We have been reporting and lecturing for over 10 years why the internet is NOT your friend. They are a convenient partner, but with any partnership, you have to keep some safety and security issues in mind.
Data brokerage is a BILLION dollar business and YES, most every organisation from Equifax, Facebook and even the government will make your information known to the world and anyone willing to buy it. In the “olden” days of analog landlines and cable, companies purchased “hard lists.” Now, all they have to do is scrub the internet for vital data they can sell about you. YOUR data IS for sale.
If you vote, buy property, get a traffic ticket, go to court, report theft to the police, sign up for offers, include your personal data on social media sites, your personal data is already compromised. Unfortunately, you cannot get a “do over,” once your personal data is out there, BUT you can master the art of complete SEPARATION.
What to do moving forward? Here are some steps we have tested.
One more thing about your mobile phone number. Many mobile phone companies now allow you to only receive certain calls and texts. You can also block whole regions, states and even countries from calling you. If you get telemarking calls from New York and you have no business or personal connection to that state, you can block ALL CALLS from New York. Check with your mobile phone company to see what they offer.
Well, we hope these tested tips are helpful. We will gather more as we test them out. Keep sending us your gripes. Our tips are due to readers and consumers like you. Once we start our investigation, we send undercover agents to create real life scenarios, in order to solve issues that consumers are most concerned about. Right now, it is all about data safety and security.
🌻I HATE lawsuits. I had the opportunity to join over 30 such lawsuits over the years as a consumer, but decided to join none…UNTIL now. About the Class Action Lawsuit here.
What is at stake in this Class Action lawsuit? The right of ALL consumers not to be PUSHED AROUND by a company, quick to blame others, for their lack of foresight and leadership. The recent changes to this policy was a “knee jerk” reaction to a long standing returns policy they knew nothing about and a long standing failure of executing that policy. This is NOT a consumer problem, it is a failed leadership problem.
For years, the company honoured returns, without question. I once asked a telephone agent, “What exactly does the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee mean?” She responded by stating it was more how I was “FEELING” about the product. It had nothing do with the product itself. This conversation left me with the impression that L.L. Bean did not understand, nor could fully interpret their own returns policy. “Feeling?” I said. So does that mean, I could return my product at any time if I was not “feeling” connected to it? The telephone agent confirmed this.
At the time of this conversation which was in 2016, L.L. Bean still required some sort of proof of purchase. Then, I heard others returning items with no proof of purchase. This led me to believe that the left side of L.L. Bean did not know what the right side was doing. You had telephone agents and stores executing two completely different “returns” policy. What L.L. Bean should have done from the VERY START was require “Proof of purchase” on ALL THEIR PRODUCTS. Even if their computer system only tracked receipts back four years, customers should be responsible for holding on to their purchase receipts.
As a direct result of L.L. Bean not understanding or correctly interpreting their returns policy, they have created their own “fraudulent returns mess.” This is NOT the consumer’s fault, but a company that failed to “strategically” and purposefully instruct all their employees on the handling and return of products purchased by LEGITIMATE customers. This is not the first time honest and law abiding consumers paid the price for companies who failed to understand their own policy and clearly define this for everyone. THIS IS NOT the case of a few bad customers. This is a case of dumb executives and just BAD LEADERSHIP.
L.L. BEAN CRANSTON Rhode Island
We recently went into the Cranston RI store of L.L. Bean to return a dog bed (purchased January 2017) that FAILED to deliver. It continually flattened out every time our 80 pound dog laid on it. Here is the description of the dog bed:
“Rugged, long-lasting and comfortable – our denim dog bed set makes the ideal comfort system for your best friend.”
Additional descriptions: Large - Dimensions: 44"L x 34"W x 5"H. For dogs: 60 to 90 lb.
At the time of the attempted return, we were unaware of the new returns policy since nothing was posted on the front door of the store and I never received an email about it. When we got to the register and handed in the receipt, we were promptly informed that it could not be returned because it was over one year old. The manager, “Kathy” or “Diedre” (female, 50’s, shoulder brown hair, medium build) regurgitated their new returns policy. She also stated that while she had no dogs herself, she thought the two “Symmetrical” holes were “chew marks.” Anyone who has a Labrador Retriever knows that they don’t make “Symmetrical holes” when they chew anything, unless we have a “Vampire dog” who is either a contortionist or so organized to stand parallel with the dog bed to use his “fangs.” You be the judge (image below).
During my research on their new returns policy, I came across an interesting OMISSION by the Cranston RI store. On 13 February 2018, L.L. Bean spokesperson, Carolyn Beem, in response to the recent lawsuit, emailed staff reporter, Lori Valigra of Bangor Daily News. Ms. Beem wrote:
“The recently filed lawsuit misrepresents the terms of our new returns policy. L.L.Bean products bought prior to Feb. 9, 2018 will not be subject to the new one-year restriction. Proof of purchase will continue to be required. That is what we have consistently told customers since the new policy was announced last Friday.”
I contacted Ms. Valigra of Bangor Daily News who confirmed receipt of the email that "L.L.Bean products bought prior to February 9, 2018 will not be subject to the new one-year restriction." The full article here.
In Ms. Beem’s remarks, she claimed that L.L. Bean had been telling customers that their items purchased before the new policy change was not subject to the new rules. I guess, someone at L.L. Bean Headquarters FORGOT to tell the Cranston RI store employees.
UPDATE: Monday, 5th March 2018 -- SUCCESS! On our recent return to our Newport Rhode Island estate, we swung by the L.L. Bean store in Cranston Rhode Island to once again confront the store staff about their returns policy. Armed with our knowledge of their "internal policy," which is not disclosed to the public, we spoke with the store manager. Calmly, she said, "Well, we will return this product just this one time, but remember our new policy moving forward." What a difference EVIDENCE makes in getting your money back!!!
Here is the highlighted section of the article EVERYONE should use to get your RIGHTFUL refund. Just make sure you have the receipt handy too and the date reflects the purchase BEFORE 9 February 2018, when the new policy went into effect. GOOD LUCK!
Whilst I am a self-professed "mouthpiece," I am a strategically thorough individual who believes in the evidentiary process. In other words, I examine facts, data and first person accounts before jumping to any conclusion.
Whilst there have been extensive sourced coverages on how to get verified on Twitter, legitimate stories of disappointment and reflection were also posted, along with their verification "rejection" or "denial" emails. In EVERY instance, the denial emails were computerized, duplicate versions that said EXACTLY the same thing, with no explanation of why the account holder was denied @verified. (updated 17 Oct 2017: Please note, we came to this conclusion after examining over 100 such Twitter denial emails, including David Bradford (@dsbradford) who allowed us to link to his personal journey to get Twitter verified. He also provides some interesting insights.)
Our six month investigation concluded that Twitter is using algorithm, similar to an HRIS in human resources that filters through key words and phrases to select the ideal candidates and filters out those who don't "meet certain criteria." It is highly doubtful that Twitter has the "manpower" or funds to hire staffers to do the job of the computer, based on the large volume of requests they receive. Unfortunately, by so doing, Twitter has denied volumes of "legitimate" and worthy accounts.
Twitter wrote on their blog dated 19 July 2016 that "Verified accounts on Twitter allow people to identify key individuals and organizations on Twitter as authentic, and are denoted by a blue badge icon." They continue by stating, "Typically this includes accounts maintained by public figures and organizations in music, TV, film, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas." They continue by mentioning that @CDCGov was one of the first verified, and even @kimkardashian was recognized. Well, we know what occurred in Paris, which goes to show that "oversharing" on social media is not always a good thing. As Bill Cunningham, the famed New York Times street fashion photographer once stated, "It's the clothes. Not the celebrity and not the spectacle." My sentiments exactly!
In this "celebrity-obsessed" world, where a picture of a pancake by XYZ celebrity receives 1.5M retweets, Twitter @verified is shutting out interesting voices from "real" people. Many of these account holders are long term Twitter users, putting out quality tweets, not regurgitated noise. Whilst they may not write for @forbes, work for @vogue, Oscar nominated or winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, they represent the cultural diversity in our society, with unique perspectives and stories that deserve a platform worth their time and energy.
By tricking users into thinking they have a chance to have their profile verified with the white check in the cloud, is deceitful and a public fraud. By Twitter's own press release, they are looking for "certain criteria," which does not include the "general" public, so why conduct a PR cattle call, when they know that less than 1% will be approved? It is because Twitter wants to "Wag the Dog," perhaps not to the degree of Dustin Hoffman's political "spin" film, where fabricated war covered up a presidential sex scandal. Twitter needs a PR boost or distraction from their bleeding financial mess.
Here is one conjecture we believe may be the catalyst for Twitter to open up @verified to the public. Twitter is bleeding financially. Since its IPO launch in 2013, it has been a walking wounded, evidenced from 2014 to the present. The stock has been trading in the teens since early 2016. Interestingly, the stock fell to a new low, trading at $13.90 in May 2016, two months before the announcement opening @verified to the public. It is now hovering above $18.60 as of this report. We surmise the public @verified was a marketing ploy to garner more interest in the micro-blogging site that has flatlined, with negative performance on return on assets (ROA) and 10% dip on Return on equity (ROE) in 2016.
Contrast Twitter with Facebook whose IPO launched in 2012 and stock hovering north of $173.70 as of this report. Facebook did not feel the need, at this time, to open up their verification to everyone. (Updated 17 Oct 2017. At the time of this report, the Facebook help centre posted a DIFFERENT response to this question, "How do I request a gray verification badge for my Page?" Facebook answer: "This feature isn't available to everyone right now." (screen shot dated Sunday, 15 October at 06:33). They changed that response to now posted steps to verify your business page). The gray badge are for non-celebrities. In researching this recent Facebook update, and notable clicks to this blog, it is logical that Facebook was notified that they needed to change their help centre page. For this reason, blogs and main stream media notate updates, omissions and errors to previous posts to ensure the integrity of the data and information provided to the public.
Bottomline: A Twitter @verified account, just as a Facebook verified badge, won't make me more inclined to click on the page or profile and connect. Social Media to me is not about the celebrity. It is about connecting with "real" people in the "real" world, even if it is a virtual world. It is still a cultural community. I am an "authentic" person and I don't need a near bankrupt micro-blogging site to tell me otherwise.
Addendum (added 18 Oct 2017): In response to 32 direct email queries related to, "Did you try to get verified?" The short answer: No. The Long answer: Yes - The INTEGRITY of the experiment is critical, so in order to fully understand a process, you must experience it for yourself. The information I supplied Twitter, however, would not win me a verified status. Putting together some obscure links (instead of actual main stream articles written about me and articles I wrote), with no bio, no photo, no header photo, is an automatic rejection from Twitter's algorithm; and YES, I too was not verified based on what was submitted. Weirdly the email stated to try again in 30 days. No thanks. I concluded the experiment. The End. I believe social media is about "inclusion" NOT "segregation." The white check should represent ALL legitimate trusted accounts based on a true authentication process.
Number of monthly active Twitter users worldwide from 1st quarter 2010 to 2nd quarter 2017 (in millions)
All Algorithm Amazon Andrew M Slavitt Android Anthony Bourdain Apple Askgbp Ballantine Books Bank Fraud Best Buy Bill Cunningham Caesars Entertainment @CDCGov CGI Characters Check Fraud Cheryl R Campbell Class Acton Lawsuit Cookie Monster Credit Customers Data Breach David Bradford Entrepreneurs Facebook Federal Exchange FilterBubbles Food Network Genova Technology Google Gypsy Health Home Depot IPO IPO Launch IRS JC Penney John Lau Kathleen Sebelius Kim Kardashian Kis Principle LL Bean Marissa Mayer Microsoft Mitre Motivation National Government Services New York City Nigerian Fraud Novo Nordisk Nutrition NYSE Obamacare Ohio Scam Online Store Security Paula Deen Personal Finance Police Quality Software Services Refund Resolutions Samsung Self Help Serco Small Business Smithfield Social Security Statista Street Performers Target Tax ID Terremark Twitter TWTR Validation Verification @verified Verizon Visors Walgreens Walmart Weight Loss Wellness Yahoo
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