LifeLock Terms and Conditions as of 25 May 2017

AT&T is Watching What You Watch

Introduction

When you login to your AT&T account, you may be presented with the following privacy statement and user agreement.

Tailor the experiences, ads, and marketing you already see to your likes and interests. We use information from all users and all AT&T products and services on your account, such as TV viewing, web browsing, app usage, location, call detail records, and other Customer Proprietary Network Information (what is CPNI, including my rights and AT&T’s duties?).

We may share this data with third parties.  If we do, we’ll link it with an identifier, not your name.

Your choice to participate applies to all users of your account. It doesn’t affect the ability to use our products and services including this app or website. You can revoke your consent at any time.

By choosing I Agree, you, as the account holder, accept the terms & conditions of the Enhanced Relevant Advertising program.

TARGETED ADVERTISING

Enhanced Relevant Advertising Program Terms & Conditions

You’re in control.

If you choose to opt in to the AT&T Enhanced Relevant Advertising program, you, as the account holder, allow AT&T and our affiliates (including DIRECTV) (“us,” “we”) to collect, use and share data with third parties about you and other users on your account. This includes data generated by your devices and by the use of AT&T products and services on your account. We may associate this data with an identifier other than your name, like your device ID, Apple or Android advertising ID, and share the data with third parties. This program allows us and others to deliver a more personalized experience, including marketing and advertising. You won’t see more ads; rather the ads you see will become more relevant to the users of your account.

AT&T’s products and services include Internet, TV, mobile, and AT&T apps.  You can opt in to this program any time through certain AT&T apps or websites. If you choose to participate, you can revoke your consent at any time. To make these changes, go to our Consent Management Platform (www.att.com/cmpchoice). Your choice doesn’t affect your ability to use our products and services.

References to “your” data includes data derived from your own use of AT&T products and services as well as all other users on your account. If you have other people using services on your account, it’s up to you to make them aware that you have granted us permission to use the information of all users of your account for this program.

By opting in to the Enhanced Relevant Advertising program you agree to the specific terms in this Terms & Conditions. In case of any conflict between the Terms & Conditions and our AT&T Privacy Policy (www.att.com/privacy) or any other policy with respect to data included in the Enhanced Relevant Advertising program, this Terms and Conditions will govern.

Information collected and used

First a word about what is not used. This program does not allow us to use the content of your texts, emails, or calls. It also does not allow us to use information you provide to encrypted websites such as passwords, bank accounts, etc., or information like your social security number.

We collect information from your AT&T provided Internet, TV, mobile services, and AT&T apps when you include those services in the Enhanced Relevant Advertising program, as well as from your connected devices like your smartphone or connected car.  The information we collect includes the following:

  • Your use of our network, our products, our services and your devices,
  • The type of device(s) or equipment you use, including operating system, connection type, software, mobile number and IP address,
  • Your downloads and purchases from us,
  • The unique identifiers associated with your devices, such as the unique ID number that Apple, Android or others assign to your device,
  • Web browsing and apps use, including from AT&T and third party sites,
  • TV and video viewing and recording information from your home (set top box) and on the go using our apps,
  • Location information, which tells us where your devices are, and
  • Something the U.S. government calls Customer Proprietary Network Information (“CPNI”), which includes the call detail records from your phone or other device as well as other information that we describe below.

What is CPNI and what are your rights?

CPNI is information that all telecommunications companies, including AT&T, collect about the voice phone services and/or interconnected voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services you purchase from us, and how you use them.  CPNI relates to the quantity, technical configuration, type, destination, location, and amount of use of these services. You have the right, and we have a duty under federal law, to protect the confidentiality of your CPNI. In this program, we will use your mobile phone service and VoIP CPNI to provide you with more relevant, targeted offers, including by sharing your CPNI with third parties such as advertisers and social media networks, as described in this Terms & Conditions. You have the right to deny or withdraw authorization of this use of your CPNI. Your denial will not impact any services you currently subscribe to. Your consent to this use of your CPNI will be valid until you revoke your authorization, which you may do at any time at http://www.att.com/cmpchoice.

Information uses

This information may be used to provide you with content and advertising better tailored to you.  We use data from your account to learn more about your likes and interests – the websites you visit, shows you watch, location information, etc. We may use the data in the following ways:

  • To combine this information with other information we may have about you;
    • This includes demographic or account information such as your age, gender, email address, mailing address, subscription plans for your AT&T accounts, behavior characteristics and interests. This also includes information that you provide to us from your use of AT&T products and services, that we infer, or that we get from third parties.
  • To create aggregate reports that don’t identify you personally; and
  • To associate the data with a unique identifier.

This information helps us and others personalize your AT&T experience, including the advertising you receive. We may also use the information we collect to improve the products and services you use, tailor your experiences, or inspire new products we create.

We will continue to develop the Enhanced Relevant Advertising program to further personalize your experience, which may include discounted and other promotional offers in the future.

Information sharing

Your information may be shared with other companies that belong to AT&T, our vendors, and with third parties. When we share information with third parties, we will aggregate the information, or we will associate it with an identifier, such as your Apple or Android ID.  For example, we may use your web browsing history to determine that you’re a news lover, and send that segment information along with your ID to an advertising network, to deliver a news-related ad to your device.

Third parties include, for example, advertisers, advertising related-service providers (companies that aggregate data, track ads, and/or deliver ads to target audiences for multiple advertisers across numerous websites and apps), content providers (companies from whom we license video programming), social media networks, and analytics firms (companies that collect data from various sources and measure, analyze and predict consumer behavior, such as what users watch).

Your choices and controls

We only include you in the Enhanced Relevant Advertising program when you tell us you want to join.  If you change your mind, you can leave the program at any time.  It’s really simple, just go to the Choices and Controls section of the AT&T Privacy Policy and follow the directions there.  Or visit http://www.att.com/cmpchoice.

In addition to the Enhanced Relevant Advertising program described here, we also offer a basic Relevant Advertising program, which is described in more detail in at http://www.att.com/privacy. Both programs allow us to send you advertisements that are relevant to your interests or certain characteristics, like your age and gender. The Enhanced Relevant Advertising program makes your experience more personalized, because it allows AT&T to use more types of data and share it with third parties.

All customers are automatically in the basic Relevant Advertising program, but we still give you a choice.  You can opt out of the Relevant Advertising program at http://www.att.com/cmpchoice.

If you opt in to the Enhanced Relevant Advertising program, that decision will override any previous opt out of the Relevant Advertising program. If you later decide that you don’t want your data used for any relevant advertising, you will need to opt out of both programs.

If you choose not to participate in these programs, your choice will not affect your or anyone on your account’s ability to use AT&T products and services.

The Enhanced Relevant Advertising program operates independently of all other elections that you may make for other AT&T products, services, or programs. Your consent to join the Enhanced Relevant Advertising program, will not affect your other choices regarding CPNI, Third-Party Services, External Marketing and Analytics Reports, Do Not Email, Do Not Text, Do Not Call, Do Not Track, and private browsing and cookie settings. Likewise, opting out under any of these other programs will not revoke your consent to Enhanced Relevant Advertising. For rights, choices and controls you may have regarding use of your information from other AT&T products and services please see http://www.att.com/yourchoices.

Please note that your consent to this program operates independently of settings on your device or browser. Using browser controls (like clearing your browser history) or device controls (like turning off your location), is not an effective way to opt out of participation in or the collection of information for the Enhanced Relevant Advertising program. To opt out, use the links above.

Consumers Beware of ‘Impartial’ AntiVirus Software Reviews

For multiple years in a row, Bitdefender has received editor choice awards from many of the top tech journals, blogs, and product authorities.

Yet, our research indicates it may be the worst antivirus program available. Not long ago, they had an ‘F’ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Their rating is now up to a ‘C’ so they obviously aren’t earning their #1 position that so many reviewers are giving them.

In 2015, we reviewed their product and found so many problems with their customer service, website, and the product itself, it was completely too time consuming to continue using the product.

So, how is Bitdefender getting so many good reviews? Well, it could be a result of the paid commissions that the reviewers get for every sale they send to the company.

PC Magazine unceasingly awards Bitdefender their coveted Editor’s Choice award and Tom’s Guide currently rates Bitdefender the top Antivirus program in the world.

Let’s take the Tom’s Guide article as an example. There are multiple conflicts and problems with the review. First of all, according to the Federal Trade Commission, it’s illegal to include advertising in an article and not declare it as advertising. That article is a glaring text book case of this violation. Secondly, it’s illegal to be a blogger or describe yourself as an independent reviewer if you’re being paid by the company you are giving favor to in the review. This needs to be disclosed.

It’s unlikely that a formal arrangement was made with these reviewers, but the reviewers should do whatever they can to be fully transparent and disclose any financial gain they have from promoting a specific product.

The Tom’s Guide article contains paid affiliate links to the Bitdefender software. When you hover over the huge ad, the link below it discloses that it’s a Google Leads affiliate link as seen in the screen shot below.

20161028fr2312-bitdefender-antivirus-ad-graphic-black-background-showing-google-leads-758x562

The screen shot above shows the revealed link below the ad when a mouse pointer is hovered over the ad.

Notice also that AntiVirus is spelled AntiVius (with the ‘r’ missing’) in both of the huge ads found in the Tom’s Guide article.

20161028fr2312-bitdefender-antivirus-ad-graphic-gray-background-758x562

Antivirus software isn’t the only area consumers need to be leery of. Just about every product, service, and business review is potentially susceptible to being influenced either to make a positive or negative review based on who is paying them.

As always, buyer beware.

Slow Neat Receipts Cloud Software Results in Customer Complaints

Background

In the mid to late 1990s, Visioneer PaperPort was one of the first portable scanning solutions that included OCR (optical character recognition) to magically make your scanned documents searchable. By 2002, there was an increasing demand for an Apple Mac compatible solution, and Visioneer was committed to only supporting Windows. So, many people chose Neat Receipts as a solution when it was first introduced. As the Neat solution improved over the years, and cloud synchronization was added with mobile app support, Neat became the perfect document imaging product. PaperPort later became a product of Nuance.

Neat Captures The Market

Currently, the 4.5 version for Mac (5.7 for Windows) of the Neat software represents the pinnacle of excellence in terms of speed, reliability, and convenience.

With the ability to have separate locally stored libraries, the software could allow the user to maintain a long-term solution for document imaging. The software was fully compatible with the Apple OS X experience allowing Time Machine backup functionality and Spotlight searching capabilities.

After 14 years, given that the company has captured the market with a best-in-class solution, and demonstrated an upward climb with continuous improvement practices, one might ask: “What could go wrong?”

Neat Starting Over

After 14 years of building a loyal customer base, and refining an excellent scanning and document imaging solution, the leadership at Neat decided this might be a good time to scrap everything and start over. This has resulted in problems at every level in their company. (source)

Neat is abandoning the customer base and software that took 14 years to develop. The company has announced:

“As of March 1st, 2016, we will no longer be developing software updates for the retired software versions. Agent-assisted support for the retired software will end after April 30th, 2016. The installation files for retired versions of Neat will no longer be publicly available on our website.” (source)

The old software was so exceptional, they had to remove it from their site because it would compete with the new software. Perhaps some embedded patents or leased technology became cost prohibitive or licenses ran out. It’s unclear.

Customers who have been with Neat for more than a decade will barely recognize the new software or the new company. The leadership has changed. The employees have changed. The focus has changed from hardware (with free software) to a subscription-based software product. The software has changed significantly. It’s not a new version of the old software. It’s completely rewritten on an entirely different platform. It’s basically a new company. Only the name and color scheme of their brand remains.

The software is now up to version 1.4.2p4.2 as available on their website. This could be considered a beta version. Response times are very slow, and at least with the Mac version, the CPU will be heavily taxed when the program runs.

So, essentially, the company took an award winning hardware and software solution, and in a very short time have run it into the ground. This has resulted in thousands of disgruntled customers, and hundreds of 1-star ratings on ConsumerAffairs.com — a site that Neat pays to belong to.

Had the owners and employees of Neat simply taken a year off and done nothing, they would have been immensely better off than they are now. Instead, they are presently going through an internal meltdown and implosion, hemorrhaging employees and customers.

Instead of spending time and money on their problematic software, or unreliable iOS App, they seem to be investing in upgrading the appearance of their website and spending money on fake news coverage through sites like PRWeb where companies can pay people to write positive reviews about their products. To address the problems with their software, they are increasing their customer service call center staffing.

All of this, instead of just fixing the problems with their software that would have garnered them 5-star reviews and plenty of free word-of-mouth advertising. With thousands of upset customers, they are risking a class-action lawsuit.

This episode in Neat’s history is an exceptional textbook example of what companies should desperately avoid doing. Their example will be a useful learning tool for others.

Author’s Note

The point of providing the above history and review, is not necessarily to criticize Neat, but to emphasize this example for other companies as something to avoid. We plan to continue with Neat through the coming difficult months, providing product feedback, and hopefully seeing their resurgence on the other side of what promises to be a challenging time of transition.

Further Reading

Misleading Advertising and Deceptive Pricing on Amazon

Some products are being advertised on Amazon showing inflated retail pricing and savings.

On Amazon, the handbag shown below from Kattee has a sale price of $99 and the List Price is shown as $499 with a total savings of $400. However, if you check the manufacturer’s website, you’ll see the actual retail price is $94.

So, the Amazon price is not a savings of $400. It’s $5 more than you’d pay if buying from the manufacturer.

Amazon Product Listing

20160429fr1806-amazon-handbag-purse-overpriced

Manufacturer Product Listing

As you can see, the same handbag (shown below at left) is $94.99. on the manufacturer website.

20160429fr1811-kattee-handbag-actual-retail-pricing

Chase Bank Fraudulent Notification Phishing Email

This week fraudulent phishing emails were being distributed with the intention of obtaining login credentials for Chase Bank.

In the example is below, the screenshot was taken at the moment when the mouse was hovering over the chase.com link which reveals the true destination for the link.

20160201mo1940-chase-bank-online-fraud-fake-spam

HP Instant Ink: Ink replacement subscription service savings may be overstated

Instant Ink Subscription Problems

There are some significant shortcomings to the Instant Ink program that result in much consumer frustration and consumer complaints. This is unfortunate since HP printers are generally quite good, and those who don’t use the Instant Ink program are generally very satisfied with HP products. Here’s a short list of what’s wrong with the Instant Ink program and below is a description of what HP can do to fix these problems.

  • Fluctuating Print Needs. Those with varying print needs from one month to the next, or those who occasionally get a large print job, will not be satisfied with the Instant Ink program. Here’s why… Let’s say you get a huge print job to do that ends up causing you to run out of ink prior to when your replacement cartridges ship. You’ll be with a non-functional printer. If you go to the store to get more ink, you’ll find that ink doesn’t work. Some stores won’t take back those opened ink cartridges so you may lose over $100. Those who go for a month or more without using their printer, will still pay for that month. So, in other words, those who underuse or overuse their printers will ultimately pay more per page.
    • Note: This system is how mobile phone service contracts were in the past — with customers paying a really high price for their minutes of talk time over their limit, or paying a monthly fee regardless of how much or little they use their phone. The program was so disliked by consumers that the mobile phone industry had to change.
  • Owner Transfer. Let’s say you want to sell the printer at a yard sale or donate it. That printer will be useless unless you go through the process of deactivating the subscription ink program on it.
  • Service Deactivation. You can turn off web services, but you’ll still get billed for the instant ink program. You’ll need to follow the instructions on how to cancel HP Instant Ink service. You’ll be required to return your cartridges to HP. If you don’t know your HPInstantInk.com login information that will present an additional barrier. Perhaps it’s something you setup a year ago on an email account you no longer have access to. Plan to spend some time on the phone with HP.

Some simple steps below describe what HP should do to fix these issues.

What Should HP Do?

The subscription plan in its current form is about as annoying as mobile phone service contracts or lease vehicles where you estimate your usage ahead of time. Inevitably there’s some waste or money lost. HP should really make some tweaks to this program and roll out a new version that offers the following:

  • Automatic. Like the current plan, automatic orders are placed based on when your ink is starting to run low, but HP could just send out regular ink cartridges, not special cartridges.
  • Economical. Let there be a 30% savings on each ink cartridge purchased, not some imaginary potential savings on charges per page printed.
  • Fair & Green. You pay for ink, not pages, so you can be rewarded for responsible printing choices such as less page coverage and using draft mode. This is fair and promotes more sustainable practices.
  • Non-Program Ink. Allow for standard HP cartridges to be used in the printer as well as subscription cartridges. This would provide a HUGE benefit to the customer and would cost HP nothing. It would actually result in a win-win because the customer would be happy and there could still be profit from retail sales of cartridges.

The emphasis would be on the convenience, while delivering sufficient savings to motivate consumers to choose the subscription service. The above suggestions would resolve all the remaining problems and customer complaints found on the rest of this page.

What Consumers Can Do To Save on Ink

If you really want to save on ink, you should get a printer like the HP OfficeJet 8710 and purchase extended life capacity cartridges from the store and always keep extras on hand, ordering more when your backup ink supply runs out. It’s that simple. The reason you’ll want a business-class OfficeJet printer is because the low-end home consumer HP printers typically use just two ink cartridges (one black and one tri-color cartridge). Run low on blue ink? You’ll need to replace the entire color cartridge system. The smaller cartridges seem to be more prone to drying out. However, the cost of printing when using a business-class printer is reduced because they use separate color ink cartridges (not combined in one) so individual ink can be replaced. Also, the XL cartridges offer many pages of printing per cartridge.

For those having trouble with the HP Instant Ink program, the remainder of this document, originally written in 2015, is provided below for reference.


A Monthly Subscription Plan for Ink

Hewlett Packard (HP) recently launched a new subscription service for printer ink that’s based on a cost per page rather than the cost per ink cartridge. Your printer communicates your number of pages printer with HP and you’re billed 3 to 6 cents per page for ink consumed. They claim that the service can save you hundreds of dollars per year as shown in the chart below:

20150725sa-hp-instant-ink-replacement-service-subscription-cost-savings-per-year

The program seems like an amazing deal. However, if you take a closer look at the cost estimates, it’s clear that the savings are exaggerated.

Sustainability Efforts Haven’t Gone Far Enough

HP offers extended capacity (XL) ink cartridges for lower printing costs and to reduce waste. Presumably that’s the maximum amount of ink you can fit in a cartridge.

Yet, apparently they’ve been holding out on us.

Take another look at the chart above. Notice the statement: “Our cartridges have more ink than HP XL ink cartridges…”

So, all along, HP could have been putting a few more pennies worth of ink in those cartridges, reducing our carbon footprint, saving a trip to the store, and saving money. Yet, instead, it turns out that their XL cartridges don’t hold the maximum amount of ink. That’s apparently reserved for the customers who pay for the monthly plan.

HP Overstates Potential Savings

For example, the HP Officejet Pro 8630 uses the 950 series of ink cartridges. If, like most people, you print mostly using black ink, you can purchase a black ink cartridge for $38 that will yield 2,300 pages.

20150725sa-hp-950xl-high-yield-black-ink-2300-pages-output

That’s about 1.5 cents per page, or $54 per year for the 3,600 pages that HP says could cost you $792. That’s way below the annual amount claimed by HP in their promotional materials. Even the ink subscription ‘savings’ plan of $120 per year is over 100% more than what you’d pay just buying about one extra capacity cartridge per year.

Let’s say you use black ink and color inks equally. That’s very unlikely, but let’s say that’s what you do. Then you’ll spend about $120 for a set of four which might yield 1,500 to 2,300 pages. That’s still only 8 cents per page at the lowest estimated yield.

HP is claiming you’ll spend $792 a year on ink to print 3,600 pages. That’s 22 cents per page for ink. That’s virtually impossible regardless of what printer you’re using. Even if you’re printing hundreds of 8.5×11″ portrait photos (which most people aren’t).

If you use the black only setting, and the draft option whenever possible, your print yield will be much higher. Combine that with purchasing XL (extended capacity) cartridges, and you actually could save hundreds of dollars on ink.

Promise of 50% Savings Not Accurate

In the marketing materials, HP states that you can save 50% on the cost of ink. At first glance, any reasonable person would assume that you’d be purchasing ink at a savings of 50%. That should be achievable given that subscription services for products are typically more economical, and if HP is ‘cutting out the middle man’ it seems that a 50% savings off of retail prices might be possible. Yet, as was demonstrated above, the subscription plan in this case could cost 100% more rather than 50% less.

What’s strange is that some of the marketing materials promise 50% savings. Yet, elsewhere, like the chart above, the savings are more like 85% ($120 instead of $792). Why would the representation of savings be so different?

20150725sa-hp-instant-ink-replacement-subscription-cost-savings-claim-50-percent

You Pay Even When You Don’t Use Ink

On the subscription plan, you pay every month, even if you’ve printed nothing. HP claims that unused pages on your plan ‘rollover’ just like a mobile phone company. However, there’s a limit and the credits don’t accumulate beyond one month. For example, if you’re on the 50 pages per month plan, you can roll over 50 pages to the next month. Then you loose those credits after a month. You’ll never accumulate more than 100 pages total.

You can cancel any time, but will people really remember to cancel when they go on vacation and then reinstate the program when they return?

What about mis-printing, when you mistakenly have a page with just one word print. With HP,  you’ll pay as if the page was covered with words or pictures.

What about printing on smaller pieces of paper, like 5×7 size pages for photos? Presumably you’ll pay the same as if you’re printing 80% coverage on legal size 8.5 x 14″ pages.

The monthly fees are shown below.

20150725sa-hp-instant-ink-replacement-service-cost-savings

Who is the Program For?

Like a buffet for big eaters, the people who really save money on the subscription plan are those who regularly fill the page with colored ink. It’s well suited for people who use more than the average amount of colored ink consistently and have significant page coverage. These people might only get 1000 pages yield per XL cartridge. So, they might save money on the $10 per month plan (for example).

HP really needs to create a simple online calculator to help consumers determine if this program is right for them. The statement of saving is really arbitrary. The savings will be different depending on a user’s typical printing needs.

Intentional Misrepresentation to Persuade Consumers?

Unfortunately, it seems that HP is engaged in misleading representations about the annual ink costs in an effort to encourage people to pay for a service they may not really want if they knew the savings weren’t that great.

Why Not Switch to Another Brand?

Whenever we’re dissatisfied with a company, there’s always the option to switch to another, right? Well, that’s not so with printers.

Other printer manufacturers aren’t any better.

At least in HP high-end inkjet printers, the ink cartridges are tightly sealed which extends their life during non use. With other brands of printers, the ink and/or print heads can dry out after a month or two of non-use. Other manufacturers use separate components for printing heads and ink tanks. This means it’s possible to overrun print heads causing them to dry out or otherwise perform poorly. HP all-in-one devices such as the Officejet 8630 have very fast scan times — about 3 seconds per page for 300 dpi high quality color. Other scanners sometimes take 10 seconds just to ‘warm up’ and then another 10 seconds or more to scan a page. HP printers are built solid. For all of these reasons, it’s not possible (or at least not practical) to switch to another brand of printer.

 


Case Updates

Below are updates regarding this case.

  • Tuesday, 26 Sep 2017 @ 5:12 AM CT. We continue to receive numerous consumer complaints to our page about this program. We’ve revised this page so at the top are a brief listing of the main problems with the HP Instant Ink program, and also a short simple list of how all these problems could go away by a few changes to the ink subscription program.
  • Saturday, 26 July 2015 @ 1:14 AM CT. We contacted HP using the Senior Vice President feedback page and provided a synopsis of the above information.
  • Monday, 27 July 2015 @ 9:50 AM CT. We received a call from HP Case Management in response to our communication yesterday. The case manager was very polite and appreciated the feedback about the ink subscription program marketing materials. They said this case would be escalated.
  • Sunday, 22 November 2015 @ 7:25 AM CT. We noticed a sponsored ad on Facebook that continues to promise in at 50% off (see below). So, apparently nothing has been done yet about their advertising campaign.
    201511sssu0725-hp-automatic-order-ink-50-percent-savings

SCAM ALERT: Caller from 619-555-0150, Windows Technical Department

At 3:34 PM Central Time on Wednesday, 22 July 2015, someone claiming to be with the Windows Technical Department was calling people in an attempt to gain access to computers presumably for the purpose of, installing malware, stealing passwords, and getting credit card information. The caller had a strong Indian accent, and claimed to be calling from California.

The caller claimed that they had been monitoring the user’s computer and that for two weeks some viruses were showing up.

If you receive a call from someone saying they are with Microsoft, or claiming to be with Windows, or with the Windows Technical Department, don’t interact with them. Hang up immediately.

Buyer Beware: Deceptive Ads for External USB Hard Drive Power Cord Requirements

Summary

Anyone considering an external USB hard drive should thoroughly consider the power requirements for the device.

USB Powered

For those using a laptop computer, and planning on off-the-grid work running from battery power, an external drive that is USB powered is essential.

Drives Requiring a Separate Power Cable

Slightly lower-priced drives are available that use a separate power cord in addition to the USB data cable. Such drives typically are available in higher storage capacities as well. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to always be near a power outlet to use such drives. Also, having an additional power adapter results in one more thing that can go wrong causing your drive not to work.

Misleading Advertising

The drive shown in the advertisement below shows a single cable going from the drive to the computer. This is done intentionally to mislead customers into thinking that the drive requires only a single USB cable that serves as the data and power cable plugged into the computer.

However, if you read the fine print, you’ll see that the external drive requires an additional power adapter to function (included with the drive). Click here to view the product on Amazon.

You’ll notice that advertising images for such drives never show the side of the drive where the cables connect. This is to ensure that consumers are not fully informed about the product they are thinking about buying.

Advertisers should be required to show all the desirable and less than desirable product cables, adapters, and attachments.

20150602tu-seagate-external-usb-hard-drive-power-cord-misleading-advertising

All Product Images

Below are all the product images offered by the manufacturer. None show the power cable side of the drive. Every other conceivable view of the product is available.

Conservative Campaign Against @KINDSnacks Morphs Into Dubious FDA Warning Letter

So, the FDA recently sent a Warning letter to a snack company. What’s the latest threat they are protecting us from? It’s not Hostess Ho-HosLittle Debbie, or Twinkies. The FDA is apparently concerned with companies claiming that raw nuts are healthy. Their target? KIND bars.

As you’ll no doubt agree, the lengthy and overly nit-picky FDA Warning is a bit too bazaar to believe, so we dug a little deeper to try and connect the dots.

This excerpt from a Huffington Post article sheds some light on the absurdity of the FDA warning:

“The FDA’s crackdown on KIND Bars for saturated fat is ‘well-intentioned but absurd,’ according to Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. ‘It’s a bit ridiculous that saturated fat from nuts should be counted against a product, because nuts are about one of the healthiest choices you could possibly make… This is an example of something with good intentions based on concepts that are hugely obsolete.'” Huffington Post, 14 April 2015 (source)

Here’s what we know… In February 2015, an article on RedState.com presented an appeal asking readers to stop supporting KIND Snack company because the CEO, Daniel Lubetzky, founded an organization called OneVoice which has partnered with an Isralie group called V15, that opposes Benjamin Netanyahu. There’s nothing illegal about supporting or opposing political candidates, but conservatives apparently took issue with Lubetzky not being a Netanyahu supporter.

By mid-March 2015, the anti-KIND campaign seemed to have morphed into a dubious FDA Warning sent to Daniel Lubetsky citing numerous petty violations about the product labeling, and taking issue with the naturally occurring fat content (from nuts).

This kind of harassment seems similar to the IRS audits of conservatives. There’s nothing wrong with consumers making shopping decisions consistent with their politics. However, when government agencies are used to selectively target liberals, conservatives, or any other group, it’s wrong.

Three things are unusual about the FDA Warning:

  1. Concern About Nuts. The KIND products are almost exclusively raw foods with little or no processing or additives. They are primarily comprised of nuts. The FDA concerns about the KIND products could be equally leveled against any products containing nuts and indeed any vendor of raw nuts. The FDA Warning Letter asserts that nuts aren’t healthy. The KIND product formula has remained consistent over the years. Why is the FDA suddenly now concerned about the product line? If nuts represent a serious health risk to consumers, shouldn’t a health advisory be issued?
  2. Concern About Labeling. The primary focus of the FDA Warning seemed to be about the product labeling. While there are many products on the market that contain misleading package images, the KIND products have mostly clear wrappers, through which the consumer sees the  unprocessed raw ingredients. Imagine someone selling a clear plastic bag of walnuts and being told their product packaging is misleading.
  3. Media Leak. The story was leaked to the media on April 14 with most media outlets getting the story wrong — stating that “KIND Bars are unhealthy.” This incorrect reporting, across multiple news sources, suggests that incorrect information was fed to journalists. The FDA Warning was directed primarily toward the product labeling and not the product content. No change to the product content has been requested, and no warning on the label has been requested.

Another point raised in the FDA letter was with regard to the address printed on the food labels. Many companies use a Post Office box as their primary mailing address used for business and legal purposes. Indeed, the FDA no doubt used the KIND PO Box to reach them by mail. Essentially, the FDA says in their letter mailed to KIND, that KIND isn’t reachable by mail.

“Specifically, the statement ‘Kind, LLC, P.O. Box 705 Midtown Station, NY, NY 10018’ which is provided on the label does not include the street address and the street address of your business does not appear in a current city or telephone directory. FDA is unable to determine the physical location of your firm using a city or telephone directory and the address listed on the label.”

Apparently the FDA has never heard of Googling a company. They are still using phone books.

Midway through the threatening letter from the FDA is this statement:

“The above violations are not meant to be an all-inclusive list of violations that may exist in connection with your products or their labeling. It is your responsibility to ensure that your products comply with the Act and its implementing regulations. You should take prompt action to correct the violations. Failure to promptly correct the violations may result in regulatory action without further notice, including seizure and/or injunction.”

So, Daniel Lubetsky has been given 15 days to comply before the FDA might seize the company property and bank accounts without further notice:

“Please respond to this letter within 15 working days from receipt with the actions you plan to take in response to this letter, including an explanation of each step being taken to correct the current violations and prevent similar violations. Include any documentation necessary to show that correction has been achieved. If you cannot complete corrective action within 15 working days, state the reason for the delay and the time within which you will complete the corrections.”

That means KIND would have two weeks to redesign packaging for their entire product line. That’s a huge undertaking. Undoubtedly, nutritionists and a legal team will need to help in the response to the FDA surprise attack. That will take time and cost a lot of money.

By wasting time and money on harassing KIND, the FDA is neglecting to go after real misleading packaging like that found on Good Natured Baked Vegetable Crisps. These chips show colorful carrots, spinach, and red pepper on the bag, yet in fact contain more sugar than any of those vegetable ingredients. It’s the blatantly misleading product packaging that the FDA needs to be doing something about — and not hassling the companies that are wrapping raw nuts in clear packaging.

Below is the ResourcesForLife.com response to the FDA Warning Letter to KIND. ResourcesForLife.com awarded Kind Bars the Most Healthy Nutritious Snack Bar Award for 2015.

* * *

Regarding the FDA KIND Bar Warning

Today an FDA advisory regarding KIND Bars was in the headlines. We believe the FDA warning is misguided and a waste of taxpayer money. It maligns an exceptional brand.

It’s not surprising that the FDA announcement was miscommunicated by the major media with story headlines such as CNBC reporting: “Kind Bars are not ‘healthy’ says the FDA.”

That’s what most people will conclude when hearing about the FDA warning. In a world where consumers don’t read much further beyond the Twitter limit of 140 characters, an FDA Warning and statements about a product not being healthy can take many months and millions of dollars to recover from.

The FDA warning was not about KIND products, but instead about labeling and product claims. It’s not that KIND Bars are not ‘healthy’ but instead the point in question is about the product labeling.

As a result of this confusion, KIND has issued a public statement about the FDA warning.

On the KIND Bar packaging, some relatively obvious common sense statements appear such as “Healthy and tasty, convenient and wholesome.” Our own research concluded that the products are healthy, tasty, convenient, and wholesome, but you can eat a bar and draw your own conclusions. Statements like “good source of fiber,” were also criticized by the FDA, even though the bar we evaluated has 7 grams of fiber, making it what we believe to be a good source of fiber.

The real story here is how uninformed the FDA is with regard to the current nutritional findings that most healthcare practitioners would agree is common knowledge today.

Meanwhile, products that are truly misleading and deserving of an FDA warning letter go unfettered, such as Good Natured Baked Vegetable Crisps that depict vegetables on their packaging, yet have more sugar than any of the vegetables shown on the package.

Please do what you can to help support KIND through this unkind treatment by the FDA.

“Because consumers have so few good choices when it comes to quality food products, it’s essential that consumers know what those choices are. KIND Bars are an excellent nutritious alternative to other less nutritious foods available. It’s important that consumers not be dissuaded from purchasing these products.” ~ Greg Johnson, Director of the Consumer Defense Resource Group

Media Coverage

The media coverage below shows how an FDA warning about product labeling was misconstrued as a product warning. Surprisingly, most of these media outlets got the story wrong by implying that KIND bars are unhealthy.

Only the Huffington Post Got the Story Right

Only one major media outlet got the story right. The Huffington Post reported “Why The FDA Action Against KIND Bars Doesn’t Mean They’re Unhealthy.”

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Research, Advocacy, Awareness, Prevention, Support

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