Consumer Buying Advice

  • Sears Holdings sues former CEO who now owns the brand
    by Mark Huffman on April 19, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    The long Sears saga continues in court By Mark Huffman of ConsumerAffairs April 19, 2019 Long before Sears declared bankruptcy and was eventually sold at auction, some stakeholders were eyeing its chairman and CEO, Eddie Lampert, with an increasing amount of skepticism. Now, some of them are suing Lampert, charging the executive took actions that hastened the retailers demise. Lampert, and his hedge fund ESL Investments, purchased the remaining Sears assets for $5.2 billion at a bankruptcy auction in February. The suit was filed by the Sears Holdings team that was given the responsibility of disposing of Sears assets. The complaint was filed on behalf of creditors who claim that Lampert destroyed billions of dollars of Sears value, driving the company into bankruptcy. Lampert has defended his actions as CEO, saying he was forced to sell assets in a vain attempt to pull Sears out of what he called its death spiral. But Sears Holdings, which filed the suit, charges Lampert in effect gave away the store in deals that failed to realize the full value of the assets he was selling. The complaint Had defendants not taken these improper and illegal actions, Sears would have had billions of dollars more to pay its third-party creditors today and would not have endured the amount of disruption, expense, and job losses resulting from its recent bankruptcy filing, the plaintiffs said in their suit. ESL issued a statement vigorously disputing the claims made in the lawsuit. It termed them baseless allegations and fanciful claims. In addition to Lampert and ESL, the suit names a number of other defendants, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a former board member and investor at ESL. Lampert eventually purchased the remaining Sears assets, including the Kenmore and DieHard brands. He said he plans to operate about 400 Sears and Kmart stores. When Sears filed for bankruptcy in October Lampert had stepped down as CEO, no longer running the day to day operations. However, he remained as the companys chairman. Last ditch effort When Lampert appeared to be the only serious buyer for Sears assets, the retailers unsecured creditors went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent him from taking control. The creditors committee argued that the bid shouldnt be approved because Lamperts control gave him "undue influence to siphon value" on favorable terms. Lampert won and is now busy planning Sears relaunch in a retail environment that gets tougher by the day. He says he plans to make Sears stores smaller than in the past, focusing less on clothing and more on tools and appliances. […]

  • Sprint says its business isn’t as strong as it appeared
    by Sarah D. Young on April 19, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    The company reportedly told regulators that it will struggle as a standalone entity By Sarah D. Young of ConsumerAffairs April 19, 2019 Following news that its proposed merger with T-Mobile may be on the ropes, Sprint has reportedly told regulators that its business may not be as stable as it appeared, according to the Wall Street Journal. [Sprint] has touted adding new wireless connections for six straight quarters. What it didnt say until now is that many of those gains were free lines or existing customers that switched services, the Journal said. Sprints recent gains in so-called postpaid connections were driven by free lines given to existing Sprint customers, the report continued. Earlier this week, the WSJ reported that Justice Department staff recently informed the two telecom providers that the merger is unlikely to be approved as currently structured. T-Mobile CEO John Legere refuted that the merger is in trouble, tweeting that the premise of the Journals story was simply untrue. Not on a competitive path Sprint told regulators that, given the state its in, its unlikely to survive as a standalone company. In a recent filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Sprint attempted to make a case for the merger by claiming that its ability to compete in the industry would be diminished if the merger isnt approved. Sprint is in a very difficult situation that is only getting worse, Sprints lawyers wrote. Sprints lack of low-band spectrum is at the root of these network problems Simply put, Sprint is not on a sustainable competitive path. The company added that its network is deficient and that its losing customers, and it cannot generate enough cash to invest in its network, pay its debt obligations, and compete effectively. Absent completing its transaction with T-Mobile, Sprint will have limited options, and is likely to be forced down either a repositioning path and/or a restructuring path, the FCC filing continued. The planned merger of T-Mobile and Sprint would reduce the number of carriers from 4 to 3, which critics argue could hurt competition and drive up costs for consumers. The companies have argued that the opposite would be true, claiming that the merger will result in more efficiencies that allow the combined company to reduce costs. […]

  • Investors sue Lyft following slide in IPO value
    by Gary Guthrie on April 19, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    Plaintiffs say the company overstated its market value and didnt disclose details of an e-bike recall By Gary Guthrie of ConsumerAffairs April 19, 2019 On a day when Lyft is blogging about butt math, the company should probably be paying attention to the math it used in pitching its initial price offering (IPO), which has resulted in two new lawsuits. Bloomberg News reports that Lyft investors have sued the company claiming that its IPO was overhyped, which caused the stock to tumble from a high of $88.60 on March 29 down to $58.36 at noon on Friday. The lawsuits -- both class action suits, but filed separately -- contend that Lyft over-promised in its prospectus, saying that it had 39 percent of the American market based on the number of rides. In all fairness, Lyft is making some headway -- just not as much as it ballyhooed. According to February 2018 metrics from transaction data science firm Second Measure, Lyft is growing faster than Uber. However, the companys 30.4 percent share of the domestic ridesharing market is less than half of Ubers 67.3 percent. The lawsuits also laid blame on Lyft for failing to give investors the heads-up ahead of its recent electric bike recall. How will this affect Ubers forthcoming IPO? Lyfts prospectus and subsequent lawsuits might be getting as much scrutiny at Ubers headquarters as Congress is giving the Mueller report. Uber sees Lyft quickly approaching in its rearview mirror, noting that our competitors raised additional capital, increased their investments in certain markets, and improved their category positions and market shares, and may continue to do so in comments made in its prospectus to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). After this legal dust-up with Lyfts IPO, investors might be slower on the trigger when it comes to buying Uber stock when it goes public. Ubers reign over the rideshare market has not been short on struggle -- or controversy, wrote Second Measures Kathryn Gessner. The company has long faced public scrutiny over how fares are determined and how drivers are treated. A new CEO and 2018 brand overhaul have helped Uber clean up its image, but the core challenges of its business remain. Squeezing money from rideshare is expected to get harder, as major cities -- like New York -- have moved forward with proposals to add surcharges to fares and cap the services allotment of active vehicles. […]

  • The Weekly Hack: Hackers break into Mercedes Benz rental app, steal 100 cars
    by Amy Martyn on April 19, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    The app-maker describes the massive theft as an isolated instance By Amy Martyn of ConsumerAffairs April 19, 2019 Hackers are continuing to find novel ways to steal cars, but it may be a comfort to learn that the victim in the latest case is a car rental service, not a heartbroken individual consumer. A CBS reporter in Chicago reports that as many as 100 Mercedes Benz cars or other high-end cars have been reported missing after the rental app Car2Go was hacked. Car2Go, also known as Share Now, is a mobile app that lets people rent Mercedes Benz and other luxury cars with their cell phone. A spokesman for the company downplayed reports of the Chicago theft, instead only telling a reporter that 100 cars had been compromised. "This is an instance of fraud, isolated to Chicago, and we are currently working with law enforcement, a Car2Go spokesman told Mashable. None of our members personal or confidential information has been compromised. Federal agents Hackers have broken into websites associated with the FBI National Academy Association (FBINAA), a training program for law enforcement, and compromised the personal information of approximately 4,000 federal agents across the United States. The information includes job titles, phone numbers, and postal addresses of federal agents. Techhrunch got ahold of the hacker, who claimed to have data on over a million federal employees. The hacker is trying to sell the information on the Dark Web. The FBI academy said it is looking into the matter. We believe we have identified the three affected Chapters that have been hacked and they are currently working on checking the breach with their data security authorities, FBINAA said in press statement. Internet Explorer A security researcher is advising people to remove Internet Explorer from their computers after finding a vulnerability that allows hackers to steal users files and data even if they do not use the browser. Researcher John Page told Microsoft about the flaw last month, but the company said that concerns were overblown and refused to issue a patch to fix the problem. We determined that a fix for this issue will be considered in a future version of this product or service," Page says he was told by Microsoft. […]

  • A late dinner and skipping breakfast could be dangerous following a heart attack
    by Kristen Dalli on April 19, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Researchers suggest the consequences could be fatal By Kristen Dalli of ConsumerAffairs April 19, 2019 Following a heart attack, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is imperative. Now, a new study sheds light on how important eating habits are. According to researchers, following regular mealtimes is key to optimal health following a heart attack. The study revealed that eating dinner close to bedtime and skipping breakfast can come with dangerous consequences. It is said that the best way to live is to breakfast like a king, said researcher Dr. Marcos Minicucci. A good breakfast is usually composed of dairy products (fat-free or low fat milk, yogurt, and cheese), a carbohydrate (whole wheat bread, bagels, cereals), and whole fruits. It should have 15 to 35 percent of our total daily calorie intake. Cause for concern The researchers examined over 100 participants to see how eating habits affected them following a heart attack. All of the participants involved in the study had a heart attack known as STEMI -- ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. According to Dr. Minicucci, one in 10 patients with STEMI dies within a year. The researchers observed the participants eating habits, noting when they ate a late dinner -- eating a meal within two hours of going to bed three times per week -- and when they skipped breakfast -- eating nothing before lunch, not including drinks, three times per week. Over 50 percent of the participants in the study ate late dinners, while nearly 60 percent skipped breakfast at least three times per week. In total, over 40 percent of the participants did both. Our research shows that the two eating behaviours are independently linked with poorer outcomes after a heart attack, but having a cluster of bad habits will only make things worse, Dr. Minicucci said. People who work late may be particularly susceptible to having a late supper and then not being hungry in the morning. The researchers found that these poor habits came with some serious consequences. In not eating at regular mealtimes, participants increased their likelihood of having chest pain, having another heart attack, and dying, all within the first 30 days post-heart attack. In addition, Dr. Minicucci and his team believe that the inflammatory response, oxidative stress, and endothelial function could play a role in unhealthy eating behaviours and cardiovascular outcomes. Staying healthy Though a recent study found that heart attacks arent as common or deadly as they were in the 90s, its important for consumers to maintain healthy lifestyles and prevent cardiovascular episodes in any way they can. A recent study found that going back to work, which can be difficult for many consumers post-heart attack, is possible and can be done safely. Patients who believe they can still do their jobs and want to go back will make a success of it, said researcher Dr. Rona Reibis. After a heart attack it is very rare for patients to be physically unable to perform their previous duties, including heavy work. […]

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