By Matt Brownell
In April, a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than a thousand people. The factory had been making apparel for numerous American fashion brands and retailers.
In the wake of the tragedy, Walmart (WMT) -- which had previously sourced clothes from the factory -- touted its commitment to worker safety by releasing an extensive list of factories it had stopped doing business with out of safety concerns. But a ProPublica report released last week found that at least two of those factories were still making clothes sold in Walmart stores.
In one case, the company told ProPublica that it had simply accepted clothing shipments that had already been produced. The other factory was making clothes for Fruit of the Loom that were subsequently sold in Walmart stores, and the company says that there was confusion about which company's standards should apply.
Getting fired for posts on Facebook or Twitter has become so common that it almost seems old hat. But human ingenuity -- or foolishness -- and evolving social media technologies guarantee that people will find new ways to post their way out of a job. Look at what some are doing on Instagram.
A quick Web search shows people who post personally identifiable information, show or say where they work, and use the tag #worksucks, #calledinsick or, even better #hatemyboss. Many didn't respond to AOL Jobs' request for comments, so it's not clear if their managers have seen these posts yet.
But two employees at a Thai-Japanese restaurant in Delaware lost their jobs after they posted "photos, credit card receipts, vulgar remarks and racial slurs" on Instagram about low-tipping customers. During a four-month period, the manager of Padi allegedly posted a running string of stupid comments and images, using the hashtag #cheap #jew: Here is one example:
A sushi chef at the restaurant, who seemed to defend the manager in comments on a local newspaper's website, was also fired.
About three weeks ago,... a photo of a bill for $53.80 from a customer with an Indian surname was posted on the fumanchu85 Instagram account. The bill shows that customer tipped $5.20, or less than 10 percent. Fumanchu85 wrote: "What do you expect from a last name like that?" Then fumanchu85 wrote a derogatory term followed by #cheap #jew.
By Molly McCluskey
Measuring satisfaction can be a tricky business, and nowhere is that trickier than in the airline industry, known for delays, bad food and uncomfortable seats.
It's far easier to measure the things that can lead to dissatisfaction -- how long travelers are stuck on the tarmac, how many flights are overbooked, the average wait time at a check-in counter. But there are a handful of studies that attempt to provide insight for travelers.
How do U.S. airlines stack up to their peers worldwide? In a word, horribly.
But some things celebrities lend their name and image to are downright dangerous, particularly when they get in bed with the credit and debit card companies largely responsible for so much debt around the world.
More and more the public is able to apply for credit and debit cards with their favourite celebrities face on them, but the fees and interest charges are often so high that only the rich and famous who endorse these cards can afford them.
Ahead, we'll show you whose promoting what cards and pull back the curtain on what the card companies are charging you to have them.
By David Schepp
Anyone who's ever had a parent die knows that dealing with a loved one's financial matters afterward is one of life's less pleasant tasks. It can mean numerous letters or trips to a bank or credit card company to close accounts, have money transferred and more.
So pity poor Siobhon Peers, who lost her father, David, to cancer in October 2011, but continued to receive letters -- about 20 in all -- from the Royal Bank of Scotland, saying the deceased owed 6 pounds (about $9.14 at current exchange rates) on his account, the result of a standard overdraft charge.
As London's Telegraph newspaper reports, Peers sent a copy of her father's death certificate to the bank to close his account, but the bank demanded an original copy and continued to send letters. "I sent them a copy of the death certificate and that should have been enough," Peers told the newspaper. "I wasn't going to send them the original as I want to keep that."
Nevertheless, month after month, bank charges continued to pile up, as the outstanding overdraft amount mushroomed to 625 pounds with interest.
By Matt Brownell
Kmart (SHLD) just came out of nowhere with one of the funniest commercials we've seen in a long time.
The discount retailer is touting the fact that in-store shoppers who can't find what they're looking for are now able to order the item online right in the store, with free delivery. In its latest commercial, released Wednesday, shoppers react with amazement at the fact they can ship their pants right there in the store. Take a look:
The uncharacteristically off-color ad is meeting with universal acclaim on YouTube: The video has received more than 160,000 views, and 98.6% of those voting on the video gave it a thumbs-up.
"I think Walmart (WMT) just shipped itself," notes one top commenter.
As for Kmart, the ad serves a real purpose: emphasizing to consumers that Kmart stores and Kmart.com operate as a cohesive unit, allowing shoppers to buy merchandise via either channel as they see fit. This so-called omnichannel approach to retailing has been a major focus of bricks-and-mortar retail chains over the last few years.
But it hasn't always come easy, even for Kmart. I recently recounted an experience I had at my local Kmart, when I discovered via a smartphone app that a product was available on Kmart.com for 50% cheaper than it was in the store. As one retail analyst told me at the time, inconsistent pricing across channels and locations has been an issue for retailers, and Kmart is no exception.
With that said, I was able to navigate around the price differential rather smoothly by ordering on my smartphone and then picking it up from the customer service desk an hour later. And as I later learned, Kmart's price-matching policy does indeed apply to its own website, which isn't always the case in the retail world.
In other words, Kmart seems to be figuring out this whole omninchannel thing. And it certainly seems to know what it's doing on the advertising front.
UPDATED (6 p.m. ET Friday): While the commercial is only viewable online for the moment, a spokesperson for Kmart tells us that it will start airing on select cable TV channels later this month.
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.
Remember that old maxim, "The customer is always right"? Me neither. Maybe I was born too late, but I don't ever recall an era in my lifetime that wasn't guided by the "buyer beware" principle. If there ever was a golden age of shopper deference, it certainly didn't survive the now-great epoch of Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) et al. Here are a few tricks to help you pull out of this thing with your dollars and dignity intact.
By Evan Niu, CFP
Back when BlackBerry 10 launched in January, the company touted a 70,000 headline figure for its app count. I initially criticized BlackBerry for the fact that 40% of these apps were just wrapped Google Android apps, since this would present important strategic challenges farther down the road.
A couple months later, the company said its app figure reached 100,000, adding 30,000 new apps over seven weeks. At the time, BlackBerry didn't give any details on how many were Android ports.
Well, the company has now done just that, and is making progress on the divide between native and ported apps. In a recent interview with AllThingsD, BlackBerry exec Martyn Mallick said that roughly 20% of the 100,000 apps are now emulated Android apps (Mallick is the same exec that confirmed the first 40% figure in January).
By Matt Brownell
A store in Australia is apparently taking an extreme approach to eliminating showrooming, alerting would-be customers that they'll be charged $5 if they come in to browse but don't buy anything.
Reddit user BarrettFox posted a snapshot of a sign warning shoppers that the store would impose a $5 fee for people who are "just looking." The fee, the sign explains, will be deducted from the final purchase price, ensuring that people who actually buy something won't be charged. It notes that it's pursuing this strategy because of "a high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere."