Archive for category Consumer Protection

You Might Have Seen This Coming

I wouldn’t want to take responsibility for wreaking Germany’s great reputation for engineering excellence either, but come on Mr. Winterkorn. :) I wouldn’t expect the new CEO to get much much respect from his employees with this being his first action as the head of Volkswagen.

Volkswagen Blames Emissions-Cheating Scandal on Low-Level Technicians

In public statements issued at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, new CEO Matthias Müller condemned the “unlawful behavior of engineers and technicians involved in engine development.”

Müller, former head of Porsche, took over after Martin Winterkorn resigned from the position of CEO earlier this week claiming he is “not aware” of any wrongdoing on his part.

Personally, I think I’m going to have to go with this instead:

Mother Jones political blogger Kevin Drum wrote Saturday that he is not buying the company’s claims.

“This is ridiculous,” Drum argued. “What incentive do low-level engineers and technicians have to do this on their own?”

“Hell, they couldn’t even take on a project like this unless their managers OKed the time to do it, and their managers wouldn’t do it unless they were being pressed by higher-ups,” Drum continued. “Anybody who’s ever worked at a big corporation knows this perfectly well.

This is the worst corporate debacle ever, without people directly dying.

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Because a Policy is Wildly Unpopular in America Doesn’t Mean It Won’t Happen

Comcast

Consumerist’s Worst Company In America for 2014 (you guessed Comcast, didn’t you? – right on!) is trying to get bigger and more powerful. Where is democracy when we need it?

Comcast is trying to merge with another of America’s largest cable and Internet providers, Time Warner Cable. The proposed Comcast-TWC merger would create a juggernaut of a company that almost no one would be able to compete with. The merged company — which will be named Comcast — would control more than two-thirds of all cable television subscriptions in the country, and some 40% of the home Internet market.

Alternet:

Survey after survey shows that Americans wholeheartedly oppose the proposed merger. The latest survey, by Consumer Reports, finds nearly three-quarters of Americans believe it will result in higher cable and Internet rates, while two-thirds say it will likely have a negative impact on customer service and that Comcast would have no incentive to improve.

Let’s recall that Comcast is an enemy of net neutrality, which they underscored by the Netflix shakedown last summer. They are notorious for throttling your Internet connection. Comcast is currently trying to turn user home routers into publicly-accessible hotspots without telling customers. Their prices are too high (but it’s a local monopoly controlled by nobody). And of course their customer “service” is totally evil.

Will the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice roll over and play dead, letting this merger go through? Stay tuned.

More info:
You Thought Comcast Couldn’t Get Any Worse? Think Again
When Your Cable Company Attacks: Why Comcast Abuses Its Customers
Insults directed at consumers are proof that Comcast is rotten to the core.

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TPP Sidetracked?

Coporatocracy

While a major media news blackout provides cover, Congress is debating whether to give the president the authority to fast-track a massive free trade agreement, the secretly-negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Members of Congress haven’t even been able to read it even though corporate lobbyists have.

President Obama is at odds with Democrats in both houses of Congress concerning reauthorizing a procedure called the “trade promotion authority” (TPA), that would grant the White House power to submit free trade deals to Congress for an up-or-down vote without amendments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is strongly against it.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has now publicly opposed giving President Obama fast track authority.

“We need transparency. We need a seat at the table to understand what they believe they are doing, so we can make it better. And if we don’t make it better, then we will not accept a path that is a job loser.”

TPP is part of the plan for global corporatocracy run by and for the 1 Percent. Unelected lobbyists and trade representatives are at the table, while representatives from the public at large and businesses other than huge monopolies, are conspicuously absent. From what little we know of the agreement, it would violate the U.S. Constitution, weaken environmental protections, and lead to more job losses, erosion of wages, and worsening inequality. TPP also threatens freedom of speech on the Internet because it would extend restrictive intellectual property laws and rewrite international rules on enforcement.

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KlearGear Meet Streisand. Company Feeling Heat For Overreacting to Bad Review

John and Jen Palmer of Layton had a bad experience with an online retailer named KlearGear.com. His wife wrote a negative review on the consumer review site ripoffreport.com. KlearGear sent them a letter stating their Terms Of Service has a non-disparaging clause that forbids any customer from writing a negative review and informed the couple they owed the company $3500 and sent credit reporting agencies a report of non-payment.

Non-Disparagement Clause

In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.

Should you violate this clause, as determined by KlearGear.com in its sole discretion, you will be provided a seventy-two (72) hour opportunity to retract the content in question. If the content remains, in whole or in part, you will immediately be billed $3,500.00 USD for legal fees and court costs until such complete costs are determined in litigation. Should these charges remain unpaid for 30 calendar days from the billing date, your unpaid invoice will be forwarded to our third party collection firm and will be reported to consumer credit reporting agencies until paid.

I talked to John Palmer on Facebook and he said I could share some of his remarks and clarify one thing that has been in the news. It has been reported in the news that rippoffReport.com offered to remove the negative review for a $2000. He said that ripoffreport.com does not remove reports for money but will offer mediation services for a fee and will redact any libel or untrue statements, but will never pull a report down.

The Palmers could not afford a lawyer to fight back so they used the best weapon in any arsenal and that is the court of public opinion. They contacted Get Gepheart of KUTV to publicize the story. The story has now gone viral around the country and KlearGear.com has circled the wagons and are clearly in serious trouble. The publicity has brought the story to the attention of  pro-bono lawyers that are now defending them.

Mr. Palmer says he has been following the story on the Internet and has watched it quickly evolve into a national story.  The story has exploded on social media and is being widely reported in local and national news outlets  including tech blogs, Techdirt and Techcrunch. They are now getting request for media interviews including the Today Show which they are in discussions with their producers.

KlearGear.com faces the full wrath of the Streisand Effect which is a phenomenon that occurs when an attempt is made to censor or silence causes wide-spread attention that normally few would have  been exposed to  otherwise. This negative report would have had negligible impact on KlearGear’s bottom line but by inserting such outrageous language in their Terms of Service, demanding payment, and damaging the Palmer’s credit the company has shown themselves to be nothing but corporate bullies and validates any negative review given to it.

The Palmers hope by shining light on this fiasco that other companies will think twice about inserting clauses in their Terms of Service that violate free speech by attempting to silence critics and try to mask service failures.

We have seen far too many examples of companies using bully tactics to silence people.  KlearGear.com would be smart to pull out their checkbook and write the Palmer’s a big check and make a pubic apology and never engage in things like this again. It may be too late for them but hopefully other companies will see the folly in KlearGear’s actions and this trend of corporate bullying will come to an end.

Read: http://kutv.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_8079.shtml
http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/18/kleargear-goes-into-social-media-lockdown-after-it-charges-customers-for-posting-bad-reviews/

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