8/23/17

If You Win Tonight’s Powerball, Where You Bought Your Ticket Matters

The odds are that you are going to win tonight’s Powerball multi-state lottery drawing are very small. You’re more likely to be struck by lightning, or eaten by a shark. Still, that doesn’t stop people from paying $2 for a slip of hope. As long as you’re planning what you’re going to do with that money, you should keep in mind that where you buy a ticket matters for tax reasons.

If you’re curious and are planning to buy tickets across state lines, the lottery site USAMega has a handy chart with the current tax rate for each state on lottery prizes. You’ll have tax withheld according to the tax rate of where you bought the ticket, regardless of where you actually live. You should also keep in mind that you have to redeem the ticket in the state where it was purchased.

CNBC uses the example of someone who works in New York City and lives in New Jersey. While the federal government’s tax bite is always the same, the combined state and city taxes withheld for a ticket bought in NYC will be 12.7%.

Buying the same ticket at home in New Jersey means that only 8% would be withheld. That might not seem like a big difference, but the excess tax would be $20.8 million — for a sole winner who took the $443.3 million lump sum payment.

A New Jersey taxpayer would get that money back as a refund eventually, but only after filing his or her tax return the following winter or spring.

Ad Watchdog Group Calls For Investigation Into Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop

From paying $425 for a cleanse to claiming “healing stickers” are made from material designed for NASA space suits, Gwyneth Paltrow’s “modern lifestyle brand” Goop is no stranger to controversy. Now, a consumer watchdog group is asking regulators in California to investigate the product line for deceptive advertising.

The folks at Truth In Advertising have sent a complaint letter [PDF], urging attorneys for the California Food Drug and Medical Device Task Force to investigate what it claims are Goop’s unsubstantiated and deceptive health and disease treatment claims.

The Claims

TINA, as the watchdog group is known, claims that its investigation of Goop found more than 50 instances of the company claiming that its products, or third-party products sold via Goop, could treat, cure, prevent, alleviate, or reduce the risk of ailments, ranging from depression, anxiety, to infertility and arthritis.

Related: Goop Suggests Its Critics Are Seeking Attention, Might Just Be Jealous

“The problem is that the company does not possess the competent and reliable scientific evidence required by law to make such claims,” TINA alleges in a statement.

Among the advertising claims questioned by TINA:

• That carnelian crystal “treats infertility,” in addition to “easing period cramps, tempering PMS, regulating menstrual cycles,… and addressing shame around female body parts and sexual trauma.”

• “Jade eggs can… prevent uterine prolapse.”

• Goop’s essential oils can “help tremendously with chronic issues from anxiety and depression to migraines.”

• Goop’s Black Rose Bar is “brilliant for treating acne, eczema, and psoriasis.”

A full list of the claims challenged by TINA can be found on the organization’s website.

Goop’s Conference

Additionally, TINA notes that its representatives attended Goop’s first-ever wellness summit, “In Goop Health,” in June.

At the conference, TINA staffers, who were undercover, paid $500 to $1,500 for the chance to sit in on panel discussions and test products that were purported to have cognitive benefits.

At the conference, TINA reps spoke with a barista serving cups of Bulletproof Coffee — a Goop partner brand. The barista claimed that the grass-fed butter in the coffee increased brain function, among other things.

When the barista was asked to explain how brain function was affected by the coffee, the individual provided a “garbled” answer that included an explanation that “you feel a little bit different.”

Issuing A Warning

Armed with these examples, TINA sent a warning letter [PDF] to Goop and Paltrow about its concerns on Aug. 11, signaling its intent to alert regulators if Goop failed to take action on the claims by Aug. 18.

 

According to TINA, the organization was in contact with Goop’s legal counsel and provided the company with a list of Goop and Goop-promoted webpages containing illegal health claims.

Goop to date has only made limited changes to its marketing, TINA claims.

As a result, TINA filed its letter with the district attorneys for the California Food, Drug and Medical Device Task Force.

“Marketing products as having the ability to treat diseases and disorders not only violates established law but is a terribly deceptive marketing ploy that is being used by Goop to exploit women for its own financial gain,” Bonnie Patten, executive director for TINA, said in a statement. “Goop needs to stop its misleading profits-over-people marketing immediately.”

Consumerist has reached out to Goop for comment on TINA’s letters.

Sonos Holds Software Updates Hostage If You Don’t Sign New Privacy Agreement

Sonos, the current popular brand of smart speaker that people don’t [yet] talk to, really wants its customers to agree to the company’s new privacy policy; so much so, that failing to acknowledge the new rules can turn your Sonos speakers into very expensive shelf decorations when they eventually “cease to function.”

Too smart for their own good

Yes, that’s the problem with “smart” devices. They depend on cloud-based software, which means that when the company that operates its software goes out of business or decides to make the device obsolete, certain features or the whole device will no longer work.

In the case of the Sonos privacy update, the devices will keep working, but gradually lose functionality over time as new software updates come along.

ZDNet pointed out this catch for customers who decide not to accept the company’s new privacy policy. The real problem is that the devices will have a different privacy policy going forward than they did when they were purchased.

Experts on privacy are not huge fans of this development.

“We’re going to see this more and more where core services for things that people paid for are going to be conditioned on accepting ever-evolving privacy policies and terms of use,” Joe Jerome, a policy analyst at the Center for Democracy & Technology, told ZDNet. “That’s not going to be fair unless companies start providing users with meaningful choices and ensure that basic functionality continues if users say no to new terms.”

Sonos hasn’t specified what functionality might no longer work in the future if customers don’t accept the new privacy policy.

What’s in that policy?

The new privacy policy is important to the operation of speakers since it lets customers integrate their speakers and devices like an Amazon Echo or Google Home that are an interface to a virtual assistant.

In a blog post addressed to its customers, Sonos tried to explain that the privacy changes are to support future features, some of which may not even exist.

“The most important thing for you to know is that Sonos does not keep recordings of your voice data,” the policy states. “It goes to the voice assistant service (for example Amazon) that you’ve activated on your Sonos system.”

It does, however, also share information about your WiFi network, the devices that you use with the Sonos system, the names of rooms on your system, and your logins for integrated services.

“When information is shared, it will be with a product or service you have requested or authorized,” Sonos explains. “We’ve included this information in past versions, but in the current version we’re much more specific and clear about what information we are collecting and sharing with these partners.”

It’s possible to opt out of some, but not all, of these options for sharing your information.

Samsung Confirms A Smart Speaker Is In The Works, Surprising No One

While Amazon, Google, and Apple have all given their voice-controlled intelligent assistants smart speakers to live in, Samsung’s Bixby hasn’t had a speaker to call home. Instead, it’s been limited to the Galaxy S8 smartphone. That may change soon, as Samsung says it’s about to follow its rivals into the smart speaker market.

The president of Samsung’s mobile division confirmed today that a smart spacer will be launched sometime in the near future.

“Maybe soon we will announce it. I am already working on it,” DJ Koh told CNBC.

He adds that in the interest of providing a “fruitful user experience at home” with the company’s devices, he’ll be “moving quite heavily on it.”

Koh didn’t offer details on whether or not the device will be powered by Bixby, but the S8 and new Note 8 both have a feature called “Bixby Home” that lets people connect their devices to their phone.

It’s also unclear how much such a speaker might cost, but it’ll have competition at any price: Alibaba recently announced a $73 voice-activated speaker; the Google Home runs around $129.99, Amazon’s Echo sells for about $180; and Apple’s toilet paper roll HomePod is at the top of the price pile at $349.