Category Archives: Finance

finance

Here’s The List Price Of All Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes, just incase you wanted one!

 

Commercial airplane prices are negotiable, especially for large customers making large orders. And we’re looking at a buyer’s market right now, especially for widebody jets, so new orders are likely to do better than the usual 30% to 40% discount to list prices.

For Boeing, which did not raise list prices in 2016, reducing its costs has helped make up for the larger discounts. We can expect continued cost cutting from Boeing, both from layoffs and from squeezing suppliers.

Here’s Boeing’s current price list by aircraft family.

737 Family
737-700: $80.6 million
737-800: $96 million
737-900ER: $101.9 million
737 MAX 7: $90.2 million
737 MAX 8: $110 million
737 MAX 200: $112.9 million
737 MAX 9: $116.6 million

747 Family
747-8: $378.5 million
747-8 Freighter: $379.1 million

767 Family
767-300ER: $197.1 million
767-300 Freighter: $199.3 million

777 Family
777-200ER: $277.3 million
777-200LR: $313.8 million
777-300ER: $339.6 million
777 Freighter: $318.7 million
777-8: $371 million
777-9: $400 million

787 Family
787-8: $224.6 million
787-9: $264.6 million
787-10: $306.1 million

 

 

 

 

Source: Here’s The List Price Of All Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes

10 things dating sites won’t tell you

1. “Finding a soul mate can cost you.”

As the data breach of the adultery website, AshleyMadison.com, has shown, online dating doesn’t come cheap — in terms of monthly fees and, in extreme cases, public embarrassment and lawyer’s fees in divorce court. Hackers alleged late Tuesday that they had dumped account details and log-in information of around 32 million users of the website, revealing millions of street addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and credit-card details. Avid Life Media called it “an act of criminality.” Many people are looking for love online, and some — even those who are already married — are looking for hook-ups, but even those who are looking for love should be aware of what lies ahead.

Nobody said it was easy. Roughly 30 million unique users, or about 10% of the U.S. population, visit dating sites every month, according to market researcher Nielsen. And many of them pay a hefty sum for that chance to meet their perfect match. At the two biggest subscription-based sites in the U.S., Match.com ($42 a month) and eHarmony ($60 a month), users can save by signing on for, say, a six-month bundle ($24 per month and $40 per month, respectively). And some sites, like PlentyofFish.com and OkCupid, offer basic membership for free. But most subscription sites automatically renew until the customer cancels, and those fees can add up.

Indeed, for online purveyors of love, business is booming. While people used to meet mostly through friends, says Reuben J. Thomas, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Mexico, “that’s been sharply on the decline since the advent of the Internet.” The dating industry is now worth about $2.4 billion, with revenue split between advertising and subscription services, up revenue up around 5% per year, according to a report by research firm IBISWorld. Of that, around $1.1 billion is from online dating, $576 million is from mobile apps such as Grindr and Tinder, and the rest is made up mainly of matchmakers and singles events.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that as the popularity of online dating has risen, so have prices. A decade ago, many sites were free or had minimal fees of around $20 a month. (Match.com charged $9.95 per month when it launched in 1995.) eHarmony, launched in 2000 and marketed toward people seeking long-term relationships, blazed a trail with its prices, charging some of the highest in the industry, says Mark Brooks, a dating-industry analyst and the editor of Online Personals Watch.

Of course, there was a business reason for charging low rates in the early days, some experts say: Sites needed to stock the sea of love with fish. The faster they attracted users, the more useful the sites would be, Brooks says. And paying fees, he says, can have an upside: People may be more likely to actually use a site if they pay for it.

 

2. “Everyone is single sooner or later.”

Not so long ago, if a couple met online, they’d accidentally on purpose fail to mention it in their wedding speeches. Nowadays? Online dating is not only mainstream, but the fastest-growing segment is baby boomers, experts say. In fact, 16% of online daters are over 50, according to IBISWorld. Two years ago, the advocacy group AARP launched its own online dating service, AARP Dating, powered by dating site HowAboutWe.com. It’s a good fit, says Brooks, the online dating consultant, especially given that 25% of AARP’s 37 million members are single.

Another site, OurTime.com (a subsidiary of InterActiveCorp, which also runs Match.com and OkCupid) also targets members in the 50-plus age category.

A number of dating apps have emerged in Asia that aim to offer something for users who aren’t quite ready for marriage but aren’t interested in casual hookups.

Compared with the general population, baby boomers are more likely to be single, divorced or widowed, studies show. One in three single baby boomers has never even been married, according to a 2012 survey by Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research in Ohio. And while the overall divorce rate in the U.S. has declined slightly in recent years, the so-called gray divorce rate has risen sharply — from just one in 10 people over the age of 50 in 1990, to around one in four in 2009 — according to research by sociologists Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin of Bowling Green State University.

Of course, people over 50 aren’t the only growth market being targeted by online dating companies. Those who face a smaller market for potential partners and may not have bars or social groups where they can meet potential partners in their areas — like gay men, lesbians and middle-aged heterosexuals — are generally more likely to turn to the Internet, says Michael J. Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University.

 

3. “Cupid’s arrow often misses.”

When they met on Match.com, he was a real hoot. In real life? Not so much. Sharon Rosenblatt, an IT consultant in Washington, D.C., decided to go on a date with one of the men recommended to her by the site’s algorithms. During their meal, she says, he asked her whether it was too late to call a woman he dated two weeks prior. He then “friended” her on Facebook during dinner and, before the check arrived, asked, “Why couldn’t you have hooked me up with your hotter friends?”

Dating sites pride themselves on the wizardry of their algorithms, but even the most sophisticated dating site can’t always screen for jerks. “It’s very early in the online dating industry,” says Dan Slater, author of “Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating.” Sites have gotten better at cross-referencing what people say and do, “but there’s still a lot of room for improvement,” he says.

Match.com says the site does its best to suggest people based on the information they supply. The site cross-references users’ preferences and also tracks what profiles they click on, in an effort to ensure that their online habits jibe with their stated preferences. eHarmony, in turn, says its team of data scientists and psychologists look at multiple “points of compatibility” between applicants. Prospective members fill out psychological tests based on categories like emotional status, character, self-perception and conflict resolution.

The sites also point to the tools they’ve introduced in an effort to improve results: In one Match.com feature, for instance, a multiple choice question like “When it comes to style, I like a man who dresses like this” is followed up with a list of photographs of men with various styles. Other questions let members choose from a range of voices and photographs of celebrities.

 

4. “So many liars, so little time.”

Over half of U.S. online daters lie on their profiles, according to a survey global research company Opinion Matters commissioned by BeautifulPeople.com, a dating website where members vote on whether (or not) to accept new members. U.S. online daters lie more than their U.K. counterparts by a difference of 9 percentage points (53% versus 44%), the survey found. “There’s more emphasis on celebrity culture and being successful in the U.S.,” says Greg Hodge, managing director of the site.

This is supported by other studies. More than half of online daters (54%) said dates have “seriously misrepresented” themselves in their profiles, according to a 2013 study by the nonprofit Pew Research Center’s “Internet & American Life Project.” Men will typically add one to two inches in height, while women will shave 10 pounds off their weight, Slater says. Tinder went on a Twitter rant earlier this month against Vanity Fair magazine over a provocatively entitled article, “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse.’” Nancy Jo Sales, the author, tweeted data by market research firm GlobalWebIndex, which alleged that 30% of all Tinder users are married. GlobalWebIndex said that figure is actually 34% of global Tinder users, while Tinder said its own survey of 265,000 users found that only 1.7% of its users were married.

Short of scanning each member’s driver’s license and cross-checking their height and date of birth, there’s not a lot that dating sites can do about the honesty of their members, experts say. “Bad data in means bad data out,” says Amy Webb, author of “Data, a Love Story: How I Gamed Dating to Meet My Match.” But the truth will out: Webb says online suitors should expect their dates to be a little taller or shorter than stated in their profile. And if people appear older when they’re sitting under the bright lights of Starbucks? Well, it’s probably because they are.

On the plus side, people who lie online tend be people-pleasers and very self-aware, says Jeffrey A. Hall, associate professor of communications at the University of Kansas. Most people looking for love probably lie about something, he says. His estimate? “Closer to 80%, but not all lies are created equal when it comes to consequences.” If a person takes a year or two off his age and 10 pounds off his weight, he says, most people wouldn’t even notice.

 

5. “And you thought Facebook was nosy.”

Perhaps because of the big potential payoff and veil of anonymity, singletons online seem eager to overshare. eHarmony says it asks users as many as 147 questions, to increase the client’s chances of meeting someone with a compatible world view and personality. And OkCupid offers up to 4,000 questions at any given time, addressing an array of topics, from sexual proclivities to philosophy. Last year, OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder admitted that the site has analyzed user data. “Guess what everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work,” he wrote in a blog post. Of course, the more people learn about each other before that fateful first date, the better, author Slater says. “But nothing is free,” he says, “you’re giving them a ton of data.”

For their part, the sites say they don’t sell data to third parties. Instead, they use the data to improve matches, and to attract more users. “We realize the value of our database,” says Noel Biderman, CEO of Ashley Madison, a site with more than 15.5 million U.S. members that’s geared toward prospective extramarital affairs. (Biderman spoke to MarketWatch before the hack of the site.) The site’s database is a rich source for surveys, which are picked up by websites, magazines and newspapers, producing free publicity for the site. One recent survey, for instance, revealed that IT and engineering workers accounted for 11% of members and, as such, were judged to be the most likely to cheat on their spouses. The financial industry ranked No. 2., with over 8%.

 

6. “This place is a hotbed of adulterers.”

While most sites don’t promote infidelity, some make it easy. Sites like DiscreetAdventures.com, MarriedSecrets.com and AshleyMadison.com cater to married men and women. Biderman founded the latter in 2001. He says got the idea from every other major dating site: “They were overrun with married men,” he says.

Facebook enables users to list their relationship status as single, and “friend” high school sweethearts and scroll through other people’s “friends” lists. A study published in the July 2014 issue of the journal “Computers in Human Behavior” says increased use of Facebook is “positively correlated” with rising divorce rates during the same time period even when adjusting for economic and socio-demographic factors that might affect divorce rates. “Although it may seem surprising that a Facebook profile, a relatively small factor compared with other drivers of human behavior, could have a significant statistical relationship with divorce rates and marital satisfaction, it nonetheless seems to be the case,” the study concluded. A spokesman for Facebook says it’s “ludicrous” to suggest that Facebook leads to divorce.

Why the uptick in online affairs? Biderman — who says he is a happily married and also operates other sites, including CougarLife.com, for older women dating younger men, and EstablishedMen.com, “in the sugar daddy space” — says Ashley Madison took off in 2007, just before the U.S. financial crisis. It now claims 37 million members in 45 countries. “Challenging economic times lead to more marital discord,” he says. This theory appears to be supported by recent research. A December 2012 survey by Relate, a U.K.-based relationship advice charity, found that 38% of people say financial worries had led to more arguments and stress in their relationship.

Biderman says he merely facilitates infidelity and doesn’t encourage it. While sites like his may put temptation in people’s path, some experts say, the marriage and divorce rate has been unaffected by the Internet. “It does make it easier to cheat,” Reuben says, “but online dating makes it easier to fall in love and get married.” In fact, when people use these sites to cheat, they often leave an online trail, he says, “so it may even make it easier for people to get caught.”

 

7. “Don’t judge a person by his photo.”

Once upon a time, the most common online dating sin was featuring a photo of your younger self. But tech-savvy daters have long since discovered the power of Photoshop, and plenty of apps (such as Instagram) and software (such as Portrait Professional) now make retouching a snap even for Luddites. The trouble with modifying your image, of course, is that “your date is not going to have an Instagram filter over his glasses, and that’s going to cause problems,” Webb says.

What’s more, some bachelors and bachelorettes don’t even use their own photos. Spare a thought for Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who in 2013 said he was duped into developing a relationship with someone calling themselves Lennay Kekua, who contacted him over Twitter with a fake photo. Te’o had spoken to the media about his grief over Kekua’s supposed death in a car accident after battling leukemia. A new dating app, The Grade aims to help people rate their profile picture, messages and overall profile on a scale from A to F based on profile quality, responsiveness and message quality available for everyone to see. Photos with tattoos and eyeglasses were among the lowest rated for women and hat wearers were among the lowest rated photos for men. Understandably, many people are not professional media personalities and often fall on the first hurdle when dating online – by posting an unflattering or inappropriate photo of themselves.

Attracting suitors doesn’t require you to be an expert in photography (or Photoshop), say pundits. Some tips: “Men like it when a woman is looking into the camera, as a man wants to believe that a woman is focused on them exclusively,” says Slater, the author. Men who stare into the lens, on the other hand, should take care not to appear intimidating, he says. Clothes (and keeping them on) can also help the click rate for the lovelorn. Men over 30 might refrain from taking their shirt off unless they keep their body in good shape, or from wearing clothes that might look better on someone 10 years younger, Slater says. Fellow author Webb agrees that clothes can make the date. “The photos I wound up using in my profile were what I would look like if I went out with somebody on a date,” she says. In her earlier online dating efforts, she had posted a picture of herself wearing a work suit, which she says was a mistake.

 

8. “Keep a close eye on your wallet.”

Singles are a prime target for con artists, experts say. Consumers lost $80 million to romance scams in 2013, up from $50 million in 2011, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. All the big sites offer similar advice to members: Never wire money, don’t give out your home address, and always meet in a public place. Online robots posing as potential matches may also lure singletons to click on malware links, experts warn.

On newer, smaller sites, as many as one in 10 profiles could be fake, according to Brooks, the dating consultant. “It’s a huge problem for all dating sites,” he says. “Scammers come in droves, and they’re very aggressive.” He advises talking to someone on the phone before meeting — as he says you can tell a lot from a person’s voice and the quality of the conversation — rather than going into a date completely blind.

That’s not always enough. After a date arranged on Match.com in 2011 resulted in a sexual assault, the site agreed to begin screening members against public sex offender registries, a Match.com spokeswoman says. “We’re very proud that our case helped pave the road for a safer online dating experience for women,” says Mark Webb, the lawyer who represented the prosecution in the case. Match.com says that Match’s 200 customer service agents “read through every single profile and approve every picture” looking for inappropriate content like sexually explicit language or pictures, or any signs of criminal behavior such as illegal drug use.

Rival eHarmony says it also performs screens for sex offenders, and has since 2009. But experts point out that free sites may not be able to do so, because they don’t collect members’ real names through their credit card. When you meet someone online, “assume the same thing as if they approached you at the bar,” says Sam Yagan, co-founder and CEO of Match.com.

 

9. “Your great personality won’t get you far.”

If scrolling (past) photos on Tinder and Grindr wasn’t brutal enough, BeautifulPeople.com from time-to-time hosts a series of social events across the U.S. for members and, in keeping with the site’s virtual door policy, installs “door judges” to make sure everyone who gets in is attractive. “It can be hard turning hopefuls away,” says Hodge, the site’s managing director, “but it’s the nature of the beast.” Indeed, experts say this is exactly what most online daters do every time they log on, without a second thought.

Some sites go so far as to remove faces from the equation altogether. Location-based mobile dating site Grindr, for instance, which has 1.8 million daily users, frequently offers up a roll call of headless torsos. Your next date could be 10 feet away, standing in the next line at the grocery store, or 50 feet away in the shop (or hotel) around the corner, and you’d never recognize them. On the one hand, experts say, such sites encourage singles to take care of themselves physically. On the other, they subject users to more of an objectifying experience than a romantic one. “There’s a fine line between what constitutes flirting and quickly finding a short-term sexual partner,” Hall says.

Nonetheless, on-the-go dating seems to be a hit. Mobile dating revenue is expected to nearly double over the next several years, although it still makes up just 26% of total (online and offline) dating industry. Mobile dating on Match.com’s and OkCupid’s apps account for over half of all users. In the meantime, some sites realize that there’s fatigue among members. The app does away with most of the complex matchmaking by encouraging people to trust in serendipity and take a chance on a first date.

 

10. “Endless love — or endless chat?”

Many online daters are voyeurs and just “pick and click” — that is, browse and chat. The endless supply of fresh faces, and the modern worker’s lack of leisure time, combine to make it difficult for people to ever actually go out on a date, says Hall, of the University of Kansas. Spending a lot of time to meet Mr. or Ms. Right “decreases your chance of ever doing so,” he says. Answering questions and looking at prospects for hour upon hour, he adds, “is not conducive to forming a good match, and it’s not exactly a productive use of your time.”

Other studies point out their success rates: Around one-third of American marriages now begin online. And those marriages are less likely to break down and are associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction rates than those of couples who met offline, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Of couples who got together online, 5.9% broke up, versus 7.6% of those who met offline, the study found.

Users, meanwhile, typically stick to a site for three months before moving on, says Brooks, the dating-industry analyst. But then roughly one-fifth of members on the big sites return within 18 months, he says. (Whether returning clients’ first effort failed or they’ve recommitted to the search is unclear.)

Last year, Andrew Sink, 26, moved to Richmond, Va. from Sarasota, Fla. and wanted to meet friends to show him around. He also wanted to test out his robotic invention — a mechanical finger that held a conductive pen. He called it the “Tinder-O-Matic,” which “likes” a new profile every 4 seconds, or 900 likes an hour. In 12 hours, it will “like” over 10,000 profiles. Around 550 girls liked him back. He received about 70 messages from girls within a 100-mile radius, but he only replied to one girl who worked in engineering. But, he says, he was 100% upfront to the women who “liked” him back.

 

 

 

Source: 10 things dating sites won’t tell you 

10 things you should NOT buy in 2017

Think twice before buying these products next year.
Getty Images

Slide 1 of 11

1. Subscription boxes ‘surprises’

There seems to be a subscription box service for everything these days, from a “salami of the month” club to beauty products to toys for a pet. Signing up for such a service seems fun until you get a surprise you weren’t expecting: A shockingly low bank-account balance. Americans made about 21.4 million visits to subscription box retailers’ websites in January 2016, up from only 722,000 visits in January 2015, according to the e-commerce and consumer analytics company Connexity’s Hitwise division, in a report for the research firm Euromonitor International.

Although several subscription services have more than a million subscribers, such as Birchbox and Ipsy, two cosmetics services, most Americans probably shouldn’t be stocking up, some experts have said. (Birchbox and Ipsy did not respond to requests for comment on this article.) “We’re spending before we even save and then never look back,” said Brandon Hayes, a financial planner and vice president at oXYGen Financial, a financial services firm based in Georgia. “With a cashless society, it’s tough to appreciate a dollar when you never see one.”

Most Americans have barely enough savings to even cover their household necessities, let alone sign up to receive a recurring monthly gift. Nearly half of U.S. adults couldn’t cover an emergency expense of $400 without selling something or borrowing money, according to the Federal Reserve.

There may be a place in the budget for some subscription services that replenish household items people already need, like Dollar Shave Club, which sells inexpensive razors, experts have said. Yet for the most part, many consumers would benefit from putting their credit cards away and just saying “No” to items they don’t need, said Rachel Podnos, an attorney and financial planner based in Washington, D.C. Particularly for people with lower incomes, “you really need to live within your means and cut expenses wherever you can,” she said.

You may be saving yourself a future headache: many subscriptions can be pretty hard to cancel, too.

—Maria LaMagna

 

AFP/Getty Images
Disposable wardrobes are becoming increasingly common.

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2. Fast fashion clothing

Consumer spending on clothing continues to grow in the U.S., reaching $266.8 billion in 2015, up from $240.1 billion in 2010, according to the research firm Euromonitor International. “Fast fashion” companies are known for quickly manufacturing clothing and getting it into stores, have driven much of that growth. Consumers going through tough economic times after the U.S. economic recession often turned to these retailers to keep up to date with trends on a budget, Euromonitor found. (Zara’s parent company Inditex SA is the world’s biggest fashion retailer by sales.)

And yet while the fashions themselves may be inexpensive, the overall cost of producing them can be high. Reports have shown that several retailers have used factories to produce clothing, often subcontracted the manufacturing to third party companies in developing countries, resulting in fatal accidents including this factory fire in Bangladesh in 2013. (Zara did not respond to requests for comment.)

And a huge amount of clothing that Americans buy gets thrown away. The U.S. generates an average of 25 billion pounds of textiles a year, or roughly 82 pounds per U.S. resident, including clothing, footwear, accessories, towels, bedding and drapery, according to the nonprofit organization Council for Textile Recycling. About 15% of the amount produced gets donated or recycled, but 85% goes to landfills. The amount of waste is only expected to grow, from 25 billion pounds in 2009 to 35.4 billion pounds in 2019, the organization added.

Environmental organizations have long been raising alarm about clothing waste and dangerous manufacturing practices, but “the level of consumption, especially with the continued popularity among consumers of fast fashion, is raising the environmental impact of our clothing unlike anything we have seen before,” said Kirsten Brodde, the campaign leader for the “Detox My Fashion” campaign at environmental organization Greenpeace, in an email.

Some retailers have started to help with the clothing waste problem. H&M has started its own recycling program, in which consumers can drop off unwanted clothes (H&M clothes, or not) at their stores year-round. Once H&M collects the clothes, it sends them to sorting plants which determine how they can be used or recycled. And “fast fashion” companies have made clothing affordable for many who may not be able to buy higher-end, more durable items.

For those who struggle to pay for clothing, there are alternatives, said Courtney Jespersen, a retail and shopping expert at the personal finance company NerdWallet. She suggested keeping track of how many times one actually wears an item when deciding if that shopping strategy. Investing in fewer, more basic items may be a better choice financially.Consumers should also consider secondhand or thrift stores, she added. There are also apps including Poshmark that let people not only buy secondhand clothing, but sell their own.

—Maria LaMagna

 

Shutterstock.com
Paradise lost and found, year after year after…

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3. Timeshares

Timeshares are on the rise again, having made a full comeback since the housing crisis, with more reports from disgruntled vacationers about resorts putting pressure on them in the U.S. and U.K. to buy a piece of paradise that they can use a few weeks a year.

And people are buying. Timeshare vacation plans have been around in the U.S. since 1969 — the first opened in Kauai, Hawaii — and they generated $8.6 billion in annual sales in 2015, up 9% from a year before, according to the American Resort Development Association, or ARDA, which represents many timeshare developments. Timeshare apartments and villas in sunny locales are associated with high-pressure sales tactics that get mocked relentlessly in pop culture and they’re often sold at a loss when it comes time to unload one. Plus, they come with annual maintenance fees that can easily top several thousand dollars and which often increase each year whether you use the timeshare or not.

On the plus side, the U.S timeshare industry contributed an estimated $79.5 billion in consumer and business spending to the U.S. economy in 2015, according to a study conducted by accounting firm Ernst & Young for the ARDA. This not only includes jobs on the resorts themselves, but sales and marketing offices, corporate operations, construction of new resorts, renovation of existing resorts, and vacation spending. Timeshares can guarantee you vacation time since they often come with fixed annual dates for right-of-use, at least for people who like to go to the same place year after year and, experts say, are typically larger than an average hotel room.

But as this writer to MarketWatch’s advice columnist, the Moneyologist, discovered, sometimes the only way to offload them is to die. Resorts and locales come in and out of fashion, and owners are often stuck with rising maintenance fees. And many people use these timeshares to exchange with other timeshare owners (they may never even visit their own timeshare), and enjoy the bartering and excitement of going to a different location every year. However, this is usually done via a timeshare exchange company, which has its own set of fees.

—Daniel Goldstein and Quentin Fottrell

 

TriStar Pictures/Everett Collection
Recalled toys can be dangerous.

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4. Recalled toys online

When it comes to buying anything for a child this holiday season, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. That may mean forgoing online purchases of recalled toys, even if their manufacturers have fixed the issues. Sometimes, as seen in a recent research report from nonprofit U.S. Public Interest Research Groups Education Fund, toys recalled for excessive lead, choking hazards or overheating make it back onto the market.

In some scary situations, the wrong toy could end up on your doorstep after you purchase it online, the report showed. Companies will fix problems with the toys and put them back on the market — third-party retailers may (or may not) do the same. Luckily, there have been less recalls in the last few years: there were 24 toy recalls this fiscal year, down from 172 in 2008, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency that manages recalls. Still, it’s always best to be proactive.

The first step should always be to analyze the toy and its potential hazards, and ensure the toy wasn’t recalled, which can be done by searching the CPSC’s database. If you do end up buying the toy, go a step farther before giving it to the child by cross-checking item numbers of the product with those that were recalled. This is especially important with third-party sellers, which may still be selling the original recalled product. You can always call the company to make sure, too.

—Alessandra Malito

 

Shutterstock
They look so nice when they’re not all tangled.

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5. Ear bud headphones with wires

For many iPhone users, trashing those classic ear buds with wires might not have been a choice. Apple’s AAPL, -0.78%latest version of the iPhone doesn’t include a headphone jack and is intended to be paired with the company’s $159 wireless “AirPods” instead. (Customers who purchased the iPhone 7 before the new headphones were released this year received an adapter so they could continue to use their ear buds).

Of course, wireless headphones, which are available from companies other than Apple, don’t solve all these problems and they create some issues of their own. They last just five hours and need to be charged or housed in a separate carrying case to increase the battery life.

But even if Apple hadn’t tried to force our hands (and ears) this year, it would be worth reconsidering our affinity for those little buds with the long cord. For one, they may be hurting our hearing. More than 1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss from listening to their personal audio devices through headphones, particularly earbuds. What’s more, they’re constantly tangled.

So give your ears and your sanity a break this year and buy some over the ear headphones — or simply listen to the world around you.

—Jillian Berman

 

Shutterstock.com
Smart kitchens could be vulnerable to hacking.

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6. Smart fridges

In January, the smart refrigerator was the breakout product of the 2016 CES trade show, which showcases the upcoming consumer electronics trends. These pricey home devices created a big buzz in 2016, but consumers would be wise to opt for an old school fridge in the coming year.

Although these smart models seem like the fridges of the future, the steep costs and security risks may outweigh any convenience offered by the built-in apps and high-tech features. The Samsung Family Hub, for example, retails at $3,800. The connected fridge comes with a touch screen on the front door from which users can order groceries online and control other utilities in the home. It is also equipped with built-in cameras that “allow you to see what’s inside the fridge without wasting energy.” Like, you know, opening the door. A similar model from Whirpool WHR, -0.78% retails for $3,800 and can be controlled by an app on your phone.

Even if you think these features are worth the extra money (a standard LG 066570, +0.19% refrigerator sells for around $1,000, for comparison), security risks are probably not. Most connected devices, including fridges, are easily hacked. While you might not care if a stranger on the internet can peek at your groceries (you should), these breaches can affect security on an international scale when devices are harnessed for major attacks.

In October, a number of hacked smart devices were used to carry out a distributed denial of service attack on internet provider Dyn, flooding it with traffic and causing websites like Twitter and Spotify to crash. Some security experts said consumers with devices that were hacked and provided a gateway to their internet still used the default passwords they had when they bought the equipment.

Although smart device manufacturers are increasingly taking security into account, American consumers might want to keep our kitchens off the grid, at least for now. (Samsung and Whirlpool did not respond to requests for comment.)

—Kari Paul

Shutterstock.com
Choose fresh lettuce and vegetables over smoothies and grain-filled wraps.

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7. These foods that are touted as healthy

When it comes to healthy eating, a quip by the comedian Kevin Hart comes to mind: “Everybody wants to be famous, but nobody wants to do the work.” Vegetables, fruits and whole grains make up the day-to-day drudgery of health. And research shows that losing weight is even harder than most people think, since metabolism slows as dieters make progress, and sometimes even more than scientists expected.

So it’s no wonder people go instead for the seeming workarounds, which are flashier and more fun: snack foods masquerading under a health halo, fad diets, and their ilk. “Name a trendy diet that has been proposed by pop culture at any time that panned out to be true and worked. Atkins, juicing, the Zone diet, carbo-loading, you name it,” Timothy Caulfield, a professor of health law and science policy at the University of Alberta, Canada, said.

Wraps are one example of this. People tend to think they’re better for you, but they are often made of stripped white grains and paired with fried foods or bacon, Cleveland Clinic nutritionist Kristin Kirkpatrick told MarketWatch.

So in 2017, let’s swap hype-ensconced, sugar-packed green juices for a cheaper and more filling protein source — actual vegetables, say both Kirkpatrick and Caulfield. Don’t focus on the “spinach” or “sun-dried tomato” labeling on wrap sandwiches and ignore their fried fillings. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, Caulfield said. Healthy living is work. Do the work. And try to avoid eating too much food that doesn’t masquerade as healthy, like candy.

—Emma Court

Getty Images
Actor and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda has joined the fight against ticket scalpers.

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8. Event tickets from resale sites

Buying tickets can be extra expensive when you buy from ticket resellers. Sometimes they’re coming from sellers who can’t attend an event and need to get those tickets off their hands. Increasingly, however, it’s from bots who mark up the price substantially and can’t be trusted. Consumers have complained in the past that some tickets being sold on these online marketplaces don’t even exist.

Regulators can’t easily target bad actors, either, since all states have different ways of handling ticket “scalping.” New York Senator Chuck Schumer announced proposed legislation earlier this year that would ban ticket bots, a fight Lin-Manuel Miranda, former star of Broadway’s Hamilton, has joined.

Though a few ticket selling websites, such as StubHub and Ticketmaster, provide a 100% price guarantee that the seats are verified or your money back, having to go through the vetting process to ensure the authenticity of tickets or, worse, finding out the tickets are fake after buying them, can be a hassle. And there is sometimes little other alternative: some concerts sell out in minutes, while certain sporting events are sold out months in advance.

“StubHub is firmly against any technology or activity that makes it harder for regular fans to purchase tickets,” a spokesman for the company says. “We believe in a secure, fair and open marketplace, and we will strongly combat any unfair and deceptive practices that make it harder for fans to buy and use event tickets in an open market.”

To be fair, some resellers are unloading tickets at a reasonable cost. But sometimes, like in the case of this year’s World Series featuring an historic face-off between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, re-sales aren’t always worth a nearly $20,000 ticket price. The New York Yankees changed their digital ticketing policy earlier this year, making it more difficult for season ticket holders to sell some of their tickets.

—Alessandra Malito

Shutterstock.com
The government has recommended flossing since 1979, but does it work?

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9. Dental Floss

There was a moment of relief in 2016 for Americans who are scared to go to the dentist for fear they’d be admonished for their failure to floss. An investigation (yes, there was an investigation into flossing) by the Associated Press revealed that the effectiveness of the practice had never been rigorously researched, even though the government has been recommending we floss since 1979. It turns out most of the evidence that the combination of flossing and brushing is more effective than brushing alone is pretty weak, the AP found. The government stopped including flossing in its dietary recommendations this year as a result.

Dentists will tell you that it’s a mistake to use the findings as an excuse to abandon flossing. And we grudgingly admit that they’re probably right. As an essay in the New York Times pointed out last month, the so-called weak evidence supporting flossing was the absence of a study using randomized controlled trials that definitively proves flossing is beneficial to your health. But there’s evidence, clinical and otherwise, that indicates flossing is good for you. And there’s no indication that flossing is actually bad for you.

What’s more, letting plaque build up could cause gingivitis and other gum disease, the treatment of which could cost $500 at minimum, according to the Consumer Guide to Denistry, a dentistry information site. And health benefits notwithstanding, it’s still annoying to have food stuck in your teeth.

But if you’re sometimes too tired to floss as you head to bed, know that the government (sort of) endorses your laziness.

—Jillian Berman

Herald Scotland
Kanye West sold a $120 plain white shirt. It quickly sold out.

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10. Celebrity fashion labels

None of us will ever be a Kardashian, but for a steep price we can dress like one.

For $120 you can don a Kendall and Kylie Jenner bodysuit and for $248 you can wear whatever this is from the same line. Celebrity brands are almost always expensive: take this $550 “mystic poncho” from Gwyneth Paltrow or Kanye West’s infamous $120 white t-shirt (which sold out instantly). This metallic mesh crop tee made by Beyonce’s brand costs $58 and probably does not look good on anybody but the pop star herself. (None of these brands responded with a request for comment.)

No matter what you think of these brands, however, they wield major influence, and it allows the fans to feel like they have a connection with their favorite pop star, movie star or reality TV star. In March, West generated $2 million sales out of a pop-up shop in New York City and created chaos when he opened others. He’s argued in the past his pitches for styles like leather jogging pants have been rejected by major labels only to be mass-produced in a few years.

—Kari Paul

 

Source: 10 things you should NOT buy in 2017 

Good luck finding these luxury brands on sale

Some labels are only interested if you can pay top dollar

Hermes

The holiday sales season may be a shopaholic’s favorite time of the year, some upscale brands just don’t want their customers to catch a break. And their upscale clientele, they argue, prefer it that way.

Even as the year draws to a close, most retailers don’t have much time to catch their breath. Some are employing tactics to convert clients seeking refunds into repeat customers, while others like Michael Kors Holding Ltd.KORS, +0.14%  are in the midst of pulling back on discounted merchandise in order to protect the value of its brand.

A select group of brands however, has decided to play the concession game differently. They vary across price points and include luxury fashion houses like Louis Vuitton LVMUY, +1.25% Tiffany and Co. TIF, +0.25% Hermès and Chanel, as well as millennial darlings like automaker Tesla Motors Inc.TSLA, -1.22% Everlane, a San Francisco-based clothing startup and Kent Wang, an online menswear label. The strategies they employ include never going on sale, restricting discounts to a tiny group of loyal clients, or subtly encouraging customers to pay full-price even when promotions are on.

 

What they all share is a group of high-income (for the most part) customers willing to pay for a certain image or a guaranteed quality, while feeling relatively secure that someone else isn’t walking down the street with the same bag or coat that they purchased for half the price. “There’s a heuristic in consumers’ minds that high price means high quality,” says Gita Johar, a consumer marketing expert and professor at Columbia Business School. “There are customers who are loyal for that reason and once you hold sales, you enter a slippery slope.”

Vuitton, the flagship label of French luxury giant Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, allegedly destroys products at the end of each season instead of discounting unsold stock. (The company declined to comment on this practice, which was previously reported in several trade magazines.) The items listed on Tiffany’s page on Gilt, the flash sales platform, are vintage rather than new and sold by an unauthorized dealer. Hermès and Chanel may hold yearly or bi-annual sales for a tiny number of seasonal products, but the former doesn’t place discount tags on its famous leather goods.

@GoodDayM Something messed up here. Tesla policy is equal pricing for all. No discounts ever unless a car is a floor model or was damaged.

And this policy of no discounts isn’t confined to fashion houses. Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk recently emphasized the company’s “no discounts ever” policy for new vehicles after an analyst criticized the brand for cutting prices on its Model S luxury sedan. (The only exceptions: unless a car was damaged or was a floor model.)

Others have found more novel ways of cutting prices. On its website, Everlane highlights the production cost of each item, its markup and a (higher) price that it claims its more traditional competitors would charge for a similar product. Everlane has held “pay what you want” promotions, where it offers customers differing price options on select goods. At the lower prices, customers are warned that the label makes no profit. (Everlane, Tiffany and Vuitton declined comment for this story.)

The dearth of sales does translate into one downside for consumers who are prepared to pay full price: A rise in counterfeits. “A Picasso never goes on sale,” says Audrey Azoulay-Sadka, a luxury branding specialist at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. But just as art lovers who aren’t multi-millionaires can buy prints and reproductions of Guernica, bling-bling lifestyle aspirants who can’t afford to pay top dollar may turn to fakes as social signifiers.

As much as $461 billion worth of counterfeit goods (or the equivalent of the gross domestic product of Ireland and the Czech Republic combined was traded in 2013, according to a recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. The OECD said that Vuitton and Rolex, another label that almost never discounts, are among the most counterfeited in the world (Though not a luxury brand, Nike was also on the list, perhaps reflecting the ubiquity of shoes.) “Counterfeiting is a big issue, which is why brands have to remain interesting by coming up with new collections and limited editions,” says Azoulay-Sadka.

Still, accessing limited edition goods is a challenge for die-hard fans. Additionally, brands that don’t discount may maintain tighter inventory control anyway because they don’t have the option of flogging off unpopular items. “I’m very conservative with new products,” says Wang, who produced his first pair of sneakers in just one color and in a limited size range.

Businesses have an argument against discounting. Experts and entrepreneurs say that, perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, not periodically cutting prices may actually be a more consumer-friendly strategy. “Sales are a kind of pressure tactic to push you to buy something now,” says menswear entrepreneur Kent Wang, who doesn’t discount his eponymous label. “If it’s a good product at good price, you should buy it when you want to, and not have to adjust your life to a sales cycle.”

“You’ll always be playing the guessing game of finding out when you can get the best price, or this season’s styles at the best price,” says Johar. For time-pressed shoppers, a fixed price “is meant to help customers. It’s satisfying to know you’ll never get ripped off.”

Of course, if you’re able to afford Vuitton and Hermès, paying thousands of dollars for a bag probably won’t sting as much. The Boston Consulting Group tracked seven luxury handbag brands from 2002 to 2012 and found that prices rose by 14% annually, when inflation averaged at 2.5% per year. Specially-made Hermès Birkin bags can retail for over $280,000. The rest of the population will either have to save or — if they really buy into the social status that they believe the brand bestows upon them — make do with a slightly more accessible item like a scarf or a key ring.

Of course, this is a policy that helps these companies’ bottom line. LVMH reported revenues of 9.138 billion euros in its most recent quarter, up 6% from the same period in the previous year. It didn’t break down performance by brand, but noted that Vuitton had “strong momentum” with iconic lines and new models selling well. Wang says growth is steady for his brand while revenue for privately-held Everlane is expected to hit $100 million this year, up from just $6 million in 2012, estimates financial intelligence provider PrivCo. For its most recent quarter, Tesla surprised analysts by reporting its second most profitable quarter ever.