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Ryan Block, whose hilariously tedious customer service experience with Comcast struck a chord with millions, says the customer service rep who harangued him should not be fired.

When a customer service call is described as "Kafkaesque" and "hellish," you pretty much know how it's going to go down before even taking a listen. But in case you haven't heard the condescending, tedious call that's lit up the Internet, here it is:

Gubcio / iStock / Thinkstock

A fifth hospital in Connecticut has announced plans to give up its not-for-profit status, and join the for-profit Tenet Healthcare group.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

One dollar and 22 cents. That's how much Access Health CT, the state's health insurance marketplace, pays its call center operator for each minute it spends on the phone helping someone navigate the Affordable Care Act.

It's also a number that Maximus, the call center operator, has tried to keep from public disclosure for months.

Some people have had it with "natural" food.

For fifteen years, Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports, has been pointing out that "natural" is just about the most misleading label that you'll ever see on a food package. Yet consumers still look for that word, food companies still love to use it and the Food and Drug Administration can't or won't define it.

Employer Health Costs Are Expected To Rise In 2015

Jun 24, 2014

Increases in health costs will accelerate next year, but changes in how people buy care will help keep the hikes from reaching the speed seen several years ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers says.

The prediction, based on interviews and modeling, splits the difference between hopes that costs will stay tame and fears that they're off to the races after having been slow since the 2008 financial crisis.

SunTrust has agreed to pay $968 million as part of a settlement with the government over charges that it failed to comply with standards required for federally backed mortgages.

The settlement between SunTrust Mortgage and the Justice Department and other agencies includes money for homeowners and a requirement that the company improve its procedures for mortgage loans and foreclosures.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Chion Wolf / WNPR

For this special edition of our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, we welcome author, political activist, and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, and talk about his new book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance To Dismantle The Corporate State. Nader joins our conversation about the week's news.

When College Isn't Worth It

May 28, 2014

The New York Times highlighted new data yesterday that once again beats the drum: Despite skyrocketing costs, a college degree is a good investment. In fact, MIT economist David Autor writes in the journal Science that the value of a degree is rising. College grads made almost twice as much per hour in 2013 as workers without a four-year degree. And the lifetime value of a diploma is now around a half-million dollars, even after you factor in tuition.

How To Shop For Long-Term Care Insurance

May 28, 2014

One of the toughest money decisions Americans face as they age is whether to buy long-term care insurance. Many people don't realize that Medicare usually doesn't cover long-term care, yet lengthy assisted-living or nursing home stays can decimate even the best-laid retirement plan.

Long-term care insurance is a complex product that requires a long-term commitment if you're buying it. So how can you tell if this insurance is right for you?

Ebay

Connecticut's attorney general is working with other states to try and prevent data breaches like the ones that happened to eBay, Target, and Neiman Marcus.

Online marketplace eBay says it was the target of a cyberattack in which hackers accessed a database of its encrypted passwords. The auction site says no financial data were revealed — but it's urging its users to update the passwords on their accounts.

EBay says that it hasn't seen any sign of fraudulent activity since the problem was first detected "about two weeks ago." It also said that it stores financial data and customer records in different places and that accounts of its direct-payment subsidiary, PayPal, were not affected by the data breach.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was in Hartford Monday to speak with high school seniors about paying for college.

allnightavenue / Creative Commons

Hartford has the highest rate of underwater mortgages in the country, according to a new report that says communities of color are most likely to owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. But the city administration disputes the data on which the study is based.

Netflix, buoyed by its foray into original productions such as the political drama House of Cards, said Monday it has added 2.25 million new customers and plans to raise its new-subscriptions rate by $1 or $2 a month.

The video streaming service reported first quarter earnings of $53 million, or 86 cents a share. Its share price surged by 6 percent following the announcement of earnings that compared with $2.7 million in the same period a year ago.

zimmytws/iStock / Thinkstock

A group of undocumented students in Connecticut is urging state higher education agencies to allow them access to a state financial aid program, known as institutional aid. But higher education officials said their hands are tied.

J Holt

By the time Bristol's West End Pizza was ready to open its doors on Saturday morning, there were a dozen patrons already outside, waiting to get in. You may have heard of a flash mob. Well, this is a financial version. The family owned pizzeria was the target of a "cash mob," which is essentially a group of people joining forces to give a business a really good day. 

Harriet Jones

This Friday, wannabe entrepreneurs will gather at UConn for the second annual Startup Weekend Storrs. It’s a 54 hour marathon which aims to develop and launch new companies into the real world. But does it work? --  and does that matter? WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

 

If you’re planning to buy or sell a house, changes are on the way. The creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the tightening of mortgage lending rules mean the industry is in the process of being turned upside down. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

It’s been a turbulent period for the mortgage industry and four years after the financial crisis, the debates are still going on.

Cashless Society

Apr 9, 2012
borman818

Do you ever wonder what the cash in your pocket is really worth? It might cost more than you know.

According to the IRS, every year the U.S. government loses billions of dollars in tax revenue due to individuals underreporting, underpaying, or not filing their taxes.

But, tax evasion is just one problem associated with a society awash in cash that can’t easily be traced.

Connecticut is a step closer to Sunday alcohol sales, after a key committee voted in favor of the measure. But the bill leaves in place many protections for small package stores worried about sweeping deregulation. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

This has been one of the consuming issues in this short legislative session – one that prompted a marathon 12-hour public hearing before the General Law Committee. Republic state Senator John Kissell said it was an extraordinary day.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration said it wanted to let states play a bigger role in deciding what kinds of benefits should be covered by health insurance. Now, as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, some advocates in Connecticut want to be sure that consumers have a voice in the state's decision, too. The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. By 2014, those without insurance will have the option of getting it through a state-administered exchange. 

Harriet Jones

Black Friday is an established Holiday tradition, as we work off the turkey with a visit to the mall. But small, local retailers often get left out of the spending spree. The relatively new concept of Small Business Saturday is an attempt to put that right. WNPR’s Harriet Jones has the story.

Charge card giant American Express began the Small Business Saturday campaign in 2010. One year on, the concept has expanded.

Photo by Mykl Roventine (Flickr)

How much sugar do you eat? The U.S.D.A. estimates the average American consumes more than 3,500 pounds of sugar in their lifetime.

Sugar seems to be in or on everything. Cereal, coffee, yogurt, candy, ketchup and of course...soda. It certainly affects our health, and is seen as the main culprit in “epidemics” of obesity and diabetes.

But sugar has also impacted the course of history, changed the fate of empires, and affected millions.

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