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Displaying items by tag: Consumer Protection

animal farm-pigs

Blizzard is in the news, again, and for some of the same reasons that they have been in the news since the launch of the third installment in the Diablo franchise. When it was launched Blizzard made the decision to require a constant internet connection to play the game. This includes the single player game and is a decision that is not coming back to haunt the company. In South Korea Blizzard has been fined (a paltry $7,000) for failing to refund customers over the infamous Error 37. This error popped up when Blizzard’s servers were overloaded. Unfortunately, because of the requirement for a connection to play the single player game people were unable to play the game at all.

Published in News

drone01As we race toward a day when we might not have any real privacy we are wondering where things will actually stop and where the general public’s rights come in and corporate “rights” actually stop. During all of the privacy debates over Facebook, Google and many others that seem to view personal data as a commodity to be traded for cash one thing has been repeated over and over again. This is “do users of online services have a reasonable expectation of privacy?” We have heard this one bandied about by Congress Men and Women, Facebook and Google Lawyers and even legal scholars seem to be unable to answer this.

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73Wow… I can remember rather vividly trying to get out of trouble for doing something as a kid with the rather flimsy excuse of “but everyone is doing it”. To make a long story short here, that did not work and I had to face my consequences over my misdeed. So if that excuse does not work with my parents (and believe me it does not work with a traffic cop either). How is it that corporations can get away with it?

Published in Editorials
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 23:33

Update on the AT&T-T-Mobile Merger

ATTNow it is time for the AT&T&T-Mobile news. It seems that competitor Sprint has opted to file a lawsuit in opposition to the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. This really should surprise no one as Sprint has never agreed with the deal in the first place. The suit filed by Sprint covers the same ground that the one filed by the DOJ does. You know the drill; it is bad for consumers, removed choice from the market and creates a douopoly (which sounds like a fun board game). Of course AT&T was quick to issue a statement saying that Sprint is only looking out for themselves (No kidding, really?) and that they are no concerned with consumers and how much they will benefit from this merger (of course they never really detail those benefits).  Pretty much Sprint said AT&T was a big bully and AT&T said “Nuh-Uh!” it really is like watching kids argue on the playground.

Other reports suggest that AT&T might not be worried because if the revisions cost them more than 20% of the original deal, then they might get some money off the price tag for T-Mobile. It things hit 40% of the original sticker price then AT&T can walk owning only 3 Billion to T-Mobile for their troubles. So really AT&T is not going to be worried they are in something of a win-win. Sure the merger is their goal (and they will lobby for it), but they still have lots of options. I really wonder what the outcome of this all will be, but I do hope that someone up there in Washington has some common sense and can see just how bad for consumers a deal like this could be.

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Published in News
Friday, 02 September 2011 21:44

Will AT&T Offer a Compromise to the DOJ?

fingersWell, well, well it looks like the folks at AT&T are going to have a go at settling the Anti-Trust suit brought by the DOJ. Originally some statements from the Telecommunications giant had indicated they would fight this in court. Now it according to a report from Reuters they are looking for a compromise that will allow the deal to go through without the need to bother any judges. This would seem to indicate that the deal is a bit shady in the first place, despite AT&T’s claims to the contrary.

But what kind of compromise would AT&T need to make to get this merger deal through? We know that T-Mobile does not care one way or the other. In fact they have a rather healthy failed merger clause that gives them a nice chunk of money in the event it is blocked. So the internet and the press begin to speculate and analyst put in their two cents. Right now there are rumors that AT&T will agree to sell off 25% of T-Mobile to its competitors. It will also probably agree to maintain the pricing and plan structure that T-Mobile has (for a predetermined period of time). These all sound good on the surface, but they hardly address the core argument in the suit. You see the DOJ put it very bluntly; if AT&T and T-Mobile merge it will reduce the competitive market by 25% and put the GSM Market firmly in AT&T’s hands.

This is something that is absolutely not in the interest of consumers, but then again most business dealings are not. AT&T is in a rough position, with the loss of the iPhone to Verizon and the possibility that Sprint will get the iPhone5 later this year AT&T no longer has a truly big seller and the fact that they banked on the iPhone instead of working on 4G put them behind their competitors. Now they have to act or they will fall even farther behind. Instead of investing in rebuilding their aging network they want to buy up one that is working towards modernization and pickup quite a few customers in the mix.

For now it is all in the hands of the Federal Regulators and perhaps even judges as this merger moves towards its fate; whatever that is

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Published in News
Thursday, 01 September 2011 20:54

DOJ files Anti-Trust suit over AT&T TMobile merger

ATTAlthough the news of this broke a couple of days ago we thought we would wait and take a deeper look at what the recent DOJ (Department of Justice) Anti-Trust suit means to the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. First and foremost the DOJ does not have the authority to prevent business mergers nor does the Federal Trade Commission. These two governmental bodies can enforce certain laws if someone files a complaint, but they cannot take direct action in most cases.

However, when the companies merging are very large (like AT&T) or there is direct evidence that the merger will harm consumers or the market, then they can step in and file an Anti-Trust lawsuit to force the companies in question to change things. This is what has happened with the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.
The DOJ looked at the claims that AT&T has made and found that some of them just did not make any sense.

AT&T is claiming that the only way they can improve their network is by acquiring T-Mobile. The biggest problem with that is once they do they will have cornered the market on GSM Cellular service in the US. This is something that is certainly not good for consumers (although AT&T claims it is). It is also important to note that AT&T and T-Mobile compete in over 90 out of 100 markets making the deal a big relief for AT&T as far as competition goes.

The sad part is that even though there is a law suit filed it does not mean the deal is dead. AT&T now has the chance to reorganize the deal and present it to Federal Regulators or they can go to court and prove to a judge that the deal really is in the best interest of the consumer. Considering the level of understanding that many of our higher judicial officials have on what is good for the consumer this could be an easy win for AT&T.  We will keep you up to date on this as we find out more.

Read the full suit here

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Published in News