Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

February 2011 Archives

A large recall of BOB jogging strollers, popular among parents who take their children running with them, has been announced due to a strangulation risk.

A child was entangled in the drawstring and nearly strangled while riding in one of the BOB jogging strollers, reports Fox News. Fortunately, the attentive mother freed the child before any serious harm was caused.

The jogging strollers recall centers on a defective design in the drawstring. The United States Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the drawstring can get wrapped around a child's neck and pose a strangulation hazard.

Owners of BOB jogging stroller with the Weather Shield or Sun Shield should contact BOB Trailers for a free canopy retrofit kit. The eleven models of the BOB jogging strollers being recalled are listed on the CPSC website

Here is the list of the recalled BOB jogging strollers:

  • Sport Utility Stroller
  • Sport Utility Stroller D’Lux
  • Ironman
  • Sport Utility Duallie
  • Ironman Duallie
  • Revolution
  • Revolution 12”
  • Stroller Strides
  • Revolution Duallie
  • Revolution Duallie 12”
  • Stroller Strides Duallie

Generally speaking, manufacturers are strictly liable for any harm caused by a defective design. A design defect is where the product design is inherently dangerous no matter how carefully the product is manufactured. If the design of the product causes an injury, the injured party need only show that an injury occurred and the manufacturer is liable.

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Unrest in Libya could mean increased prices at the pump. Oil prices have already hit $100 a barrel as protesters fight with Libya's Moammar Gadhafi-backed forces. The $100 mark was the highest price point that oil has hit since Oct. 2, 2008, the Associated Press reports. Gas prices are already on the rise this year, and the dispute in Libya has people wondering if we could see prices of $5 per gallon at the pump.

Libya has the largest oil reserve in Africa. Due to the Libya protests, Total announced that it has already started to wind down oil production in Libya. Other oil companies have already wound down production, the Associated Press reports. There are estimates that 1 million barrels per day have been shut down so far, according to Barclays Capital.

As far as the impact at the pump in the U.S., it seems that the unrest is more likely to disrupt European markets. The U.S. imports less than 1 percent of its total crude imports from Libya, though even a small percentage can be enough to cause tension in markets and send prices up. In fact, analysts say concerns about Libya protests and violence in oil producing counties has created a "fear premium" of about $10 per barrel of oil, the Associated Press reports. As we see time and time again, perception becomes reality.

So what can you do about this? Unfortunately, for most people, not much. (Chances are you don't have an underground tank that you can use to stock up on gasoline.) You might want to research mass transportation options or consider carpooling, if an increase in gas prices could put a major dent in your wallet.

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Car Seat Heaters Severely Burn Passengers?

There is nothing quite like a toasty warm seat in your car on a cold winter day. However, burn treatment doctors say that while they may be considered a luxury, car seat heaters are also a danger. According to Safety Research & Strategies, Inc. "Despite their increasing ubiquity, seat heaters are not designed to any voluntary or mandatory industry standards, leading some manufacturers to set the maximum temperatures of their seat heaters in excess of human heat tolerances." 

The problem is that victims of car seat heaters often don't realize that they are being burned by until the damage is already done. The burns can be quite serious, sometimes damaging the skin permanently. In fact, the temperatures of some seat heaters reach 160 degrees. Even at 120 degrees, motorists can suffer third-degree burns, USA Today reports. 

There have been plenty of car seat heater recalls over the years, but generally they were confined to cases where the heaters presented a fire risk. So far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has yet to consider seat heaters as a defect merely because their heat exceeds the levels of human tolerance, said Sean Kane of the advocacy group Safety Research and Strategies, USA Today reports. 

However, the time has come for that to change, according to experts in the field. "A seat heater that gets hot enough to scorch the seat" has a defect and should be recalled," said Kane.

If your car has seat warmer, make sure that you take reasonable precautions. Don't allow it to stay on for prolonged periods of time and if you feel any sense of a lasting sting or burn, consult your doctor. 

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Dead Kitten's Owner Offered $50, Air Fare Refund

Frozen Snickers are a wonderful treat. They, however, do not make wonderful pets. One Connecticut woman can attest to this.

Heather Lombardi stowed her kitten, Snickers, in a Delta Airlines cargo hold when flying to Utah last month. The airline assured her that the hairless kitten would be fine--the cargo hold was climate-controlled. They, however, failed to tell her that the climate was only controlled during the flight--meaning not while the plane was on the ground.

A latch malfunction delayed the kitten's deplaning by nearly an hour, reports the Associated Press. It was only 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Heather Lombardi immediately took the kitten to the veterinarian, but Snickers died en route. The dead kitten was shown to have had hypothermia, which can result in death if warmed up too quickly.

Delta has offered to refund Heather Lombardi Snickers' airfare plus up to an additional $50, details the Associated Press. They'll pay 50 cents a pound for the dead kitten--the standard cargo rate.

Dozens of animals die in transit every year according to the Department of Transportation. Both heat and cold can create extreme temperatures in airplane cargo holds that may cause pets to die. Officials recommend that you consult with your vet before stowing your pet, as each breed tolerates temperature differently.

Dead kittens don't often make it into headline news, but Heather Lombardi wanted to make her tragedy known. So let Snickers serve as a reminder that pets are not cargo, even if Delta wants to value them as such. They are your furry or scaly children, and they deserve better.

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Crib Injuries: Nearly 10,000 Babies Hurt Every Year

It's interesting how often there is a disparity between the things we fear and the actual risks. We often hear about parents that are scared to death of having a stranger kidnap their child. However, as it turns out, a more serious risk often exists right in your nursery. 10,000 babies suffer crib injuries every year. In fact, according to a recent study, crib-related accidents send 26 children to U.S. emergency rooms daily and result in more than 110 deaths annually, Reuters reports. 

According to the study, the biggest crib-related risk of death comes when infants become caught in the crib's protective bars. The good news is that 94% of children that are admitted to the ER for crib injuries are treated and released without incident.  

Researchers that conducted at study from Nationwide Children's Hospital and Ohio State University said that continued strengthening and enforcement of crib safety standards would protect more infants. The study noted that the vast majority of these incidents are happening in cribs, not bassinets or playpens, Reuters reports. 

The study also offered three tips that parents can do to protect their children when it comes to crib injuries: 

  • Select cribs that meet safety standards, do not have a drop side and are not old, broken or modified.
  • Skip cribs with cutouts, decorative corner posts, or knobs or slats that stick up. 
  • Check www.recalls.gov to ensure that the crib has not been recalled.

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Car Seat Recall: 800,000 Dorel Car Seats Recalled

Car seats are an important piece of safety equipment for your infant. However, you should keep your eyes open as infant items are often subject to recalls. Take for example the recent Dorel car seat recall involving 800,000 car seats. The recall involves restraints labeled Safety 1st, Maxi-Cosi, Cosco and Eddie Bauer. The Dorel car seats may have been labeled under the brand names: Alpha Omega, Alpha Omega Elite, Enspira, Prospect, Vantage, OnBoard, Priori and Mico. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the event of a vehicle crash, the child may not be adequately protected and is at an increased risk for injury. The investigation began after consumers reported complaints that the restraining straps on the seats had loosened. According to the investigation, the harness’ locking and release button can malfunction, causing the car seat to be looser than intended. 

The recall involves booster, infant, convertible seats, some of which were sold as part of a stroller travel system. A list of the model numbers in the recall can be found here. The affected models were sold between May 1, 2008 and April 30, 2009. 

Owners can contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations vehicle safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov. Do not attempt to repair a recalled car seat. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled car seat. 

In a filing with N.H.T.S.A., Dorel said, “There have been no reports of center front adjuster failure in real world crashes, no injuries and no deaths reported to the company,” the New York Times reports. 

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voluntary recall has been issued for Triad alcohol swabs, alcohol swabsticks, and prep pads. The manufacturer of the over-the-counter alcohol swabs, prep pads and swabsticks initiated the recall due to concerns that the products were potentially contaminated with Bacillus cereus, an organism that causes meningitis. The recall includes sterile and non-sterile products.

In addition to the Triad recall, third parties that sell Triad alcohol swabs are continuing to issue recalls. The Food and Drug Administration is also continuing to advise the public and medical community of the potential contamination.

The following products may contain or be packaged with contaminated Triad alcohol swabs:

  • Boxes of 100 individually packaged swabs, pads and swabsticks, marketed by Boca/Utilet, Cardinal Health, Conzellin, CVD, Moore Medical, PSS Select, VersaPro or Walgreens.
  • Trelstar packages and the MIXJECT system by Watson Pharmaceuticals.
  • Extavia, marketed by Novartis.
  • Arixtra Starter Kits manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.
  • Relistor kit by Pfizer and Progenics.
  • Betaseron marked by Bayer.
  • Boniva Injection, Fuzeon, Nutropin A.Q.Pen, Pegasys, and TNKase made by Genentech.

Manufacturers of kits and injections assure that the products themselves are not contaminated, though they may have been packaged with contaminated Triad alcohol swabs.

Persons in possession of contaminated Triad alcohol swabs should return the products to place of purchase, notes the FDA. A full refund will be issued. Persons who used these products should report any side effects or illness to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program. To find up to date information on potentially affected products, continue to check the FDA's Triad recall notice.

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Energy Drinks Health Concerns: Dangerous for Children?

Ever wonder whether those energy drinks that everyone seems to be guzzling are safe or healthy? What about when it comes to children?

According to a new commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, parents should be concerned about potential harms associated with energy drinks. That's because energy drinks and health concerns seem to go together like peanut butter and sticky fingers. The authors say that energy drinks are especially popular among adolescent males, the Washington Post reports. 

The authors also say that energy drinks, which are often mixed with alcohol, can lead to binge drinking and can cause people to believe that they are less drunk than they actually are. The authors even went so far as to say that energy drinks might contribute to alcohol dependency

The article also warned that due to the high level of caffeine, pregnant women and teenagers in particular should be wary of the drinks. Too much caffeine can interfere with pregnancy, leading to complications such as premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth. Teenagers also risk high blood pressure, anxiety and trouble sleeping. Not to mention that the non-diet drinks are full of sugar, which can also lead to obesity. 

So just how much caffeine is allowed in these drinks anyway? You might be surprised to learn that the FDA hasn't even set a limit, despite the fact that such limits exist for soda, the Washington Post reports. 

In the end, the message regarding energy drinks and health concerns here isn't "freak out and throw away all energy drinks and make them illegal." Such reactionary quotes often make for a popular message, but it doesn't do much to really help anyone. In truth, the better message is, keep an eye on what you're putting into your body, and practice moderation. 

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If you have an electric heather, you might want to pay attention. Lasko is recalling around 107,500 portable electric heaters due to a risk of overheating, melting and exposing electrical wires and other components which can cause a fire.  

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Product Safety Commission, Lasko has issued a voluntary recall. Anyone who owns a heater subject to the recall should permanently stop using it. Do not give it to someone else or attempt to resell it. Consumers are entitled to receive a free replacement unit. Consumers should not attempt to fix or alter the unit in order to make it safe for continued use. 

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Product Safety Commission, there have been 36 reports of Lasko heaters overheating. No injuries have been reported at this time from heaters subject to the Lasko portable heater recall.

Here are the specifics of the recall:

Manufacturer: Lasko Products Inc., of West Chester, Pa.

Model: Brand names Lasko or Air King appear on the top, center of the front cover. Model numbers include Lasko 5540 and Air King 8540, manufactured in 2002. Recalled units will have a date code on the bottom left area of the label that starts with the number 2. 

Sold at: The Lasko units were sold at retail stores and  Sam's Club from September 2002 through early 2004. The Air King was sold primarily through W.W. Grainger Inc. from late 2002 to 2004.

Manufactured in: China

For more information on the Lasko portable heater recall, visit Lasko's website at www.Laskoproducts.com. You can also call Lasko toll-free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (800) 363-8044.

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A major baby monitor recall is underway, so if you have an infant, take heed.

Two infants have already died and their deaths have been linked to the Summer Infant baby monitors. Nearly 2 million video baby monitors made by Summer Infant Inc., have been recalled due to a serious risk of strangulation. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the electrical cords present a danger to an infant if it is placed close to their crib.

The CPSC and Summer Infant urge parents to immediately inspect the location of the video monitors, cameras and all electrical cords to make sure they are out of the reach of their infant. "I urge all parents and caregivers to put at least 3 feet between any video or audio baby monitor cords and a child in a crib," said Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum, the Associated Press reports. "This simple step can save your child's life."

Consumers can call Summer Infant toll-free at (800) 426-8627 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for more information, including the model numbers of recalled Summer Infant video monitors. Consumers can also visit Summer Infant online at www.summerinfant.com/Home/Product-Recall.aspx to receive a new permanent electric cord warning label. The label is designed to inform parents about strangulation risks and provide revised instructions for how to safely mount the camera and make sure the cords are out of their infants reach.

The recalled video monitors were distributed between January 2003 and February 2011. They were sold at major retailers, mass merchandisers and baby stores nationwide. They came in over 40 different models, selling for between $60 and $300. The video monitors subject to baby monitor recall were made in China.

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Razor in Ice Cream: Texas Woman Cuts Lip on Walmart Dessert

When it's ice cream time, it's ice cream time. If anyone gets between mouth and spoon, there's hell to pay. Luckily for Walmart, they might not have to meet this fate.

Engaging in the age-old tradition of a Saturday night pint (and a movie), Stephanie Granger of East Texas was rudely interrupted--by a razor in the ice cream. The woman was digging into her Peanut Butter Stars--a Great Value brand of Walmart ice cream--when she hit the coveted chocolate layer. As she began to savor the gooey treat, KLTV reports that she bit into something sharp, cutting her lip.

Stephanie Granger had indulged in the Walmart ice cream before, but had never had a problem with its contents. At first, the station reports, she thought it was tinfoil, but on closer inspection realized that her ice cream had maimed her with a broken razor blade.

Upon finding a razor in ice cream (or any other foreign object for that matter), you may feel that you are entitled to compensation for the unwanted diet advice. If the food is packaged, it's possible to file a products liability case, since it was unsafe for use. It might also be possible to file an ordinary negligence claim, as a razor in ice cream can only mean that something went awry.

However, just because there's something in your food, doesn't mean you legally deserve more than a new meal. Both of these claims require that you were somehow injured. So unless you were emotionally scarred for life or cut your lip, a coupon and an apology are all you're likely to get.

However, for Stephanie Granger, an apology was not the right response. Even though she doesn't plan to sue, KLTV reports that she felt that it was important for Walmart to investigate how the razor in ice cream situation came to be. The company's initial response? "I'm sorry, I hope your day gets better."

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Better to Buy or Lease Your Next Car?

While a new car every three years is an attractive proposition, it may not make much financial sense. Depending on the car you want, your financial situation, and the terms of the lease, it may be a better decision to buy.

On its face, a lease usually means lower monthly payments. This is because a lease takes into consideration the value of the car at the end of the lease, which is always going to be less than the value of a new car. It can also mean a lower payment upfront--no down payment or sales tax.

However, when considering whether to buy or lease, you need to take a deeper look at the numbers. There are a myriad of hidden costs associated with car leases.

Signing a lease may come with preparation fees, while ending a lease may mean fees for wear and tear, excessive mileage, and termination. The warranty may also not cover any problems with the vehicle when in your possession. And to make matters more complicated, even without these fees, you may be actually paying more in the long run when you lease.

There are a few instances when the "buy or lease" question is answered with a definitive lease, according to MSN Money. Only do it if you absolutely need a new car when you can't afford it, or if the lease is subsidized or discounted.

Whether you decide to buy or lease, it's important to really read your contract through and to understand it completely. Take it home and look up terms and information on the internet, or ask friends and family with more experience. Knowledge will allow you to negotiate better terms.

And if a salesman pulls out his hard-sell tactics and tells you the deal won't be available tomorrow? You probably don't want to do business with him anyway.

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Diet Soda: Stroke Risk Increased by Diet Soda

Diet soda, stroke. Hey diet soda drinkers, care for some bad news? A pair of recent studies suggest that those who consume diet soda have a higher risk of strokes and heart attacks. In fact, the percentages suggested by the study were staggering: it found that diet soda drinkers were 61 percent more likely to have a vascular event, the AFP reports.

Wait a second. What does suggest mean? Why is diet soda bad for you? Does diet soda cause strokes and heart attacks? That's not what the studies say. The studies present a correlation, but not a casual link. That's an important difference to understand when it comes to science and the law. 

While correlations are worth considering, they are a far cry from proof of anything. It could be that people who put themselves at risk for strokes and heart attacks by eating a bad diet, also tend to drink diet soda. Strokes may come next. Or is the link merely a coincidence? 

The legal system requires jurors to be willing to overlook correlations. For example, in reality, there is a high correlation between those who are accused of a crime and those who are in fact guilty. Nevertheless, a juror must swear to only convict if specific evidence demonstrates guilt. The system wouldn't work if it allowed jurors to find people guilty because, "they probably wouldn't be here if they weren't guilty of something."

Nevertheless, the lead author of the story would likely disagree with my rant and tell you if you drink diet soda, stroke is what you may well get. They could be right, I have to admit that I don't know either. 

"If our results are confirmed with future studies, then it would suggest that diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages," said lead study author Hannah Gardener at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the AFP reports. 

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Hold the phone there professor. NASA has concluded that the electronic system was not the blame for Toyota's sudden acceleration problem. This could have a big impact on the class action lawsuit and Toyota recall.

The NASA report found "no electronic flaws … capable of producing the large throttle openings required to create dangerous high-speed, unintended acceleration incidents," the Los Angeles Times reports. NASA conducted a 10-month study in the wake of the Toyota recall. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the report, which concluded that the mechanical safety defects, such as sticky accelerator pedals and floor mats are the only known causes for the unintended acceleration incidents.  "We enlisted the best and brightest engineers to study Toyota's electronics system, and the verdict is in. There is no electronic-based cause for unintended, high-speed acceleration in Toyotas," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

That leaves only three known causes of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles: improperly installed floor mats, sticky pedals, and driver error, CNN reports. "We believe this rigorous scientific analysis by some of America's foremost engineers should further reinforce confidence in the safety of Toyota and Lexus vehicles," said Toyota's chief quality officer Steve St. Angelo.

The NASA findings do not mean that Toyota is in the clear. Toyota is still facing hundreds of lawsuits for millions of dollars over unintended acceleration cases. While the findings of NASA may rule out the electronic system as the culprit for the unintended acceleration cases, alternative liability theories were already asserted by the plaintiffs. 

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Clearing Snow from Roofs: Avoid Price Gouging

Those of you who live in snow-pelted areas know that it is imperative to clear snow from roofs before spring drags in the rain. Clogged gutters are not fun to deal with. Neither is price-gouging. So pay attention to Governor Malloy of Connecticut this season: don't overpay contractors who clear snow from roofs.

Price gouging is when a business takes advantage of disasters or other emergencies by skyrocketing prices of necessary goods and services. It is essentially profiting on a person's or community's vulnerability, which is why it is considered illegal. Most anti-price gouging laws require that there be a connection between the good and its cost, or in the case of those who clear snow from roofs, labor and its cost.

"There has to be a reasonable basis between the size of the roof, the time involved in removing the snow, and a comparable ascertainable hourly rate," Connecticut's Consumer Protection Commissioner, Jerry Farrell, Jr. told the Hartford Courant.

It may be difficult for a consumer to determine a reasonable price, which is why it's important to contact a few contractors for a quote, and to ask around amongst friends and family.

In times of emergency, or when you have a break in the weather, it's often necessary to have a service performed immediately. It's also likely that contractors will be extremely busy. However, it's important not to allow the time crunch to rob you of your rights.

Sign a contract. And if the contractor doesn't have one handy, write down the basic terms of your agreement and have him sign it. The last thing anyone needs is a $500 job turning into a $1000 job.

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Refund Anticipation Loan: Beware of Tax Scams

Tax season is upon us and the scams are everywhere. So if you're in need of a refund anticipation loan, you might want to reconsider your options.

A refund anticipation loan, or refund loan, is like a pay day loan in that it is secured by your tax refund, and, for the price of exorbitant fees and interest rates as high as 600%, you can have your money immediately. Otherwise, you just wait eight to fifteen days for the IRS to issue you a check.

Refund loans are primarily marketed to the working poor, which in itself should make you weary of the product. Companies that offer a refund anticipation loan made $738 million in fees on 2008 tax returns, according to Bloomberg. These are fees that would be better off in your pocket.

While currently legal, the refund anticipation loan may soon see its end. The IRS has already taken measures to limit refund loans by blocking companies' access to information. You, too, can take measures to protect yourself from refund loans and their exorbitant fees when in need of fast cash.

  • File early. The IRS is not yet backed up, meaning you may get your money faster.
  • File your taxes online--it's free and faster. The IRS also offers free preparation to those in lower income brackets.
  • Sign up for direct deposit--nothing can get lost in the mail. For those without bank accounts, many banks are now offering free checking accounts.
  • Plan ahead. Skimping a little now keeps the entirety of your tax refund in your pocket.
  • When in doubt, call the IRS. They will not only help you fill out the forms over the phone, but will be able to tell you if you qualify for free resources.

In the end, a little planning and taking advantage of free services is all it takes not to fall prey to refund loan scams.

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Ford F150 Truck Recall: Faulty Doors

Know any good recall jokes? We're running out of material around here. As we have reported, 2010 was a busy year of recalls. Toyota had recalls involving the Prius, RAV4, Corolla, Matrix, Camry, Highlander, Tundra and Sequoia vehicles. But they weren't the only ones to get in on the recall action, and now Ford has issued another recall. The F150 truck recall is expected to begin on February 14. 

This time, Ford is recalling 365,000 2009 and 2010 F150 trucks in North America. The problem involves the interior door handles, which can cause the doors to open in a crash, the Associated Press reports.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a spring in the interior of the door handle can break, causing the door to fail to properly latch and stay closed. 

According to the Ford recall, the door handles could break “during normal customer usage, resulting in insufficient spring force to return the handle to the fully stowed position,” The New York Times reports.

Recalls should always be taken seriously by consumers. There is no reason not to participate, as the recalling company is required to pay for the recall. If you believe that your Ford vehicle, may be part of the recall, you can contact Ford for more information. Ford customer service will be able to look up your vehicle and determine whether your vehicle is part of the F150 recall. 

Ford released a statement saying that the automaker is: "committed to safety and is quickly working to address this matter with our customers. We are not aware of an accidents related to the matter," the Wall Street Journal reports.

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Bumped flight? Outraged? Unfortunately, it's legal. Fortunately, you might be entitled to some compensation--compensation that one airline is making its customers bid for.

Being bumped from a flight is an all too common occurrence these days. But what people don't realize, is that, despite paying for a ticket in advance, the terms of purchase don't entitle you to a certain flight. They merely promise you transportation from one city to another.

Flying is already an ordeal unto itself, so when you add a bumped flight to the party, things just get even worse. Luckily, federal regulations require airlines to compensate you to make amends for the emotional distress caused by a bumped flight. The following is a list of rules to keep in mind should you be involuntarily bumped from a flight.

  • The airline must provide you a written statement describing your rights and the process they use to determine who is bumped from a flight.
  • Your ticket is yours--don't return it or throw it out.
  • If they can get you to your destination within an hour of your original arrival time, you are not entitled to compensation.
  • If they can get you there within one and two hours (four for international flights), they must pay you the amount of a one-way fare to your destination not to exceed $400.
  • If you are set to arrive more than two hours (four international) late or are not given new arrangements, they must pay you two times the amount of a one-way fare, not to exceed $800.
  • If you choose to make alternative arrangements yourself, you're entitled to an "involuntary refund" for your ticket.

Going back to the first rule, Delta has implemented a new policy to determine how they choose who gets the honor of a bumped flight. Passengers who check in online or at kiosks can enter any dollar amount they'd be willing to take to be bumped from their flight, Business Insider reports. The lowest bidder is bumped. To avoid being the chosen one, one paper suggests that you never bid less than Delta's highest ticket.

The reason for the new policy? Cutting costs; people may bid less than they'd normally be entitled to. Don't let that be you.

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Mom Sues Nutella for Being 'Next Best Thing to a Candy Bar'

Some would say that Nutella is Italy's greatest contribution to history. Some would just call it what it is: an addiction. Embracing the confection's properties, Nutella lovers have been taking spoon to jar every time they need that sugary fix. The stuff can only be considered sinful.

One mom, apparently, did not get the memo, and has instead been feeding her four-year-old child Nutella for breakfast.

Believing advertisements stating that Nutella is a "healthy breakfast" and "nutritious," Athena Hohenberg of San Diego began purchasing the sugary concoction for her child. Upon finding out that Nutella contains an alarming amount of fat and sugar, reports the ABA Journal, the mom called a lawyer.

The Nutella lawsuit alleges a variety of misdeeds, almost all of which surround the claim that Ferrero USA, the spread's manufacturer, engaged in false advertising. Under federal and state law, it's illegal to place false or misleading statements on a product label. The lawsuit appears to base this claim on the presence of a tiny website URL on the label.

Though most people probably have never noticed the URL, the Nutella lawsuit alleges another claim: the content of that website and Nutella's other advertising is misleading unto itself. Advertisements often show mothers feeding their children bread slathered with Nutella. However, these advertisements also say that the spread is part of a balanced breakfast and show fruit, milk, orange juice and other healthier options.

While the allegations may seem weak, one can't help but consider the strangest thing about the Nutella lawsuit--the complaint states that the plaintiff only learned of the health risks from a friend. Seriously, doesn't anyone read nutrition labels anymore?

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Vacation, Airline Refunds Never Easy, Not Impossible

When it comes to dealing with airlines, it isn't easy to get a refund, but it can be done.

For those preparing for flights to Egypt, if you're going to the cities and areas around the Nile, which are subject to a travel advisory warning, then you are entitled to cancel your trip or tour. However, if you are traveling to areas outside the affected region, such as the beach resorts, airlines and tour companies are saying they will not allow refunds for cancellations, the National Geographic blog reports.

That doesn't mean it isn't worth trying if you really feel strongly about not going. Social media, e-mail and 1-800 numbers can be your allies in these kinds of situations. It never hurts to firmly and politely state your case and give it a shot. Also, if you opted to purchase travel insurance, you should check to see if your policy will cover you.

However, if your airline has stopped making flights to Egypt, then they are likely to cancel your flight and then you will be entitled to a full refund.

If you're going on a cruise that is supposed to stop in Egypt, the ship will probably not stop there. If the ship makes another stop somewhere else, you are probably not entitled to anything. If however, the ship does not make up the stop, you are entitled to a refund of the port fees.

If you are already stuck in a dangerous area in Egypt, register with the US embassy in Egypt to get the heck out!

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Verizon iPhone: What to Consider Before Ditching ATT

Does the Verizon iPhone have you planning to leave AT&T? Pre-orders for the mega-hyped Verizon iPhone begin this Thursday.

AT&T's exclusive partnership is finally coming to an end; the iPhone has been tied to an AT&T contract since 2007. If you're going to make the switch, here are some good things to know:

  • Verizon is allowing iPhone 4 buyers to lock into Verizon data plan at $30 per month plan for unlimited data, with a two-year contract, USA Today reports. They are not confirming that this deal will last forever. Verizon seems to be using it to lure in as many early adopters as possible. 
  • Make sure you buy a case made for a Verizon iPhone. The shape of the Verizon iPhone will be slightly different. Therefore, some iPhone cases made for AT&T phones will not fit the Verizon version. You'll definitely want a case, as there is already a class action lawsuit regarding the iPhone 4's glass breaking
  • Making the switch will cost $250 for the Verizon iPhone plus anywhere from $0 and $325 to end your AT&T contract. Of course you can sell your previous iPhone, so you won't be out the full amount. 
  • Verizon is offering $212 to trade in a 16GB iPhone or $285 for a 32 GB, a deal which USA Today called "pretty decent," which is a bit of a stretch. An iPhone 4 can be sold for as much as double that on craigslist or eBay. 
  • The iPhone 4 has been out for 7 months now, which is quite a long time in smartphone years. The next generation iPhone is expected to be released this summer. 
  • The Verizon data network is slower than the AT&T network. That means you might actually wind up missing AT&T when you're streaming a video from the internet. 
  • AT&T's network allows you to simultaneously make calls and use the internet. You can't do that on a Verizon iPhone unless you have WiFi.

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ATT Overbilling for iPad, iPhone Data Plan?

When AT&T ditched the unlimited iPad and iPhone data plan this past June, it should have considered just how closely users now have to monitor their data usage. Or at least it seems that way. Patrick Hendricks of California has filed a federal civil class action accusing AT&T of overbilling iPhone users for data--between 7 and 14 percent.

Hendricks' lawyers hired an independent consulting firm to investigate the alleged AT&T overbilling. The consultants purchased an iPhone and turned off all features, but, according to PC Mag, were still charged for 35 transactions over 10 days. Others also report quirks in the AT&T iPhone data plan, citing data consumption even when in a Wi-Fi hotspot.

While such a small amount of money is not likely to get most consumers up in arms, Hendrick's lawyer points to the cumulative effect on AT&T's bottom line: millions of customers equals millions of dollars.

The next step in Hendrick's lawsuit is court. A Federal judge must certify the class action before the suit proceeds, essentially confirming that the injured (iPhone users) are numerous and have suffered the same injury (iPhone data plan overbilling). Once that occurs in the next few months, affected AT&T customers will receive notices in the mail. Some of you might recall that these notices are often printed in tiny font and are riddled with legal jargon.

Luckily, federal class action suits automatically opt-in class members. In other words, a notice is merely telling you that you are a part of the suit already, and, unless you want to file your own lawsuit, you don't have to do anything until the case settles. At that point, fill out a claim form and figure out a way to spend those 98 cents.

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Super Bowl Scams Target Hardcore NFL Fans

Beware NFL fans, the Super Bowl scams are upon us.

"It is important for football fans to carefully review the details of any ticket offer or travel promotion before handing over cash or credit card information," Attorney General Bill Ryan of Pennsylvania said. "Scam artists are counting on the fact that enthusiastic fans will get caught up in the excitement of the Super Bowl and will not be as attentive as they should be."

Looking to score tickets to watch or party at the big game but don't want to be a victim of Super Bowl scams? FindLaw is here to save the day. Here are some tips that will help you avoid being on the outside looking in with an empty wallet:

  • Don't buy the tickets from people on the street. Pay through a secure website. Sure, you might not get as good of a deal, but do you really want to fork over $8,000 to some guy standing next to a trash dumpster with a cardboard sign?
  • Make sure that you verify the location of the seats versus a seating chart to avoid nonexistent seats or bad seats with an obstructed view, recommends the Better Business Bureau.
  • If a deal seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Some guy selling four tickets for less than face value on Craigslist because he has to go out of town on a business trip? Sure, it could be true. But it's not. Don't say we didn't warn you.

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