Chick-fil-A Expands Breakfast Menu With Hash Brown Scramble Bowl, Burrito

Chick-fil-A lovers have long been able to order their favorite chicken sandwich in breakfast form via a biscuit. Now they can get it in bowl form, complete with hash browns. 

The fast food chicken joint announced today the launch of its first breakfast bowl, the Hash Brown Scramble.

The new meal is made with Chick-fil-A’s tot hash browns, scrambled eggs, cheese, jalapeño salsa, and choice of chicken nuggets or sausage.

The fast food chain explains that it wants to give its customers more options and saw an opportunity to reach people looking for breakfast bowls, an increasingly popular option for those tired of breakfast sandwiches.

In addition to the new bowl, Chick-fil-A says it will replace also offer a Hash Brown Scramble burrito, which will replace the current breakfast burrito.

The breakfast offerings are just the latest new offerings at Chick-fil-A. The company began testing a $30 family style meal back in July. A month before that, the chain debuted a gluten-free bun.


Source: Consumer Reviews

Could Comcast Engineer A Mega Merger That Would Include 55 Million Customers?

Not so long ago, Comcast failed in its effort to merge with Time Warner Cable and create a cable/internet giant with around 30 million customers. But now that the regulatory winds have shifted in a decidedly pro-merger direction, some are theorizing what it would take for Comcast to engineer a telecom Voltron nearly double that size.

To clarify: We’re not saying that Comcast is trying to buy any of its competition. Instead, this is about industry analysts playing a game of “what if,” pondering the machinations that would be required to make a deal that involves Comcast, Altice (which recently purchased Cablevision and Suddenlink), and Charter (which ultimately acquired Time Warner Cable).

The Big Idea

One idea, according to analysts from Citigroup (via Investor’s Business Daily), is for Comcast and Altice to pool their resources, jointly purchase Charter and then break that company into two pieces — one for Comcast to run; one for Altice.

Rather than being one enormous nationwide cable company, it would still be two. Comcast would significantly expand its audience base, while current fourth-place provider Altice would leapfrog to a very comfortable second-place position.

If that sounds surprisingly cooperative for the world of big business, well, it is — but there are reasons to think the companies could want to persue it anyway, the Citigroup report speculates.

Charter is pretty much an equal rival in size and scope to Comcast at this point, at least with regards to subscriber numbers. Each company has somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 million customers. For the two to merge outright would leave one dominant cable company in the country, with about half of the entire nation’s subscribers — from coast to coast, and in many of the states in between — under a single umbrella.

Altice, on its own, probably cannot afford to buy Charter, even though it’s trying. And while Comcast might want to buy Charter, even the very business-friendly regulators now at the helm in Washington might object to a deal quite that large — especially after rejecting Comcast/TWC only two years ago.

The Citigroup analyst who wrote the report also points out that the companies are all getting pretty cozy as it is, what with Comcast and Charter having decided to cooperate on mobile.

“Perhaps the wireless agreement between Comcast and Charter isn’t designed to facilitate cable / wireless M&A at all,” he wrote. “What if the wireless agreement is a standstill, of sorts, designed to prevent wireless-cable combinations.”

Everyone Wants Charter

The Citigroup analyst isn’t the first to start doodling Charter and Comcast inside hearts together; other analysts started doing that months ago. This particular permutation is just what’s new — but everyone, it seems, has google eyes for Charter, even though it just finished up snapping Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016.

Verizon reportedly made a $100 billion offer for Charter earlier this year, but was rebuffed for not offering enough money.

Charter also dismissed Sprint’s recent chatter about a merger, although the rumor mill says Sprint is still considering such a deal.

The company is reportedly interested in snapping up Cox Communications, the nation’s third-largest cable company.

But at the same time, Altice — better known in the U.S. still under the Suddenlink and Cablevision brands — is also said to be working on an offer to buy Charter.

In short, everyone wants a piece of Charter — and Charter seems happy to dangle them all along and let them play off of one another, perhaps holding out for the most lucrative deal.


Source: Consumer Reviews

Target Buys Shipping Tech Company To Speed Up Deliveries, Compete With Amazon

From drones to airplanes, and fleets of on-demand delivery drivers or employees making dropping off packages, many retailers — most notably Amazon — have begun dipping they toes in the logistics and delivery game. Now it’s Target’s turn, as the big box retailer has acquired a transportation tech firm with the intention of speeding up deliveries to customers.

Target announced today that it has purchased logistics tech business Grand Junction, which offers a software platform to help retailers determine the fastest, most efficient method for local deliveries.

This marks Target’s first push into creating its own logistics service that would enable it to create and test more efficient delivery options for online customers.

Expanded Programs

The relationship between the retailer and the transportation company isn’t new. Target is currently partnering with Grand Junction on the current test of same-day delivery option at the retailer’s Tribeca store.

Target says that by acquiring Grand Junction it will be able to expand the same-day delivery pilot additional New York-area stores this fall, and to other major cities next year.

“Beyond that, we’ll leverage Grand Junction’s platform – which is already used by hundreds of carriers – to become even faster and more efficient in how we get products to our guests,” Arthur Valdez, Target’s executive vice president, chief supply chain and logistics officer, said in a statement.

Eventually, Target says it could use Grand Junction, and its network of more than 700 carriers, to create an assembly and installation program.

While Target didn’t provide additional details on such a service, it could be similar to installation program already offered or being tested by Wayfair, Amazon, and Best Buy.

Playing Catch-up

Target’s purchase of Grand Junction is just the retailer’s latest attempt to play catch-up with rivals, Amazon and Walmart.com — both of which have already offer several delivery options for customers.

Back in May, the company began testing a program that gave customers the ability to get one-day shipping household items.

Restock, which is currently only available in the Minneapolis area, allows RedCard holders to fill a giant box with their household products, food, or baby and pet supplies, and then have it shipped for a $4.99 flat rate. Orders placed by 2 p.m. will arrive by the end of the next day.


Source: Consumer Reviews

Check Your AirDrop Settings If You Don’t Want To Receive Pics Of Strangers’ Genitals

The iPhone’s AirDrop functionality is convenient, allowing users to quickly transfer files between devices. At the same time, a small number of perverts and pranksters are apparently taking advantage of AirDrop to share photos of their “junk” with complete strangers.

The New York Post reports that several New York City subway passengers have recently found themselves on the receiving end of photos of others’ private areas delivered through the AirDrop service.

In one such case last month, a woman says she received such a message while riding the train. She tells the Post she accepted a message, which notified her that an unknown person wanted to share a note. After opening the file, she was confronted with a “huge close-up picture of a disgusting penis.”

How Are The Photos Sent?

Apple’s AirDrop service enables devices using iOS operating systems to transfer files with other users over Bluetooth and WiFi.

The system comes with three options for receiving messages, photos, videos, and other content: “Everyone,” “Contacts Only,” and “Receiving Off.”

While the service’s default is “contacts only” — in which only the contacts saved to your phone can send files — the Post notes that many users may have intentionally or inadvertently switched this option to “everyone,” enabling perfect strangers to send them files.

It’s this option that strangers are apparently taking advantage of on the subway. Of course, recipients must accept the message on their end.

“It never even crossed my mind that someone may use it to send stuff like that,” the woman who received such a photo tells the Post.

How To Change Your Settings

The best way to prevent such unwanted and disturbing photos from popping up on your iPhone or iPad is to check your AirDrop settings.

To do so, users can swipe up on the bottom of their screen to open the Control Center. Here you’ll find AirDrop on the right side.

Clicking on the tab produces the receiving options, “You can be discoverable in AirDrop to receive from everyone or only people in your contacts.” Select the setting you’re most comfortable with.


Source: Consumer Reviews

Here’s A Partial List Of Closed Joe’s Crab Shack & Brick House Tavern Locations

As we recently reported, employees at some Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern restaurants found out without warning that their locations had been shut down immediately. While the corporate owners of these brands did not provide a list of shuttered locations, we’ve been able to piece together some spots that are now closed for good.

The Locations

Using local media reports and tips from helpful Consumerist readers (confirmed by calls to the restaurants), we’ve gathered the following list of locations that we can say with some certainty are now closed.

And if you see a Joe’s or a Brick House near you closing, and we don’t have it on our list, please let us know!

Restaurant Type Location City State
Joe’s Crab Shack 245 Jefferson St San Francisco CA
Joe’s Crab Shack 12124 S Apopka Vineland Rd Lake Buena Vista FL
Joe’s Crab Shack 8250 Dean Rd Indianapolis IN
Joe’s Crab Shack 2757 E 80th Ave Merrillville IN
Joe’s Crab Shack 701 N 102nd St Omaha NE
Joe’s Crab Shack 1048 Cedarbridge Ave Brick NJ
Joe’s Crab Shack Monmouth Mall Eatontown NJ
Joe’s Crab Shack 4125 Maple Rd Amherst NY
Joe’s Crab Shack 1195 Corporate Drive Westbury NY
Joe’s Crab Shack 4250 E Sunset Rd Henderson NV
Joe’s Crab Shack 3239 Silver Lake Village Dr Pearland TX
Joe’s Crab Shack 1974 Power Plant Parkway Hampton VA
Brick House Tavern 5650 W Touhy Ave Niles IL
Brick House Tavern 6300 North Fwy Fort Worth TX

 

No Warning

Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern locations started abruptly closing, without warning to employees or the public, the week of Aug. 7.

Several former employees of now-shuttered locations tell Consumerist that the closures were indeed abrupt and startling.

One Joe’s Crab Shack staffer in New York state writes, “I showed up for work [Sunday] and was told to go back home.”

Another says their store closed on Aug. 14, but the general manager warned them on Aug. 12 that it could be happening. “We were also told that the judge did not approve any kind of compensation for employees in this bankruptcy,” they added.

A Brick House Tavern server says, “We got an email for a last minute conference call Tuesday morning [Aug. 8] that lasted less than five minutes stating they would not be opening the restaurant, effective immediately, and it is permanently closed.”

Former Joe’s and Brick House employees also reported receiving uncertain or conflicting messages about the future of the chain(s) overall. A worker in Indiana tells Consumerist they heard that the parent company “only wants 60 Joe’s Crab Shack locations to remain open,” speculating that many more were about to shutter without warning employees either.

The Bankruptcy

The owner of Joe’s Crab Shack, Ignite Restaurant Group, filed for bankrupcty in June.

As part of its plan, the group also said it had entered into a sale agreement to Kelly Companies for it to acquire both the Joe’s and Brick House brands. At the time, Ignite said all 112 Joe’s Crab Shack and all 25 Brick House Tavern restaurants would remain open. That plan, clearly, has changed.

However, after a recent bankruptcy auction it seems more likely that the new owner of the chains will be Landry’s, a hospitality company that owns restaurant chains like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Morton’s The Steakhouse, and Rainforest Café.

Landry’s was the original owner as well, before spinning off the Joe’s and Brick House brands in 2006, and had reportedly been trying to re-acquire the company before it declared bankruptcy, too.

The bankruptcy court will determine whether or not it approves the sale on Thursday, Aug. 17.

We contacted a representative for Ignite Restaurant Group about this list, and we’ll update if we hear back.


Source: Consumer Reviews

Why Are Chinese Car Companies So Interested In Buying Fiat Chrysler?

After years of perusing the dating apps, hoping for a multi-billion dollar love connection, Fiat Chrysler has reportedly found itself on the receiving end of a Bachelor-like rose from an unnamed Chinese auto manufacturer. Except, the company has said “thanks, but no thanks,” leaving us with all kinds of questions. 

Is Fiat Chrysler embracing the single life? Why does a Chinese car manufacturer want a piece of the Dodge, Jeep, Ram maker in the first place?

Looking For Love

For years Fiat Chrysler has been pursuing a merger or acquisition with its fellow automakers.

Back in 2015, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne declared he wanted to hug rival carmaker General Motors so hard they just became one.

“There are varying degrees of hugs. I can hug you nicely, I can hug you tightly, I can hug you like a bear, I can really hug you. Everything starts with physical contact. Then it can degrade, but it starts with physical contact,” Marchionne said at the time, addressing the possibility that the carmaker would seek a hostile take over of GM.

After several attempts to woo GM were rebuffed, FCA set its sights on Volkswagen, which wasn’t exactly saying “No” to the idea at the time.

Just this April, Marchionne said he was ditching his lovelorn ways to concentrate on his company’s bottom line.

A New Suitor

Automotive News reports that FCA recently rejected an offer from a well-known, but unidentified Chinese automaker.

Sources tell Automotive News that FCA declined the proposal, believing the financial terms weren’t enough.

While it’s unclear which Chinese company offered to merge with FCA, sources not that several carmakers have shown interest in the company, including its current joint venture partner, Guangzhou.

Interested automakers have reportedly traveled to FCA’s Michigan headquarters, while FCA executives have traveled to China.

Not For Sale?

Despite FCA’s taste for love, the carmaker appears to be more interested in being the one to make a move, and not the other way around.

The company’s reported rejection of the Chinese carmaker’s offer comes after Marchionne expressed his reluctance to sell his company.

Instead, he suggested that the carmaker was more interested in a partnership with companies in other markets. But that’s something he told Automotive News in 2015 he didn’t see happening with an Asian automaker.

“I don’t think Asia is partnerable,” he said at the time. “No, you can be acquired by the Asians. I think China will buy you.”

What Are They Swiping Right?

Automotive News reports that the Chinese companies may be drawn to FCA amid its own government’s pressure to expand into foreign markets.

The Chinese government’s push, dubbed China Outbound, aims to entice manufacturers to buy international assets and “make their mark,” Automotive News reports.

FCA’s past love-connection desire, along with Marchionne’s recent push to erase the carmaker’s debts by 2019 and the company’s long history, expansive distribution network, and well-known product line, make it an attractive option.

Additionally, Chinese automakers have long looked to break into the U.S. auto market, Automotive News reports, noting that these companies have spent decades — and millions of dollars — to bring their brands to the U.S. via auto shows and other conventions.

These manufacturers have also entered into joint ventures with U.S. automakers in order to learn more about the U.S. market and the way cars are built here.

Automotive News reports that many Chinese manufacturers now feel they have improved the quality of their vehicles enough to begin selling them stateside. Joining forces with a company already well-known in the U.S. could be just the ticket.


Source: Consumer Reviews

Subway Owner Says Police Ruined Her Business By Falsely Claiming Officer’s Drink Was Spiked With Meth

The owner of a Subway franchisee is accusing her local police department of destroying her business and reputation by knowingly making false accusations through the local news that an employee of the restaurant spiked and officer’s drink with methamphetamine.

This all began almost exactly a year ago in Layton City, UT, when a Layton Police Department officer pulled into the drive-thru at a local Subway eatery to order a sandwich and a lemonade.

The officer said that he immediately suspected something was wrong with his drink and that he began to feel ill. He took the lemonade back to the station and ran a preliminary drug screen on the beverage. Police said at the time that the lemonade tested positive for both methamphetamine and THC, the active chemical in marijuana.

SIMILAR: How Home-Grown Tomatoes And Misread Tea Leaves Led To Pointless Police Raid On Innocent Family’s Home

Later that night, the incident was on the local news, with a headline claiming the officer had been “hospitalized,” and police saying that surveillance video showed an employee possibly putting something in the drink, and that this employee had subsequently been arrested on suspicion of a second-degree felony.

The news story even included an unpleasant mug shot of the 18-year-old, and in her voice-over for the story that aired live, the reporter declared that the officer had been hit with a “double dose of illegal narcotics.”

For this story, which aired only hours after the officer purchased his meal, a public information officer for the Layton Police spoke to the reporter while standing outside of the Subway and making some damning remarks. He called the situation “terrifying” for police, said without qualification that the lemonade had tested positive for the two drugs, and that “we can obviously assume that it was because he was a police officer in a marked vehicle, but we don’t know for sure.”

This news had a devastating effect on the Subway shop, says the owner. More than a half-dozen employees, including a manager, quit in the aftermath of the arrest. A number of them had also been subjected to questioning by the police. Customers stopped coming, and the local school ceased ordering sandwiches from the store.

But weeks went by and no official charges were brought against the teen who’d been arrested. It wasn’t until more than two months after the original incident that police confirmed that there was no meth or THC in the lemonade and there was no evidence that the employee had done anything to the officer’s drink.

The damage was done by this point, says the Subway franchisee, who last week filed a lawsuit [PDF] in federal court against the Layton Police Department, alleging that officers knew there was no actual evidence of a spiked drink but decided to go public with their unsubstantiated claims.

According to the lawsuit, police knew that two urine tests — taken at the hospital two and five hours before local news story aired — had turned up no evidence of any drugs in the officer’s system.

What’s more, the plaintiffs say that searches of the Subway, the employee, and his car found nothing to support the allegation that the drink had been spiked or that the worker had been in contact with drugs of any sort. Police even brought in drug-sniffing dogs to no avail, notes the lawsuit. And all of this occurred hours before police gave the interview that aired later that evening.

And while the online version of the local news story mentions that the initial positive test of the lemonade was an “ion scanner” test, the lawsuit claims that police made no effort to clarify that the test used on the drink is intended only for preliminary screening and that it frequently provides false-positive results.

None of this was told to the reporter who put together that story, notes the lawsuit, and police made no effort to provide these exculpatory facts to the reporter despite having ample time before the piece aired. In fact, police had an additional hour that evening because Olympics coverage pushed back the usual start time for the nightly news show.

The day after this news broke, the Subway owner says she spoke to a Layton PD detective who revealed that the urine tests had come up negative, that he didn’t see anything suspicious on the surveillance footage, and that the teen would likely not be charged.

Police subsequently found no evidence to support the notion that the officer’s drink had been spiked, but the plaintiffs say the city did nothing to quell the growing interest in the case from both local and national media.

The accused employee, who’d been released on bail, says he was the subject of vitriol and threatening comments from people — including law enforcement groups — who believed he’d tried to poison a police officer. Others called for a boycott of the Subway location. But still the police did nothing to quell this outrage even though they knew it was increasingly likely that the teen had been falsely accused.

On Oct. 11, Layton Police finally announced that no charges would be filed because all tests had come back negative. At the time, the department refused to apologize to the teen or to even publicly state that it had made a mistake.

That employee, who eventually went back to work at Subway, sued the city of Layton and recently settled out of court for $50,000.

In the franchisee’s lawsuit, the owner claims that she lost nearly $300,000 between flagging sales, spoiled food, having to hire and train new employees, and stigmatization of being associated with illegal drugs.

An attorney representing the franchisee explains to the Washington Post that this lawsuit isn’t about the police making a mistake; it’s about the police allegedly knowing they’d made a mistake but turning it into a media event anyway.

“I’m not saying they should be sued for a faulty investigation,” says attorney Robert Sykes. “But part of the investigation doesn’t involve a press conference.”

The complaint claims that Layton PD’s public information officer — who is called out as a named defendant in the lawsuit — pitched this poisoning story to the local TV reporter as a “scoop,” then allowed the false information to fester, resulting in hundreds of millions of social media hits, according to the plaintiffs.

“They kept omitting key facts, leaving the false impression this officer had been poisoned,” says Sykes.


Source: Consumer Reviews

Aldi Customers In Some Cities Can Now Get Delivery Through Instacart

Soon you won’t have to schlep all the way to Aldi, pay $0.25 to rent a cart, and then bag your own groceries. You can just wait at home and let Instacart do all that work instead. 

Aldi announced today that starting later this month customers in Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles will soon be able to order groceries from the retailer and have them delivered to their home in as little as one hour.

The pilot, which could expand to additional cities in the future, is Aldi’s way of expanding its “commitment to customer convenience,” the company says.

Because Aldi doesn’t currently support online shopping, the partnership with Instacart is the retailer’s first foray into e-commerce and delivery.  The service won’t be made available through the Aldi site, but through the Instacart website or app.

“We know customers are looking for new ways to save time and money. Instacart provides easy access to our low prices at the click of a button,” Jason Hart, CEO of Aldi, said in a statement.

Hitting The Streets

It’s not surprising Aldi’s testing grocery deliveries; analysts have warned that the $13.7 billion Amazon-Whole Foods merger would force supermarkets to take delivery service more seriously.

Analysts told the Wall Street Journal in June that Amazon could eventually double Whole Foods’ 466 stores as distribution centers and cut prices to make goods more attractive to online shoppers. With that in mind, many grocery delivery services and their retailers have worked to expand their own reach.

For instance, Schnucks Markets delved into delivery by teaming up with Instacart, which now carts groceries to customers’ homes in about 100 cities.

Likewise, Shipt plans to double its service, which includes delivering orders from Costco and Meijer among others, over the next year.

Keeping Up With The Other Chains

The addition of a delivery option at Aldi is just the latest step the chain has taken in the ongoing supermarket battles. Back in May, the company said it planned to beat Walmart’s prices on groceries by expanding its private-label goods and in-house brands.

Aldi also announced in February that it would spend $1.6 billion to upgrade stores to be more Whole Foods-esque.

The new look came just months after it was reported that the always sought after millennial demographic was flocking to Aldi over Whole Foods’ new, hipper version of its stores, 365.


Source: Consumer Reviews

FCC Extends Net Neutrality Comment Period Until End Of August

While Ajit Pai, the new pro-industry chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has pledged to “take a weed-whacker” to the FCC’s net neutrality rules that restrict internet service providers’ ability to interfere with your web use, he’ll have to wait a bit longer to do that regulatory gardening. The FCC has grudgingly decided to extend the current comment period a little longer.

Who asked for an extension?

The period we’re in now is technically called the “reply” comment period. The first round, which ended July 17, was when everyone had their say; the second round is when everyone looks at what everyone else said in the first round, and responds to that.

But there’s an issue with the net neutrality proceeding — or rather, 13 million issues. Because that’s how many comments the proceeding had by early August, give or take. The previous record high number of comments to any FCC proceeding was the 2014-2015 net neutrality fight, and that generated just about four million filings.

Reading 13 million comments, and sorting out the real from the fraudulent and the robotic, is a massive chore.

So an array of groups in favor of maintaining the current Open Internet rules — including the ACLU, the EFF, Public Knowledge, and our colleagues down the hall at Consumers Union, among others — filed a petition asking the FCC to extend the reply comment period by eight weeks.

That would have taken it to Oct. 11, and, ideally, would have given ample time for everyone filing reply comments to at least get the gist of everything incorporated into their new filings.

Two weeks is the FCC’s compromise.

When does anyone ever agree on anything relating to the government? In response to the petitions asking for an extension, telecom industry trade and lobbying groups fired off their own responses that no such extension was necessary.

The CTIA, NCTA, and USTelecom opposed, saying that the Commission should either deny the extension or limit it to ten days. They acknowledged that this is the fight that just won’t die, saying that everyone has had “multiple opportunities to weigh in on the core issues in play here for over fifteen years.” And that’s true: In many ways, this proceeding is beating a dead horse, because the core issues have been argued out for nearly this entire century to date. It’s only the vectors of attack and the legal language that change.

The Commission chose basically the compromise route that the industry trade groups proposed, extending the deadline by ten business days to Wednesday, Aug. 30.

Does the rest of the timeline change?

This extension doesn’t really change very much, overall.

Our projected timeline for the demise of net neutrality remains about the same.

Nearly 20 million comments have come in so far (19,945,713 as of this writing), but the reply comment periods will be over and done with by early fall, and it seems likely that Commission chair Ajit Pai will want to maintain momentum and bring a finalized rule to the Commission as soon as he can, perhaps in the October or November open meetings.

Whenever he does, one thing is all but certain: The lawsuits will follow almost immediately after.


Source: Consumer Reviews

Uber Passenger Dies After Altercation With Driver

A Florida Uber passenger died after one of the ride-hailing company’s drivers allegedly punched him during a dispute.

WFTS reports that the 56-year-old Florida man died Saturday after suffering life-threatening injuries and serious brain trauma following a physical altercation with his Uber driver.

No charges have been filed against the driver, and authorities say an investigation into the altercation remains open.

According to St. Petersburg police, the passenger and his 38-year-old Uber driver were arguing about the trip’s route. WFLA reports that the driver then parked outside of a convenience store, where the verbal dispute apparently escalated into fisticuffs.

Police say the driver then punched the passenger, knocking him unconscious. He remained in that state until his subsequent passing.

A witness at the scene told WFTS that he saw a man laying on the ground unresponsive, and a woman trying to revive him. The convenience store where the altercation occurred provided police with video recorded from inside the establishment, however, the scene does not show the actual dispute.

The Tampa Bay Reporter says that police are still talking with witnesses and the driver is cooperating in the investigation.

Consumerist has reached out to Uber for comment on the incident. We’ll update this post if we hear back.


Source: Consumer Reviews