Papa John’s Testing Extra $3 Fee To Make Your Pizza First

Most of us have experienced the pain of having to wait an ungodly long time for a pizza ordered during the big game, or on a Friday night, or some other time when pizza is on everyone’s mind. That’s why Papa John’s is willing to bet you’d pay extra to prioritize your pie ahead the rest of the crowd.

The Associated Press reports that Papa John’s is testing a $2.99 “Papa Priority” fee in a few markets, with the possibility of expanding. In the section on the restaurant’s site that explains Papa Priority, the chain justifies the fee by explaining that the company recognizes “that there might be some situations where you would like your pizza a little faster on busy nights when there might be a longer wait due to the number of orders at the restaurant.”

For now, the extra fee is $2.99, but that could change in the future. What the chain promises is that if you pay up, your pizza will be “made faster and out for delivery sooner…” subject to terms and conditions.

Some customers in the early test markets don’t really see the logic, especially when there’s already a delivery fee on every order. Priority status also isn’t a guarantee that your pizza will show up by a certain time.

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Don’t accuse the chain of wanting to collect the fee on as many orders as possible, though: Priority status is officially capped at five orders per location per day.


Source: Consumer Reviews

YouTube Goes Up Against Cable Companies With $35 Live TV Streaming Service

Back in October, Google began shaping up its YouTube-based pay-TV service with the hope of launching the option early this year. Now, just as February comes to an end, the company has officially launched YouTube TV.

Google on Tuesday revealed details of YouTube TV, a $35/month TV service will provide customers with 40 network options and several add-on options.

YouTube TV will first launch in large U.S. markets. Those interested in the service can sign up to be notified when the option launches in their area.

The service, which will be available through a standalone app and comes with six accounts per membership, offers a package of both broadcast network and cable channels.

In all, the service will offer more than 40 networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, regional sports networks, as well as the cable channels owned by those networks, like USA, Fox Sports Network, ESPN, Disney, and Bravo. Customers will have the option to add Showtime or Fox Soccer Plus to their package for an unspecified cost, Google notes.

Additionally, subscribers receive access to YouTube Red original content. YouTube launched Red, an ad-free $9.99/month subscription service in Oct. 2015.

If you’re too busy to watch any of these channels live, YouTube TV will also offer a DVR service, with no storage limits.

Google says the cloud DVR can record an unlimited number of programs, simultaneously, without using data or space on your mobile device. The recording will be stored for nine months.

While Google expects that service to be most popular on mobile devices, it will be available on all screens, including computers and TVs through Google Chromecast.

YouTube TV is just the latest entry in the over-the-top cable-replacement market, joining Dish’s Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now from AT&T.


Source: Consumer Reviews

This Pharmacy Ad Suggests “Very, Very Strong Antibiotics” Even When They Won’t Do Any Good

When you’re sick, it makes sense that you want a pill to just make all the symptoms go away, which is probably why some doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics even when they aren’t necessary and may, in fact, cause harm. It probably doesn’t help when a pharmacy perpetuates the myth that we should just take antibiotics whenever we might be sick.

Journalist Felix Salmon spotted this subway ad for New York City-based Capsule Pharmacy, which hand-delivers prescription drugs in NYC:

For the record, the ad states, “Someone sneezed? It’s OK, we’ll be right over with some very, very strong antibiotics.”

The problem is, as many people have pointed out, a sneeze — let alone someone else’s sneeze — is not an indication of something you should treat with antibiotics.

Here’s a helpful chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

A 2016 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts provides more granular information on how likely it is that a common ailment requires antibiotics:
unneccesaryscrips
A sneeze could be an indicator of a bacterial sinus infection, but there’s also a one-in-three chance that it’s viral, meaning your antibiotics are just putting you at risk for a Clostridium dificile infection and helping to create drug-resistant bacteria (more on all of that below).

That sneeze — which again, is not your sneeze — could just be allergies, which can often look like someone has a cold or other nasal condition. If someone sneezes near you because they are having an allergic reaction, (A) you’re not going to catch someone else’s allergy and (B) antibiotics won’t stop that person from sneezing.

Even something like bronchitis, which sometimes has a bacterial component, should not generally be treated with antibiotics.

For decades, the CDC has advised against using antibiotics to treat acute bronchitis, and the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set — a set of performance measures used by the healthcare and insurance industry — says the antibiotics prescribing rate for acute bronchitis should be zero. Yet a 2014 study found that doctors were still prescribing the pointless drugs 71% of the time.

What’s The Harm?

Unlike other prescription medications that can have immediate and potentially lethal side effects — or lead to a nationwide addiction epidemic, like the case of opioid painkillers — the problem with antibiotics overuse are less in-your-face, though the consequences could be dire.

Overuse of antibiotics is a leading contributor to the development of drug-resistant bacteria. Penicillin and other once commonly used antimicrobials are now largely ineffective. In their place, physicians have had to turn to drugs formerly thought of as last lines of defense against bacterial infections.

A recent CDC study found a nearly 40% increase since 2006 in a class of antibiotics known as carbapenems, drugs usually reserved for patients exhibiting resistance to multiple antibiotics. Similarly, the use of vancomycin, a particularly harsh antibiotic of last resort, saw a 27% increase between 2006 and 2012, attributed to the increasing need to treat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Last summer, a CDC report highlighted the increasing numbers of drugs that are becoming less effective at treating gonorrhea, with each drug’s effectiveness dropping as it was used more frequently.

It’s gotten to a point where — following the discovery of a bacteria resistant to more than a dozen antibiotics — CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden cautioned that “We risk being in a post-antibiotic world.”

In addition to antibiotic resistance, which is a global problem, there are more personal concerns about taking these drugs when you don’t need them.

Taking antibiotics can kill the healthy bacteria in the gut, allowing more harmful bacteria, such as Clostridium difficile, to grow in its place, potentially resulting in diarrhea, fever, nausea, and abdominal pain. In 2015, it was estimated that some 15,000 Americans died as a direct result of a C. difficile infection.

According to the CDC, adverse reactions to antibiotics are a common cause of emergency room visits for children and teens.

“It’s imperative that patients receive the right dose of the right antibiotic, for the right amount of time and only when necessary,” says Lauri Hicks, Director of the CDC’s Office of Antibiotic Stewardship. “When antibiotics are inappropriately prescribed and used, we jeopardize the health of patients, and we jeopardize the effectiveness of the antibiotics available to fight serious infections.”

We’ve asked Capsule to comment on this ad but have not yet heard back. If the company chooses to respond, we will update.


Source: Consumer Reviews

Nintendo Sues Company Giving Real-Life Mario Kart Rides

If you’ve ever played Mario Kart and said “This would be super fun in real life, and even better in a Mario/Luigi/Bowser/Princess Peach costume,” then the good news is that someone in Japan made your dream a reality. The bad news: They didn’t get permission from Nintendo.

If not for the copyright problems, a trip to MariCar sounds pretty fun. Starting at ¥8,000 per person, or about $71, you get a two-hour guided tour driving around Tokyo on public roads. No, we’re serious, you can dress as Mushroom Kingdom characters and drive a Go-Kart. They don’t pick up gold coins along the way by driving through them, but the tour looks pretty fun otherwise.

In a statement to the New York Times, the company behind the karts explained that it had checked with legal experts and also told Nintendo about its plans. The legal experts allegedly said that there was no problem with using Nintendo’s characters in this way.

“We cannot even imagine how much it would cost in a court dispute against the world-famous company,” the operator said in the statement. “We are afraid that our business will be hugely influenced.” Yes. Yes, that would be a problem.

Nintendo does have plans to bring its characters out into the real world by opening small areas in Universal Studios theme parks in Japan and in the United States that feature characters from the Mario Brothers franchise. The company just doesn’t want the characters tearing around Tokyo. Without giving Nintendo money.


Source: Consumer Reviews

Xbox Launching $10 Monthly Subscription To Library Of 100+ Downloadable Games

Times used to be, a video game player’s library might have been limited to as many piles of cartridges or discs as they could fit at home. But as consumers turn to digital libraries for everything from movies and TV to music, it only makes sense that the gaming industry would follow a similar path. That’s why Microsoft is launching a new monthly subscription service that gives users access to more than 100 downloadable games from its legacy catalog.

Xbox Game Pass will be available later this spring, and offers unlimited access to more than 100 Xbox One and backwards-compatible Xbox 360 games for $9.99 per month.

That’s a smaller library than PlayStation Now’s selection of about 450 games. Depending on how you pay for for PS Now, it’s either a lot more expensive or slightly less expensive than Xbox Game Pass. A monthly subscriber pays twice as much ($19.99). Someone who buys PS Now in three-month chunks pays 50% more ($45) than a Game Pass customer for the same period. If you’re willing to fork over for an entire year of PS Now, the $100 annual fee actually comes out to less per month than the Xbox service.

Microsoft isn’t coughing up a complete list of which games will be in the catalog, however, saying instead only that Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16, and SoulCalibur II will be among those available when the service launches “later this spring.”

Additional games will cycle in and out regularly, Microsoft says, but major releases likely will take some time to hit the platform.

Another area where Game Pass differs from PS Now is the ability to download games. With Game Pass, you’ll be able to play downloaded games as long as your subscription is current, but if you want to keep playing them beyond that, or access a title after it cycles out of availability, you’ll have to buy it. However, Games Pass customers will be able to receive a discount on the purchase price.”

Before XBox Game Pass launches to the broader community in a few months, Microsoft says it will be testing the service with “select members of the Xbox Insider Program in the Alpha Preview ring starting today with a very limited number of titles,” adding that Xbox Live Gold members will receive access to the service before it launches on a wider basis as well.


Source: Consumer Reviews

BCBG Max Azria Reportedly Prepping For Bankruptcy

Earlier this month, BCBG Max Azria Group announced the closure of nearly 120 stores, setting off rumors that it would soon join the growing list of mall tenants filing for bankruptcy. Now comes a report claiming that this filing could happen as soon as next week.

This is according to Reuters, whose sources say that BCBG is working with financial and legal advisors to prep the bankruptcy documents.

The retailer, which is owned by investment firm Guggenheim Partners, did not provide comment on the bankruptcy rumors.

Reuters reports that BCBG has previously told investors it would like to avoid bankruptcy by cutting its $486 million in debt.

An alternative has apparently not materialized, the sources note, adding that some of the company’s assets could eventually be sold to others through the process.

The bankruptcy plan comes just weeks after BCBG announced it would shutter 120 stores — about one-third of its U.S. stores — that are either unprofitable or have untenable lease agreements in coming weeks with some locations already hosting close-out sales.

These closing affect the company’s BCBGMaxazria and BCBGGeneration locations, but not the retailer’s store-within-a-store concept housed in various Macy’s department stores.


Source: Consumer Reviews

No, It’s Not Just You: Lots Of The Internet Is Down, Thanks To A Problem At Amazon

UPDATE: Shortly after 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Amazon said that the affected services were fully recovered and operational.

=====Original Story ====
Sure, Amazon is a huge retailer and a giant media company, but its biggest presence is hidden from a lot of folks: It’s a massive internet host. Thousands of sites and companies rely on Amazon Web Services (AWS) every day… so when there’s an outage, as we’re apparently seeing right now, the effects ripple far and wide.

Amazon’s AWS status page currently has a notice about “Increased Error Rates,” saying, “We’re continuing to work to remediate the availability issues for Amazon S3 in US-EAST-1. AWS services and customer applications depending on S3 will continue to experience high error rates as we are actively working to remediate the errors in Amazon S3.”

Translating that out of Tech-ese and into English, it means that folks on the East coast trying to reach services that use Amazon’s web services are having a whole lot of trouble with it right now.

An enormous number of sites, including Airbnb, Business Insider, Expedia, Medium, Netflix, Quora, Slack, Trello, and the Securities and Exchange Commission are experiencing issues related to the outage, VentureBeat reports. Some portions of Amazon itself are also having issues.

We tried to look up the DownDetector report for Amazon Web Services but, ironically, DownDetector itself is returning significant errors trying to view the site.

Those are just a small fraction of the companies, large and small, that use AWS; we’ll update as we learn more, or when Amazon resolves the problem.

Update: Just before 3:00 p.m. (Eastern time), Amazon tweeted out, “For S3, we believe we understand root cause and are working hard at repairing. Future updates across all services will be on dashboard.” The company did not provide an ETA for when those repairs might be finished.

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Source: Consumer Reviews

Target CEO: The Retail Landscape Hasn’t Been This Bad Since The Recession

Brick-and-mortar retail is in trouble. You can tell that from reports on this very site of retail bankruptcies and store closings, and from the number of Amazon boxes piled in front of your and your neighbors’ front doors. Today, Target executives shared discouraging news of falling sales and profits at its investors day event, and explained that the chain’s way forward is to imitate Walmart.

Target plans some aggressive price-cutting, including an everyday low price strategy meant to bring back loyal customers. Stock traders didn’t react well to that news in the short term, but it should please Target shoppers, and they’re the ones who really matter.

In the long term, Target’s strategy is a variation on one that Walmart tried. Walmart Express stores were mini stores built in communities too small to support a full-line Walmart. The experiment ultimately failed, and all of the stores closed at the beginning of 2016.

Target is betting that the idea of mini discount stores can be made upscale, and is creating precise mixes of products for different neighborhoods. The difference from the Walmart Express concept is that instead of in tiny towns, the small stores will be in urban areas and tiny towns with colleges in them. They’ll have yogurt cafes and offer baby products in family-intensive neighborhoods.

Americans still are spending money, of course: We’re just spending it online or on experiences or groceries. Since Walmart’s grocery sections are larger and better established, Walmart is surviving this retail downturn a lot better than Target, which is still struggling to interest shoppers in its small grocery offerings. Target’s online sales are a tiny part of its overall revenue. If that’s where shoppers are heading, the retailer needs to figure out where to follow them.

For now, though, Target needs to concentrate on bringing customers back to the stores it has rather than on its plans to open hundreds of new ones.


Source: Consumer Reviews

5 Things We Learned About Sexual Harassment & Discrimination Claims Against Kay Jewelers, Jared

A year after Sterling Jewelers’ Kay Jewelers found itself on the receiving end of thousands of complaints from customers alleging the company swapped out their diamonds for fake ones, hundreds of employees are alleging they were victims of sexual harassment and discrimination at Kay and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry. 

A new report from the Washington Post, which has been following the growing case for more than a year, reveals that more than 250 former and current employees of Sterling claim that executives have created a corporate environment where women were groped, demeaned, and urged to engage in sexual acts in order to receive promotions and preferred job placements.

The allegations are part of an arbitration case filed against the company in 2008. The Post obtained many of these arbitration documents, providing a behind-the-scenes peek at what it was like to work for the jewelry conglomerate — which operates 1,500 stores and is owned by Signet Jewelers — over the past two decades.

The Post’s report, which includes testimony from several former and current employees and their lawyers, includes a wealth of information about the company’s business practices and treatment of both male and female employees. Here are 5 things we learned from the report.

1. A DECADE OF ALLEGATIONS 
The arbitration case against Sterling was first filed by more than a dozen women in 2008.

While the case originally revolved around gender discrimination, it has grown to include some 69,000 former and current employees and issues including wage theft, sexual harassment, and gender payment gaps.

As with many large companies, Sterling requires employees to waive their rights to bring any employment-related dispute to court. Instead, they must bring the complaints forward through arbitration, which, in this case, required the documents to be designated as confidential.

The Post, which requested documents related to the case starting in 2015, reports that attorneys for the employees and the company reached an agreement recently to make any of the documents public, as long as individuals involved in the alleged misconduct were not named.

2. EXECUTIVES ACCUSED 
In all, the Post reviewed 1,300 pages of redacted documents and testimony related to the case. While the names of most individuals were blacked out, a filing from 2013 shows that some top executives had been accused of discrimination.

For example, the employees’ attorneys motion supporting class action status accuses Signet CEO Mark Light of allegedly having sexual relationships with female employees and promoting them based on how they responded to the demands, the Post reports.

Sterling declined to comment on the allegations against Light and others, while Light did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.

3. “SEX-FEST” & OTHER COMPANY EVENTS
The Post reports that many of the allegations revolve around action at the company’s annual managers meeting.

Employees claim in testimony that the mandatory, no-spouses-allowed meeting featured a wealth of alcohol and often turned into a “sex-fest” where women were targets of grabbing and harassment.

The documents also allege that other company events included sexual “preying” that was either encouraged or condoned, the Post reports.

One woman who worked as a manager for the company from 1994 to 2008 recalled male executive who “prowled around the (resort) like dogs that were let out of their cage and there was no one to protect the female managers from them.”

“If you were even remotely attractive or outgoing, which most salespeople are, you were meat, being shopped,” the woman tells the Post.

4. PERFORM FOR PROMOTIONS
A former employee at a Kay Jeweler outlet tells the Post that when she first started with the company she thought of it as a professional atmosphere where managers would mentor and help employees grow.

While she worked her way up to manager, she tells the Post that she began to witness and experience sexual harassment.

For example, she claims that in 2005 a district manager promised to transfer her to a new store if she had sex with him. She tells the Post that she consented, but only after feeling that she was “backed into a corner.”

5. NO HELP FROM THE HOTLINE
The Post reports that employees who tried to report the misconduct often faced retaliation instead of help.

In some cases, the former employees say in testimony, that the internal hotline led to verbal abuse or termination.

One employee, who worked for the company for five years, claimed that after reporting to superiors that a district manager had tried to kiss and touch her at a manager event, she was accused of theft and fired. She was days away from receiving a $30,000 commission-based bonus, the Post reports.

A spokesman for Sterling tells The Post that company officials “have thoroughly investigated the allegations and have concluded they are not substantiated by the facts and certainly do not reflect our culture.”

Additionally, the rep says that allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination “involve a very small number of individuals,” and that the arbitration filings “paint a negative and distorted picture of the company.”

As for alleged retaliation, the rep says that those cases were thoroughly investigated and appropriate action was taken.

The former and current employees are requesting unspecified punitive damages and back pay. A class hearing, where the witnesses will be called to testify, is scheduled for next year, the Post reports.


Source: Consumer Reviews

SoundCloud Now Offering Streaming Music Subscription At Half The Price Of Spotify

Almost a year after SoundCloud launched its streaming music subscription service — dubbed SoundCloud Go — the company has a new offering that’s half the price of its rivals Spotify and Apple.

The new mid-tier plan costs $4.99/month for web and Android users and $5.99 for iOS users. It includes 120 million streaming tracks, offline listening, and no ads.

The higher-priced plan has been renamed SoundCloud Go+, and offers the same experience but with 150 million streaming tracks available, and the ability to skip preview tracks. Web and Android users pay $9.99/month on that plan, while iOS users are slightly higher at $12.99/month.

soundcloudplans
If you’re wondering why SoundCloud’s music library is so mach larger than the 30 million tracks Apple and Spotify offer, that’s because any user can upload music to the service, Bloomberg points out. Which means ostensibly, someone could enjoy that recording of you singing with your cat, or maybe some thrilling federal appeals court arguments.

Although there were some rumors last fall that Spotify was looking into buying SoundCloud, that deal never went through, sources told Bloomberg. And despite buzz earlier this year that the service would be shutting down, everything is just fine, one executive says.

“We’re not closing down this year,” SoundCloud co-founder Alex Ljung told USA Today. “Absolutely not.”


Source: Consumer Reviews