mardi 31 mars 2015

Here’s What Co-Branded Sprint-RadioShack Stores Will Probably Look Like

sprintshackYesterday, the sale of 1,740 remaining RadioShack stores to hedge fund Standard General was approved by a bankruptcy court. We’ve known since before the bankruptcy filing that their plan is to team up with Sprint to re-open stores that will be part phone store, part RadioShack merchandise. What would that look like? Sprint has already showed us. Well, they showed the federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, which makes them public documents.

Here’s the original document: the later pages aren’t all that interesting to people who aren’t heavily into retail demolition. The document was filed on Monday: if RadioShack’s new management and Sprint stick to the same timetable, stores in the new format will be open in a week and a half.


It looks like the “Fast Start” layout is meant to use much of what’s already there in RadioShack. Of course, all of those displays from other carriers would have to go: the most important task would be removing AT&T, Tracfone, and Verizon displays in favor of Sprint and its prepaid buddies like Boost and Virgin Mobile.


The biggest change would be to the signage. Even though Sprint is supposed to take up only 1/3 of the square footage of each store, you wouldn’t know that from the sign out front.


One Year After Merger, Men’s Wearhouse Announces Layoffs At Jos. A. Bank HQ



It was a little over a year ago that Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank ended months of contentious courtship and merged, with Men’s Wearhouse acquiring the smaller clothing chain for $1.8 billion. Now, the honeymoon is over, and Men’s Wearhouse is laying off or transferring some employees at Jos. A. Bank HQ in Hampstead, Maryland.

Men’s Wearhouse plans to lay off 122 employees and move many of the positions currently based in Maryland to Men’s Wearhouse offices in New York City and in Fremont, California. Shortly after the merger in June of last year, there were 778 employees at the Jos. A. Bank headquarters. A spokesperson told Baltimore Business Journal that there will be an estimated 450 employees left after the layoffs and restructuring are done.

Men’s Wearhouse plans to keep Jos. A. Bank’s HQ in Hampstead — but with far fewer workers [Baltimore Business Journal]

Report: Jos. A. Bank lays off 122 headquarters employees [Chain Store Age]

Bankruptcy Court Approves Sale Of 1,740 RadioShacks To Standard General

The Great RadioShack Bankruptcy Auction Standoff may be over. The 94-year-old electronics retailer declared bankruptcy in February, and then closed around half of its stores, selling their leases. The company wanted to rid itself of the rest of its stores before April began so they won’t have to pay April rent on all of those stores out of money that should be going to their creditors.

The most important creditor here is Standard General, which is using RadioShack’s debt to the hedge fund as part of its bid for 1,740 of the chain’s remaining stores. Today, the bankruptcy court approved the sale of those remaining stores to despite the objections of other lenders. RadioShack preferred the bid from Standard General, which consisted of debt forgiveness and a modest amount of cash.

Backers of the SprintShack plan say that it will keep more than 7,000 current RadioShack retail employees working. The judge decided that Standard General’s bid was the superior one, and had the added benefit of “saving a century-old American retail icon.”

The highest competing bid for the company was from another lender, Salus Capital Partners. While that bid was entirely in cash rather than debt forgiveness, it would have led to having liquidators sell store inventory, leases, and fixtures

RadioShack co-branding of stores with Sprint wins court approval [RadioShack]

Flight’s Inaugural Journey Delayed After Firefighters Accidentally Spray Plane With Foam

Picture this: You’re all hyped up and ready to fly across the ocean as part of an airline’s inaugural journey to a destination across the ocean, everyone is cheering, the excitement is building and then suddenly foam is spraying everywhere. Celebration over, and you’re forced to wait a night to get off the ground. Delays are annoying, yes, but rarely are they caused by celebrating firefighters pressing the wrong button.

That’s what’s reportedly behind the delay of Virgin Atlantic’s first flight from Manchester, England to Atlanta, GA, reports The Telegraph.

The Airbus A330-300 was enjoying the celebratory hullabaloo at Manchester Airport, complete with a planned salute from fire crews, who were supposed to send the plane off with a spray from water cannons, when somehow the hoses were switched, releasing jets of fire-suppressing foam.

Not only does that make a big mess, but it clogged up jet engines and turbine blades, grounding the plane so it could undergo a safety check before taking off.

The flight’s 257 passengers who were anxiously awaiting the journey were told at first there’d be a five-hour delay, but after gnoshing and swilling a few refreshments, the airline cancelled the flight until the next day. Passengers were put up in hotels overnight and returned to the airport this morning.

“The pilot explained that the plane was being given a water cannon salute. Unfortunately someone had pressed the button for foam, instead of water. It clogged up the engines,” said one passenger.

“We needed to give the aircraft a thorough check over,” Virgin Atlantic said in explaining the delay.

Plane grounded after firefighters accidentally sprayed it with foam [The Telegraph]

JetBlue Cancels Passenger’s Ticket For Flight He Wasn’t Even Supposed To Be On

Anyone who has traveled frequently enough has likely had to deal with your flight being canceled or rescheduled and all the havoc that can ensue trying to keep the rest of your itinerary from being completely screwed up. But what’s a traveler to do when the airline screws up twice and cancels your ticket for a flight that you’re not even booked on?

This is what happened recently happened to JetBlue passenger Tim and his wife, who were scheduled to fly direct from Boston to St. Thomas on the morning of Feb. 16 with some friends.

The couple had booked their tickets months in advance and had all their confirmation numbers, etc., ready as the departure date drew near. Then they got an e-mail on Feb. 13 saying that their flight had been canceled and they would have to reschedule.

Only problem was that JetBlue had the correct flight listed in the e-mail, but the wrong date. The e-mail said that the Feb. 15 flight was canceled, not the Feb. 16 departure that Tim had booked.

When Tim contacted JetBlue to figure out what had gone wrong, he says a rep for the airline told him that their tickets had somehow been switched to that earlier flight.

The best the airline could do was put them on a late-evening flight on Feb. 17, which wouldn’t arrive until the early morning of Feb. 18, nearly two full days after he was supposed to arrive.

Meanwhile that Feb. 16 flight he’d originally booked had departed as planned with his friends aboard.

Since extending his vacation was not a possibility, this would mean that Tim’s holiday would be ruined, so he investigated other ways to salvage his trip.

Because of the bad weather in Boston at the time, seats on planes out of the city were at a premium, explains Tim, who eventually ended up looking at the New York City area airports for more reasonable options.

“I found a flight out of Newark, NJ, Tuesday morning at 8 A.M. that would get me into St Thomas at 3:30 PM,” he writes. “I booked that flight, reserved a one-way rental car and drove 5 hours to a hotel nearest the airport. I stayed at the hotel overnight and caught a flight out Tuesday morning putting me into my final destination approximately 24 hours late.”

Not only did he have to go in the hole for the expense of the rental car and hotel just to make it to the Newark flight on time, Tim faced additional expenses once he landed. His final destination was actually the island of St. John, but since his friends who’d arrived the day before had already picked up the rental car they’d all intended to share.

“The cost to salvage our trip involved new airline tickets, a rental car, a hotel, taxis and a ferry plus the lodging cost for a night we had already reserved/paid for,” wrote Tim in a detailed letter to JetBlue asking for the airline to reimburse him for the cost, which totaled nearly $2,000.

We also wrote to our contacts at JetBlue asking them to investigate what happened. It took a couple of weeks and several e-mails but today the airline gave us the following statement: “We want all of our customer to have a great experience with JetBlue. We have been working with the customer directly and believe we have come to a solution.”

It’s not much, and doesn’t explain exactly how this screw-up happened, so we reached out to Tim, who confirmed that he has been contacted by JetBlue and that the airline has offered to reimburse him for his expenses.

“I decided to accept the refund and move on with my life,” he tells Consumerist.

Virginia’s Got The Fastest Broadband In The U.S., But South Korea’s Still The Speed Fiend’s Place To Be

Akamai's top 10 worldwide best average internet connection speeds for the end of 2014.

Akamai’s top 10 worldwide best average internet connection speeds for the end of 2014.

It’s that time again! Internet company Akamai keeps a sharp eye on the state of broadband at home and abroad, and delivers a quarterly report lining up just how we’re doing. But despite a whole huge pile of brand new data, the story remains the same: the U.S. still has a lot of catching up to do if we want to consider ourselves among the global broadband elite.

The new report (PDF) has the usual mixed bag of news. The good bit: improvement is widespread, year over year. All 51 states (the report includes the District of Columbia) saw increases by the end of 2014, as compared to the end of 2013.

However, the rest of the world is improving, too. And in many cases, faster. While the U.S., on average clocked in at 12th globally in the first half of 2014, by the year’s end we find ourselves sitting at #16.

As usual, of course, comparing a country with an enormous web of state-level governments and a 3.8 million square mile footprint against a compact city-state like Singapore may not be the most useful metric. But rankings within the U.S., at the state level, don’t reveal that much better a picture.

The U.S. top 10 for the end of the year mostly included the usual suspects, but in a new order. In the third quarter of 2014, Delaware held the fastest average speed, followed by Washington, Connecticut, Utah, DC, Virginia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Michigan, and New Jersey.

akamaiQ42014_states While the nation’s capital and the northeast are still good places to be for the best broadband, other states have now broken into the top 10 as well. Virginia now holts the number one position for average broadband speed, clocking in at 17.7 Mbps. Delaware’s dropped to number two, with DC, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, and New York rounding out the top ten. Delaware holds on to top average peak speeds in the nation, however.

Delaware also remains at the top for penetration of speeds above 10 Mbps, with 68% of connections meeting that threshold. The entire top ten list is at 50% or higher.

Arkansas has, unfortunately, maintained its last-place position despite an increase in average connection speeds in that state. Residents in The Natural State, according to Akamai, get an average connection speed of under 8 Mbps.

The U.S. is number one regionally speaking, at least; in the Americas, Americans’ average of 11.1 Mbps (a 15% increase from the end of 2013) beats out Canada’s 10.7 Mbps, with Uruguay coming in third and the other nations of South and Central America continuing from there.

For national “high broadband” access — speeds at or above 10 Mbps — the U.S. comes in at 17th globally, with about 39% of connections meeting that threshold. The good new is: that’s a 20% increase from this time last year.

The bad news is: that doesn’t meet the FCC’s new, aspirational threshold for “broadband” access — and it’s still not even 40% of the internet connections in the country.

These figures are important to keep in mind when we talk about broadband policy, like net neutrality or the Comcast merger. Fewer than 2 in 5 Americans with broadband access have connections that support most of the big, bold new connectivity features that companies and individuals alike tout as the cornerstone of the 21st century economy.

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

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

For teleworking, distance learning, and remote medicine — the great supposed benefits of the connected age — only a fraction of existing connections support seamless use. And that’s aside from entertainment, where 15Mbps is indeed the minimum “4K ready” threshold.

For now, we can clearly get by. Because we are getting by. But as the future continues to become ever more reliant on flawless, omnipresent internet access, it will become ever more crucial to make sure that all of us, in every state, can access infrastructure that keeps up.

Amateur Uber Drivers Can Stay On French Roads For Now

We need some kind of global scoreboard to keep track of which Uber services are legal in which municipality. Surely there is such a thing at Uber HQ, but we have no such thing here at Consumerist. Good news for fans of low-cost transport who are visiting France, though: Uberpop, the peer-to-peer taxi service that any safe driver can work for, can temporarily still operate in France.

Uber’s ride-summoning app offers different services at differing price points: there’s also UberBlack, a service for licensed livery drivers who pick you up in whatever the local equivalent of a Town Car is. Most countries don’t have a problem with this version of the service, but it’s the lower-cost services with a lower barrier to entry that have met with opposition from governments and taxi drivers alike everywhere from New York City to Japan.

That service is called UberX in the United States and UberPop in Europe, and the company has had to stop offering the service altogether in many countries. In France, it can operate for now, but only until a lawsuit filed by a group of transportation companies makes its way to a higher court. Since the case against Uber calls into question a new transport law, the case may reach the country’s constitutional court.

Uber Wins French Court Reprieve Over Legality of Low-Cost Service [WSJ]

Time Warner Cable Hates Dodgers Fans, Tells Them To Switch To Cable Companies They Can’t Get

Baseball season is only days away, and the L.A. Dodgers are fresh off a 94-win division title season. Yet a large number of Dodgers fans can’t watch the games on TV because the cable sports channel owned by the team and Time Warner Cable has yet to reach deals that would let other pay-TV operators in the region carry the station. And TWC’s answer to these fans is mind-bogglingly idiotic.

Fierce Cable’s Daniel Frankel is the latest to try to get a real reading from TWC on the odds that SportsNet L.A. will be made available to anyone in the L.A. area other than TWC customers. He even indicts himself for picking up a recent news item that gave a glimmer of hope to many Dodgers fans that they might see a game on TV this spring.

Frankel notes that TWC is even telling its investors that they should expect the company to continue losing money on the SportsNet L.A. deal for the foreseeable future because the likelihood of reaching a carriage deal with other pay-TV providers is not so great.

But what really drives home TWC’s antipathy toward Dodgers fans is the statement the company provided to Frankel regarding the status of SportsNet L.A. [last sentence bolded for emphasis]:

“We want all Dodger fans to have access to SportsNet LA. Despite our repeated attempts, other providers are unwilling to engage in any discussions. If Dodger fans want to enjoy SportsNet LA this season, we encourage them to switch to a provider that carries the network.

This sentiment — if you want to watch the Dodgers, get a pay-TV provider that carries them — only really applies to current DirecTV and Dish customers, as they may also live in an area serviced by TWC. But a look at the coverage maps for each of the major non-satellite providers in the region tells a very different story.

Here are the individual coverage maps for TWC, Cox, and Charter in the L.A. area:




Notice anything? There’s little to no overlap in coverage between these three sizable cable companies. Here’s what happens when you put the three together:


So all those people in red and blue areas, not to mention the areas not covered by any of these companies? TWC wants you to switch to a non-existent pay-TV provider who both operates in their neighborhood and offers SportsNet L.A.

It’s TWC’s choice if it wants to keep bleeding money on SportsNet L.A., but the company shouldn’t be blaming Dodgers fans who have no choice in who provides cable TV service in their area.

Amazon Introducing The Dash Button, A Branded Gadget That Reorders Household Products With A Push

Reaching for another roll of paper towels in the pantry only to find you’ve run out just when little Timmy has flung yet another bowl of pureed peas against the wall is annoying, as is realizing your roommate hasn’t bought toilet paper during your moment of need. In an attempt to solve that problem, Amazon announced a new line of branded buttons that reorder certain common household products with one push, using your home’s WiFi connection and a connected Prime account.

We first heard rumblings of Amazon testing out a one-button system for ordering things last fall, at which point it was still uncertain whether such a thing would make it market or not.

It seems that’s going to be a reality, as Amazon unveiled a line of free Dash buttons that can be stuck to say, the washing machine or the bathroom mirror, allowing Prime customers to simply push them when they need more Tide or Olay moisturizer.

From Amazon:

Dash Button comes with a reusable adhesive and a hook so you can hang, stick, or place it right where you need it. Keep Dash Button handy in the kitchen, bath, laundry, or anywhere you store your favorite products. When you’re running low, simply press Dash Button, and Amazon quickly delivers household favorites so you can skip the last-minute trip to the store.

Each brand included in the lineup — along with Tide and Olay there’s Clorox, Huggies, Bounty and more — has its own button. Once you’ve pushed it (or little Timmy has because you positioned it within his reach, sigh), an alert pops up on your smartphone so you can cancel the order if you need to.

Right now it’s only available by invitation for Prime customers, with Amazon’s site saying the Dash buttons will be available in a few weeks.

If you’re suspicious that this announcement is popping up pretty darn close to April Fool’s Day (the Consumerist team was), it does seem that the Dash button is for real. The Washington Post staffer who wrote about the product on the companys The Switch blog, Sarah Halzack, Tweeted that the button isn’t a joke — and she would very possibly know that, as Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post as well as Amazon:

Timing the release of such a product this close to April Fool’s Day is actually kind of a genius move, as it gets people to talk about whether it’s real or not, thus creating free publicity for Amazon and all the brands involved.

Police: Man Called 9-1-1 A Dozen Times Claiming Bar Overcharged Him For Beer

Will calling emergency services repeatedly about a bar bill summon the cops? Sure, but they won’t be helping to sort out whether or not you were overcharged for a beer, they’ll be charging you with abusing the 9-1-1 system, an offense that can bring up to a year in jail and a fine that is the equivalent of many, many beers.

Police say an Idaho man dialed up 9-1-1 a dozen times early Monday morning with an urgent non-emergency, reports He claimed that the bar he’d just been booted from had overcharged him for his beers.

“He was demanding that the place he got kicked out of didn’t over charge him for him being down there,” the town’s police captain said.

According to the police report, the man was kicked out of a bar around 1:13 a.m. and an officer gave him a courtesy ride home. Apparently he felt close to the police at that point, and decided to give’em a few more rings.

“He had been intoxicated, so we gave him a ride home and shortly after we started receiving 911 calls from him,” the police captain said, noting that he then called 12 times total.

First he called to say he wanted officers to come back to his house to talk about his bar tab. Then he called back seven minutes later to ask when an officer would be showing up. He called twice and hung up, then called three times and put his phone up to the radio. Telling a dispatcher that she’s “just like his ex-wife,” he then hung up, police say.

Such antics are a drain on police resources and could prevent them from helping others with real emergencies, the captain says. And besides, receipts from the bar show he was only charged $30 for the 10 beers he’d had, which is a lot smaller bill than the $1,000 he could now be facing as the result of a misdemeanor citation for misusing 911.

Man calls 911 to report he was overcharged on his bar tab []

You Can Now Turn Any Google Map Into A Pac-Man Game

Pac-Man eats his way through the Gray's Ferry section of Philadelphia.

Pac-Man eats his way through the Gray’s Ferry section of Philadelphia.

Have you ever looked at a Google Map and thought to yourself, “It would be flippin’ awesome if I could play Pac-Man on this street grid”? Probably not, because that is not something that occurs to most people. But it did occur to some folks at Google who have incorporated, perhaps temporarily, a button that lets you Pac-Man-ize your Google Map.

It’s really simple, just go to, pick an area in which you would like to play Pac-Man, then click the button on the bottom-left of the screen (next to the one that switches between graphical maps and satellite maps).

Then you just play Pac-Man.

The functionality does limit the size of the street map maze. So if you’re zoomed out too far, or zoomed in too close, the screen will automatically adjust to a level that works with the game.

Two employee-friendly (but not employer-friendly) notes: It seems to default to muted sound, so you won’t have to worry about everyone in your office hearing you. And the game quickly aborts with a press of the Esc key, so you can get out quickly if needed.

[via The Independent]

Study: People Try Apple Pay Once, Don’t Go Back

The prospect of using our phones in place of wallets is exciting to absent-minded people everywhere, but how well is adoption of mobile payments going in the real world? A recent survey looking at adoption of Apple Pay a few months out from its introduction shows that consumers are enthused about it, but are having trouble finding retailers where they can use the service.

Near field communication chips and mobile payments are nothing new, but they were new to Apple’s lineup of smartphones. but making Apple Pay part of the iPhone 6 meant that the capability rolled out to millions of people all at once. According to a survey by Phoenix Marketing International, about two-thirds of people who own the new iPhones at least signed up for Apple Pay and added a credit card to their accounts, but the problem has been on retailers’ end.

88% of survey participants who set up Apple Pay went out into the world and tried to use it, Phoenix reports, but almost half of those users (47%) say that they tried to use the service in a store that advertised Apple Pay capability but didn’t actually have it. About two-thirds of people who tried to use Apple Pay out in the wild reported problems actually using it at checkout. The process was slow, the cashier didn’t know what they were doing, or they couldn’t resolve problems: they experienced a variety of issues with the service, but

Apple Pay Performance: The First Four Months [Phoenix Marketing International]

Court Awards Pizza Hut Customer $2,400 For Denture Damaged While Eating “Excessively Hard Croutons”


(Not the Pizza Hut in question. SchuminWeb)

While the human mouth gets to have all the fun of tasting, chewing and eating delicious food in all its various incarnations, it can also be the portal to pain when something isn’t right. In the case of a man who said he broke a partial denture at Pizza Hut, the weapon of destruction came in the form of “excessively hard croutons.”

The Tennessee man was awarded a $2,400, interest and court costs in a judgment against Pizza Hut, reports Roane County News, after he sued the restaurant for his damaged denture.

His lawsuit claimed the restaurant caused personal injuries and damages to his specialized partial denture by “negligently serving at defendant’s restaurant excessively hard croutons.”

The customer’s attorney said they approached Pizza Hut to find a resolution before going ahead with the lawsuit, but nothing came of it.

“We tried to work it out with their insurance company, but they never wanted to talk,” his attorney said. “So we went ahead and filed.”

Dough for denture damage [Roane County News]

Starbucks Finally Gets Around To Selling Yogurt-Based Cups, Smoothies, Parfaits After Two Years

mtl8Dhij-7167-5308 The unlikely partnership between Starbucks and Dannon parent company Danone that Consumerist first reported on back in 2013 is finally coming to fruition with the launch of an exclusive line of yogurt-bases smoothies, parfaits and fruit cups at 4,300 of the company’s coffee shops.

Starbucks announced today that it will add a line of three Evolution Fresh Smoothies at select stores in Washington state, Oregon, Alaska, Northern California and Idaho.

The smoothies, which will come in flavors like Sweet Greens, Strawberry and Mango Carrot, were first piloted in select Starbucks stores last year.

The new menu offerings will consist of exclusive-to-Starbucks Dannon Greek yogurt and hand pressed juices from Starbucks-owned Evolution Fresh. Customers can customize the new drinks with add-ins like protein powder and kale.

Starbucks’ latest endeavor doesn’t end there, though. As it was suggested in 2013, the company plans to begin selling Evolution Fresh Greek yogurt parfaits in about half of its U.S. stores by early May.

Additionally, the company will start selling Greek yogurt cuts, complete with fruit on the bottom at actual grocery stores later this summer.

Cold Pressed HPP Juice and Traditional Greek Yogurt Smoothie Launches in 4,300 Starbucks Locations with Fresh Approach to $2.2 Billion Smoothie Market [Starbucks]

Man Who Says Comcast Got Him Fired From Job Seeks $5M In Damages After Company Smeared Him Publicly

Last fall, we were the first to tell you about Conal O’Rourke, the Comcast customer in California who spent more than a year dealing with consistent over-billing — including $1,820 worth of equipment he’d never ordered nor needed — and horrendous customer service who was fired from his job at Comcast-consulting accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers after he took his complaint to the office of the Comcast controller. Shortly after publishing that story, Conal sued Comcast over the incident, and now he’s amended that lawsuit to allege invasion of privacy and to put a higher dollar amount on the damages being sought.

The amended complaint [PDF] adds a seventh cause of action — invasion of privacy — to the original complaint, claiming that Comcast’s public statements about Conal’s customer service calls involve a public disclosure of private facts.

After Conal filed suit, Comcast released a statement to Consumerist and others, explaining that, “As part of this investigation, we have listened to recorded calls between Mr. O’Rourke and our customer service representatives and his treatment of them and his language is totally unspeakable.”

This statement and description of the customer service calls goes to far, says Conal in the revised lawsuit.

“The recorded customer service telephone calls between Mr. O’Rourke and Comcast are private, and are not the subjects of legitimate public concern,” reads the amended complaint. “Comcast’s public disclosure of the existence and nature of Mr. O’Rourke’s private calls to Comcast customer service – which disclosure falsely portrays Mr. O’Rourke as an individual lacking in decency, ethics and integrity – is offensive and objectionable to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities.”

The lawsuit claims that “Comcast’s conduct towards Mr. O’Rourke was wanton, willful and intentional, and committed with malicious intent.”

The amended complaint now ups the original damages estimate from more than $1 million to more than $5 million.

In a statement to Ars Technica, Conal’s lawyer Harmeet K. Dhillon says it could be years before this lawsuit is resolved.

“That’s how long hard-fought federal lawsuits are taking in this district these days, and Comcast will be opposing it hard,” she explained to Ars. “I can’t say on the record why it didn’t settle, but you can see from Comcast’s public statements that they want to be ‘vindicated.’”

Dietitian Group’s “Kids Eat Right” Logo Won’t Be On Kraft Singles Packages After All

Kraft Singles won’t come with a stamp from the Academy of Nutrition and Diatetics reading “Kids Eat Right” anymore, after a group of dietitians signed a petition calling to put an end to the partnership. The petition claims that having such a logo makes it seem like the group is endorsing the cheese product.

The two sides say the deal is over due to “misperceptions” that are “overshadowing the campaign,” reports the Associated Press. The petition also seeks transparency about the terms of the deal that allowed Kraft to slap the logo on its products.

Kraft and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said the effort was supposed to raise awareness about kids not getting enough calcium and Vitamin D, but Kraft didn’t reveal how much money it forked over for the right to use the logo.

It was supposed to be a three-year deal, and would’ve included a website and, among other things. A Kraft spokeswoman says they’re still figuring out how to end the effort.

“That collaboration is not going to be happening,” she said.

Though the Academy of Nutrition and Diatetics didn’t offer a statement, in a letter sent to its 75,000 members yesterday, the academy’s president said the group “deeply regrets the circumstances that have led to the pending termination of this initiative.”

“This pilot initiative was never intended to be an official Academy endorsement of a particular product, which is strictly prohibited by our policy and is expressly included in all contracts,” the letter said.

As it stands, the logo is already set to appear on products this week, and will be around eat least until July because the packaging has already been manufactured.

Kraft Singles to drop ‘Kids Eat Right’ logo after ‘misperceptions’ [Associated Press]

High-End Online Retailers Net-A-Porter, Yoox Officially Tie The Knot

net yoox It seems like just yesterday we were dreaming of a mega-luxury online retail platform where we could buy all the designer brands our wallets will never be able to afford. That’s probably because it was one day ago that reports began to swirl that online merchants Yoox and Net-A-Porter were thinking of merging to create one big high-end shopping destination on the interwebs.

Those talks appear to have escalated quickly, as Yoox confirmed this morning that it has clinched a deal with Net-A-Porter to create a “business combination.” The financial aspects of the deal were not made public.

The merger creates a new group to be known as Yoox Net-A-Porter Group with expected revenue of $1.4 billion. Under the deal, the new company is expected to attract nearly two million high-spending customers and over 24 million monthly visitors worldwide.

Both Yoox and Net-a-Porter – which is owned by Swiss company Richemont – launched in 2000 as a way to provide more upscale brands in one place.

However, the two companies took a decidedly different approach to doing so.

London-based Net-a-Porter showcases its products much like one might see while thumbing through a fashion magazine, while Yoox focuses on buying overstocked or unsold items from previous seasons from high-profile fashion designers and then selling those apparel products for a discounted price.

“This is a game-changing merger between two pioneering companies that have already radically transformed the marketplace since 2000 and will now shift the industry paradigm once again,” Federico Marchetti, founder of Italian-based Yoox Group and the new CEO of Yoox Net-a-Porter Group says in a statement. “Together, we plan to expand on our many combined successes and industry breadth to strengthen partnerships with the world’s leading luxury brands and harness a significant untapped growth potential.”

The quick turn around regarding Yoox and Net-a-Porter’s merger are a bit surprising, considering just last week it was reported that Amazon was in talks to purchase Net-a-Porter for a hefty $2 billion. However, officials with Richemont tell Fortune that those talks never occurred.

To Create a Leading Online Luxury Fashion Retailer Worldwide [Yoox]

Charter Digs This Whole Cable Merger Thing, Plans To Buy Bright House For $10.4B


In cable, merger mania isn’t just for the biggest players. The next tier down wants to play, too. And so we have the announcement this morning that Charter is planning to buy regional operator Bright House Networks for a cool $10.4 billion.

Bright House is, according to Charter’s press release, the sixth largest cable operator in the U.S., serving about 2 million customers in Florida, Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, and California. And Florida really seems to be Charter’s main target here: the company has no presence in that state at this time, nor will the Comcast/TWC merger land them customers there.

Charter is, of course, intimately involved in the pending Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger. If that trio gets its way with regulators, Charter will directly trade roughly a million and a half customers to/from Comcast, as well as own a significant stake in the new spin-off organization, GreatLand.

Charter has also indicated that should the Comcast/TWC deal for whatever reason not come to fruition, they’re still perfectly ready to go buy TWC themselves.

The planned Charter/Bright House merger will have to follow the same approval steps at the FCC as its bigger siblings, but is likely to face significantly less opposition as the companies involved are much, much smaller.

lundi 30 mars 2015

Ticketmaster Says It Stands For “True Fan-Friendly Competition”

gswticketmaster Over the weekend, StubHub filed a lawsuit against Ticketmaster and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, alleging that the team and the ticket company are forcing Warriors season-ticket subscribers to use Ticketmaster if they want to resell their seats to anyone. Ticketmaster is now defending itself and says that it is the one that’s on the side of sports fans.

“We are disappointed that StubHub has filed a baseless lawsuit that asks the courts to help prop up its business against true fan-friendly competition,” reads the statement from Ticketmaster about the StubHub lawsuit. “NBA teams like the Golden State Warriors have implemented ticket exchanges powered by Ticketmaster because they want ticket resale to be a secure experience, not an opportunity for scalping and fraud. The exchanges are growing in popularity because Ticketmaster and its partners have worked hard to make ticket resale much safer and more transparent, uniquely serving true fans. Ticketmaster does not force any customer to resell tickets on any particular platform and will vigorously defend these specious charges.”

Pay attention to the wording of that last sentence. “Ticketmaster does not force…” You’ll note that it doesn’t say anything in defense of the Warriors, who have allegedly threatened to take away postseason ticket offers and cancel future season ticket plans for fans who use StubHub to resell their tickets. This doesn’t mean that the allegations against the Warriors are true, but it is curious that Ticketmaster omits the team from this portion of its declaration.

As for Ticketmaster’s supposedly “fan-friendly” image of its arrangement with the Warriors, the folks at Fan Freedom don’t exactly see it this way.

“The Golden State Warriors are coercing season ticket holders, with the threat of ticket cancellations, to resell tickets exclusively on Ticketmaster’s,” says Executive Director Chris Grimm in a statement. “ charges ticket buyers a 33% higher service fee than competing platforms and allows teams to set a hidden price floor, artificially inflating ticket prices.”

In its complaint [PDF], StubHub said that, in spite of the fact that the Warriors have been consistently selling out home games, the site’s inventory of secondary-market Warriors tickets dropped 80% between 2013 and 2014.

McDonald’s Introduces Table Service In Germany For Some Reason

Imagine that you’re visiting a large restaurant at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. You take a seat and give your order to a roving server, who taps it into a tablet computer and takes payment. Then your food arrives, which is…Big Macs and fries? What is this? When did McDonald’s start offering table service?

It’s part of an experiment at the 500-seat McDonald’s at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, where the fast-foodery will try a bold new experiment in bringing food to people. They can either place their orders on a kiosk (like at their locations with fancy $8 burgers in Australia) and then sit and wait for their food to arrive. Easterbrook calls this set up the future of McDonald’s, which raises one inevitable question: would we be expected to tip here in the U.S.?

The job of new McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook is to figure out how to coax people all over the world back into the chain’s restaurants, away from quick-serve interlopers like Chipotle and Panera. Germany is one of the trouble spots, along with the United States.

McDonald’s starts table service in Germany [Reuters]

Distracted Drivers Admit To Playing Guitar, Taking Selfies Behind The Wheel

Texting while driving isn’t the only distracting activity drivers are partaking in behind the wheel while they should be paying attention to the road, according to a new survey. There are people primping, changing clothes, going to the bathroom, taking selfies and even strumming away on the guitar while driving, making the roads more dangerous for the rest of us.

In a survey conducted for Erie Insurance by Harris Poll of 2,019 adults to bring attention to National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, participants admitted to doing a wide variety of things behind the wheel that aren’t actually driving, reports the Chicago Tribune.

“A distraction is anything that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, or their mind off the primary task of driving safely,” Doug Smith, Erie Insurance senior vice president of personal lines, said in a statement. “Our survey found drivers unfortunately are engaging in a wide range of distracting and potentially dangerous behaviors.”

Some of the most popular distractions: Romantic encounters (15%); Combing or styling hair (15%); Changing clothes (9%); Applying makeup (8%); Brushing or flossing teeth (4%); Changing drivers (3%) and going to the bathroom (3%).

That in addition to the 30% of drivers who admitted to texting while driving. Others said they put in contact lenses, curled their eyelashes, scratching off lottery cards and playing the guitar.

Those most likely to engage in texting live in the South, are men and are between 18 and 34, while those in the Northeast, women and people 65 and older were least likely to admit to such behavior.

But the most dangerous distraction according to Erie’s review of police data? Daydreaming.

Distracted drivers admit making out, fixing hair, relieving themselves [Chicago Tribune]