Author Archives: Kevin Hunt

Expedia’s $43 Rate At New Punta Cana Resort Too Good To Be True?

by Categorized: Travel Date:

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This weekend’s Bottom Line column:

Expedia is so sure of its travel prices that it offers a best-price guarantee that matches any lower price found within 24 hours of booking. It refunds the difference and issues a $50 travel coupon.

But what happens when a traveler books a trip to a Caribbean resort through Expedia, then finds out, months later, that the resort is increasing the nightly rate by more than 500 percent?

What about the confirmation?

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TicketNetwork: State Cracks Down On Deceptive Practices

by Categorized: Consumer Complaints, Consumer Rights, Customer Service, Deceptive advertising Date:

TicketNetwork, the ticket resale business in South Windsor, has agreed to more clearly identify itself as a secondary seller of tickets instead of an official website for concert and sports venues in a settlement with the state attorney general and Department of Consumer Protection.

Here is the joint announcement released Thursday morning by the AG’s office and DCP:

The Office of the Attorney General, at the request of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, is joining the Federal Trade Commission to file a Complaint and Consent Orders in U.S. District Court against TicketNetwork, Inc., a Connecticut-based ticket resale company, its wholly-owned subsidiary TicketSoftware, LLC, and two companies that are part of TicketNetwork’s Partner Program, Ryadd, Inc. and SecureBoxOffice, LLC. Also named in the complaint are Ryadd co-owners Ryan J. Bagley and Charles A. Lineberry, and Secure Box Office owner James Moran.

All defendants have been involved in the secondary ticket market, in which ticket resellers such as brokers advertise and sell event tickets to consumers. In the primary ticket market, consumers buy tickets directly from either a venue box office or from an authorized ticket service. While the primary market typically sells tickets at face value, the secondary market, which operates primarily online, often sells tickets at prices above face value.

“We pursued this action to bring some needed transparency to secondary ticket market transactions,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said today. “Through today’s settlement, TicketNetwork will more clearly advise consumers that they are purchasing through the resale ticket market rather than through a venue’s box office. Armed with accurate information, consumers can make better-informed decisions about whether the resale ticket market provides them with the tickets and services they value at reasonable prices.”

“This settlement will help Connecticut consumers avoid confusion and deception in the ticket resale market, and I commend Commissioner Rubenstein and his department for their leadership on this matter,” said Attorney General George Jepsen. “Today’s consent order ensures that consumers will not be misled, whether intentionally or unintentionally, when seeking to purchase tickets through a reseller.”

The State alleges that through use of website design, web addresses and terms like “official” tickets, the defendants falsely created the impression for consumers that their online ticket sites were official websites for the venues or other entities authorized to sell tickets at face value, when in truth the websites were secondary market sites reselling tickets, often at higher prices.

The Complaint asserts that the alleged actions are violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act.
Also filed today in U.S. District Court are Consent Orders agreed to by each of the defendants. Under terms of the consent orders, which must be approved by the court, all defendants are prohibited from misrepresenting, directly or by implication, that their resale websites are affiliated with any venue box office.

Among other terms of the Orders are specific bans on:
• using the name of theaters, stadiums or other entertainment venues, including partial or alternate spellings in website URL addresses;
• deceptively using pictures, logos or descriptions of venues; and
• using the word “official” in phrases such as “official tickets,” “official source,” or “official website” in any online advertising, display URLs, websites, web pages or any other form of advertising for the sale of secondary market tickets.

All defendants, their officers, agents, employees, attorneys and servants, and others directly or indirectly involved with them in advertising, marketing or promoting secondary market tickets are subject to the Orders’ ban of misrepresenting or implying that any resale ticket website is a primary ticket site, or that a resale site is offering tickets at face value — unless authorized by the venue, primary seller or original issuer of the tickets.

Furthermore, the defendants and all associates must disclose, clearly and prominently on the ticket listing page and the payment authorization page of their ticket sale websites that:
a) their site is a resale ticket marketplace and not a venue or box office;
b) the ticket price offered here may exceed face value; and
c) the website is not owned by the venue, team, performer or promoter (as applicable).

Under the Consent Orders, defendants also agree to requirements regarding record-keeping, monitoring of subsidiary agents, and ongoing compliance reporting to the State and the FTC.

Ryadd, Inc., and co-owners Ryan J. Bagley and Charles A. Lineberry, are ordered to pay $550,000 to the State of Connecticut. SecureBoxOffice, LLC and owner James Moran are ordered to pay $100,000 to the State of Connecticut, and TicketNetwork, Inc. and TicketSoftware, LLC are ordered to pay $750,000 to the State of Connecticut. All funds are to be used by the State for complaint resolution programs, consumer education and consumer protection enforcement.

The Department of Consumer Protection issued a report to the General Assembly in February 2012 that highlighted confusion between resale websites and venue box office websites as an area of consumer protection concern.

Are These Chemicals In Your Deodorant, Shampoo, Soap Or Cosmetics?

by Categorized: Health Date:

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Today’s Bottom Line column:

Why do so many people care so much about what they put in their body and so little about what they put on it?

Europe’s regulatory system bans close to 1,400 ingredients in cosmetic products, including carcinogens like parabens and toxic chemicals that can cause reproductive and developmental-health risks. The United States bans 11.

So after dining on certified-sustainable wild Alaska salmon and organic spinach, it’s time to wash precious toddler Timothy with Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. This gentle shampoo, a favorite for generations, is notorious among knowledgeable label watchers for its history of toxic-chemical use. Johnson & Johnson, after years of complaints, finally reformulated the shampoo earlier this year. It removed formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, potentially harmful chemicals, and now lists the shampoo as paraben-free and even soap-free.

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Technology for the amateur spy

by Categorized: Technology Date:

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This week’s tech column, courtesy of Tribune Newspapers:

Spy technology has become so widespread and smartphone-ready that sleuthing, like golf, can be played by almost anyone.

Not everyone can own a Stingray II, the controversial surveillance device from Harris Corp. that gathers cellphone data from targeted neighborhoods and costs, by some estimates, more than $130,000. The company, which does not discuss its products or its prices, has even required local police departments to sign a nondisclosure agreement forbidding them to acknowledge use of its equipment.

What’s spy work without secrecy, or at least a nondisclosure?
The everyday spy, meanwhile, shops at online spy boutiques, amazon.com or, yes, the local Home Depot. Spying isn’t as glamorous as it used to be, but it does make one wonder who’s watching, listening, tracking and scouring our data.

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Connecticut Is Third Most Expensive State For Energy

by Categorized: Green Date:

As if we didn’t know it: Connecticut residents have the third-highest energy costs in the country, according to recent survey by WalletHub.com. State residents have the nation’s second-highest monthly electricity costs ($143), the fourth-highest natural gas costs ($94) and rank No. 14 in gasoline costs ($167). The total monthly energy cost, $404, trails only Hawaii ($451) and Mississippi ($414).
The state uses more natural gas, per consumer, than every state except Alaska, Illinois and New York. Because of its size, it also consumes the third-lowest amount of gasoline, trailing only Hawaii and New York.

She Wants TSA To Pay For Missing Luggage Lock, Damage

by Categorized: Travel Date:

Napolitano Inspects New Advanced Imaging Technology Scanners At JFK Airport

This weekend’s Bottom Line column:

Lou Ann Naples of Old Saybrook, a frequent traveler, says she never checks her baggage at an airport without securing it with a Tumi lock recognized by the Transportation Security Administration.

When she picked up her luggage at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers after a flight that originated at Bradley International Airport, her Tumi suitcase arrived safely but the lock didn’t. Inside, she found some of her Easter-related items damaged and a TSA “notice of bag inspection” in her suitcase.

“This,” she says, “was not a nickel-and-dime lock. This was a $25 to $30 lock.”

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Mortgage Rates Down Slightly, Remain Near Historic Lows

by Categorized: Banks Date:

Mortgage rates dropped slightly in the past week, remaining near record lows, according to data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.
Thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.13 nationally, down from 4.15 the previous week. Fifteen-year rates averaged 3.23 percent, down from 3.24 percent.
The numbers from New England:

This week:
30-year: 4.14 percent
15-year: 3.25 percent

Last week:
30-year: 4.14 percent
15-year: 3.24 percent

A year ago:
30-year: 4.40 percent
15-year: 3.44 percent

Review: A $7,000 Meridian Sound System In $147,000 Range Rover

by Categorized: Auto Date:

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This week’s tech column, courtesy of Tribune Newspapers:

Of course this is a crazy daydream. I cannot possibly be romping through the Rubicon Trail in the world’s most luxurious SUV while listening to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 through the world’s most exotic, standard-equipment car-audio system.

Of course it is. I am actually sitting in a flat-top East Coast parking lot under graying skies, mildly awe-struck, in the front passenger seat of a $146,895 Range Rover Autobiography LWB listening to Meridian Audio’s 29-speaker, 24-channel, 1,700-watt Signature Reference 3D sound system.

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