As colleges upgrade their health plans to comply with the Affordable Care Act, some students (or their parents) may end up paying higher premiums.
New regulations require the phasing out of caps on benefits, coverage of certain “essential” services and the elimination of co-pays for preventive care, including contraceptives. To cover these extra costs, several colleges have raised the price of their health plans. Others, particularly smaller schools, are choosing to drop coverage altogether.
Consumers have been slow to cut up their credit cards and turn on their mobile wallets. But this week, Google Wallet announced a string of features that – to make the proposition more enticing – let mobile wallets do things plastic credit cards don’t.
Google Wallet product managers say they will provide I.D. verification so people can check in for a flight, download virtual boarding passes, and even keep their driver’s license on their mobile phone. (Google declined to say when these features would become available or how many people have downloaded the app thus far.) Through its location-based GPS technology, it already sends shoppers coupons and real-time offers from nearby stores. Experts say these features should finally drive demand for the app. “It offers compelling convenience for consumers and retailers,” says Ben Woolsey, spokesman for credit-card comparison site CreditCards.com.
Just days after Apple’s patent victory over Samsung, the tablet marketing wars are heating up. Google.com is advertising its two-month-old $199 Nexus 7 tablet. But Google has one marketing weapon its competitors can’t match: A homepage that gets a virtually guaranteed hundreds of millions of views a day.
Click on Google’s search page on Wednesday the Nexus 7 pops up from the bottom of the page with the slogan: “The playground is open. The new $199 tablet from Google.” So why now? “This is a great time for Google to promote this tablet,” says branding consultant Rob Frankel. Given the uncertainty about how Apple’s victory will impact Android manufacturers, he says now is the time to aggressively push those devices. (Google says that most of Apple’s patent claims don’t relate to its core Android operating system.)
These days, bending the truth in advertising goes well beyond the usual light airbrushing and color enhancement.
To save on costs — and perhaps assembly time — Swedish retailing giant Ikea created computer-generated images of its furniture for the new catalog, rather than hiring a photographer. By next year, a quarter of the scenes depicted in Ikea’s print and online advertising will be digitally drawn rather than photographed, The Wall Street Journal reported last week. In fact, Ikea says it is able to better depict its products with computer images than actual photography.
Many of us will accumulate vast libraries of digital books and music over the course of our lifetimes, but when we die, our collections of words and music may expire with us.
Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated. And one’s heirs stand to lose huge sums of money. “I find it hard to imagine a situation where a family would be okay with losing a collection of 10,000 books and songs,” says Evan Carroll, co-author of “Your Digital Afterlife.” “Legally dividing one account among several heirs would also be extremely difficult.”
If parents have a superpower, it’s the ability to see disaster for their children at every turn, to envision every situation’s worst-case scenario. But even the most anxious moms and dads never suspect the strollers, car seats and cribs they buy could pose a danger. That is what makes recalls of baby products like the Bumbo Seat so unnerving.
A cautionary note for Apple’s Undecided: If you want an iPhone 5, it might pay to sell your iPhone 4S now—especially if you can survive a couple of weeks without either one.
The hotly anticipated iPhone 5 is widely expected to hit stores around Sept. 12, and analysts expect some major structural changes. “There’s a lot more hype this time around, with speculation about a larger and slimmer screen,” says Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer at technology resale site Gazelle.com. As the release day gets closer, the market is likely to be flooded with old iPhones; 84% of people who previously traded in old iPhones are already preparing to do so again, according to a survey of 1,400 Gazelle customers. But in the past, those floods have turned into gluts, typically causing prices to drop by 20% to 25%, says Jeff Trachsel, chief marketing officer of resale site NextWorth.com.
The Summer Games may be coming to a close, but not without one final opportunity to cash in on Olympic fever.
No, we’re not talking about eBay sellers auctioning off a genuine $41,000 Olympic torch. Or online vendors offering Olympic souvenirs ranging from T-shirts to Team USA wineglasses. Instead, we’re talking businesses tying that noble Olympian ideal to anything they happen to be hawking, whether it’s a bottle of tequila or a specialty ladies’ undergarment. After all, is there any game greater than good ol’ capitalism?
If deal-hunting were a medaling sport, travelers who plan a trip to London in coming weeks would earn judges’ top marks.
Hotel prices for late August and September are as much as 60% off compared with usual rates for that time, says Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo. The four-star Millenium Bailey’s Hotel, for example, has starting rates of $130 per night, a 60% discount, while four-star Meliá White House has package rates as low as $233 per night, which amounts to 55% off. Some properties are also throwing in extras like free breakfasts and room upgrades. “August is still peak travel season in London, so this is rare,” he says.
The battle for publicity between the companies that paid to sponsor the 2012 London Games and those that saved their gold is not, itself, an Olympic sport. But experts say it’s just as competitive.
Brands have spent more on these Games than on any previous Olympics. The 11 worldwide sponsors – including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Visa — have paid $957 million for marketing rights over the past four years, which includes their support of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. That’s up 10% over the $866 million spent by the worldwide sponsors on the Beijing and Turin Games. Still, there’s nothing to stop competing brands from piggybacking on to the Olympics to promote themselves. “These sponsors face a big challenge to protect their $100 million investments from the campaigns of outsiders,” says Jennifer P. Brown, spokeswoman for social media marketing company Izea.
Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @SMPayDirt.