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January 9, 2017

T-Mobile Intros Honest Pricing

Filed under: Electronics,Humor,Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:15 am

Last week, T-Mobile announced something novel in the postpaid cellphone industry — the price you see advertised is the price you will actually pay on your bill — all taxes and fees included! And they did this by absorbing those charges not raising their prices.

For years, it has been an obnoxious game played by cell providers, cable companies, and rental car companies to grab your attention with a seeming low price, but then jack up the bill with all sorts of junk fees and taxes. And the real costs were never fully disclosed even in the mouse print of the advertising.

To dramatize the deceptive nature of these pricing ploys, T-Mobile released this short video:



To demonstrate how fees and taxes inflate customers’ bills, TMO offers a comparison.

TMO comparison


But lest you think that T-Mobile has completely found consumer religion, plans other than T-Mobile One still play the old game.

*MOUSE PRINT:

taxes and fees extra

Nonetheless, hats off to T-Mobile for taking the first step to bringing transparent pricing to cell service.




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January 2, 2017

Can You Drench Your iPhone in Water?

Filed under: Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:57 am

A new TV commercial by Apple depicts a senior citizen leaving his iPhone on loud in a puddle of water next to the swimming pool so he can hear dramatic music as he dives off a high tower.

iPhone sitting in water

Here is the commercial:



At the end of the commercial, the man finally dives into the pool causing a splash of water to hit the iPhone. And miraculously, it still keeps playing music.

water splash

What you probably missed in the commercial is the very faint disclaimer at the very end.

*MOUSE PRINT:

iPhone disclaimer

In case you still can’t read that, it says “Liquid damage not covered under warranty.”

So why does the ad seemingly tout the waterproof or water-resistant properties of the device if they are not willing to stand behind it? We asked Apple, but all a spokesperson would say is:

“iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are splash, water and dust resistance. The entire enclosure was reengineered to make the very first water resistant iPhone, enabling it to handle mishaps such as spills and splashes.”




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October 17, 2016

When is “Sold by Amazon” Not the Same as “Bought from Amazon”?

Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:45 am

Mouse Print* reader Chris L. recently purchased a $1,900 piano from Amazon and was offered three months of online piano lessons for free as part of the deal.

Amazon piano

When he didn’t receive an email with his promotional code from Amazon for the free piano lessons, he contacted customer service via chat. An hour and 20 minutes later, nine representatives later, and a bazillion bogus excuses later, he finally extracted a promise that he would be sent the appropriate promotional code for the piano lessons. But, he never received it.

Finally he received an email explaining the real reason he never got the free piano lessons — he got tripped up by the fine print.

The original offer and the terms and conditions used magic words that most people wouldn’t understand had a very specific meaning.

MOUSE PRINT*:

amazon piano

********
Piano terms

Although our consumer purchased the piano at Amazon.com, he did not buy it from Amazon.com. He bought it from a third party marketplace seller found on the Amazon website and the order was “fulfilled by Amazon” meaning that Amazon shipped it out for the seller. The promotion, however, required that the piano be “sold and shipped” by Amazon alone.

Would anyone ever catch that nuance? And why was it promoted on a page where the offer didn’t apply?

Fortunately for Chris, the actual company providing the free lessons, Skoove.com, provided him with three months of free lessons after he sent them proof of purchase.




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October 3, 2016

Sued Over Disabling Competing Ink Cartridges, HP Apologizes to Users

Filed under: Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:54 am

Last week, we told you about a nasty ploy by Hewlett Packard to disable non-HP ink cartridges in certain inkjet printers. They did this by placing a time bomb of sorts in a routine firmware update last March, set to do its dirty work six months later.

Reaction to HP’s clever scheme was quick. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sent an open letter to HP’s CEO calling on the company to:

  • Apologize to your customers, and restore the original functionality of their printers with a firmware update that rolls back the self-destruct sequence;

  • Publicly commit that you will never again use your software update process to distribute anti-features that work against your customers’ interests;

  • Publicly commit that the effects of any software updates will be fully disclosed;

  • Prominently disclose any capability or plan to remove features from devices in your sales literature, so customers know what they’re getting before they buy;

  • Promise to never invoke Section 1201 of the DMCA against security researchers or competitors who make legitimate aftermarket products.

  • A day later, an Alabama consumer with one of the affected OfficeJet printers that suddenly stopped printing filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against HP claiming this was an anti-competitive move by the printing giant.

    Then, a day after that, HP’s CEO apologized (sort of) to affected users:

    We should have done a better job of communicating about the authentication procedure to customers, and we apologize.

    You’ll note he didn’t apologize for disabling competing ink cartridges, but rather just for doing it secretly.

    In any event, HP promises a new firmware update in a couple of weeks to reverse the problem they created and allow third party cartridges to once again work in the affected printers.




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    September 26, 2016

    Non-HP Ink Cartridges Suddenly Stop Working in Some HP Printers

    Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:10 am

    Hewlett Packard inkjet printer users often buy generic printer cartridges to save money compared to the HP branded ones. Earlier this month however, those no-name cartridges mysteriously stopped working in some HP printers giving users error messages like this:

    HP error

    What’s going on? Users have said that they had made no changes to their computer or to the printer at the time the problem started.

    *MOUSE PRINT:

    HP update

    According to published reports, a firmware update from March 2016 had a hidden time bomb set to disable non-HP cartridges being used starting on September 13!

    When asked by a Dutch broadcaster why HP did this, the company said in a statement:

    “This is to protect innovation and intellectual property, but also to improve the safety of products for customers.”

    The changes are made according to HP, “to protect the printers and to protect the communication between the cartridge and the printer.”

    “Affected printers will continue to work with refilled cartridges if they contain the original HP security chip. Other cartridges possibly don’t work”, HP added.

    We all know the real answer is “money.”

    The affected printers seem to be OfficeJet Pro models 8610, 8615, 8620, 8625, 8630, 8640, 8660 and others.

    If you are facing this problem, experts say you can try to rollback the firmware to an earlier version (not easy) or wait for no-name cartridges to update their chips to work again. To prevent the problem from spreading to other HP printers, experts suggest that you turn off firmware updates.

    UPDATE: A few days ago, an Alabama consumer filed a class action lawsuit against HP for planting a “ticking time bomb” and trying to monopolize the printer ink market. And a day later, HP relented. Come back on Monday for a full follow-up story of these late-breaking events.




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