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Entries in Cell Phone (13)

Thursday
May032012

Best Buy Employee Wrongly ‘Outed’ Denver Man on Facebook

ABC News(DENVER) -- A heterosexual man in Denver claims that a Best Buy employee wrongly “outed” him on Facebook after he left his phone for repair.

Rich Dewberry said he brought in his mobile device to get fixed and was given a new phone. Shortly afterward, his Facebook status read, “I am gay, I’m coming out.”

“The phone just started ringing constantly after that from [an] ex-spouse to friends,” he told ABC’s Denver affiliate, KMGH.

Dewberry said he was logged into his Facebook account on the phone he left with the store.

“I feel I have been humiliated. My reputation has been tarnished,” he said.

“Just having to explain it to certain people that I haven’t been in contact for a while,” he said. “I feel I shouldn’t have to do that.”

Dewberry filed a complaint with the store, which told him the employee was fired, he said.  

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Best Buy provided a statement to KMGH: “Each year, every employee of Best Buy is asked to review and sign our Code of Ethics, which includes details on how they are expected to handle customer information.”

Dewberry told KMGH he is exploring his legal options with an attorney.

The company did not return a request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov072011

Let Your Digits Do the Talking: What Does Your Phone Number Spell?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For some, the 10-digit code others use to call them isn't just a phone number—it carries a personal or practical significance.

Businesses often use vanity phone numbers, or numbers that spell a keyword to advertise their services. But some are choosy about their personal numbers as well because they find emotional or spiritual value in them.

The latter was the case for Jeremy Grodberg, founder of phonespell.org, a website that converts phone numbers to see what words they spell. Grodberg started the site in 1995 because he was moving apartments and wanted a tool to help him find a meaningful phone number.

Grodberg's old number spelled the word "clarity."

This was fitting, because "that's kind of what I was trying to do in my personal and professional life; I was trying to bring clarity to people whether in business or in spirituality," Grodberg said.

Now, callers can reach him at a number that's a little bit less serious but every bit as catchy: One of his current phone numbers spells "pink yak."

Grodberg stumbled upon the catchy number when he registered for new digits using Google Talk, and it was too good to pass up.

"I just get a kick out of saying pink yak," Grodberg said.

When Grodberg started phonespell.org, landlines were more commonly used than cell phones, and mnemonic devices were useful for remembering personal phone numbers. Now, vanity numbers are primarily used by businesses or individuals interested in personal branding, Grodberg said.

A number of companies specialize in securing vanity numbers for business owners who want a recognizable phone number to attract customers' attention.

Zoove, a 6-month-old company, secures and then leases vanity numbers to clients across the country. Most of Zoove's clients are large companies that advertise on television, said Jim Stanley, head of marketing.

William Arruda, a personal branding specialist and co-author of Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand, said that most of his clients are increasingly interested in Web-based branding and marketing. For clients with common names, finding and registering a vanity website in their own names is increasingly difficult.

Vanity numbers are ideal for businesses targeting large groups of television viewers or radio listeners because potential consumers can remember the number even when they aren't in a position to write it down, Grodberg said.

Unfortunately for those seeking something a little bit more along the lines of Grodberg's "pink yak," personal vanity numbers are usually quite difficult to secure.

Each phone company has its own policy on handing out customized phone numbers, Grodberg said. Some companies allow choosy customers to pick from a list of several dozen numbers, while others are less flexible.

T-Mobile, for instance, does not allow customers to choose vanity numbers, according to a company spokesperson.

Alternately, businesses and individuals can pay for a customized 800 number.

"I think that as the world changes, each of us is our own little mini brand," Arruda said. "We all are free agents, and the need for having people be able to easily find us is critical in all aspects of our lives."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug022011

Hidden Costs in Cell Phone and Digital Wallet Payment Services Can Cost You

Jupiterimages/ThinkstockYONKERS, NY -- While Americans are still using plenty of cash, checks, credit and debit cards to pay their bills, new electronic methods such as paying by cellphone or so-called digital wallets are emerging. Before jumping in, consumers should be aware of the disparity in loss liability and consumer protections they offer, according to Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports’ latest investigation into these new payment options finds that banks and technology companies are jostling for a greater share of the $50 billion a year in fees generated by everyday transactions. Some services by PayPal, Obopay, Square, Zong, and FaceCash already allow you to pay for purchases with your cell phone, but digital wallet services are scheduled to hit the market soon.

Google said in May that it planned to launch its version this summer. At least three competing digital wallets are planned for launch later this year and in 2012: from Visa in partnership with more than a dozen banks; Isis, a joint venture of AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and PayPal Mobile’s point-of-sale technology.

Despite all the hype, consumers don’t seem to be clamoring to pay with their phones yet.  According to a recent nationally representative survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, only 5 percent of survey respondents have used their cell phone to pay for day-to-day purchases in the previous month. Slightly more use other fairly new forms of payment, including billing to their home or cell phone account.

Most of the new electronic payment options are tied to credit and debit cards, so whatever costs consumers incur by using their plastic will transfer to the new methods. Paying by mobile phone won’t save them money, Consumer Reports warns: Google Wallet merchant transaction fees are the same as those charged on plastic payments, and the same is expected to be true for Visa’s digital wallet. Square and PayPal Mobile charge merchants even more than the average big bank fee, 2.75 and 2.9 percent of the transaction amount, respectively.

Prepaid debit cards can be especially costly, whether you use them by themselves or link them to an alternative payment method. Many prepaid debit cards charge fees for activating and maintaining the accounts, and for transactions, balance inquiries, and reloading.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May272011

Playstation Phone? Xperia PLAY 'Should Appeal to Serious Gamers'

Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- There are phones for music lovers. There will soon be phones for shoppers. There's now also one for serious gamers.

USA Today's Ed Baig says the Xperia PLAY combines a Sony Playstation with a cellphone.

"It's an Android phone, a little bit heavier and bigger than the typical Android phone because it's got those gamepad controls there," he said. "But it should appeal to serious gamers. For the rest of us, it's a decent device but there are a lot of other nice choices out there."

The Xperia costs $200 with a service plan and $450 without.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May252011

iPhone User Sues AT&T Over Data Charges

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(MIAMI) -– If you're an iPhone owner on a limited data plan, keeping track of your monthly usage can be a tricky task -- one extra email here, an impulsive app purchase there, and you could find yourself facing an unwanted overage fee.

Now, a lawsuit filed by an iPhone owner alleges that AT&T makes monitoring data usage more difficult by not only overbilling its customers for data transactions, but also charging for so-called "phantom" traffic -- actions the customer did not initiate.

The lawsuit, filed by AT&T customer Patrick Hendricks in the Northern District of California and seeking class action status, accuses AT&T of breach of contract and fraud for systematically overcharging for data usage.

Barry Davis, an attorney with Thornton, Davis & Fein, P.A. in Miami, the firm representing Hendricks, said the suit was filed after an independent computer engineer verified the overcharge claims made by AT&T customers. The engineer spent two months testing about a dozen different smartphones and found that AT&T iPhones and iPads consistently overstated data usage and billed for "phantom data traffic," Davis said.

On average, the devices overstated usage by 7 to 14 percent but, in some cases, he said the average was as high as 300 percent. When the engineer left the phones completely untouched for 10 days, Davis said AT&T billed the phones for 35 transactions.

Davis said AT&T has until later this summer to submit a formal reply, but in a statement the company refuted the lawsuit's allegations.

"Any claim that we overbill our mobile data customers is absolutely false," said Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman. "We properly charge for all data that our customers send and receive."

As referenced in the company's wireless customer agreement, AT&T said that data charges on smartphones apply not just to customer-initiated activities (like emailing, downloading applications, Web browsing, and music and video streaming) but also background activities related to software updates or diagnostics.

As for the so-called "phantom" charges, AT&T said it records data activity nightly to create a record of each customer's bill in its system. The action may appear on a monthly statement as a mysterious late night charge, but the company said that's because time stamp corresponds with when the device connected with the network, not when the customer sent or received data.

If AT&T customers want to keep tabs on their data usage, they can track usage on att.com/dataplan or dial #DATA# to get a text message updates. The company also says it sends customers three messages a month warning them as they approach the monthly data usage limit.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May112011

HP Veer 4G Hits Stores Sunday: 'Lets You Multitask...Plays Flash'

PRNewsFoto(NEW YORK) -- The first device to come out of of the HP Palm merger goes on sale Sunday.

The HP Veer is small but, the Wall Street Journal's Katie Boehret said, the phone's operating system is really what sets it apart.

"WebOS lets you really multi-task," she said. "You can very easily see all of your programs running at the same time. It plays Flash in the browser, which is something that Apple's operating system does not do . . . and webOS is really just designer focused.

"It's smooth, it's pleasing to use, it doesn't feel geeky," Boehret said.

The Veer costs about $100.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr272011

Apple Responds to iPhone Tracking Controversy

George Frey/Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- One week after security researchers stoked privacy fears with evidence that iPhones and iPads store location data, Apple on Wednesday finally released an official statement attempting to quell customer concerns.

"Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so," the company said in a public "Q & A on Location Data" posted on the company Web site.

Instead of logging the location of its users, Apple said the iPhone keeps a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers nearby users' current locations, some of which could be more than 100 miles away from the phone.

That information is stored on the phones to help them more quickly and accurately determine the phones' location when owners use navigation or location-based services.

"Calculating a phone's location using just GPS satellite data can take up to several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data to quickly find GPS satellites, and even triangulate its location using just Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data when GPS is not available (such as indoors or in basements)," the company said.

The company emphasized that security and privacy are important and that, in the coming weeks, it will release a software update that will reduce the amount of location data stored on the phone and cease to backup the information.

In the days following the researchers' announcement, digital rights activists and lawmakers criticized both Apple and Google for privacy infringements related to location data.

Apple's official statement on location data comes two days after Franken announced that the Senate would hold a hearing on mobile privacy concerns, with Apple and Google executives, on May 10.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan212011

T-Mobile Backs Application to Block Texts, Calls While Driving 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BELLEVUE, Wash.) -- If you don't have the will power to decline calls or texts when you're behind the wheel, T-Mobile now has a way to do it for you. To stop cell phone users from driving dangerously, the company this week unveiled a new service that automatically disables most texting and calling features when a phone senses that it is in motion.

The service, DriveSmart Plus, is not the first smartphone application to attempt to block on-the-road calls and texts. But while other cell phone carriers say they are working on similar kinds of technology, T-Mobile's service is the first carrier-backed service to hit the market.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but, in a press release, said the $4.99 per month application, developed by Emeryville, Calif. company Location Labs, will be available to T-Mobile customers with Android smartphones.

When activated, the DriveSmart application determines how quickly a phone is switching between cell phone towers. When it senses the phone is moving faster than 10 miles per hour, within a few minutesit automatically sends phone calls to voicemail or a hands-free Bluetooth headset.

Studies have shown that cell phone use while driving increases crash risk by four times. But "distracted driving is bigger than just cell phones," Rader said. "Targeting cell phones only addresses one slice of the problem."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan122011

Top Companies Reduce Liability, Ban Cell Phone Use While Driving

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ISTACA, Ill.) – A new study has found that one in five Fortune 500 companies has banned cell phone use while driving on company time. The National Safety Council, which conducted the survey, found that cell phones are a factor in 23 percent of motor vehicle accidents every year.

“In January 2009, NSC called for a ban on all cell phone use while driving because research identified the behavior as dangerous. A driver is four times as likely to crash while talking on a cell phone while driving,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the Council. “Now, in 2011, our call to action is getting results, and our nation’s top employers are taking steps to protect their employees and communities in which they operate by implementing total cell phone bans.”

The study also found that companies with locations in more than one state applied the ban, regardless of the laws on the books in a particular state.

Although some bans had been in place since only 2008, the NSC said restrictions were able to be measured. While 19 percent of responding companies said productivity increased with the ban, 22 percent said it remained the same.

Of companies that responded to the survey and do not have a policy banning cell phone use while driving, 35 percent have plans to implement one within the next 12 months, the NSC says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan112011

iPhone Coming to Verizon Wireless

Photo Courtesy - Aaron Katersky/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The anticipation is finally over. Verizon Wireless announced Tuesday it will begin selling Apple's iPhone 4 on Feb. 10. Qualified Verizon Wireless customers will be able to pre-order the iPhone online on Feb. 3.

The announcement means Verizon will break the exclusive hold AT&T has had on the device since the June 2007 launch.

While those loyal to Verizon celebrated the long-awaited option for one of the most popular smart-phones in the world, tech aficionados say some of the features are lacking. There are also some concerns over how millions of new iPhone customers will affect Verizon's network for other users.

AT&T iPhone users have long complained of dropped calls and slowdowns, particularly in major cities. AT&T began limiting data usage last summer. iPhone users had previously enjoyed unlimited data plans.

Verizon has said it has built its network to prepare for the new users.

The Verizon iPhone will be similar to the current iPhone 4 but will use Verizon's CDMA technology and 3G network. The phone will allow customers to use their phone to connect up to five wi-fi enabled devices, with its new "Personal Hotspot" feature.

iPhone pricing for Verizon customers is identical to the current models available with AT&T service: $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB model with a new two-year contract.

The iPhone 4 will be available at Verizon Wireless stores, Apple stores and the websites of both Verizon and Apple.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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