Navajo Nation, Urban Outfitters Settle Lawsuit Over Clothing Designs

Urban Outfitters is no stranger to accusations that it’s ripped off designs belonging to others, or offended an entire culture with its clothing, but it can now put one more of those claims behind it after settling a lawsuit brought by the Navajo Nation in 2012.

The settlement, the terms of which won’t be disclosed, resolves all claims related to the case, according to a press release from the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President (via the Navajo Post).

The parties involved said they’ve entered into a supply and license agreement and will collaborate on creating authentic Native American jewelry in the future. The two sides agreed to settle on Sept. 29, and a judge signed the agreement this week.

This case won’t come back to life along the line, either, as the Navajo Nation and URBN — parent company of Urban Outfitters — agreed to settle with prejudice. Each will pay for their own expenses and attorney fees.

“We are a proud nation with talented artisans, scientists, lawyers and professionals who together represent the Navajo Nation,” said Russell Begaye, President of the Navajo Nation. “We believe in protecting our Nation, our artisans, designs, prayers and way of life. We applaud URBN for acknowledging the validity of the Navajo Nation trademark and are glad we have settled this matter.”

Going forward, Begaye adds that they expect any company that’s considering using the Navajo name, designs, or motifs will ask for permission.

“The Navajo Nation is proud of its strong history and welcomes working in collaboration with URBN and other retailers to highlight our unique culture,” he said.

URBN also said it’s pleased to have come to an agreement.

“We take the rights of artists and designers seriously, both in protecting our own and in respecting the rights of others,” said Azeez Hayne, General Counsel, URBN. “As a company URBN has long been inspired by the style of Navajo and other American Indian artists and looks forward to the opportunity to work with them on future collaborations.”

The Navajo have plenty of company when it comes to decrying Urban Outfitters’ design choices: there was the tapestry that some said resembled a concentration camp uniform; the time the retailer apologized for selling a blood-spattered Kent State sweatshirt; the socks it decided to stop selling because they featured a Hindu deity; and the shirt the company pulled because it reminded people of the Holocaust. Not to mention the overpriced candlesticks sold by sibling company Anthropologie that featured racist vintage items.

Source: Consumer Reviews

Apple Unveils $149 Fix For So-Called “Touch Disease,” Blames Users For Issue

Months after owners of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices began complaining that their devices were affected by the so-called “touch disease” flaw that effectively renders the devices useless when the touchscreen becomes unresponsive, Apple has unveiled a fix for the issue on the larger Plus phones — but it’ll cost you $149.

Apple rolled out the repair program Thursday placing the blame for the flaw solely on customers, noting that their devices have been “dropped multiple times on a hard surface” and then incurred “further stress on the device.”

Under the program, consumers whose phones are affected by the flaw but don’t have a cracked screen are eligible for the fix, which is available for five years after the phone is originally sold.

Customers who have already had their phones repaired by third-party technicians may be eligible for a reimbursement of the difference between that repair and Apple’s program.

It’s unclear whether Apple will eventually expand the program to cover the smaller iPhone 6.

Those looking to take part in the repair program will have three options: they can take their phones to an Apple authorized service provider, an Apple retail store, or Apple Technical Support. Wireless carrier partners are not participating in the repair program.

The touch disease issue first came to light back in August, when iFixit reported that more and more owners of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus had seen their devices rendered useless.

The issue, which surfaces after a flickering gray bar appears atop the touchscreen, is apparently the result of Apple’s decision not to use a metal “shield” to protect chips that control the touchscreen.

These two chips translate your finger pressure into information the phone can use, iFixit reported about the flaw in August. When the chips go bad, they don’t register even the most forceful touch.

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[via The Verge]

Source: Consumer Reviews

Amazon Offering $79 Prime Memberships To New Subscribers Just For Today

If you’ve been thinking about signing up for Amazon Prime but balked at the $99/year membership price, check your calendar: if it’s still Nov. 18, that annual subscription will cost just $79.

It’s all part of Amazon’s plan to promote its new original series, The Grand Tour, starring former Top Gear guys. You won’t be required to actually watch the show to get it, but you do have to be a new member and sign up before 11:59 p.m. PT.

The price in your cart will still show $99, but the promotional discount will be applied once you check out. After a year, you’ll have to pay $99 like everyone else.

Along with free two-day shipping, Prime membership comes with access to Prime video, free photo storage for families, an on-demand music-streaming service, a library of free e-books, access to Audible channels, and free audio books.

Source: Consumer Reviews

Walmart Plans To Track Fresh Produce Like Bitcoin

Blockchain is a type of secure database that serves as an unchangeable ledger of information about an object. It was invented to track the movements of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, creating records that are anonymous but can’t be tampered with. Blockchain has applications outside of electronic currency, though, like tracking where your pork and vegetables have been. Wait, what?

Walmart is running an experiment that it hopes will help keep customers safer when there’s a food safety issue, but that will also help to trace where a food that makes a customer sick has been and where it originally came from.

The chain could pull apples or spinach that came from one specific farm based on a customer’s receipt, for example, instead of having to destroy all of the apples sold in an entire region.

Walmart is deploying this method with pork products in China and with a packaged produce item that it declines to name in the United States. Could it be spinach? Apple slices? Kale? Whatever product is actually being tracked, everyone from the original farmer to the store where the item is finally sold will be able to log information about that batch on the blockchain.

Wal-Mart Tackles Food Safety With Test of Blockchain Technology [Bloomberg]

Source: Consumer Reviews

New Account Openings At Wells Fargo Drop 44% A Month After Fake Account Fiasco

Since Wells Fargo’s decade-long fake account fiasco came to light in September, analysts have warned that revelations about bank staffers opening millions of unauthorized accounts would result in consumers shying away from Wells. Those analysts may be right, with the bank confirming that new customer accounts fell dramatically during October.

Bloomberg reports that customers opened 44% fewer new accounts last month than they did a year ago, representing a 27% decrease from September’s new account opening level.

Officials with the bank addressed the changes during a conference call Thursday, noting that new credit card applications also dropped by half to 200,000 for the month.

While it’s entirely possible the decline in new accounts comes as potential customers have lost trust in the bank, it could also be the result of the company’s decision to stop pushing stringent sales goals on employees.

Those goals are what got the bank into hot water with federal regulators in September, when the company was ordered to pay $185 million for its high-pressure sales tactics that led to the opening and closing of millions of customer accounts without consent.

Wells Fargo employees, according to regulators, regularly misused customers’ personal information, opening nearly two million unwanted accounts and failing to close the unauthorized accounts despite complaints from customers.

These action would have likely inflated the number of new accounts opened for any given month. For that reason, it’s unclear if the drop in new accounts puts the bank where it normally would have done business in Oct. 2015 had employees not opened unauthorized accounts.

Mary Mack, head of community banking for Wells Fargo, said on the conference call that it will take time for the company to rebuild trust and draw in new employees.

“The actions we’re taking will be reflected in more positive trends as we move forward, but in the near-term, I expect many of these trends to continue, including relative stability in our customer base and lower account openings,” she said on the call, as reported by Bloomberg.

Despite the drop in customers, John Shrewberry, CFO for Wells Fargo, said the bank doesn’t expect revenue to be threatened, noting that there wasn’t “much of an impact one way or the other” on revenue.

Wells Fargo New Accounts Tumble 44% in Wake of Sales Scandal [Bloomberg]

Source: Consumer Reviews

FanDuel & DraftKings To Merge In Daily Fantasy Wedding

After months of speculation and denials about a possible merger, the two biggest names in daily fantasy sports — DraftKings and FanDuel — have finally confirmed that they are indeed getting hitched.

DraftKings announced the merger this morning, saying it expects the deal to close next year. Neither company is publicly traded, and no financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

The two sites will continue to operate under their current brands for the time-being, with no timeline given for rebranding of either DraftKings or FanDuel (or both). The deal will need regulatory approval, as it would consolidate around 90% of the daily fantasy market under one umbrella.

In an attempt to quell that concern, a joint statement put out by the merger partners claims that the two sites won’t be taking advantage of the lack of competition by raising prices on customers.

“We intend to keep our commission fees and structure competitive in order to offer consumers a compelling experience,” reads the statement. “The merger will not affect our obvious incentive to continue growing the DFS space through guaranteed prize pools and attractive commission levels… We know that there are other platforms players could go on if we tried to raise commissions. This remains equally true whether the companies remain independent or combine.”

As reported last month, DraftKings co-founder and CEO Jason Robins will take the reins of the merged companies, while FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles will become Chairman of the Board. Rather than shift headquarters to either Boston or New York City, the merged company will maintain HQs in both cities.

Source: Consumer Reviews

Abercrombie & Fitch Having A Tough Time Luring Shoppers Despite Rebranding Efforts

Abercrombie & Fitch has been trying hard to shed its former image, one strengthened by “cool” executives who didn’t want to deal with any uncool customers, but it seems those turnaround efforts aren’t proving as fruitful as the retailer would like: profits for the company tumbled in the last quarter, and sales figures are far from promising.

The apparel chain reported its third straight quarter of declining-same store sales [PDF] showing the company’ struggles to convince shoppers it’s changed, and head honchos admit they’re feeling the heat.

“The challenges of the brand are deep and longstanding,” said Executive Chairman Arthur Martinez on an investors’ call Friday (h/t The Wall Street Journal). “All of this is complicated by a very challenging environment.”

That “challenging” environment he speaks of includes soft sales at stores usually frequented by tourists and flagship locations. The company also had too much outerwear in stock for such an unexpectedly warm start to the cold season.

Profits fell 81%, and sales at stores open at least a year fell 6% in the third quarter ending Oct. 29. The only sort of bright spot was Hollister, its teen-focused brand, where sales were flat.

In August, Abercrombie announced a new campaign that would instead focus on shoppers’ feelings about themselves on the inside, not on the outside. And from the sound of things, shoppers are feeling like they don’t want to go to Abercrombie & Fitch.

Struggles aside, Martinez says executives are convinced this is the way to go.

“The work that the team is doing is absolutely on target and has the full support of the board,” he said.

Source: Consumer Reviews

Consumerist Friday Flickr Finds

Here are thirteen of the best photos that readers added to the Consumerist Flickr Pool in the last week, picked for usability in a Consumerist post or for just plain neatness.

Karen Chappell
Debbie Mercer
John Hanley
Jason Cook
Renee Rendler-Kaplan
Debbie Mercer
Karen Chappell
Detroit Derek took me to this wonderful place in Detroit.  It's where they host the Theatre Bizarre.  We ran into David and Miss Rabbit who told us it would be ok if we went in and took some photos of the place.  Thanks to Derek for showing me this super cool carnival spot.
Caleb Sommerville

Want to see your pictures on our site? Our Flickr pool is the place where Consumerist readers upload photos for possible use in future Consumerist posts. Just be a registered Flickr user, go here, and click “Join Group?” up on the top right. Choose your best photos, then click “send to group” on the individual images you want to add to the pool.

Source: Consumer Reviews

Why Do Fast Food Restaurants Test New Menu Items In Ohio?

From McDonald’s mac & cheese cups and Shakin’ Flavor Seasoned Fries to Taco Bell’s Quesalupa, Ohio tends to be the place where fast food restaurants go to find human guinea pigs to test revamped menu items — and apparently not without good reason.

Business Insider reports that Columbus, OH, happens to be a living lab of sorts for fast food chains when it comes to testing new, sometimes exciting or just plain disturbing, menu items.

While other areas of the state have also served as a testing ground for meals, Columbus — and its surrounding cities — often attract restaurants looking to update their offerings for two reasons: access to millennials and its convenient location.

First, Columbus is home to (The) Ohio State University and its leagues of college co-eds. These students, apparently, have disposable income, making them the perfect target for companies like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chipotle and others. By targeting these younger crowds, the companies are able to, as BI puts it, “from their business for future success.”

The city is also a meeting area for a number of major interstates and highways, including Interstate 71 and Interstate 70. It also doesn’t hurt that several chains, such as Wendy’s, call the area home.

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Why McDonald’s and Chipotle test new food concepts in Ohio [Business Insider]

Source: Consumer Reviews

Guy Steals Credit Card, Uses It To Buy Home Security Camera To Ward Off Thieves

Police in Colorado say they’re on the lookout for a man accused of using a stolen credit card to purchase a home security system, which, is of course useful when trying to keep people from stealing your stuff.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says the suspect broke into a parked car in early October and took the credit card from a purse, CBS Denver reports. The victim notified police and her banks, but the suspect still managed to use the card to buy the system at a Best Buy store. Sure, he could just be selling it online, but it’s still… interesting.

“It was like, ‘Seriously, you used my account for these types of things?’” the victim said. “It’s kind of ironic.”

Police are now hoping the public can help them figure out who the man in the video is. Anyone with information about the suspect is urged to call investigators at (303) 271-5612 and reference case #16-26113.

Thief Makes Unusual Purchase With Stolen Credit Card [CBS Denver]

Source: Consumer Reviews