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Consumer Daily Reports


Trusted reliable news sources from around the web. We offer special news reports, topic news videos, and related content stories. Truly a birds eye view on news.

Consumer News: Is time running out for hhgregg?

The electronics and appliances retailer has been bleeding money for years

By Truman Lewis of ConsumerAffairs
February 24, 2017

PhotoElectronics retailer hhgregg has long been short of capital letters and is becoming increasingly short of the kind of capital you can take to the bank, having lost money for the last three years.

The company says it is hoping to avoid a bankruptcy filing, but wise consumers will dig out any hhgregg gift cards they may have stuffed in the sock drawer and rush to redeem them, just in case.

Gift cards don't carry much weight in a bankruptcy filing. They sometimes lose all of their value and, even if they don't, consumers may find their money is tied up for months or years while other creditors pick the bones clean.

There's no official word from the company just yet. In a statement, CEO Robert Riesbeck said he was trying to keep the doors open.

Were focused on continuing to execute our business strategy, as planned, and returning this company to profitability, he said in a prepared statement.

A familiar problem

The malaise affecting hhgregg is the one that retailers are all too familiar with -- too much competition from online retailers and discounters. In hhgregg's case, it's made worse by the likes of Lowe's and The Home Depot bringing their considerable muscle to appliance sales.

Even J.C. Penney recently got back into appliance sales, although today's announcement that Penney would be closing up to 140 stores may not do much to bolster its image as a giant of appliance retailing.

Earlier this month, hhgregg said that it was exploring "strategic initiatives ...to improve liquidity and return to profitability."

"We are committed to improving our results through our business strategy, including investments made to shift our focus to appliances and furniture, and additional expected cost reductions," Riesbeck said. "As the company undertakes this exploration process, we are focused on the execution of our business strategy and remain fully committed to serving our customers' needs."

Read more...

Consumer News: AT&T launches free smartphone promotion

But there are a number of strings attached

By Mark Huffman of ConsumerAffairs
February 24, 2017

PhotoSmartphones aren't cheap and cellphone companies no longer subsidize them as a way to keep you in a two-year contract.

So, AT&T hopes to draw some interest with its new promotion to give away a free phone when customers add a new line or upgrade an existing one. But it's really not as simple as a buy-one-get-one-free deal. There are a few strings attached.

First, it's not just any smartphone. AT&T says participating customers may choose from three popular models. The press release announcing the deal doesn't say what they are.

$70 a month threshold

To qualify for the deal, you must have eligible service, spending at least $70 a month.You also have to add a line and purchase both new devices on AT&T Next or AT&T Next Every Year. And the free phone isn't exactly free, at least not in the beginning.

Under the promotion, you will still be billed the installment costs of both phones, but you'll get a bill credit to offset the cost of the second phone. Only you don't get it right away. You'll pay the first three installments before the credit begins to kick in, and you'll pay taxes on the device upfront.

AT&T says the monthly bill credits for the second device can total up to $695 over 24 to 30 months.

Includes business customers

"We are excited to offer our customers our first Buy One, Get One of the year," said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Entertainment Group. "It includes options for everyone, including business customers."

It also includes new customers who switch from another wireless provider. New AT&T wireless customers can get $650 in credits and may use the credit towards the purchase of their first device.

If you prefer to pay for your smartphones in full up front, rather than pay on the installment plan, you won't be eligible for this deal. All providers now prefer that you pay $25 to $30 a month for your phone instead of paying all at once.

Even though all providers have ditched the two-year contract with an early-termination fee, they know that customers are less likely to make a change if they are still paying on a phone, and will have to pay the balance if they leave.

Read more...

Consumer News: Career expectations vary widely by gender, study finds

But both men and women are choosing to delay their family plans to focus on their careers

By Sarah D. Young of ConsumerAffairs
February 24, 2017

PhotoA new survey commissioned by CareerBuilder finds that a majority of women over the age of 25 are postponing starting a family in order to focus on their careers.

Eighty-three percent of women are delaying their family plans while opting to allow their career to take center stage. Slightly fewer male respondents (79%) indicated that they were doing the same.

Wanting to earn and save enough money to provide for their family was the top reason to postpone family plansamong both women and men who plan to have children. But while men and women may be equally content to focus on their careers, the two genders share few similarities in the realm of career expectations.

Different views

The study found that men and women have very different ideas of what they expect to get out of their career, in terms of both expected annual salary and job title.

There is a growing trend among todays workforce both men and women are waiting to have children until they have reached their professional and financial goals, said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

Despite similar reasons for postponing family plans, men and women differ widely on how much they expect to earn and at what level of position over their careers, said Haefner.

Gender differences regarding career expectations were apparent in the fact that 44% of men expected to reach a six figure salary, compared to just 20% of women. Over a third of women (34%) believed there is unequal pay at their organization.

Title expectations

In addition to higher salaries, men were also more likely to expect higher job levels during their career. Twenty-two percent of women expected to remain or reach entry-level, while only 10% of men had such modest expectations.

More than double the amount of men (9%, compared to 4% of women) expected to become company owner. Aspirations to become vice president reflected a similar discrepancy, with 5% of men expecting to reach vice president level compared to just 2% of women.

Additional findings from the study showed that 63% of women who plan to have children are waiting until at least age 30 to start a family. Fifteen percent of women (and twice as many men) said they are waiting until at least age 35 to start a family.

Read more...

Consumer News: Postcard from Virginia, part II

Two presidential homes rooted in American history

By Robbie Miller Kaplan of ConsumerAffairs
February 24, 2017

PhotoTravel back in time and explore our countrys history by visiting the James River Plantations along scenic Route 5 in Charles City County, Virginia. It is here that Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Presidents William Henry Harrison and John Tyler were born and lived.

Established in 1619, Charles City County boasts plantations and farms that survived the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the War Between the States (as the Civil War is still known in much of the South). Meticulously restored properties dot the highway and nearby youll find the Jamestown Settlement, America's first permanent English colony, and Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia's 18th-century colonial capital and the world's largest living history museum. While there is much to do, dont miss these presidential highlights:

Berkeley Plantation

The Georgian mansion, built in 1726, is the oldest three-story brick house in Virginia and the first with a pediment roof. Its also the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence and three-time governor of Virginia. Its also the birthplace of William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States, and ancestral home of his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third president.

Fun Facts:

The estate was occupied during the Civil War by General George McClellans Union troops.

Taps, the ceremonial bugle call for fallen soldiers, now a standard component to military funerals, was composed here in 1862 by General Daniel Butterfield.

Special tours are offered seasonally, such as: James River Plantations Historic Garden Week;Hauntings Tales & Tours featuring the spirits and mysteries of the three historic Edgewood, Berkeley, and Shirley plantations; Twilight Ghost Tour;a Candlelight Christmas;and a Presidents Day Weekend celebration highlighting one of the most popular presidential campaigns of American history, which coined the memorable campaign slogan Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.

The mansion and its 10 acres of formal gardens are open daily with seasonal hours, except on Thanksgiving & Christmas.

The admission fee includes a film, museum tour, house tour guided by docents in period costumes, and self-guided tours of the grounds and garden.

Sherwood Forest

Sherwood Forest Plantation became the home of our 10th U.S. President John Tyler in 1842. He lived there until his death in 1862 and the plantation has been a continuous residence of the Tyler family ever since.

A native Virginian, Tyler served twice as Governor of Virginia, a U.S. Senator, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a Virginia state senator, and member of the Virginia House of Delegates. He assumed the presidency following the death of President William Henry Harrison, who died just one month into his presidency. William Henry Harrison was born right down the road at Berkeley Plantation. Tyler was the first vice president to assume the presidency due to his predecessors death.

Fun Facts:

Tyler purchased the home and its surrounding 1,600 acres from his cousin, Collier Minge. Rumor has it that he renamed the plantation Sherwood Forest, alluding to his notoriety as a political outlaw.

The house, built circa 1720, is over 300 feet long and known as the longest frame house in America. The house survived the Civil Warbut was damaged by Union soldiers; marks on woodwork and doors are still visible.

The grounds include twenty-five acres of terraced gardens, lawns, and tranquil woodlands. The formal garden was used by Civil War troops.

Sherwood Forest Plantation's grounds are open 9:00 am-5:00 pm daily. There is a fee for a self-guided grounds tour that encompasses the exterior of the house and 21 numbered stations representative of a 19th century plantation; descriptions and history are detailed in a pamphlet.

House tours are available by appointment only.

Theres more to see in Charles City County, Virginia. Check it out here.

Read more...

Consumer News: Google launches new wireless gigabit service

A Denver apartment complex is the first to get Webpass service

By James R. Hood of ConsumerAffairs
February 24, 2017

PhotoIt's the last mile that's the most difficult. That's true whether you're running a marathon or trying to figure out how to build a profitable broadband network. The most popular solution at the moment is a wireless link to make the last curb-to-home hop.

Google, which has largely backed off its ambitious Google Fiber project, is the latest to adopt the wireless last-mile strategy, rolling out something called Webpass to connect a Denver apartment complex to the internet with gigabit speeds.

Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and others are doing the same, some more rapidly than others.

The problem with running fiber-optic cable to every single home and office in America is that it is simply too expensive, and not even possiblein some remote areas. So companies like Webpass, which Google bought recently, build a network hub in or near a neighborhood or housing complex and use a wireless signal to serve nearby customers. Construction cost is minimal compared to fiber and operating costs are comparable.

Webpass and others are operating in the 3.5 Ghz spectrum recently opened up by the Federal Communications Commission. It had previously been used by naval radar systems which have moved to other frequencies.

Read more...

Consumer News: Why waking up early could help you lose weight

Researchers say early risers make healthier food choices than their night owl counterparts

By Christopher Maynard of ConsumerAffairs
February 24, 2017

PhotoEating healthily and losing weight can be difficult tasks for anyone, but a new study shows that when you choose to go to bed and wake up can make a big difference.

Researchers from The Obesity Society (TOS) have found that consumers who wake up early and go to bed at a decent hour are more likely to have a balanced diet than those who stay up later. It is the first study of its kind to investigate what and when people with different internal clocks eat.

TOS spokesperson Dr. Courtney Peterson explains that early birds have an advantage over night owls when it comes to fighting obesity because they instinctively choose to eat healthier foods earlier in the day. She states that factors such as metabolism andour biological clocks play a big part in weight loss.

Previous studies have shown that eating earlier in the day may help with weight loss and lower the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. What this new study shows is that our biological clocks not only affect our metabolism but also what we choose to eat," she said.

Early birds vs. night owls

The study analyzed data from 2,000 randomly chosen participants and looked at how their circadian and biological clock rhythm affected what they chose to eat and at what time they were most likely to eat.

The findings suggested that early birds are more likely than night owls to eat high-energy, healthy foods throughout the day. On the other hand, night owls were found to consume less protein and more sucrose and saturated fatty acids. These differences were even more pronounced on weekends, with night owls eatingmore often and at more irregular times. The researchers found that night owls also tended to be less physically active and have lower quality sleep.

"Linking what and when people eat to their biological clock type provides a fresh perspective on why certain people are more likely to make unhealthy food decisions," said lead researcher Mirkka Maukonen. "This study shows that evening type people have less favorable eating habits, which may put them at a higher risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease."

Weight loss implications

While the health implications are striking, the researchers believe that the findings could be particularly important to consumers who are seeking to lose weight. They say that health care providers could help consumers by directing them towards healthier options and specific meal times.

"Clinicians can help steer people to healthier options -- and suggest the optimal time to eat these foods -- based on what we now know about our biological clocks," said Peterson.

The full study has been published in the journal Obesity.

Read more...

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