map.

So in the map below, the greener the area, the more grocery stores there are than bars. And the browner you go on the scale, the more bars. And voila! We have Wisconsin, now known as “the beer belly of America.”

It’s worth pointing out that if you’re looking at the numbers from a per capita perspective, Wisconsin only clocks in at the third highest rate, with about eight bars per 10,000 people. North Dakota (9.9 per 10k) and Montana (8.6 per 10k) come in at first and second, respectively.

Delaware, Maryland, and Mississippi have a lot more chow and a lot less boozing going on, with under 1.5 bars per 10,000 people.

To those states and the rest of the country, Wisconsin is throwing its loving, boozy arms open to you. It’s a land of cheese and cheese, where beer flows in the streets and I won’t even make you pledge allegiance to Lambeau Field. Because that would be crossing the line, so far as Boss Meg Who Is From Chicago is concerned, at least.

Where Bars Outnumber Grocery Stores []

Criminals Stuff Macau ATMs With Malware, Extract Customers’ Money

macao-skimmers-600x376Did you think that tiny Bluetooth ATM skimmers were a terrifying prospect? Two men in Macau are accused of using long strips that look like circuit boards to infect ATMs and digitally extract customers’ card numbers and PINs.

Krebs on Security is the place to learn about scams like these, explaining both the crimes and how they work. In this case, police say that the two suspects aren’t from Macau (a Chinese territory west of Hong Kong) but are from Ukraine. They stole $100,000 by corrupting the automatic tellers.

They allegedly used these green objects, which were connected to a laptop, then inserted them in the card slot. This is the best picture that we have of them so far, but the strips are about as wide as a credit card and maybe five times as long. They resemble a circuit board, but no details on exactly how they were constructed have been made public yet. Obviously.

According to a source at the bank in question, inserting the circuit board card thingy caused the machines to crash and restart, then run normally while slurping up card number and PIN data from customers. The government says that the two suspects returned to the ATM to gather their virtual loot, extracting it from the machine using the same green strip.

It’s almost enough to make a person refuse to withdraw money from anywhere other than a metal box in her backyard. (Not really. Stay out of my backyard.)

Thieves Planted Malware to Hack ATMs [Krebs on Security]

89-Year-Old Storeowner Takes Golf Club To Legs Of Sword-Wielding Robber

golfclubgrab Pop quiz, hot shot: You’re an 89-year-old owner of a small store that is being robbed by a man carrying a sword (yes, a sword). Do you A) let him take what he wants and hope he doesn’t hurt you; B) try to talk him out of it; or C) grab the nearest object and start swinging away?

For a woman in Moses Lake, WA, the answer was clear — grab a golf club and tee off on the jerk trying to get away with her cash drawer.

The almost-nonagenarian, who has owned the store for 60 years, tells KREM-TV that the incident happened last Sunday.

She came upon the robber trying to pry open her cash register, and first thought about stabbing him with the scissors that were already in her hand.

“But I didn’t. I didn’t have the nerve to stab him,” she admits.

The man kept trying to scare her into opening the drawer for him but she refused, until… “He pulled out his little sword out of his little jacket, and he just kind of waved it a little bit.”

The storeowner says rather than feel threatened by the weapon, “It just probably made me a little bit more brave.”

The robber pushed her and she fell to the floor, where she found the golf club.

“I tried to swing this club at him and I tried to hit his head a couple times but I couldn’t reach it,” she recalls, saying she ended up hitting the man in the legs.

The robber was able to make off with the cash register, but he inexplicably left behind some souvenirs — his clothing, which he shed outside of the store.

“He must have been running around in his underwear and no shoes because that’s what they said, they found all his clothes,” says the storeowner.

The man also dumped the sword and register, both of which were recovered by police.

Why Would A Plastic Toothbrush Cost Almost $12,000? Because It’s Been To Space And You Haven’t

(Nate Sanders Auction House)

(It doesn’t even vibrate. Nate Sanders Auction House)

Most of the time, we can rest assured that we’re living a way cooler life than our toothbrushes. What do they do all day but sit around in a cup by the sink, bristling at the sound of rushing water and just hoping they get used at least twice in 24 hours? Unless you’re a toothbrush that’s been to space, and in that case, you can fetch a pretty penny for having lived such an abnormal toothbrush life.

A toothbrush used by an American astronaut who flew to the moon sold at auction for $11,974 this week, proving that it’s much cooler than most humans and a lot more interesting than your average dental hygiene tool.

The clear Oral-B40 brush was used by command module pilot Jack Swigert during the 1970 Apollo 13 mission, reports the AFP, and was sold to an anonymous buyer this week.

You’ll remember Swigert as the guy Kevin Bacon played in the 1995 movie Apollo 13. So no, not Tom Hanks’ toothbrush.

Swigert flew around the Moon as part of the Apollo program, but wasn’t one of those who stepped foot on the surface. He passed away in 1982, but his toothbrush lives on and again, is a lot cooler than anyone I know.

Apollo 13 astronaut’s toothbrush sells for $11,794 [AFP]

Suspended GM Engineer “Forgot” He Had Bad Ignition Switch Fixed In 2006

Last year, the General Motors engineer who quietly signed off on a fix to an ignition problem that has resulted in at least 13 deaths claimed in a deposition that he had no knowledge of making this incredibly important improvement. But after Congressional investigators have turned up all sorts of evidence showing that he did indeed give the okay for this fix, the engineer reportedly says he simply forgot about it.

He is one of two engineers suspended in April for their part in allegedly trying to sweep this defect under the rug while more than a dozen people died.

The NY Times reports that Congressional investigators recently put him through a 10-hour round of questioning over his involvement.

To recap for those not entirely familiar with the case — In 2001, before any of the defective cars hit the road, GM noticed the possibility that the ignition switches in certain new vehicles could be easily turned off if the key in the ignition is attached to a heavy keychain, or gets bumped by the driver. This causes the engine to quit, and results in a loss of power steering and brakes. Most importantly, the car’s airbags become useless.

As owners and dealers complained about the problem, GM mulled over various fixes to the problem but did not act. Meanwhile, accidents were happening and people began to die. Then in 2006, the engineer in charge of these ignitions gave the go-ahead to the third-party manufacturer of the switch to start producing a new version that would not turn off so easily.

However, the part number was never changed to reflect this fix, so new switches commingled with old, defective ones in dealerships’ inventories. When GM finally got around to issuing the recall in 2014, it not only had to recall all the vehicles made before the ignition switch was fixed, but it had to subsequently add on another million vehicles made after that upgrade because some of those newer cars might have the old switches in them.

Signing off on a change to an ignition switch is no small thing, and the failure to change the part number after this fix gives a stink of cover-up to the engineer’s actions. But in a 2013 deposition for a lawsuit brought against GM by the parents of a woman who died while driving a Chevy Cobalt, the engineer stated, “I don’t ever recall authorizing such a change.”

Then on May 19, while being grilled by Congressional investigators, the engineer admitted he did indeed make the change, but that it must have just slipped his mind because it had been seven years and the ignition fix was not the only change he was making at the time.

The family involved in that lawsuit has asked the court to reopen its case against GM, claiming the engineer perjured himself by saying that any changes made to the ignition switch happened without his knowledge or say-so.

Signet Acquires Zales, Creates Mediocre Jewelry Voltron

We love to use wedding imagery when discussing corporate mergers, because it’s a useful metaphor: months of preparation and due diligence lead to a joyous union and (we hope) decades of happiness as life partners. In the case of the acquisition of Zale Corp. by Signet Jewelers Ltd., the comparison is just poor writing, since all companies involved are mall jewelry stores, where Americans buy their wedding bling.

You might remember the name Signet because it comes up whenever a reader has a problem with an item purchased at Kay or Jared. We always recommend that people take their complaints up the food chain at the company’s corporate parent. Signet also owns Piercing Pagoda, a chain of large kiosks that sell less expensive jewelry. Combined, the companies will control 14.6% of the retail jewelry business in the United States. Taking over Zales will also give the company a bigger presence in Canada.

The last decade has been rough on Zales, and the chain’s competitor is taking the company over as its comeback succeeds. The companies say that Zales will continue to exist as an independent subsidiary, with its current CEO staying on as president and CEO.

Mall jewelers Zales and Kay get hitched [Dallas Morning News]

Signet and Zale tie the knot, create mall-based jewelry giant [CNN] (via Chain Store Age)

Minnesota Brewpub Grants Free Beer For Life With $1,000 Investment

What if you could pay only $1,000 and be guaranteed a freshly-poured beer whenever you felt like it? That’s not a feasible deal for most of us, but for early investors in one Minnesota brew pub, that dream has come true.

When three business partners wanted to raise $220,000 to get a bank loan and open up their own restaurant, the Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub in southern Minneapolis, they at first tried to the usual rout of finding investors and offering a voting share in the restaurant, reports The Atlantic’s City Lab.

But those investors didn’t know much about the restaurant business, so they tried a different tactic when friends and family offered up a few grand here and there.

“They were, like, ‘I’ve got a few grand, but I don’t have too much money,’ ” one business partner recalls. “And people kept saying this over and over, and we latched onto the idea. Why not just take a couple grand from everybody and then we’d have all the money we’d need?”

Ding ding ding. The plan they settled on? Those who invested $1,000 could get free in-house beer forever and ever, or as long as the pub stayed open. Or they could receive 0.1% nonvoting equity in the company for every $1,000 invested. A $5,000 investment got investors 0.5% equity AND beer.

The brewpub is now a registered LLC and hit its $220,000 goal, and has been thriving for two years now, giving away about 17 free beers per day. All told, there were 46 investors who took the first option, 42 chose the second and another 30 who took the third.

Yes, that means 72 people have free beer for life, and you don’t. Better start looking for another brewpub offering that kind of deal, good luck!

Would You Pay $1,000 Once to Get Free Beer for Life? [City Lab]

Letting Sprint Buy T-Mobile Will Fix Broadband Competition, According To Sprint Chairman

Yesterday at the Code Conference, Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son spoke about the (terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad) state of internet service in the United States. But there was a distinctly self-serving undercurrent to Son’s speech.

As GigaOm reports, the clear implication behind Son’s “well-received” speech was that regulators should be happy to bless a merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, because then there will be valid competition to the internet-controlling juggernaut that Comcast is lined up to become if and when it acquires Time Warner Cable.

Son has worked this angle before, and Comcast too is happy to claim that mobile broadband is true competition for their internet offerings.

But just because a bunch of people say the same thing over and over doesn’t make it true. We’ve been down this path before. Mobile broadband is still too expensive, too inconsistent, and too slow to be a reliable full-time wired broadband replacement.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, speaking (and slamming Comcast) at the same conference, said that mobile data doesn’t really support Netflix very well. And at an average download speed of 6-7 MBps, there’s a whole lot else that mobile broadband can’t necessarily support yet, either.

Average broadband technology speeds as compared to uses, via the GAO.

Average broadband technology speeds as compared to uses, via the GAO.

As for the costs, GigaOm did the math and worked out that swapping out home broadband for a mobile-only solution could cost an average cord-cutting Sprint user about $10,000. And that’s not annually. That’s per month. Of course, the highest network users wouldn’t be able to hit a bill that high, because Sprint would be throttling their service anyway.

Still, maybe Son doesn’t mean Sprint could fix things today. As we’ve seen clearly over the past few decades, the technology landscape changes extremely rapidly. The world of 2014 is not the world of 2020, and in fact probably not even the world of 2015.

So what about the not-so-distant future? If Sprint did buy T-Mobile, as it has been murmuring about for months, it would have more reach and resources with which to improve its network, that much is true. But that still wouldn’t be nearly enough leverage to make mobile data a meaningful replacement solution for most consumers in the near term.

GigaOm also makes the critical point that while Sprint would be working on bringing two brands together under the same roof and getting that new improved network up and running, the rest of the world would just keep evolving around them:

Yes, one day we will be able to able to consume 100 or 200 GBs of mobile data for the same cost we pay for a home broadband connection. But it’s not like wireline broadband technologies or our internet consumption habits are standing still. We’re moving away from coaxial cable and copper to fiber links to the home. Meanwhile the resolution of our video programming is increasing and our apps and data storage are moving into the cloud.

Five years from now, when Son is ready to offer 200 GBs for $50 on the cellular network, 200 GBs a month will seem like a paltry amount. Son is chasing a moving target, and the simultaneous advancement of both wireless and wireless access technologies dictate that he’ll never catch up.

Sprint and T-Mobile are the 3rd and 4th largest mobile companies in the country, and although Verizon and AT&T are still far and away the most dominant, T-Mobile is beginning to catch up. It’s easy to see why Sprint would want to buy the company, but it’s also easy to see why consumers will benefit more if they don’t.

Why you shouldn’t buy the miracle broadband network Softbank’s Masayoshi Son is selling [GigaOm]

Amazingly, Diners Didn’t Want To Eat At Toilet-Themed Restaurant

A restaurant whose entire bathroom-related theme — complete with toilets as seats, dishes with hilariously fecal names, and miniature toilet-shaped bowls for your food — seems to have been cooked up by a potty-obsessed two-year-old has closed down after an eight-month run, suggesting that most people would rather put foods in their mouths without thinking about how that food will ultimately exit their bodies.

The owners of The Magic Restroom Cafe in City of Industry, CA, apparently thought that customers would want to sit on actual (though non-functioning) toilets in a room decorated to look like a bathroom while eating Taiwanese food.

But not just any Taiwanese cuisine. No, the MRC kicked it up a notch with some dishes with clever names like “black poop” and “smells like poop.”

Perhaps it would have all been more acceptable if the food was better, as many reviews on Yelp (which, granted, doesn’t always give the full measure of a restaurant’s quality) point to the dishes being “nothing special,” “sub-par,” or “just okay.” Many people who went to the MRC during its brief time in this world say their primary purpose in trying it out was to see the decor and to take photos, which is probably why there are more than 400 of them on Yelp for a restaurant that wasn’t even open a year.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go to the city health department to get approval for my new food truck, the Vomit Van, soon to be serving extra-chunky guacamole at corner near you.

Magic Restroom Café Goes Down the Toilet [L.A. Mag]

Magic Restroom Cafe Craps Out After Eight Months [Eater L.A.]

Yes, The TSA’s Airport Security Screening Rules Still Apply To Travelers Who Are Mad About Missing Flights

Listen, I know it feels like the sun and moon revolve around your head and the entire fate of humanity lies in your hands. But that’s not reality, and even if you’re late for your flight, you still have to go through the annoyance of security checkpoints at the airport, just like the rest of us. Otherwise, the entire airport terminal might just get locked down and that’s just a rude inconvenience for other travelers.

Metro Airport’s McNamara Terminal was put on security lockdown for more than two hours last night after a man forced his way through a security checkpoint without bothering to get screened, officials tell the Detroit Free Press.

After investigating the incident, the TSA said all law enforcement agencies involved had given the all clear, while about 40 passengers had to wait to be screened during that time.

According to the TSA, The Man Who Would Not Stop For Screening had come in from Little Rock and apparently missed his connection to Los Angeles.

So instead of listening to a TSA agent, he reportedly forced his way back into the terminal, for what purpose, it’s unclear. He was still in custody late last night, so his trip is even more delayed now.

“A passenger, who was already on the secured side of the screened checkpoint, exited through the line and made the decision to turn back around and go through the secured side without being screened again,” an airport spokesman said.

That little move mucked up a lot of travelers’ plans — baggage from flights piled up on carousels, people tried to “bum rush” the gate to exit the airport, and cars lined up outside waiting for passengers stuck inside.

Just a reminder: Yes, the rules apply to you. Even when you’re late. Even when you’re flying in from Arkansas on a Thursday and wearing one green sock and one yellow sock. That last part I made up, but it could be true and the rules do apply in that case, as well. So do the rest of us a favor and follow them.

Metro Airport lockdown lifts after 2½ hours; traveler arrested after forcing past security [Detroit Free Press]

Google Launches Forget-Me Form For EU Users Who Want Search Data Removed

Earlier this month, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that consumers have a legal “right to be forgotten” when it comes to Internet search engines and said there should be a way for users to request that certain data be excised from Google’s results. In response, the company has created a form that anyone in the 28 affected EU countries can use to ask to be forgotten.

The high court ruling allows for people in these countries to ask that their names no longer be attached to search results that are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed.”

What this won’t do is remove correct-but-unpleasant search results. So if you were recently arrested for a DUI and that info makes it online, it may still turn up. However, if a search for your name turns up info about someone else being arrested for a DUI, then you’d have an argument to make for having those results removed.

The data removal process is not automated, and requires that each person making a request provide a photo ID.

“Google often receives fraudulent removal requests from people impersonating others, trying to harm competitors, or improperly seeking to suppress legal information,” the company explains. “To prevent this kind of abuse, we need to verify identity.”

Even then, Google isn’t just going to press a button to remove all those photos of Suzanne Somers that inexplicably show up when you Google yourself.

“In implementing this decision, we will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information,” writes Google. “When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information—for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.”

Current Measles Outbreak The Worst U.S. Has Seen In 14 Years

When I was a young cheese-fed sprout growing up, the measles sounded like one of those awfully scary diseases that only people in history books ever came down with. Because I knew enough to know that getting vaccinated against it meant I likely wouldn’t get it. But measles are all the rage again now, or at least cases are climbing to record highs since the disease was eliminated 14 years ago in the U.S.

The current measles outbreak currently infected people in the country is at the highest number of cases in 14 years, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection popping up in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday, according to the Washington Post.

The hardest hit states are Ohio with 138 confirmed cases, California with 60 and New York clocks in with 26 cases. And 97% of those cases were brought into the country by mostly American travelers who contracted measles abroad. Many are picking it up in the Philippines, which has had a large measles outbreak recently.

The epicenter of the outbreak here is the Amish community in Ohio, likely because many of the residents aren’t vaccinated against the measles. Fortunately, no deaths have been reported here as a result of the measles thus far.

“This is a wake-up call for travelers and parents to make sure vaccinations are up to date,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “Measles vaccine is very safe and effective and measles can be serious,” she added. “It’s very infectious.”

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that usually hits children the hardest. Symptoms include fever, a runny nose, cough and a rash of tiny red dots starting at the head and spreading down the body. Many might not be aware of the warning signs, since measles haven’t been seen in years, say doctors.

But despite the fact that kids are usually the ones with measles, the CDC says more than half the cases this year have been adults over the age of 20.

The last time the CDC saw so many cases this early on in the year was 1994, when 794 people were infected by this time, Schuchat says.

Part of the issue, according to Schuchat, stems from the number of people who choose not to be immunized for various reasons, and that is not contributing to an overall public health problem.

And even if you’re vaccinated — think you’re immune from those vaccinations as a kid? Some adults can lose their immunity over time, and might need to be re-vaccinated, the CDC says.

The CDC’s Schuchat urges anyone who isn’t sure whether or not their immunizations are up to date to play it safe and get another dose, especially if you’re traveling to the Philippines or doing work in the health care system.

U.S. measles outbreak sets record for post-elimination era [Washington Post]

Consumerist Friday Flickr Finds

Here are seven of the best photos that readers added to the Consumerist Flickr Pool in the last 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.