Consumerist

Wed 07 dec 2005

The Bathroom Scale: Anthropologie Solstice 2005 Catalog

anthropologie_solstice05.jpgThe Catalog: Anthropologie Solstice 2005. ‘Solstice’ is Catalog for ‘fancy.’ Also online here.

The Target: Women who want their oaken headboards distressed, but their table lamps bouncing soft light off minimalist gauchos to be tear-dropped and unblemished.

The Models: Three-fifths, by weight, of the girls we knew next door. In Elf City. The redhead, relegated to the back of the book, is stunning.

Bathroom Reading Rating: The layout is unassumingly composited; the photography is interesting; the paper is soft, with a chalky cover that lends itself to languid browsing (or emergency shortages). Suitable for women and guys who would like to impress them, without being totally gay.

Four swallowtail floor cushions out of five. A keeper.

Afternoon Freebies: Gay Wallet Follies

wallet_folly.jpgThe Dell Game continues apace. Tug the stockings to win a prize, or more likely, a coupon for percentage off discounts on Dell products.

• For the hobo in need of a vacation, AirTrain is accepting 20 or 32 oz drink proof of purchase from Wendy’s as 1/4 Rewards credits. Confusing? This is easier: dig 32 cups out of the dumpster, get a free domestic flight. (Taxes and fees apply, so try to dig out a watch or some gold fillings while you’re down there.) You can redeem up to 128 Wendy’s cups.

• Sign up for dude’s debt consolidation information, get a proudly homosexual wallet. We’re sure there is a connection, but we leave it to your and your johns to discover it.

• Trade your personal information to Toys R Us for a chance to win an Xbox 360 … next year.

Free Playtex Sipster cup from Juicy Juice when you use this code: 6F6468291. Yes, that Playtex.

Consumeristas Speak: Lenovo's Free Thinkpad Battery Bait and Switch

B.L. Ochman writes:

This is about a bait & switch by Lenovo, from whom I just bought a $2,500 Thinkpad. I bought the computer from their site, paying $300 more than it would have cost on Buy.com because I wanted to configure it. And Buy.com had a fucked up policy.

Anyhow, when I ordered the computer, there was a promotion on the site that offered free shipping, as well as an extra battery, a cheap printer and some other stuff. I told the salesperson I wanted the battery. He came back and said they were out of them and did I want a printer. No, i didn’t want a damn cheapo printer. I wanted a battery.

If they were out of stock they could have sent it when they got some more. It’s not like this is a product that is rare. But no, the bait & switch was ‘cheapo printer or go to hell.’

Now the guy tells me he can’t do anything about it because that promotion is over. “As for the promotion I do apologize but we are not able to offer it to you since the order was placed after the promotion expired, alternate promotions were offered as was free shipping.”

Bonus Link from the Icy Reaches: Bell Canada, Thy Name is Agony [Woolsock.ca]

Welcome to the Consumerist

Welcome, internet, to The Consumerist, the latest title from Gawker Media. The Consumerist loves to shop, and is reconciled to utilities, but hates paying for shoddy products, inhumane customer support, and half-assed service.

Each week The Consumerist will guide you through the delinquencies of retail and service organizations. The Consumerist will highlight the persistent, shameless boners of modern consumerism — and the latest hot deals, discounts, and freebies around.

Join us. You’ll tell us when you’ve been royally screwed by yet another company, and we’ll channel your rage. Together we will storm the revolving doors of faceless corporations to call them naughty words for genitals, and they will begin to fear us.

The Consumerist. Capitalism is broken. We’ll help you fix it.

Wed 07 dec 2005

Dumb Scam Artists: Xbox 360s in Bulk

When we saw a comment on another blog asking us to email mobilephonedealer01@yahoo.com to find out about buying Xbox 360s in lots of ten, we dropped him a line. You know, might as well. Here was Adam Cigly’s reply:

We are selling the xbox 360 for just $180USD ,these are all unlocked brand new xbox 360 and with 1year international warranty so for the shipping is within 48hours through FEDEX SHIPPING COMPANY which cost $60usd and the payment is thrugh western union money transfer ,do reply back with your full shipping address and your personal phone number ok thanks and God bless””””””””””’
See, they make it up in volume. And God bless you, too, Adam.

Choosing a Bank: Where are the Epinions?

epinions_bank.jpgTraditional bank ranking systems, like those endorsed by the FDIC, are of limited use. We are sure services like Bankrate use a variety of unbiased metrics to determine the security and stability of the institution, the liquidity of the bank’s assets, the oh we just ate a whole ham while they were talking and then fell asleep.

There is a service out there that should be giving us what we want, though: Epinions. They have 201 banks in their Personal Finance Index, rated from one to five.

Two problems.

First, we are privy to the inner workings of the second-highest rated bank on the list, UMB National Bank of America, and can safely say that they hold between thumb and forefinger a china cup of Satan’s scalding spunk. But even without our scrying, why would we trust something as important as our money with a bank that has only been reviewed three times?

Here is our point, if we have one: If we don’t start seeing more real people talking about the experiences they have at their banks, how are we supposed to pick one? For us, knowing which bank branch has the friendliest tellers and the easiest web banking is much more critical than knowing how many months we have before our savings are lost to their inevitable corruption.

Today in Media: CDs to Avoid, Songs to Stream, Lyrics to Question

• Confused by the whole ‘Sony Rootkit’ debacle and don’t know which CDs might install malicious software that leaves your PC vulnerable to compromise? Sony BMG has a list of the 50 CDs with the MediaMax DRM, making it easy for you to avoid purchase. You’ll just have to get your ‘YoungBloodZ’ fix elsewhere.

• Also, EFF’s Fred von Lohmann blogs about Real Networks’ new web-based Rhapsody music streaming service, which makes recording of streamed songs trivial. We won’t go so far as Fred to call it the “Beginning of the end for music DRM,” but being able to record versions of music you’ve payed for sounds fair usey to us.

• Warner/Chappel sends a cease-and-desist to the developer of pearLyrics, a free tool that scours the internet for lyrics and adds them to the metadata of your MP3s. Because you payed to listen to those sounds, not understand what they mean.

[via Digg and BoingBoing]

The Best Desk Chair for People Who Can Afford Desk Chairs

liberty_humanscale.jpgGreat chairs for that ass. But first, a personal complaint: We have written for Slate before. We have grown used to the long editing process, because we had presumed we needed the help. Yet, mull this quote from the ‘Search for the Best Desk Chair’ article:

“This sit is the bomb.”

Oh Slate, how you’ve grown with us. In our dreams you drop beats of assorted density to front the rhymes of Garrison Keillor and Wilford Brimley.

But yes, chairs! Seth Stevenson’s ass says the $950 ‘Liberty’ by Humanscale (pictured) is the clear winner, with mesh galore, a strong reclining position, and no knobs or levels. Exciting!

And if we may recommend a more affordable option, we have yet to break the $250 Office Depot Aeron Clone, despite being built like we were intended to make a living hewing something.

A Search for the Best Desk Chair [Slate]

Consumerist RSS Feeds

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They are also linked at the bottom of the page in our Credits section, where—if we were the myspace band page we appear to be—we would include our dark, but poetic (but dark!) fan fiction.

TextDrive: Don't Be a Dick

textdrive_logo.jpgIt only takes one “dick” to tear us all apart. Case in point: This drama-packed thread detailing one customer’s horrid experiences with web hosting company TextDrive. Here’s the dick in question, posted by TextDrive President and COO Jason Hoffman, in a thread where a person was complaining about server uptime:

There’s really just one rule at textdrive, and that’s at every level, and that is Don’t be an asshole. Some rephrase it as Don’t be a dick. It’s not really about awe, or being uptight, or being chill, it’s simply about being a dick.
I don’t think it’s necessary at any level. It’s really no different then yelling “fat fuck” at a fat person on a treadmill.
That, friends, is how you talk to customers. (Before you .zip up their account and cancel them, like Hoffman did to the customer who was complaining.)

If you’d like to waste entirely too much time reading the whole saga like we did, start at the bottom of this category page and move up. The original complain in the TextDrive forum was locked, but you can download a copy from Kickflop.net.

Update: A dissent! A story about Jeff [Shtuff.us]

Notify360.com: Pay Robots to Find You an Xbox

360cont.jpgWe’ve been trying to score Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 game console for the last week without paying the ridiculous eBay premiums. (We are holding a charity raffle in Brooklyn and wanted to give one away. Seriously.)

Demand for the console has ramped up to the point that people are now making money just to help other shoppers find 360s to purchase. Specifically, Notify360.com offers three levels of alerts, putting an email in your inbox or an SMS on your phone as soon as an Xbox 360 becomes available for purchase online. The ‘Silver’ service is free but delayed by 30 minutes compared to the $60 ‘Platinum’ service. Platinum membership is limited to (just) 2,000 members and comes with other benefits, like an entry into the self-explanatory “I-BUY-4-YOU” raffle.

You know what’s worse than hiring a concierge service for a videogame system? Knowing you’ll have to do it again next year when the Playstation 3 arrives.

Bonus Link: Ten things I hate about the Xbox 360 [CNet]

Morning Deals Round Up

• Oh. Snap. $10 off $10 coupon up in the Fashion Bug. Get your brushed cotton medallion camisole on. Code: 776131401 Expired.

Delight Deals has free shipping codes for Rampage, Peet’s Coffee, Coldwater Creek, and eLuxury.

• Kiss the pan! Amazon is selling both the 5 1/2-quart and 3 1/2-quart Cuisinart Chef’s Sauté pan for $40 and $30, respectively. Made in China by French taskmasters, so you know it’s good. Spend $125 or more in Kitchen & Housewares to get a $25 discount with code “HOHOHOHO”. [via Simply Recipes]

• Smart Bargains has decent discounts on Prada handbags (although mostly nylon). The leather satchel is a good deal at $600, but the colors are out of season (kind of like Prada handbags).

Tue 06 dec 2005

NyQuil Minus Pseudoephedrine: Now Pseudoeffective

Nyquil_pseudo.jpgWhen once we were Tiny Consumerists who ate dirt, our sniffling noses and mild fevers were accompanied by dread. Would we be subjected to that foul syrup Nyquil, the vile tincture that tasted like candied anise melted between the assfolds of Sammy Davis Jr’s scotch-soaked corpse? Even with a milk chaser and the (inexplicably effective) soothing sound of a running tap, we could barely choke it back. This quickly bred our propensity for bucking up, which will be useful come the day when we are dying of lung cancer and Gawker Media still doesn’t offer insurance.

Even Nyquil LiquiCaps, ostensibly devoid of the funk, have barely allowed us to use the medicine over the years, but now we have an even better excuse for avoiding the stuff: apparently it now blows. Blogger Rob Stevens blames the ineffectiveness of NyQuil and DayQuil on a recent change of ingredients. Nyquil has ditched the decongestant pseudoephedrine in favor of phenylephrine and doxylamine succinate. Neither apparently works as effectively as the pseudoephedrine, either on a sick person’s nose, or in the crusty coffee machine carafe of the apocryphal neighborhood meth cooker.

Fortunately, not all over-the-counter pharms are so afraid of the demon methamphetamines: Advil Cold & Sinus as well as Tylenol Cold & Flu still kick out the sinus jams, mufferfuffer.

The New DayQuil (and NyQuil) Blows … A Lot [SuperRob.Blogspot]

The Suck Site Review: MilkSucks.com

gotpus.jpg
We don’t know who MilkSucks.com is trying to dissuade with its, “Got Pus?” page—pus, like milk, is creamy, sweet, and delicious. The PETA-backed website does a lot better when it describes the dangers of bovine growth hormone and ‘mastitis,’ a swelling of a milk cow’s sexy udders. (Science Note: ‘Mastitis’ as a term for ‘massive tit disease’ is just shy of brilliant.)

The picture on the ‘Got Pus?’ page (reproduced here) is total amateur hour, though, and stops just short of showing a zombie farmer squeezing clumpy curds of blood from the animated corpse of six cows stitched together into a outsized, throbbing mammary goblin.

So yeah, cow’s milk might not be the best thing for humans to drink, but you’re not going to wean many folks off of dairy products by admonishing them to “try delicious soy or rice milk, soy cheese, Tofutti ice cream, and tofu sour cream and cream cheese.” Especially since soy is not without its potential health risks. And Tofutti sucks.

On the upside, the website is not a total travesty of HTML, which elevates it a couple steps above the Sucks Page Rendering Standard.

The Consumerist’s Suck Rating: Four Distended Udders (Out of Ten)

Consumerist's CSR Stress Test: AOL Dial-Up Service

aol_logo.jpgAOL’s dial-up customer service department has a reputation for being slow to answer and quick to anger. The Consumerist put one AOL customer service rep, selected at random, to the Stress Test. His name was Aaron.

How well does an AOL phone jockey handle an irregular customer calling to cancel his account? Listen here to find out. [2MB MP3]

Hard numbers and final score after the jump.

[ MORE ]

PriceRitePhoto: Want to Cancel Your Order? We'll Sue

priceritephoto.jpgTech blogger Thomas Hawk has fallen prey to yet another crooked New York camera shop. This particular retarded retailer is called ‘PriceRitePhoto.com’—although we’re sure that they’ll be changing their name soon enough, after all the bad chatter flung their way.

Check out these choice threats from their ‘manager,’ Steve Philips:

“I will make sure you will never be able to place an order on the internet again.” “I’m an attorney, I will sue you.” “I will call the CEO of your company and play him the tape of this phone call.” “I’m going to call your local police and have two officers come over and arrest you.” “You’d better get this through your thick skull.” “You have no idea who you are dealing with.”
There’s nothing The Consumerist loves more than eking out a few extra dollars in savings by shopping off the beaten path, but thanks to douchenozzles like Price Rite Photo, we’re forced to stick to the trusted retailers like Adorama.

But even though Hawk should know better than to buy from an unknown camera retailer, he does post another serious question: How does a company that is so obviously run by slimebags have a four out of five star rating on Yahoo Shopping?

PriceRitePhoto: Abusive Bait and Switch Camera Store [Thomas Hawk]

Related: Online Camera Retailer Leaves Death Threats for Customer [Consumerist]

Morning Deals Round Up

• It would appear the Dell coupons for the Canon 20D Digital SLR Camera are already kaput, but there’s still time to sneak in a 20% coupon for the Digital Rebel XT Silver Body. Add coupon code: TDZ2BZCXTN?PMX, add in another discount from The Dell Game, and use the $75 Rebate for a total of $600. Not shabby at all for a great camera, although you’ll still want to purchase a lens. [via Slickdeals]

• Are you ready to buy a crap phone from a tossy service provider just because it’s flat, metal, and trendy? We figured you were. Try the newest version of the Motorola Razr V3c from Verizon, now with support for high-speed cellular data access. $200 after a $100 rebate—and a contract. [via TechBargains]

Woot’s deal of the day is a tough one to call: a Compaq X Athlon 64 Gaming System for $700. The components actually all are fairly quality, but for a gaming system, the video card is nearly two generations behind. We say give it a pass.

Mon 05 dec 2005

Xbox 360 Can Scratch Game Discs

llama_xbox360scratch.jpg

Buy early, buy again—because the first model always sucks. If you couldn’t resist the lure of Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 game console, do yourself a favor and don’t move it while it’s on. Even though a selling point of the new console is that it can be oriented either horizontally or vertically, turning it from one position to the other while it is on will cause the game disc inside to be gouged. Big scratches on your new $60 game and the smell of burnt plastic. Is it Christmas already?

Llama.com even has a movie showing the scratching in action. [1.5MB WMV]

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