Wednesday, December 8

Business

Jet.com, The Costco of Amazon Prime, Is Finally Open for Business
Business

Jet.com, The Costco of Amazon Prime, Is Finally Open for Business

Economists have been calling it the Costco version of Amazon, targeting the budget-conscious consumers who typically shop at discount stores without sacrificing the convenience that e-commerce businesses, like Amazon, provide. But will startup company Jet.com be able to live up to its hype and actually become viable competition for corporate giants like Wal-Mart, Target, and even Costco itself? Jet.com finally opened its virtual doors at the end of July after “months of testing and tweaking,” according to Newsday. It isn’t so much about the products that Jet is offering, nor is it about providing customers with simple browsing and fast shipping. Instead, Jet’s business model is what has industry experts talking; the e-commerce merchant has combined a subscription service similar to Amazo...
FedEx Doesn’t Want to Ship Bioterror Germs Anymore, and That’s Not Good
Business

FedEx Doesn’t Want to Ship Bioterror Germs Anymore, and That’s Not Good

According to a letter from FedEx to federal regulators, the shipping giant is no longer willing to transport packages containing research specimens of bioterror pathogens. FedEx communications director Melissa Charbonneau said in a recent statement that the decision came in response to concerns over the military's recent shipments of anthrax. Now, the company is no longer planning to resume shipments of "select agents," the federal government's term for 65 different types of viruses, bacteria, and toxins highly regulated because of their bioterror potential. In addition to anthrax, Ebola, and the pathogens causing plague and botulism are also considered special agents. FedEx's refusal to ship special agents concerns major laboratory officials, who say that they primarily used FedEx to sh...
Financial Aid Agency Secretly Took Money From the Accounts of Thousands of College Applicants
Business

Financial Aid Agency Secretly Took Money From the Accounts of Thousands of College Applicants

The student loan debt crisis has hit its peak, according to many economists and education officials, and it almost seems like the crisis can't get any worse. Except that a business called Student Financial Aid Services, which "helps" people apply for financial aid for higher education, has apparently been taking money out of the accounts of its clients without their consent. According to the Washington Post, the company has taken out at least $5.2 million from the accounts of 100,000 people. After the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) accused the company of this practice, it didn't take long for the Sacramento-based service to deny the allegations yet agree to refund the money to "settle the charges." According to the Huffington Post, the federal government is not afraid to shut ...
Olive Garden to Stop Cleaning Its Carpets as Much
Business

Olive Garden to Stop Cleaning Its Carpets as Much

Cleaning carpets isn't that hard when you consider the fact that 99% of all stains can be removed by one cleaning agent or another if they're taken care of in a few days. However, keeping carpets clean costs enough time and money for Olive Garden to scale back on its cleanliness. According to BloombergBusiness, Olive Garden's parent company, Darden Restaurants, has dispatched operations teams to the restaurants to pull "every single invoice" in an effort to find ways to trim about $100 million a year in expenses. Through this investigation, the teams have found that many locations are washing their carpets twice a month, which CEO Gene Lee thinks is far too often. The crazy part is, he's not entirely wrong. There are over 800 Olive Gardens. Paying a service to come in and wash each restaur...
Confidence High in Home Remodeling Industry
Business

Confidence High in Home Remodeling Industry

More than two-thirds of home renovation businesses are seeing revenues and profits equal or greater to pre-recessional levels, according to a new analysis, and about one-fifth of firms are reporting that their revenues and profits are significantly higher. Online home design platform Houzz released on July 22 its Q2 2015 Houzz Renovation Barometer, which measures how confident home renovation professionals are regarding the strength of the industry. “A large majority of home renovation firms on Houzz report a return to pre-recession revenues and profits, irrespective of industry segment or firm size,” said Nino Sitchinava, Houzz principal economist, in a news release. The latest edition of the study also found that there have been very slight year-over-year gains and quite strong quarte...
Have You Heard Of The Genius New Idea For Stopping Domestic Abuse?
Business

Have You Heard Of The Genius New Idea For Stopping Domestic Abuse?

Domestic violence hurts men, women, and families all over the world, but on Tuesday, July 21, one U.S. group offered up a solution to this serious problem -- providing victims with free domestic violence attorneys. The Institute for Policy Integrity is a nonpartisan think tank, and they recently released a new report detailing the financial burden too often placed on women in violent relationships. Female victims of intimate partner violence often miss work or incur expensive hospital bills after an injury. Such expenses prolong both the cycle of debt and the cycle of violence, especially if the victims become more financially dependent on their abuser. "From obtaining a simple restraining order to preventing a violent abuser from obtaining custody, the availability of a knowledgeable an...
HealthCare.gov Is Incapable of Detecting Fraud, Secret Investigation Discovers
Business

HealthCare.gov Is Incapable of Detecting Fraud, Secret Investigation Discovers

Republicans may have just found the single most important weakness in President Obama's Affordable Care Act: the federal exchange plan set up on HealthCare.gov isn't able to detect fraud in its verification process. The Wall Street Journal reported that investigators at the Government Accountability Office created 11 fake applicants last year, in an undercover operation to test the strengths and weaknesses of the system. Each of the fake applications signed up for health coverage lacking the proper documentation; some applicants had fabricated documents, while others were missing essential documentation entirely. The real problem took place this year when HealthCare.gov automatically re-enrolled the fake applicants, even though they still had unresolved documentation problems. Some of th...
Bacteria-Controlled Robots Could Be What the Future Looks Like
Business

Bacteria-Controlled Robots Could Be What the Future Looks Like

Humans typically view bacteria as pests -- we feel comforted by the fact that a disinfecting wipe will (in theory) kill the majority of the 25,000 bacteria covering just one square inch on a common item, such as a phone in an office. No one could have predicted that bacteria would be capable of controlling inanimate objects, essentially creating and controlling real-life robots. And yet, one scientist reported recently that this might actually be possible. According to Phys.org and Wired, scientists haven't discovered a way to give robots a "brain" so that the machines can think for themselves, but researchers have discovered that it might be possible for bacteria to control behaviors of inanimate objects. Published on July 16 in the academic journal Scientific Reports, Virginia Tech sc...
Amazon Prime Day, Cloud Drive Debut To Mixed (And Worse) Reviews
Business

Amazon Prime Day, Cloud Drive Debut To Mixed (And Worse) Reviews

Amazon is having a mixed month, with multiple headline-grabbing releases but decidedly mixed-to-negative reviews on those offerings. First, the mega-retailer promised users that their "Amazon Prime Day" would offer online shoppers better deals than Black Friday. But on the day of the sale, users were disappointed to discover mediocre deals on unwanted products, like "a plate of ham" or "XXL Diane Keaton T-Shirt." And despite posting strong sales, Amazon got far more press from the hashtag "#PrimeDayFail" than from their actual deals. There's little more to say about Amazon Prime Day that hasn't already been said, which is perhaps why the event so overshadowed an earlier announcement that Amazon would be stepping into the mobile cloud storage arena. A week before the failed Amazon Prime D...
Soon, You’ll Be Able to Buy Stuff on Facebook
Business

Soon, You’ll Be Able to Buy Stuff on Facebook

Facebook has been a huge driver of web traffic for years. Back in 2013, it drove 21.25% of all the traffic sites received, meaning nearly one-fifth of the consumers who visited blogs and retailers came from the social network. Now, Facebook is looking to cut right to the economic chase. It's turning its business pages into virtual storefronts. Buzzfeed reports that Facebook is testing new, miniature e-commerce sites embedded within select retailers' Facebook pages. New "shopping" tabs and "buy" buttons allow consumers to purchase an item they want, possibly completing the entire transaction right there. The idea of this test is to put the entire consumer experience into Facebook. On mobile, the new feature will appear in a "shopping" section, while on desktop, it'll appear as a separate...