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Tuesday
May312011

Customer Takes Out Ads to Show Anger with Time Warner Cable

NHL Images/NHLI via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When comedian Eugene Mirman was left without home Internet and telephone services for weeks because his provider missed appointments to repair and install his service, he channeled his anger into full-page newspaper ads.

Mirman published a humorous letter spelling out his grievances with Time Warner Cable and his vengeful fantasy in two weekly newspapers in New York last week, the New York Press and Greenpoint Gazette.

Mirman said Time Warner failed to show up to install cable, Internet, and phone service as scheduled on April 23.  When he called the company, he was told that the appointment was entered incorrectly and moved to May 4, without his knowledge.

His ad read, in part: "No big deal, why would a company check with someone to see if they are home on a Wednesday afternoon?  Of course they are.  Everyone is…It would be a waste of resources to call and talk to him.  Did Stalin ever call people before he arrested them and sent them to die in Siberian work camps?  No!  Why should Time Warner Cable have a policy that is any different than Stalin's?"

His appointment was later changed to May 10, then to May 12 and finally May 16.

"Why does your company act like a controlling, abusive husband on an episode of Law and Order?" he wrote in the ad.

He also told Time Warner: "To give you an idea of how much I dislike your company, I have come up with plagues I hope God smites your board of directors with."

Mirman said he often works from home which made his need for in-home telecommunications especially acute.  He also said that other telecommunications options are limited in his neighborhood in Brooklyn.

The comedian is a regular on the HBO comedy Flight of the Conchords, and voices a character in a new animated series on Fox called Bob's Burgers.

Mirman said the company's attitude and "sheer indifference" was what prompted his resolve to get the company's attention -- to the point of spending $1,100 for the two advertisements.

Mirman said he has not yet received an official response from the company, but a post in Time Warner Cable's blog acknowledged his advertisement and mentioned steps the company is taking to improve its service.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

YouTube Videos Turn Shopping Sprees Into Potential Profits

Creatas/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- One of the hottest Web phenomena for fashionistas has turned shopping sprees into something that brings worldwide bragging rights.

"Haul videos," homemade online videos in which women and young girls show off their bargain-hunting triumphs, or "hauls," have gone from being an Internet sensation to a lucrative business. There are almost 300,000 haul videos currently on YouTube, with several getting millions of views.

Essentially, the videos are short product reviews, and as they became popular, major retailers started to take notice. A few have actively recruited some of the haulers for their marketing campaigns.

Tennessee-born Elle and Blair Fowler, age 23 and 18, said they have made huge profits from being "shopping haulers" for the past two years.

"Everything I do, everywhere I go, everything I taste, everything, I'm thinking of videos and blog ideas and I'm taking pictures so I can put it on a blog," Blair said.

After a day of bargain hunting, the two would make homemade videos of themselves showing off their purchases and explaining why they bought the products. They would test cosmetics and say where they found good deals or what they thought would be the latest trends. Their videos eventually garnered millions of views.

"Companies would contact me and be like, 'Our site crashed, the products sold out,'" Blair Fowler said. "I was like, 'Why?' and they were like, 'Well, you talked about it in your video.'"

What started out as a simple YouTube video about their shopping obsessions has grown into an empire for the sisters. Now living in Los Angeles, the Fowlers have started a website with an active blog and are writing a book together. They also have a partnership with YouTube and companies have started asking them to critique their products.

Now there are thousands of shopping haulers online -- not just teenage shopaholics but moms too. Audrey McClelland has four boys under age 8 and used to be fashion icon Donna Karan's personal assistant in New York City.

"Style completely changes when you become a mom," she said. "I saw a lot of these young girls doing it, and teenagers, college students, and I wanted to bring it into the mom space."

With millions of viewers watching her hauler videos on YouTube, McClelland said she has been able to turn her blog into a source of income for her family. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Gas or Groceries?: Kroger Tries to Relieve Worries

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- Americans are making tough choices in order to fill their gas tanks. Now Kroger is trying to ease the pain. The nation's largest "traditional" grocery chain wants to alleviate the concerns of customers who are choosing between gas and groceries.  

The Cincinnati-based grocer is tripling the number of stores where shoppers can get as much as a dollar per gallon off of the price to fill up.  And it is certainly good for business.  Kroger is building sales and attracting new customers.  

Most "Loyalty Card" users get ten cents off a gallon for every $100 spent on groceries.  But in a growing number of markets, including Atlanta and Phoenix, it's a dollar off per gallon, making gas prices similar to last year's prices at this time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Crude Oil Dips Along with Slow Economy, European Debt Worries

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Crude oil has dropped amid a slowdown in the U.S. economy and the ongoing debt crisis in Europe, Bloomberg reports.

Fears about whether or not European governments will be able to settle their financial woes continues to weaken the euro against the U.S. dollar, resulting in reluctance toward commodities priced according to U.S. currency, according to Bloomberg.

Economic reports to be released this week may show that hiring numbers were down for the month of May as well as a slowdown in manufacturing, which is the likely cause for the drop in oil prices.  Analysts suspect the slowdown could lead to a lull in fuel demand.

Oil prices, which have fallen 12 percent this month, dipped to $100.38 a barrel.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Global Food Prices to Double by 2030, Report Says

Ablestock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Global food prices are likely to double within the next 20 years, according to Oxfam International.  But the global confederation, which seeks out solutions to worldwide poverty and injustice, says that it is up to world leaders to initiate reforms within the global food system to avoid the looming increases.

According to the Oxfam report, "Growing a Better Future," the average cost of the most essential crops will increase by between 120 and 180 percent.  The organization attributes up to half of the increase to climate change.  The rising costs will surely push millions into poverty around the world, Oxfam warns.

To help remedy the future impact of food price increases, Oxfam is asking world leaders to examine current food regulation and consider investing in a global climate fund.

"The food system must be overhauled if we are to overcome the increasingly pressing challenges of climate change, spiraling food prices and the scarcity of land, water and energy," Barbara Stocking, Oxfam's chief executive, said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Walmart Replaces Top China Executives

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- Walmart has replaced two of its top executives in China after their resignations earlier this month.  

Walmart on Friday said that Mario-Jose Medina, former chief financial officer of Walmart Puerto Rico and Walmart Chile, will replace Roland Lawrence as chief financial officer in China, while Del Sloneker, a former senior vice president, will succeed Rob Cissel as chief operating officer in that country.

"Both executives bring with them years of experience and a solid understanding of the retail market in China," Ed Chan, chief executive of Walmart's China operations, said of the new appointments.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., is planning for an expansion to take place in smaller cities within China, according to a Wall Street Journal report.  The retail giant is hoping to see growth in emerging markets in countries like China, Brazil and Mexico due to falling U.S. sales, WSJ reports.

The former CFO Roland Lawrence and COO Rob Cissell resigned abruptly in Mid-May for personal reasons and to pursue other opportunities, according to a statement from Walmart.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Samsung Wants to See Apple's Upcoming iPhone, iPad

PARK JI-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Samsung says it must see samples of Apple's upcoming iPhone and iPad models by June 13 to "evaluate whether a likelihood of confusion exists," according to court documents filed by Samsung. This after Apple accused Samsung of copying past design concepts and technology.

In its initial lawsuit, Apple claimed that Samsung's Galaxy line was too similar to products Apple already had on the market. Samsung wants to see Apple's latest designs to avoid further legal action from the Cupertino, Calif.-based company.

The dispute is especially complex as Samsung currently supplies chips used in Apple's iPhone. Unconfirmed reports have also suggested that Apple could be courting Samsung to provide screens for the next generation of the company's iPad tablet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Holiday Hack Attacks Plague PBS, Lockheed Martin

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- This holiday weekend has seen a number of prominent cyber attacks.

Since Friday, there was a fake news story posted on the PBS website that claimed murdered rapper Tupac Shakur was alive and well in New Zealand, and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin found itself the target of a data breach.

Add to this a claim from Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, that a hacker allegedly sent a lewd photo to one of his online followers via his Twitter account. It should be noted unlike the former incidents, Weiner's situation has not been confirmed as the work of a hacker.

"It's not a prank and it's not covered by free speech any more than someone who takes a spray can and writes all over your house," said Parry Aftab, an online privacy and security lawyer. "Everything on the Internet belongs to someone."

Aftab said he expects these high-profile attacks will have an impact.

"Expect to see a lot more regulatory hearings and action from the FTC and Congress about how we look at this," he said.

The confirmed attacks on PBS and Lockheed Martin come just weeks after a security breach at Sony affected millions of its Playstation users. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Adjust How You Drive and Save on Gas

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You can't control gas prices, but you can get better mileage by adjusting how you drive.

One tip is to keep all of your tires properly inflated.

"You really can get 3 percent better fuel economy if you keep them properly inflated," says Mark Solheim of Kiplinger's Personal Finance.

Another tip is to shed excess weight.

"If you're carrying around a toolbox or just some junk in your trunk get rid of it.  You can improve your fuel economy by 2 percent," Solheim says.

Avoiding traffic jams can also help, and if you drive with cruise control at 60 mph that's an added plus.

Solheim says if you go over 70 and use your brakes a lot, "you'll decrease your fuel economy by 33 percent."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

PepsiCo Commits $500,000 to Help Tornado Victims in Missouri

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(PURCHASE, N.Y.) -- PepsiCo announced Monday that it is committing $500,000 towards relief efforts in Missouri, where tornadoes and severe weather ravaged several towns like Joplin, leaving more than 100 people dead.

The company's latest contribution comes after a $125,000 commitment it made to help areas in the southern U.S. that were also affected by severe storms.

"The people of Joplin and other communities affected by these devastating storms are in our thoughts and prayers," said PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi.  "They need our help more than ever, and the entire PepsiCo family will fully support the recovery and rebuilding process along the way."

Along with the financial contributions, PepsiCo has also been donating foods and beverages to the impacted regions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio