jeudi 30 juin 2016

NHTSA Is Looking Into Fatal Crash Of Tesla Model S In Autopilot Mode

Last fall, Tesla released a beta version of Autopilot, a software upgrade that would let the car take over some driving functions, including steering, cruise control, and lane changes. Today, the company announced some sad news: the first fatal crash in of one of the company’s vehicles while in autopilot mode happened in northern Florida in May.

The company shared the news in a blog post, and this summary comes from a combination of that account and the police blotter from a local newspaper. The crash occurred on a divided highway, where the 2015 Model S collided with a tractor-trailer that was making a left turn in the opposite direction.

Neither the driver nor the autopilot system saw the truck, and the car drove under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer hitting the windshield, then shearing off the car’s roof. The Tesla kept driving and stopped about 100 feet away from the road past the tractor-trailer.

“The customer who died in this crash had a loving family and we are beyond saddened by their loss,” the company said in a blog post, noting that he was known to the company and to other electric vehicle drivers, and a great supporter of technology and progress. “We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” the post concluded.

The Verge discovered that the driver in this crash had posted a modestly viral dashcam video taken in early April of this year when his car swerved to avoid a truck that drifted into his lane. He also posted a collection of videos of his car’s autopilot in action to YouTube.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the crash after Tesla reported it since the car was in partially autonomous mode at the time. The crash “calls for an examination
of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash,” the agency notes in the paperwork that opened the investigation.

“The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation will examine the design and performance of the automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash,” the agency said in a statement. “During the Preliminary Evaluation, NHTSA will gather additional data regarding this incident and other information regarding the automated driving systems.”

Talking Cars on the Pros and Cons of Tesla Autopilot [Consumer Reports]

Facebook Would Like To Know If An Advertiser Scammed You

It’s one thing if an online ad is misleading or misrepresents the site that you click on, but what happens when you order an item that isn’t as promised? As overseas clothing companies that market solely through Facebook have proliferated, some customers blame Facebook, even though the site doesn’t vet the products and services of every advertiser. Now, at least, Facebook wants to listen if you’re scammed or misled by an ad on the site.

Facebook agreed to look into this after a Buzzfeed investigation into shady clothing peddlers in China that market on social media. The story exposed companies with a truly alarming number of complaints filed elsewhere on the Internet, but with carefully scrubbed Facebook pages and appealing ad campaigns.

A Facebook representative told Buzzfeed that they’ll use the information to look at trends and find problematic companies or ad campaigns. After all, if users don’t click on Facebook ads, how does Facebook make money?

The site’s response is a simple form on their help site asking for information about problematic ads, including . isn’t just for clothing sites: you can also leave information about ads that are misleading or problematic in other ways.


Give us Feedback about Ads [Facebook]

Airbags In 2001 To 2003 Hondas Are The Most Dangerous, Need To Be Fixed Now

Since people tend to keep our cars longer than we used to, there are still plenty of model year 2001, 2002, and 2003 cars from Honda and Acura still on the road. Recent tests show that each time one of the vehicles’ airbags deploys, there’s up to a 50% chance that it will rupture, posing a serious risk to drivers and passengers.

We know that hundreds of millions of vehicles out there have potentially hazardous airbags, so what’s the rush with these Honda and Acura cars, SUVS, and minivans? In an announcement today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shared recent test results that eight out of the ten deaths in the United States attributed to Takata airbags occurred in Honda vehicles from this period.

Takata performed the tests at NHTSA’s request, and they showed that airbags ruptured as frequently as 50% of the time under test conditions. Ideally, you hope that a vehicle’s airbag never deploys, but it could be a serious problem for passengers if one of these does.

The vehicles were previously recalled between five and eight years ago, and most had their airbags replaced with a less dangerous model back then. However, NHTSA reports that there are still 313,000 of them still on the roads that haven’t been fixed, and the agency wants to get word out to their owners to repair them right away.

The U.S. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, is not messing around, saying in a statement that “folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge.”

Here’s the list of vehicles that are in need of immediate repairs.

  • 2001-2002 Honda Civic
  • 2001-2002 Honda Accord
  • 2002-2003 Acura TL
  • 2002 Honda CR-V
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003 Acura CL
  • 2003 Honda Pilot

Vehicles that have spent all or most of their time in warm, humid regions are the most susceptible to the defect, but all cars from these models are under recall. If an airbag from one of these models deploys, it poses a serious risk of rupturing and injuring the driver and passengers with shrapnel, which can kill them even when the crash that caused the airbag to deploy wouldn’t have.

NHTSA: New test data on particular subset of Takata air bag inflators shows substantially higher risk [NHTSA]

Small States Win: DC, Delaware, And Rhode Island Have Fastest Average Internet In The U.S.

Well, Virginia, we had a good run. The Old Dominion spent a while having the fastest average internet connection in the U.S., but that reign is over. A new report drops Virginia all the way back to 9th place, and puts in a handful of high-achieving newcomers at the top of the heap.

That’s the news from the latest “State of the Internet” report [PDF] from internet analytics firm Akamai, which has been running these quarterly updates for years.

The U.S. as a whole continues not to crack the ranks of the global top ten for fastest national averages — coming in at 16th place — but there’s lots of interesting moving and shaking going on among the states. Notably, several states have seen gains in average speed of more than 25% just since this time last year:

Akamai's top ten fastest average states in Q1 2016.

D.C. may be a city, not a state, but it saw a whopping 48% increase in average internet connection speed over the last year. Maryland also saw a 40% increase, with New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island also all seeing gains of 30% or higher.

At the other end of the spectrum, Kentucky, Idaho, and Alaska have the lowest speeds in the nation, around 10.9 Mbps — just over half of what 3rd-place Rhode Island sees.

Higher speed connections — greater than 10 Mbps or 15 Mbps — also continue to be more widely available and, unsurprisingly, are seen in the states with the highest overall average connection speeds:

Akamai's charts showing how many connections exceeded the 10 and 15 Mbps thresholds in Q1 of 2016.

In five areas — Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and D.C. — more than 50% of all the internet connections Akamai recorded cleared the 15Mbps threshold, all of which are huge gains over last year. Of course, if 51% of users are clocking in above 15 Mbps, that still means 49% aren’t — to say nothing of actually reaching the FCC’s 25 Mbps threshold for “high-speed” broadband service.

Still, gains are gains. The number of internet users in Maryland, New York, and New Jersey who have 15 Mbps or greater connections, as compared to this time last year, went up by 70% or more, coming close to doubling in twelve months.

Even in the best-performing states, barely a quarter of users hit that 25 Mbps mark. In D.C., the highest-ranking, it’s 29%. Delaware follows at 25%; Rhode Island and Massachusetts come in right behind at 21%; New Jersey, Maryland, and Utah all tie for fourth place at 19%, and Virginia comes in at fifth place with 18%. On the other hand those changes, too, are tremendous, with New Jersey posting a huge 180% increase in users clearing that mark as opposed to last year.

Report: Dick’s Wins Sports Authority Brand, Including Domain Names

In the future, when you forget that Sports Authority went out of business and type in their website address, you’ll end up on a page owned by the defunct retailer’s biggest competitor. Dick’s Sporting Goods reportedly scooped up the Sports Authority name, including its domain names and customer mailing lists, for $15 million in the company’s intellectual property auction.

Reuters reports that a source close to the auction shared that Dick’s was the big winner in this auction. The sporting goods retail landscape isn’t a promising one lately, but Dick’s did also reportedly win 31 leases for a total of $8 million, most likely in areas where it doesn’t currently have a store.

When Sports Authority put its current stores up for sale as a going concern, which means buying the business and all of its inventory, liquidators made the highest bids, selling off inventory at nice discounts eventually.

Buying the intellectual property of Sports Authority, as Reuters reports that Dick’s Sporting Goods has done, would allow Dick’s to open Sports Authority stores or an e-commerce site if it wanted to, but it probably won’t. Instead, purchasing the mailing list and loyalty card member information means acquiring some customer names, especially in areas where it doesn’t currently have stores. Buying the brand means that no one else can own it.

Now Dick’s can let the brand that used to be plastered on tickets and billboards at sporting events simply die off instead of worrying about the brand being resurrected, as Modell’s and UK retailer Sports Direct had planned to do with the Sports Authority brand on a small scale.

There was no reported winner for the naming rights to the field where the Denver Broncos, reigning Super Bowl champions, play. That will please the Broncos: the team wanted to prevent the contract from being sold at the bankruptcy auction, and to perhaps find a more lucrative deal with a new sponsor on its own.

Dick’s set to win auction for Sports Authority brand: sources [Reuters]

Noodles And Company Is This Week’s Luckless Winner Of Data Breach Roulette

Did you enjoy a pad thai, macaroni and cheese, or a pesto cavatappi for lunch sometime in the last few months? And then have your bank very suddenly replace your credit or debit card, due to an unnamed data breach, in early June? You’ve may have Noodles and Co. to thank for both.

The 20-year-old fast-casual pasta-based chain announced this week that it is the latest victim of a large scale data breach affecting consumers’ payment data.

The hack lasted from January 31 until June 2 of this year, Noodles reports, at which point it was detected and stopped.

The company has been, as one does in this sort of situation, working with third party security investigators to determine how the breach happened and what was stolen. Lo and behold, there was malware in Noodles’ computer systems that managed to yoink payment card information including cardholder name, card number, expiration date, and CVV.

Online orders were not part of the breach, Noodles added.

The company suggests the usual: check your credit reports with the three agencies, put freezes or fraud alerts on any if you need to.

Noodles has published a list of all affected restaurant locations broken down by state. States that were part of the breach include:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, DC
  • Wisconsin

For more information, Noodles has created a landing page for all information related to the breach. The FTC also has a a guide online to help consumers deal with having their data lost or stolen in hacks.

RELATED: Do you ever shop anywhere? Congratulations: your data will be hacked.

Everyone Get Back To Work: Google Calendar Is Back, Or Will Be Soon

As a reminder of how much everyone has come to depend on a free (or work-supplied, if your workplace uses Google accounts) online service, today civilization may yet still collapse due to a morning outage of Google Calendar. There were no widespread reports of people wandering streets or office hallways with no idea of where they were supposed to be, but that may be because the outage only lasted a few hours.

As usual when a service other than Twitter is down, people took to Twitter to vent about the situation. Or celebrate. One of those things.

Google, however, ruined the Internet’s fun by being competent and fixing the problem.

[CNET] [Google]

How One Email Set Off A 6-Year Legal Battle With No End In Sight

What Are SLAPPs And Anti-SLAPPs… And Why Should You Care?

Lawsuit Accuses Hormel Of Using Meaningless ‘Natural’ Label On Deli Meat

When you see a label that says “natural” on your meat, you might make some assumptions about what’s in it. Doesn’t that label mean meat that doesn’t have preservatives or artificial colors, that comes from animals raised without growth-promoting hormones or antibiotics? Well, no, it doesn’t necessarily mean that, and a recent lawsuit from the Animal Legal Defense Fund calls Hormel out on its labeling.

Yes, that’s the same Hormel that owns organic meat brand Applegate Farms, but this lawsuit is about Hormel’s own trendy Natural Choice line of lunch meats. The suit, filed by animal rights group the Animal Legal Defense Fund, asks why the line is marketed as having the features customers expect in “natural” products, but contains plant-derived preservatives and comes from the same meat supply as Hormel’s other products.


“Contrary to Hormel’s branding campaign,” the ALDF explained in a press release explaining the lawsuit, “meats the company advertises as ‘natural’ actually [come] from animals raised in the worst factory farms that employ additives, hormones and antibiotics, and contain ingredients that constitute artificial preservatives.”

Like what? The group claims that the pacakging claims meats are free of nitrates and nitrites, common processed meat preservatives, but that Hormel uses celery juice powder, a product that sounds natural, but is just a rich source of nitrate. Another natural-sounding additive, cherry powder, combines with the nitrate to form sodium nitrate. They didn’t add any nitrates or nitrites, though!

The group alleges that Hormel is breaking District of Columbia consumer protection law, and filed their suit in Washington.

What’s ‘All Natural’ Meat? Hormel is About to Find Out [Bloomberg]

Parent Company Of Nabisco And Oreo Wants To Gobble Up Hershey Chocolate

Snack food giant and grocery store staple Mondelez International apparently has decided it needs more chocolate for the s’mores you can make with its Honey Maid graham crackers, and is making a takeover bid for Hershey Foods.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Mondelez is making every attempt to acquire Hershey.

The WSJ, citing the ever-popular “people familiar with the matter,” says that Mondelez has contacted Hershey about the sale. The Hershey Trust, which holds 8.4% of the stock and 81% of the voting power, has historically resisted any sale offers.

Mondelez, however, is reportedly “prepared to go to lengths” to win over America’s most famous chocolate brand, including pledges to protect jobs, relocate to Hershey, PA, and rename the whole company Hershey, according to a source.

The Mondelez family of brands currently includes a whole bunch of snacks, crackers, and candies that you know, including Oreo, Cadbury, Chips Ahoy, the entire Nabisco line, Philadelphia (cream cheese), Ritz, and Trident and Stride gum, among many others.

The Hershey Company, meanwhile, makes more than just Hershey’s-branded chocolate. They also sell a variety of other candy brands, including Twizzlers, Mounds and Almond Joy, Reese’s peanut butter products, and York peppermint patties.

Hershey also already owns the rights to Cadbury candies in the U.S., which are different (and widely considered less good) than their British, Mondelez-owned counterparts.

Listen To A Guy With Experience Talk About Fireworks Safety

This holiday weekend, many Americans will no doubt be in the mood to celebrate Independence Day with brightly colored fireworks that go “whiz!” and “bang!” and make us all proud we got rid of the British early on. But no matter how fun fireworks can be, they can also be very, very dangerous. To bring that message home, New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is sharing the story of how he lost part of his hand in a firework accident

In a new public service announcement from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Pierre-Paul shows the world exactly what can happen when you aren’t careful around such explosives, holding up his right hand to show the damage a firework did when it accidentally exploded in his hand last year.

“Fourth of July, I lit up a firework, thought I could throw it away real quick,” he tells CPSC chairman Elliott Kaye in the video, filmed at the Giants’ indoor practice facility at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J. “And in a split second, it blew off my whole hand.”

He lost his index finger in the accident, and suffered severe damage to his right hand.

“I’m just truly, truly blessed to be alive,” Pierre-Paul

“Keep fireworks away from kids,” Pierre-Paul implores viewers, while Kaye chimes in to remind folks to keep professional fireworks to the professionals.

Hertz Partnering Up With Uber, Lyft To Supply Drivers With Rental Cars

Don’t have a car, but want to work for Lyft or Uber as a driver? Hertz is hoping it can squeeze some extra miles out of its older cars with new deals it’s just announced to supply rentals to the ride-hailing companies.

Under the agreements, drivers have set rates on two- to three-year-old models Hertz has rotated out of its fleet, which can be rented from Hertz off-airport locations. The cars can then be used for either personal or business reasons, and they can be rented out for just a few days or even months.

“We consider this agreement to be largely complementary to our rental car business,” said John Tague, president and CEO of Hertz Global Holdings, in a statement.

The agreement will expand Hertz’s pilot program with Lyft, which it debuted in Las Vegas last year. The rental car company will be bringing that program to Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The Hertz/Uber program will at first only be available in Los Angeles, but the company says it plans to expand both programs across the country eventually.

17 Commercial Failures From Brands With Spectacularly Bad Ideas

While Keurig is surely hoping there will come a day when its failed KOLD soda-making machine is but a misty, sparkling memory, it’s not the first company to reach for the stars, to fly too close to the sun, to try to capture lightning in a bottle… and fail utterly and completely, thereby forever securing a spot in the brand failure hall of fame, never to be forgotten.

Keurig is far from alone, of course: many companies have tried to bank on former successes by coming up with some strange ideas. And so we present forthwith, 16 other examples of companies who thought they had the next big thing, only to fall flat on their faces.

1. The Ford Edsel

Arend Vermazeren

Perhaps nothing embodies the idea of a commercial failure as much as the Edsel, which was unveiled on Sept. 4, 1957 to the public after a yearlong teaser campaign. It was met with resounding rejection, as customers deemed the gas-guzzling, pricey car an ugly waste of money. Three model years and 110,847 Edsels later, Ford pulled the plug on the Edsel in November 1959. Ultimately, Ford took a $250 million hit (in 1958 dollars, or about $2 billion today) for the development, manufacturing, and marketing of the vehicle.

2. Crystal Pepsi

Paxton Holley

For some reason, Pepsi got it into its head that cola shouldn’t be brown; it should be clear, while still tasting like cola but looking like a lemon-lime soda. That push for sensory confusion resulted in Crystal Pepsi, a caffeine-free “clear alternative” to regular colas.

“You’ve never seen a taste like this!” Pepsi promised, which was true, but not in a good way: many consumers were grossed out, confused, or just disappointed, with some insisting the beverage had a citrus hint to it. PepsiCo killed Crystal Pepsi in 1993 after only a year.

“People were saying we should stop and address some issues along the way, and they were right,” the man who conceptualized Crystal Pepsi, David Novak, told Fast Company in 2007. “It would have been nice if I’d made sure the product tasted good.”

Pepsi first brought it back as a one-off nostalgia item in 2015, before announcing on June 29 yet another limited-time resurrection of Crystal Pepsi. For what reason, we do not know.

3. Qwikster

QWIKSTERThe well-chronicled debacle, which saw Netflix hiking prices and briefly separating its disc-rental arm into a different company in 2011 before reconsidering, resulted in diving stock prices and a massive pay cut for its CEO.

4. New Coke/Coke II


Thursday, April 23, 1985. That’s the date Coca-Cola announced a change to its secret formula — the first one in its 99 years — and a change that would forever link Coke with brand failures to come after it.

It wasn’t originally called New Coke — it was a can of Coke with the word “New!” on it, until 1992 when it was officially renamed Coke II.

The company calls it “arguably the biggest risk in consumer goods history,” while everyone else just calls it a big, fat flop.

The backlash from consumers was so immediate and so fierce, the company hurried to get the original recipe back on the market within three months of New Coke’s arrival. On July 11, 1985, Coca-Cola held a press conference to officially announce the return of the old Coke, and admit how very wrong it had been.

“The simple fact is that all of the time and money and skill poured into consumer research on a new Coca-Cola could not measure or reveal the depth and abiding emotional attachment to original Coca-Cola felt by so many people,” said Coca-Cola’s president at the time, Donald Keough.

5. Frito-Lay Lemonade

What would be perfect to wash down salty snacks? A big, cold glass of lemonade. That must have been the thinking behind the Frito-Lay brand’s unsuccessful foray into branded beverages with Frito-Lay lemonade; it didn’t work out so well.

Something about the Frito-Lay name just didn’t sound refreshing to consumers, Entrepreneur noted in 1998, and parent company PepsiCo dropped the product.

6. Tropicana carton redesign


When it comes to breakfast beverages, Tropicana learned that messing with its brands is not a good move. In January 2009, Tropicana came out with a new look for its cartons, including a clever cap that looked just like an orange.

Clever or no, consumers haaaaaated it. The product went “poof” by the next month, and the original packaging reappeared on shelves in March.

“We underestimated the deep emotional bond” loyal customers had with the original packaging, Neil Campbell, president at Tropicana North America in Chicago explained to The New York Times then. “Those consumers are very important to us, so we responded.”

7. Gerber’s single servings for adults


Pre-made baby food is super convenient for parents: You get the meal in a jar; it’s the right size for your 10-month-old; it’s already pureed; and it’s portable. Win/win.

However, jars of mush — aside from maybe applesauce and Soylent — do not generally appeal to most adults. In fact, the list of people over 21 who have ever thought, “I wish my beef bourguignon were all pre-mashed and then stuffed in a jar” is infinitesimally small — and so was the market for Gerber Singles, one of 1974’s worst ideas.

The plan had been to sell the product to college students and young adults who had moved out of mom’s house and might not be otherwise able to feed themselves. It turns out, young adults had plenty of other options they liked better — anything other than adult baby food, for example.

8. Bic Underwear & Hosiery


If we say “Bic,” the first thing that leaps into your mind is probably going to be “ball-point pen.” Pencils and highlighters might be close runners-up, and, if you’re feeling particularly thoughtful, you might mention disposable razors or lighters. You are not, however, likely to think of undergarments and hosiery.

The women’s underwear line, which included pantyhose, launched in 1998. It was — like all those other Bic products — designed to be disposable. The problem is, most women aren’t really looking for disposable underwear. Nor are they planning to buy underwear from stores (or sections of stores) where Bic’s other products are sold; at least not unless it’s an emergency.

The products — which never launched in the United States — quietly disappeared from overseas stores in 1999. We found a pair on eBay recently, if you’re still interested.

9. Lifesavers Soda


Lifesavers have been around since 1912, but in the 1980s, Wrigley thought it might make a run at the beverage market with a candy-flavored soda.

Sugar plus sugar — sounds like a sure thing for the go-go-go ’80s, right? Not so much. Some folks found the fizzy drink too sweet, like drinking “liquid candy,” and the product disappeared into the sugary chasm from whence it came.

10. Miller Beer


In the mid-1990s, there was Budweiser and Coors, but while Miller Brewing Company had a variety of namesake beer brands — Miller High Life, Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft — it didn’t have a flagship mononym brew like the competition did.

So in early 1996, Miller launched a new product, simply called “Miller,” which featured the company’s trademark against a red and blue background on a traditional brown bottle, calling it “different from any existing premium beer.”

It didn’t go very well, coming up short on a company goal to hit 1% market share by the end of 1996, Milwaukee Business Journal reported in 1997, and the company soon took plain-old Miller off the shelves.

11. Gap logo redesign

In October 2010, Gap executives apparently figured out how to use Photoshop, or at least whatever crude graphics program came preinstalled on their office computers, with the resulting logo looking liked it belonged on a cracked plastic sign outside an anonymous office park warehouse, instead of a huge national clothing retailer.

Everyone hated it, because look at that thing — it’s “as bland and uninteresting as jeans and a black t-shirt,” as we wrote then.

Only two days later, Gap scrapped the crap logo, saying, “We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers.”

12. Kellogg’s Cereal Mates

Portable cereal is not actually a bad idea. On-the-go breakfasts are popular. Cereal is popular. Putting the two together seems like a strong commercial idea and, indeed, your modern grocery store has a lot of different portable, single-serving options. Kellogg’s 1998 attempt, however, hit the sweet spot of “does not solve problem” and “too weird,” and failed miserably as a result.

The packages — containing a single-serve sealed bowl of cereal, a box of milk, and a spoon — were advertised as something to find in the fridge case, to make your family’s chaotic morning easier. The thing is, cereal you keep in the fridge tastes kind of meh by the time you open it. And shelf-stable milk, while perfectly safe if properly packaged, continues to be a hard sell for most American shoppers.

So Kellogg’s managed to capture the worst of both worlds — soft cereal and warm milk — while making the product too high-priced and redundant to use at home and too cumbersome to take on the road.

13. Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water


Coors says its been brewing its beer with “pure rocky mountain spring water” since 1873, and in 1990, the company decided to take the alcohol out of the equation and just sell straight-up sparkling spring water.

Despite the growing popularity of bottled water, many shoppers were confused by the company’s first non-alcoholic beverage since Prohibition, which featured a Coors logo just like its beer products. Coors abandoned the idea two years after launch.

14. Colgate’s Kitchen Entrees

Food is something you are supposed to eat, and it makes your teeth dirty. Toothpaste is something you are not supposed to eat, and it makes your teeth clean. So you can get an immediate sense of why toothpaste-branded food was maybe doomed to failure.

Frozen meals were all the rage in 1982, and you can see why Colgate-Palmolive wanted in on the trend. Much harder to understand is why they thought the Colgate toothpaste branding would help sell savory foods. Nobody wants their toothpaste to taste like stir-fry… or their stir-fry to taste like toothpaste.

They did not last long on store shelves and quietly disappeared a few months thereafter.

15. Orbitz Soda

orbitzMade by Clearly Canadian, Orbitz looked like a drinkable lava lamp: marketers touted the fruity soft drink filled with gelatinous spheres as a “texturally enhanced alternative beverage,” but many consumers just thought it was gross. The drink was shelved in 1997 a year after it debuted, while its name has been repurposed by a certain online travel booking company.

16. Frito-Lay WOW Chips


If you don’t remember WOW chips, consider yourself luckier than many consumers who actually bought them… and whose bodies did not respond well to olestra, the fat substitute used to reduce the fat content of these chips.

First introduced in 1998, Frito’s new idea was popular at the beginning, with WOW versions of Lay’s, Ruffles, Doritos, and Tostitos bringing in $400 million in sales. But by 2000, sales had dipped to $200 million, after many customers reported anal leakage caused by olestra.

A new warning was added to packaging as well: “This Product Contains Olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. Vitamins A, D, E, and K have been added.”

The chips were rebranded to “Light” around the same time, and WOW disappeared, leaving only painful, streaky memories behind.

17. Keurig KOLD

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 4.45.58 PM

While folks might love their single-serving coffee machines from Keurig, the company made a big mistake trying to compete with SodaStream. The Keurig KOLD was a soda-making machine that cost $370 when it was introduced in 2015 — and it fell flat.

After less than a year on the market, Keurig said it would be discontinuing the product and offering refunds to anyone who bought it.

That is, if anyone actually bought it.

Amazon Trying That Whole “Prime Day” Thing Again This Year

Last year, Amazon tried inventing a holiday all for itself. The day was dubbed “Prime Day,” and it was to be a day full of irresistible sales and promotions for Prime Members. In the end, it was something of a wash. But Amazon, undeterred, is now making it an annual tradition.

The online retail behemoth made the announcement today to anyone who logged in to see it, with a giant banner proclaiming July 12 to be the day of deals. Last year’s event, though, didn’t go exactly as they planned.

It started rough, with deals that were not exactly inspirational or thrilling… and technical issues galore when users actually tried to buy the products.

Then there was the flap over a TV sale that came and went so quickly that customers complained it had never existed at all and was a misleading ploy to draw people in. It wasn’t; the 40″ HD TV really did exist and really did sell for $115… it just also really did sell out in literal seconds, leaving bargain-hunters frustrated.

Despite the frustration and negativity some customers expressed, though, the event was overall a win for the company. Amazon reported that sales were up by over 80% on Prime Day last year, and clearly that was enough motivation for them to pull a repeat this year.

This time around, Amazon is also trying to engage customers to “prepare” in advance by following their Facebook page and downloading their mobile app. Even the most well-prepared deal seeker, though, should probably be prepared to face stiff competition for the top-billed items. There will probably be another cheap TV, but you’ll have to get lucky to get it.

College-Bound Students Are Unprepared For Financial Burden Of Loans. What Needs To Change?

Despite efforts by the Department of Education to educate prospective college students about the burden of student loans, nearly two-thirds of students who took out loans to pay for college say they had no idea what they were signing up for. To fix this problem, it’s going to take more than making these students sit in a class about financial aid and student loans; it may require an overhaul of the entire college financing system. 

Sure, the DOE and most colleges offer courses or, at the very least, online resources to inform students about the long-term obligations associated with taking out student loans, but those efforts likely aren’t enough.

According to the results of a recent survey [PDF] from our colleagues at Consumer Reports, most students with loans felt the information they received through financial aid information sessions prior to enrolling in college wasn’t helpful.

Of the students who took part in at least one financial aid counseling session, most reported that the financial aid officers they met with were not prepared for, or tasked with, helping students understand the reality and consequences of taking on student loan debt.

For example, 27% of respondents said the information they received about debt management and consolidation assistance was not useful at all.

Another 20% said they found the “information on how the different loans work and the interest accrual process” and “information on how loan repayment works and different repayment options” to be “not at all useful.”

These feelings are likely the result of what some advocates feel is a largely automated financial aid information system.

It’s generally up to each school to tell affected students how to complete this entrance counseling, according to the DOE. Colleges may, for example, require in-person counseling, or they may allow students to complete the counseling online through the school’s own financial aid office, or the DOE’s student aid office.

That means there’s no way to objectively measure or monitor what students are getting out of this counseling.

“There are only bare bones requirements under federal law, and in practice students appear to get varying levels of counseling depending on which schools they happen to attend,” Suzanne Martindale, staff attorney for Consumers Union, tells Consumerist.

So how can the DOE, colleges, and advocates ensure that students are getting needed information to handle their financial situations before, during, and after graduation?

Overhaul the system by creating clear, concise notification for borrowers.

CU’s Martindale tells Consumerist that the advocacy group believes “it would certainly help if schools provided counseling that prioritized the student’s best financial interests.”

This counseling would entail clear, standardized information with plain-language terms, similar to the DOE’s Financial Aid Shopping Sheet.

ShoppingSheetTemplate20152016 copyThat resource, created by the DOE and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and first made available for the 2013-2014 financial aid award year, has already been adopted by thousands of schools.

The Shopping Sheet was created to be a consumer tool that participating institutions could use to notify students about their financial aid package. It’s designed to simplify the information that prospective students receive about costs and financial aid so that they can easily compare institutions and make informed decisions about where to attend school.

Martindale suggests that additional resources could include statistics of graduate outcomes.

This would provide prospective students with information — based on their area of study — that may help them determine if taking out a loan for a certain major will be financially viable in the future.

“But all the information in the world can’t fix an inherently unfair system,” Martindale points out, noting that more affordable and safe options need to be made available to students. “For those who do borrow money, we also need to ensure that they are treated fairly while repaying their loans – that’s why we have called on the federal government to make improvements to the education loan servicing industry.”

FDA: Stop Eating Raw Cookie Dough Or Making Home-Made Play-Dough For Now

For years, raw chocolate chip cookie dough was a forbidden treat. Everyone said — rightly or wrongly — that you shouldn’t consume it because the uncooked eggs could make you sick. Then came special commercial dough preparations that worked around that, and there was much rejoicing (and many ice cream sales). But now, alas, cookie dough is back off the table, as are any other uncooked treats… and this time, it’s all down to the flour.

You know how we’re in the midst of that nationwide E. Coli outbreak linked to now-recalled General Mills (Gold Medal) flour? Yeah. This is another piece of fallout from that. Because consuming contaminated flour without cooking it first is a great way to get yourself some E. Coli, and that is a thing you do not want.

That’s why the FDA this week has published a consumer advisory telling consumers to quit licking the spoon already during baking time, among other things.

Specifically, they advise against eating, handling, or playing with any raw dough or batter that contains flour in it at this time, and that’s a broad category — way more than just cookies. Rolling out a home-made pizza, pie, or tortilla? Stirring up a cake or brownie batter? Wash your hands, don’t lick that spoon, and be super careful.

The advice also includes any home-made dough for kids’ “flour crafts,” as well as any lumps of dough kids may be handed at restaurants — doubly important, since toddlers are not exactly known for their overall hand-washing skills and are fairly likely to gnaw on basically anything just because they can.

The good news is: the commercially-made stuff is still okay, so you can go buy a pint of cookie dough ice cream and gobble it down to your heart’s content. Industrially-produced cookie dough is (or at least, should be) made with both pasteurized eggs and treated flour.

Along with their warning, the FDA offers advice on how to handle foods safely and a description of E Coli symptoms.

mercredi 29 juin 2016

Coca-Cola Will Pull Some Products From Shelves In Vermont Instead Of Adding GMO Labels

The date when food items that contain ingredients from genetically engineered plants or animals must be labeled to be sold in Vermont is almost here, and lawmakers haven’t managed to strike down the law yet, so food companies will have to print or add the information to items shipped to Vermont. Or they could do what Coca-Cola plans, and not ship the items for a while.

Don’t fret, Vermont: the standard regular and diet drinks will still be available in Vermont. A Coca-Cola spokesperson said that some products will have information about genetically modified ingredients on the label, and others will have it added with a sticker. For less popular items, the company will do neither, and just temporarily stop sending them to Vermont.

Keep in mind that competitor PepsiCo quietly started adding GMO labels to its own ingredients a few months ago, even in states where such labels aren’t required. Some other big food companies have made the same decision, including General Mills, Campbell Soup Co., and Mars Inc. Other companies will find workarounds if they need to label their products, including simply slapping a sticker on the packaging for items that ship to Vermont.

Some Coca-Cola products to be temporarily unavailable in Vermont stores [Reuters]

Window Blind Trade Group Agrees To Set Standards, Keep Kids From Cords

You might not think of window blinds as something dangerous, but they pose a risk to children, who can entangle themselves in the cords and be strangled. An average of one child every month has strangled to death on the cord to a window covering for the last few decades. Why hasn’t the window covering industry invented something better and safer than a long piece of string to raise and lower our blinds? An industry group announced today that they will figure one out.

While there aren’t really child strangulation advocates out there, Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota have taken up the cause, last month sending a letter to the Window Coverings Manufacturers Association, the trade group for, yes, window coverings. The process from here is bureaucratic, but the result will be the trade group working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and their counterparts in Canada to develop a voluntary standard for

Safety advocates have flagged the sometimes long cords that go with window blinds as a safety hazard and encouraged a safer alternative other than pinning cords up with a binder clip since 1981. While some retailers simply don’t carry window coverings with cords, that doesn’t remove them from the market.

“The performance standard created by such an approach will result in the vast majority of window products sold in the U.S. being cordless or having inaccessible cords,” WCMA executive director Ralph Vasami said in a statement.

Visa Sues Walmart In Response To Lawsuit Over Security Of Debit Card Authorizations

Last month, Walmart sued Visa, accusing the card network of pushing the retailer to use a less-secure method of verifying debit card transactions. Now Visa is firing back with a lawsuit of its own, claiming the nation’s largest retailer is violating its contract by setting up payment terminals so that they can only accept the more secure form of validation. 

At issue is the “PIN” part of the new chip-and-PIN debit cards being rolled out nationwide. Historically, third-party PIN networks have offered more affordable methods for retailers to confirm that the person using the card is the account-holder.

Visa believes that the embedded chip and the (more costly) verification provided by its network is sufficient, and has been accused of throwing its weight around to force retailers to not use the third-party PIN networks.

However, in the lawsuit filed by Visa today in a New York state court, the card company claims that Walmart violated its contract with Visa by secretly reconfiguring payment terminals to only accept PIN confirmation for transactions even if customers prefer a signature confirmation.

According to the lawsuit [PDF], the contract negotiated the between the retailer and card issuer required Walmart to give customers the choice of using PIN or signature to confirm transactions.

However, when Walmart reconfigured terminals in February, they prevented customers from being able to use signatures.

“Indeed, at the time of (the contract’s) execution, Walmart had already hatched a plan to eliminate the signature option at its physical locations shortly after the effective date,” the countersuit states.

Visa says in the complaint that Walmart never notified it that the retailer would be eliminating the signature choice. Instead, the company only found out about the change through customer complaints.

“Visa received complaints from cardholders, lost revenue due to missed transactions, and suffered damage to its reputation and brand,” the suit states.

After weeks of correspondence, Visa says Walmart ultimately modified its terminals to once again provide cardholders the opportunity to verify their identity with a signature.

However, Visa claims that instead of focusing on the contract, the retailer is attempting to find justification for its actions in regulations that don’t actually “apply to, let alone permit, the contract-breaching conduct.”

“Walmart continues to take the position that it is entitled to make PIN the exclusive means of verification for Visa debit transactions at its terminals,” the suit states. “Walmart is wrong, and Visa is entitled to a declaration that Walmart must provide Visa cardholders with a mechanism to process their Visa-branded debit card transactions without a PIN.”

Back in May, Walmart filed a lawsuit against Visa accusing the company of suggesting it verify transactions made with certain debit cards with signatures rather than a PIN in order to route the transactions through its own networks.

“The parties’ dispute exists because Walmart implemented a ‘chip-and-PIN’ protocol for debit card transactions: when consumers presented a debit card with an embedded computer chip for payment, Walmart required consumers to insert their card into a terminal that could read the computer chip and then required consumer to enter a Personal Identification Number to verify their identities,” the complaint states.

Walmart contends that PIN verification is “much more secure than signature verification.”

However, Visa believes that Walmart should be required to use the more “fraud-prone system of signature verification,” the retailer says in its complaint. These transactions would then be routed across Visa’s debit network rather than competitor networks of Walmart’s choice.

More recently, both Home Depot and Kroger have filed similar lawsuits against Visa over allegedly being forced to exclude PIN verification.

Sam’s Club Forgot To Tell Some Employees About Their Clever Costco Promotion

Last Monday was an important day in retail history, and we’re not being sarcastic: it was the day that Costco switched its credit card acceptance policy from only accepting American Express to only accepting Visa. The transition didn’t go smoothly for some members, and national competitor Sam’s Club decided to take advantage of the confusion and try to win over some of those members. Unfortunately, some employees didn’t know about this.

Reader Megan decided to visit her local Sam’s Club, bringing her two young kids along. Only no one at the store had heard about the promotion. “The card checker at the door was rude, told me I was at the wrong
store, and was absolutely incredulous that Sam’s would ‘just let people from Costco in’,” she wrote to Consumerist. “I had to go wait in line at member services and actually had to show someone an ad about the promotion before they would let me in.”

That was just getting in the door to look around. Megan was under the impression that Costco members could make purchases, too. That also took some wrangling and the assistance of a few employees, and she had to pay a 10% non-member surcharge. “I didn’t even know that was a thing,” she grumbled.

Megan wasn’t alone: other shoppers shared their stories on the Facebook post where they originally learned about the promotion.



We checked with Sam’s Club, and they confirmed:

  • The promotion is real.
  • You can get in the club with your Costco card.
  • You can make purchases and should not have to pay the 10% non-member surcharge, like Megan did.
  • The promotion lasts through July 4, 2016.

FDA Wants Proof That Antibacterial Hand-Sanitizing Products Are Actually Effective

While you may have a personal choice of antibacterial hand-sanitizing product to wipe, slather, and squirt your way to germ-free mitts, there’s one thing all those products all have in common: they should actually work.

The Food and Drug Administration is proposing a rule that would have manufacturers submitting scientific data on the efficacy of their products, with a focus on gels, rubs, towelettes, and other similar over-the-counter products used to combat bacteria when washing your hands isn’t an option.

The FDA says it doesn’t have any particular concerns over ingredients, but it wants to make sure it stays up on the latest sincere on the topic, especially because these products are so popular.

“Today, consumers are using antiseptic rubs more frequently at home, work, school and in other public settings where the risk of infection is relatively low,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, noting that while the products are a convenient alternative to hand washing, it’s the FDA’s “responsibility to determine whether these products are safe and effective so that consumers can be confident when using them on themselves and their families multiple times a day.”

“To do that, we must fill the gaps in scientific data on certain active ingredients,” Woodcock said.

Specifically, the FDA wants more evidence about the safety of long-term, repeated exposure to these products, especially when pregnant women and children are using them.

The industry will have 180 days to comment on the rules proposed Wednesday. In the meantime, manufacturers of the products will have a year to submit evidence that their products are safe when absorbed into the bloodstream, and that they do kill bacteria.

The agency has already proposed such rules for antibacterial soaps used with water, and on hospital sanitizers.

Monsanto Looking At “Strategic Options” After Rejecting Bayer’s $62B Bid

A month after Monsanto deemed a $62 billion proposed merger bid from Bayer “financially inadequate,” the Missouri seed and pesticide giant is reportedly looking at its options after receiving less-than-stellar earning numbers. 

Reuters reports that Monsanto is in talks with Bayer and other companies regarding “alternative strategic options” that could include a merger.

Executives for Monsanto say the company has continued merger talks with Bayer after it rebuffed the smaller company’s merger bid, but that no deal has solidified.

Additionally, the company says the options under consideration include combinations with other companies and businesses outside of Bayer. Any further deals could also involved businesses that were divested from the Dow/DuPont merger.

“Monsanto remains the partner of choice in this industry and I assure you that we will continue to actively explore these opportunities,” Monsanto CEO Hugh “No, Not That One” Grant said.

However, Reuters points out that Bayer and other companies may not be willing to put billions of dollars on the line until they take a look at Monsanto’s financials.

The company recently revealed lower-than-expected sales for the sixth straight quarter. Analysts say those weak earnings only increase the chances of a merger or acquisition for Monsanto, however, it could come with a price tag below Bayer’s previous offer.

Monsanto in talks with Bayer, others about ‘strategic options’ [Reuters]

Major Wireless Carriers Offering Free Calls, Texts To Turkey After Istanbul Airport Attack

In the wake of a suspected terrorist attack at Istanbul’s airport that killed 41 people and wounded 239 more, the four major wireless carriers in the U.S. are offering to connect customers with their loved ones in Turkey for free.

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint all announced that they’ll be waiving fees and charges for texts and calls between the U.S. and Turkey over the next few days.

Verizon: Wireless users won’t rack up charges for texts or international long distance calls originating from the U.S. to Turkey through June 29. In addition, home wireline telephone customers can make free calls to Turkey on those days as well.

“More than 170,000 Verizon employees worldwide extend condolences to all our friends and family in Turkey,” the company said.

AT&T: AT&T will waive or credit charges incurred for consumer or business calls placed by AT&T’s customers from the U.S. to Turkey between June 28, 2016 to June 30, 2016 (in the local time zone). That includes “landline, texting, and mobility (Postpaid and GoPhone) calls.”

“Our thoughts are with the people of Istanbul and our customers who have friends and family there,” the company said.

T-Mobile: T-Mobile is offering free texts and calls from the U.S. to Turkey for all T-Mobile Simple Choice prepaid and postpaid customers, as well as customers of MetroPCS, GoSmart Mobile, and Walmart Family Mobile, between June 28 and July 5.

“Today’s attack in Istanbul is both tragic and horrifying,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “Our hearts are with everyone affected by this senseless act.”

Sprint: Sprint is waiving all international long distance, roaming, and SMS charges to and from Turkey for all Sprint, Boost and Virgin Mobile customers, through July 5.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those personally affected during this difficult time,” said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. “We want to do everything we can to show our support and heartfelt sympathy to all Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile customers with family and friends in the region.”

Rumor: Verizon To Announce Rollover Data, “Unlimited” No-Overage Option on July 1

Remember back when candy bar phones and flip phones were the hot new thing, and all the wireless providers jumped into the fray trying to offer you rollover minutes to come sign up with them? Well, if the rumor mill is to be believed, we might all be climbing on board the rollover train again… this time, in the data era.

A thread has surfaced on Reddit in which Verizon Wireless employees are discussing some kind of “huge new promo” launching on Friday — July 1 — and trying to suss out what it is. The answer seems to be that Verizon has done a 180 on their adamant denial from last year and is going to start offering some kind of monthly data rollover plan to customers.

In addition to the rollover data, Verizon is also rumored to be offering an alternative to overage fees: data throttling, in which you can still use your phone and connect to the internet when you’ve hit your data limit, but only very slowly. Customers who opt in to this “safety mode” would be swapped to the worse service when they hit their data cap, instead of paying $15 for each extra gig.

An image from a Verizon test site going around indicates that all Verizon Wireless customers would be eligible for the rollover data “to the end of the following month,” which seems to imply an AT&T-style “use it or lose it” 30-day expiration scheme.

The rumored Verizon rollover plan.

If the image is to be believed, the throttling measure, “Safety Mode,” would be a free option for any “XL” (12 GB / $80) or “XXL” (18 GB / $100) plan, and subscribers with lower-volume data plans could opt into it for an additional $5 a month.

This rumor is worth taking with an entire bucket full of salt; the sourcing is unknown and unverifiable. Still, it’s well within the bounds of plausibility. T-Mobile introduced a rollover data scheme in December of 2014, and AT&T followed just a month later.

Verizon has been adamant that they would do no such thing, with company CFO Fran Shammo saying in 2015 that Verizon is “a leader, not a follower” and “did not go to places where we did not financially want to go to save a customer.”

But times change, and so does the mobile market: now that everyone has a phone, the way to get new customers is to pinch them from other providers. And maybe in 2016, rollover data is the carrot that Verizon needs to use to make that happen.

[via DSL Reports]

Taco Bell Customer Allegedly Shoots At Store Over Forgotten Sour Cream

It’s understandable that a customer may be a bit ticked off when their bag full of tacos doesn’t include everything they asked for at the drive-thru. But it is never acceptable to take that frustration out on an employee in a violent manner. 

Police in Milwaukee say a customer, reportedly upset that his order didn’t include the sour cream he had asked for, allegedly pulled a gun and shot at the drive-thru window, WISN-TV reports.

Management at the restaurant say the issue began around midnight on Monday when the customer ordered a meal through the drive-thru.

After leaving with his order, the man became upset when he discovered an employee forgot to add sour cream. The customer then called the restaurant, by then closed, and a manager told him to come back the next day for a free meal.

Unsatisfied with that directive, the man returned to the restaurant and shot at a bullet-proof window and an employee’s car.

WISN reports that no one was injured in the incident and police are say the currently do not have the suspect in custody.

Forgotten sour cream leads to Milwaukee fast food shooting [WISN-TV]

There Were 3 Other IKEA Dresser Toddler Deaths Dating Back To 1989

While dressers and chests in IKEA’s Malm family have drawn attention this week for being recalled after the deaths of three children were linked to them, those aren’t the only deaths that dressers from IKEA alone have caused: other models of dresser are linked to an additional three deaths of children age three or under, and the first one was in 1989.

A wide variety of pieces of furniture tip over and injure both adults and children: the stunning statistic publicized this week comes from a Consumer Product Safety Commission study of “product instability or tip-over injuries” that looked at reported injuries from 2000 to 2013. [PDF]

An average of 38,000 people in the United States end up in emergency rooms as a result of these injuries every year, and an average of 430 people die every year. 84% of the people killed by falling or tipping furniture, appliances, or televisions are children under age 10.

All dressers and chests from IKEA that don’t pass an industry standard (but voluntary) test have been recalled, and that includes other models that may also be in your home. Check the full recall list from IKEA, which includes dressers and chests from dozens of product lines. [PDF]

Here, from the CPSC recall notice, are the three other incidents where small children were killed by other varieties of IKEA dressers:

  • In July 1989, a 20-month-old girl from Mt. Vernon, Va. died after an unanchored GUTE 4-drawer chest tipped over and pinned her against the footboard of a youth bed.
  • In March 2002, a 2½-year-old boy from Cranford, N.J. died after an unanchored RAKKE 5-drawer chest tipped over and fatally pinned him to the floor.
  • In October 2007, a 3-year-old girl from Chula Vista, Calif. died after a KURS 3-drawer chest tipped over and fatally pinned her to the floor. It is unknown as to whether the dresser was anchored or not.

If your furniture has securely been anchored against the wall, you don’t have to do anything. If you are unable to anchor the item to the wall or uncomfortable doing so, or if you want to get rid of the piece of furniture altogether, contact IKEA at (866) 856-4532 for assistance.
Following an Additional Child Fatality, IKEA Recalls 29 Million MALM and Other Models of Chests and Dressers Due to Serious Tip-Over Hazard; Consumers Urged to Anchor Chests and Dressers or Return for Refund [CPSC]
FAQs on the IKEA Chest and Dresser Recall [CPSC]
IKEA Chests/Dressers (non-Malm) [IKEA]

Xbox Fitness Users Ticked Off That Microsoft Is Rendering Purchased Content Unusable

If you’ve bought workout videos to use with Xbox Fitness, better get those squats and lunges in now: Microsoft announced it’ll be phasing out the app over the next year, ticking off customers who paid for content in the process.

For those unfamiliar, Xbox Fitness was launched in 2013 along with the Xbox One console as a Kinect-linked app that could, effectively, watch users as they exercised and evaluate their performance. It came with a slew of free titles for users with Microsoft Live Gold accounts, as well as content that could be purchased upfront.

Microsoft said this week (h/t Ars Technica) that Xbox Fitness will be no more, but it didn’t announce any kind of compensation program for users who won’t be able to access their purchased content when the sunsetting process is complete.

“Given the service relies on providing you with new and exciting content regularly, Microsoft has given much consideration to the reality of updating the service regularly in order to sustain it,” Microsoft’s Erica Bell wrote in the announcement. “Therefore, the decision has been made to scale back our support for Xbox Fitness over the next year… While our team is saddened by this news, we couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past two and a half years.”

The process is already underway, as Xbox Fitness content has been unavailable for purchase since Monday. The next change will come Dec. 15, 2016, when Gold subscribers will no longer have access to the “Free with Gold” offer that allowed access to 30+ workouts available to stream. And in yet another example of the reality of buying something you can’t actually hold, only to find it unusable one day, on July 1, 2017, Xbox Fitness “(and all associated content) will no longer be available for download/play.”

“This includes content you’ve purchased,” Microsoft clarifies. “At that time, Xbox Fitness will no longer be available for download from Xbox Marketplace and content will not be available for play from the Xbox Marketplace nor within the game. Xbox Fitness users will no longer be able access Xbox Fitness and the associated workouts/programs.”

Users are not happy, to say the least, expressing their frustrations on the sunsetting announcement page itself, as well as elsewhere online like Reddit.

“I bought 140$+ worth of content just this year… …I don’t want a refund, I want to be able to continue to use what I PAID for !!!!!!!!!!!” one user wrote.

“Come on Microsoft, play it fair,” said another. “Either let us download and use our purchased XBOX Fitness content forever or refund all the purchases. Who is going to trust content providers now and make online purchases as opposed to physical media e.g. book, DVD, BluRay that you’ve got to keep and use forever?”

“This really bothers me,” a Redditor wrote. “I get so much good use out of Xbox Fitness and it’s become a staple of my week. Hopefully they do something to make up for the non-usable software.

“Good ‘ol Microsoft. Come out with something that differentiates itself from the competition, then scrap it (Kinect and now Xbox Fitness),” another said. “Really makes me think twice before buying any peripheral from them in the future.”

We’ve reached out to Microsoft to see if the company has any plans for compensating customers for their purchased Xbox Fitness content, and will update this post when we hear back.