Sling TV tells dissatisfied customers to pound sand when it comes to refunds

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Last Saturday night many Sling TV customers including myself who tried to watch various programs such as UFC Fight Night 101 were greeted by buffering video, repeating video or a black screen with a spinning circle.

 

Its not your connection, its Sling.

Of course, this is nothing unique or even new, Sling has a long history of offering a service that is plagued with issues when it comes to streaming.

Sling TV which is a subsidiary of The Dish Network, launched in January 2015 as an alternative to Cable TV, since then has been the target of thousands of complaints and negative reviews for providing shoddy service or not providing any service at all.

It currently has Over 3,000 critical reviews on Amazon, over 100 on CNET, dozens with the Better Business Bureau along with thousands of negative feedback on twitter like these:

As silly as this sounds, maybe the ultimate plan was to create such an unpleasant experience for cord cutters that they would come crawling back to Satellite and Cable TV, of course, this would work if TV viewership weren’t at an all time low across the board and ratings for national events such as the Emmys, American Music Awards and even the NFL have plummeted.

On top of plummeting TV ratings, there are other streaming alternatives such as Playstation Vue (which has over 2,000 positive reviews on Amazon), Netflix, HBO Now, Direct TV Now and the hundreds of pirated streams on sites like YouTube Live for most news and sporting events, so this plan just like Sling TV was doomed to fail before it even began.

On the other hand, maybe the Dish Network saw the writing on the wall and launched SlingTV in 2015 as a way to recapture subscribers that it was going to quickly lose but whatever their plan or reasoning was, they have failed miserably at it.

So, what happens when you ask for a refund or try to cancel?

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Instead of addressing issues with the service when asked for a refund, a representative for Sling instead responded with:

“Sling TV is a pay in advance, non-refundable service”

then referred the consumer to their Terms of Service agreement.

This seems to be in line with what a lot of other consumers on Amazon have experienced and some reviewers have reported that Sling continued to charge them even after they canceled then refusing to give a refund.

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Amazon Review

“I cancelled within that time frame, and even received an email (within the stated time) from Sling expressing their disappointment that I was leaving, and instructions on how to re-join if I ever decided to do that. It also stated that my account would be turned off immediately. Two days later, my credit card was charged for the monthly service fee for the upcoming month. When I called Sling Customer Service, I was told that I hadn’t cancelled within the required time frame. When I pointed out that I had TWO emails confirming dates, and my compliance, I was told, “No, you don’t. You didn’t do what you were supposed to do, so we’re charging you.” No matter what I said – and no matter what proof I had FROM SLING, the Customer Service Rep said I was wrong, and therefore I was being charged. They would not be refunding me my money. I had to file a Fraud Complaint with my credit card company – which I told the CS Rep I would be doing. I was told “do what you have to do. We’re not refunding you.” — Amazon Reviewer

 

This just one of the many complaints relating to cancellation issues and it should be noted that this type of unscrupulous business practice has led to multimillion dollar settlements in multiple states with companies such as Autovantage/Trilegiant Corporation/Affinion Group.

Meet Roger Lynch

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All of this falls on the desk of the current CEO Roger Lynch who in my opinion has run the company since its launch in 2015 with such incompetence and blatant disregard when it comes to customer service and has ignored the thousands of negative reviews over the span of almost 2 years.

His arrogance and incompetence will undoubtedly lead to multiple class action settlements with consumers due to the company’s practice of charging consumers after cancellation (2) and also for advertising a service while not actually providing which is the classic definition of bait and switch as well as fraud but of course SlingTV’s website is carefully worded and avoids describing the quality of the service.

Instead of improving service to existing customers, lately he has decided to go on a marketing blitz across multiple platforms such as xbox one, various tech news publication like TechCrunch and The Verge and online deal sites such as Slickdeals to draw in new customers which will undoubtedly overwhelm their already overloaded servers and cause even more customers to leave but I suspect he’s only doing this to keep quarterly earnings and subscription rates up to keep investors happy in the short term.

At this point, the company offers nothing notable, new or worthwhile. If consumers wanted to, they could easily find a pirated stream of CNN, Fox Sports, ESPN, etc that would work, not buffer and look great but most paid for Sling TV to be honest and play by the rules, unfortunately, it appears the service they’re paying for isn’t being entirely honest with them.

Ultimately I see Sling TV either being spun off or sold off after being mired in class action lawsuits and settlements, as for Roger Lynch, perhaps he’s better off running a company such as Western Sky Loans.

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Frontier Communications employee shoves TV reporter, makes criminal threats

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The altercation between the employee and CBS reporter Greg Mills took place after about 100 Frontier customers joined a town hall meeting in Long Beach at the Expo Arts Center to express their frustrations to Melinda White, President of Frontier Communication’s West Region.

As Mills approached White as she was exiting the town hall to find out if she could address a few unanswered questions, another Frontier employee is seen pushing the reporter several times before grabbing him by his coat.

According to Mills, the employee then opened his coat to the reporter and pointed to his waistband to imply that he was armed. The employees actions in itself could be constituted as a criminal threat even if no weapon was seen.

California Penal Code section 422(a) states:

422. (a) Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s safety, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison.

All of this stems from a long and still ongoing battle after some Frontier customers were left without cable, internet, home phone and even 911 service shortly after the company finalized its acquisition of Verizon’s FiOS and DSL operations in California, Florida and Texas on April 1st, 2016.

Since April the Texas Public Utility Commission have received 150 complaints and according to the California Public Utilities Commission they have received 584 complaints. Although at this point its hard to gauge how many customers are truly affected by outages stemming from the acquisition, according to Frontier spokesman Peter DePasquale they represent less than 1% of its 3 million customers.

The Town Hall Meeting

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“In theory it was a good idea, get the cable company together with disgruntled customers but customers really wanted action, I got the impression that the cable company wasn’t all that intent on listening to they had to say” — Greg Mills CBS Los Angeles

According to NBC4 reporter Jane Yamamoto, Melinda White (Frontier’s West Region President) did not get a warm welcome, a reporter for the Long Beach Press Telegram described the meeting as rowdy with cheers and boos mixed in but to Frontier’s credit they did send about 2 dozen reps to meet with customers in a separate room although its unclear if any issues were resolved that day.

Throughout the meeting which reportedly lasted an hour, the company’s rep seemed cold and left many customers skeptical, just seconds to the altercation involving her employees with the TV reporter, she initially refused to talk to several reporters and instead told them “We have our media people and you can visit with them”.

So far the company has not publicly commented on the altercation with Greg Mills nor offered an apology but Melinda White did stop briefly stop to answer his questions afterwards, when asked if she thought the problems would be resolved, she responded “yes, absolutely”.

The Aftermath

Its clear that this acquisition was poorly planned on Frontier’s part but I have to wonder if the image of a cold, smug company Representative/President surrounded by thugs in suits making a criminal threat and pushing around reporters is an image they want to portray to the public at this juncture, I also wonder if they will threaten to pull ads from the station instead of apologizing to the reporter and looking into the actions of their employees including those of Melinda White.

Noticeably absent from all of this has been the company’s CEO Daniel J. McCarthy who has not made a personal attempt to reach out to customers. Other CEOs of major companies such as T-Mobile and Sprint often communicate with customers directly (despite all of their faults), so there is no valid excuse why McCarthy can’t do the same instead of hiding behind Spokespersons and Regional  Presidents.

I will try reaching out to this company myself to get answers regarding the conduct of their employees and I will update you if I get a reply.

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Ace Hardware openly supports Anti-Law Enforcement militants whose members killed 2 Police Officers

 

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Just when you thought the Bundy Militia saga couldn’t get any more bizarre or strange, Ace Hardware appears to proudly and publicly throw their support behind the Bundys, this is what the often scofflaw family posted on their facebook page last night to celebrate the occasion.

Seeing this as we drove down Main Street in Mesquite today brightened our day and put a spring in our step. The littlest things can make such a big difference to us right now. We are SO SO SO grateful for the support of ace hardware. Thank you so much for not being afraid to stand with us! LOVE- the Bundy Family— Bundy Ranch Facebook Page (Screenshot)

The Bundy family has had a very ugly and bloody history over the past 2 years which includes (but not limited to) supporters ambushing and murdering Las Vegas Officers Igor Soldo & Alyn Beck who were on a lunch break at CiCi’s Pizza, the murder of Walmart shopper Joseph Robert Wilcox who tried to stop the attack and recently the armed takeover of a federal facility in Oregon which resulted in millions of dollars in damages, the desecration of Native American grounds and led to the death of supporter LaVoy Finicum as he attempted to pull a firearm on Law Enforcement and also the harassment and intimidation of veteran reporter of the Oregonian, Les Zaitz and his family. 

 

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Just to rewind, the Bundys and their supporters made their stance very clear during the Bunkerville Standoff where many took various positions and pointed firearms at Police Officers, BLM agents and strategized placing women in front to use them as cover.

“We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front, If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.” Supporter/CSPOA founder Richard Mack

Two years later during the takeover of the federal facility in Harney County, Oregon, supporter Sean Anderson instructed fellow supporters to “kill” law enforcement if they try stop them from getting to the refuge, fortunately that never happened.

If they stop you from getting here, kill them,Supporter, Sean Anderson

Overall Cliven Bundy along with his family’s actions (Primarily Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy) have lead to the deaths of 6 people (2 police officers, 1 civilian and 3 supporters/assailants), so it’s shocking to witness Ace Hardware which has 4,900 hardware stores worldwide, employs 86,000 people and generated 5.05 billion in revenue in 2015 suddenly throw their support behind the Bundy family and ask that they be freed despite everything.

Just as a reminder, this is what Bundy supporters did to Officers Soldo and Beck

Jerad Miller fatally shot Soldo in the back of the head with a handgun, then shot Beck in the throat. Both Millers then killed Beck by shooting him multiple times after he attempted to fire back. Afterwards, they dragged the officers’ bodies out of their booth and covered Beck with a yellow Gadsden flag and a swastika. They also pinned a note on Soldo’s body, which read: “This is the beginning of the revolution.” They also stole both officers’ guns and ammunition. Also, during the restaurant shooting, the Millers loudly declared to other patrons that it was the start of “a revolution” ” — (Source) Wikipedia

 

So far Ace Hardware has remained silent over their apparent support of the Bundys, they have also ignored multiple inquires posted to their Facebook and Twitter pages and have not released an official statement but regardless, they owe an explanation to their customers, Law Enforcement officers and their families who have often been the target of harassment, threats and also the Las Vegas Metro Police Department whose fellow officers and their families paid the ultimate price on June 8th, 2014 because of the Bundy family actions.

 

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From left, Sgt. Jimmy Oaks, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, Joseph Beck and Elizabeth Krmpotich attend a memorial service for Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Alyn Beck at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts Saturday, June 14, 2014 in Las Vegas. — Credit: AP

 

 

 

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Why did Holly Holm aim for Ronda Rousey’s neck?

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Source: MMAFighting.com (Fair Use)

While Holly Holm was grinning from ear to ear at the after fight press conference and hundreds of UFC fans mindlessly posted memes like “Ronda got knocked da f*** out” and “Rip Ronda”, very little concern is being shown for Ronda Rousey who could have had her life and future destroyed by Holm’s dirty ‘win’.

Make no mistake about it, the UFC is a brutal sport but what transpired hours ago took that level of brutality to a whole new level and the pure depravity shown by Holly Holm just to ‘win’ a belt is sickening.

As I watched the fight in real time it appeared to be a brutal yet clean win but on close examination and replay, what actually transpired is quite disturbing.

 

It appears Holly Holm specifically aimed for and delivered a full force kick to the side of her neck then followed it up with two full force punches to the same area after she went down.

Her actions following the neck kick makes it even more likely that this was just not a random blow that accidently connected with her neck.

Holm herself is no stranger to neck injuries, she recently recovered from a severe neck injury that left her unable to use her left tricep and arm.

“At first I was kind of worrying if I had a neurological problem, because my arm wasn’t working,” — Holly Holm (MMA Fighting)

This alone makes her actions even more disgusting because she knows what its like to suffer a neck injury

Even though a kick like that probably likely isn’t against the rules, was winning everything to Holm that had to she risk paralyzing, brain damaging or even killing her opponent just to get a belt?

As for Ronda Rousey, not much is known about her current condition other than she was taken to hospital after leaving the ring.

Disclaimer: All photos and videos in this article are meant for Fair Use purposes only.

 

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HTC dumping unsold ‘Re’ camera inventory by slashing 75% off retail price

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The poorly named, poorly designed asthma inhaler/kitchen faucet shaped device was launched a year ago during a disastrous and equally cringe-worthy keynote that featured one fashion model taking a selfie with a teddy bear that she was pushing about on stage in a baby stroller. The keynote left myself and tech journalists like Slashgear’s Chris Burns asking “What on Earth is HTC thinking?”.

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“…models walked across the stage with MegaMan-like electronic music and soulless, model eyes. And no purpose. Or if the purpose existed, it wasn’t immediately obvious. It’s as if HTC picked up on the strangest and most useless elements in the average big-time Samsung Galaxy event and blew it up for their own event” — Chris Burns (Slashgear)

Fast forward to just a day ago when HTC made drastic cuts to the price of the device reducing the price from $200 to a paltry $50 now does this mean they are trying to quickly dump off devices because they are coming out with something new or do they have a warehouse full of devices that they can’t sell?

 

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Either way, it appears they are trying get rid of the devices fast and aren’t confident that they can sell them at 50% ($100), it’ll be interesting to see if they are done with external devices or are coming out with something that they are confident consumers will give them another chance.

Even though its poorly designed, I did pick one up for $50 because it does have a lot of interesting features for the price like Time Lapse, Live video streaming and the photo quality isnt bad either although the fisheye effect is quite annoying but according to HTC it can be removed in settings.

Sample Photos and Videos (Posted by YouTube and Flickr users)

HTC Re Camera Samples

HTC RE camera samples  

Traffic:

Low Light:

Underwater:

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Microsoft caught trying to force Windows 10 on PC users without their permission?

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Ever since Windows 10 was announced Microsoft has been desperately trying to get users to integrate over to the latest operating system by resorting to everything from installing hard to remove popup ads on Windows 7 and 8 users computers to launching a multi-million dollar ad and marketing campaign to even downloading up to 6GB of Windows 10 files on user’s PCs without their permission but this latest move crosses the line, reeks of desperation and erodes trust users have with this company.

 

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It was recently reported by Arstechnica, Ultimate Outsider, ZDTV and others that Microsoft was forcing some users to upgrade to Windows 10 by making it a non-optional/mandatory update although it appears there needs to be user interaction to make the final update complete.

On Oct 15th PCWorld writer Jared Newman reported that:

Some users now claim that they no longer see an option in the Control Panel to install updates to their current version of Windows. Instead, a message says that the “upgrade to Windows 10 is ready,” and prompts users to “restart your PC to begin the installation.” Another user claims to have seen a countdown timer for installing Windows 10, with an option to reschedule but no way to call off the upgrade entirely.

In a statement published by Arstechnica, Microsoft didn’t deny making Windows 10 mandatory but claimed that it was a mistake

As part of our effort to bring Windows 10 to existing genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers, the Windows 10 upgrade may appear as an optional update in the Windows Update (WU) control panel. This is an intuitive and trusted place people go to find Recommended and Optional updates to Windows. In the recent Windows update, this option was checked as default; this was a mistake and we are removing the check.

Although they said they are removing the settings that makes it mandatory, it remains unclear how they intend to do that or a timeline of when it will be fixed.

Privacy Concerns

 

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Since Windows 10 launched its been plagued with questions about privacy. The OS admittedly can log everything a user types and upload that data to Microsoft’s servers by default and even though they offer encryption through BitLocker, if you sign into Windows 10 using your Microsoft Account, it will automatically upload the encryption key to their OneDrive servers.

Although Microsoft claims users can opt-out and other intrusive settings can be disabled, there is no way of verifying and or trusting that they will respect it with it since its not an open source OS and it doesn’t help that Arstechnica discovered the operating system still phones home and transmits data to Microsoft servers even after they opted out.

In the article they noted that:

Windows 10 will periodically send data to a Microsoft server named ssw.live.com. This server seems to be used for OneDrive and some other Microsoft services. Windows 10 seems to transmit information to the server even when OneDrive is disabled and logins are using a local account that isn’t connected to a Microsoft Account. The exact nature of the information being sent isn’t clear—it appears to be referencing telemetry settings—and again, it’s not clear why any data is being sent at all. We disabled telemetry on our test machine using group policies.

This has driven many users concerned about security and privacy to start blocking certain Microsoft domains and IPs from their HOSTS file not realizing that Microsoft has been whitelisting their own servers and bypassing the HOSTS file for over a decade.

Given Microsoft’s terrible track record on privacy which includes remotely searching a journalist’s hotmail account to track down a source that was leaking information, to submitting a DMCA request to completely take down Cryptome’s domain over publishing the company’s 2008 “Global Criminal Compliance. Handbook” which contained no trade secrets according to Wired, its getting increasingly difficult for users to trust anything the company says.

It appears things have taken a turn for the worse under Satya Nadella who once said that its “Bad Karma” for women to ask for a raise, these recent events gives the appearance that he has little to no concern or respect for user privacy, data caps, user input, etc and just recently they began inserting ads for suggested apps in Windows 10 start menu.

 

 

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Slickdeals users openly discuss how to commit retail fraud at Walmart and Target stores

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File Photo

Slickdeals is a site where users communicate about deals they find online and for companies like discover card, chase bank and amazon to advertise their goods and services but things got a bit out of hand recently when two posters using the monikers nditiz1 and omega4 started discussing how to get an Xbox One game for free from Target then returning it to Walmart without a receipt for a sizable profit.

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Target no longer accepts returns without a receipt. However, I think they can look up your purchases via your credit card (which would not help you given what you would like to do). WalMart is your only recourse. However, they only allow 3 unopen item returns without a receipt and then make you wait 45-90 days before you can do so again. — Omega4

I recommend WalMart. You get the full value of the game (including taxes on top) as a gift card. eBay gets you cash, but you won’t get top dollar and you have to pay eBay Seller fees. Just be sure to go to WalMart soon before NBA 2K16 gets discounted, as then you’ll only get the value of the discounted game. — Omega4

It’s up to you and BigCTM. But at WalMart, I got $65 for it ($59.99 for the game and sales tax on top). — Omega4

During this conversation which I took a screenshot of one user bragged about getting $65 with sales tax by committing fraud/larceny.

According to data released by the The National Retail Federation (NRF) and published by LPMagazine, return fraud alone cost the retail industry more than $9.6 billion in 2006 which forced Target to change their policy and limit the amount of money given out for no receipt returns.

Its unclear if Walmart plans to make changes to their return policy in the future but if this type of activity continues they may have no choice but to.

We will try to reach out to Slickdeals to find out if they will take any action against these accounts but it should be noted that anyone thinking about doing this face prosecution, jail time and a criminal record if caught.

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Makerbot cuts 180 jobs and closes all 3 retail shops in less than a year

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MakerBot which was founded in 2009 by Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach Smith quickly ballooned into a megacompany with a 50,000 square foot factory in Brooklyn, 150+ employees in 2013 and they grew to 580 employees by early 2015 just before the 2 rounds of layoffs began (100 for the 1st round and 80 for the 2nd).

The fact that they had over 500 employees at one point is shocking since they made and sold relatively expensive devices to a very small niche market.

While its nice to have something that is truly made in America with devices that were assembled in America, the reality is most people aren’t interested in putting together a model airplane let alone draw up a design in cad, spend over a thousand dollars ($1,375 for mini to $6,499 the larger version) to print one out in MakerBot section by section, paint it then assemble it, at least not enough people to justify the rate the company was expanding at in such a short amount of time.

I’ve dealt a lot with MakerBot’s and I would personally never buy one. There are many comparable alternatives for almost half the price and the newer 5th Gen models have AWFUL extruders… they clog like crazy and are not nearly as easy to disassemble and clean as other models. — greysplash (Reddit.com)

The company is also facing a class action lawsuit over faulty extruders that frequently clogged and allegedly led to shareholders losing millions of dollars once the issue came to light.

Like Krispy Kreme over a decade ago, it appears MakerBot also bought into its own hype and is now paying a huge price. Sadly for the 100 or so former employees who only wanted to make a living they were unceremoniously escorted out by security earlier this year and left to find work elsewhere.

“3D printing is one of the fastest growing technologies in the world today. To keep up with the growing demand in the 3D printing industry, MakerBot is hiring 50+ new employees in the coming months” — Makerbot Press Release 2013

It seems like their business strategy was banking on demand catching up with supply.

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Sprint’s CEO shocked over Verizon rate hike on unlimited data even after increasing own data rates a week ago

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In this tweet, Sprint’s current CEO Marcelo Claure seemed shocked and dismayed with Verizon over a recent announcement that they were increasing rates by $20 on November 15th for unlimited users who according to the company make up less than 1% of its customers.


The tweet is perplexing to say the least because earlier this year Marcelo Claure hinted at raising data rates in an interview with KSHB-TV in Kansas City as well as hinting at doing away with Unlimited Data in the future.

On September 30, 2015 he ultimately gave consumers a two week notice that rates would be increased by $10 on new customers but its unclear if he has any plans to increase rates on existing customers anytime soon.

Update: Claure responds to a twitter user who confronted him over increasing prices at Sprint

Clearly he meant “existing” not “executing”. #Autocorrect

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AMC website inadvertently links moviegoers to pirated versions of MI: Rogue Nation

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Chances are if you go to the ticket page for Mission Impossible Rogue Nation right now, you will see multiple tweets on the left hand corner of the page that link to pirated versions of the movie. (Screenshot)

This is just an example of one of the tweets that show up on the page

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This is obviously the work of spammers using twitter to exploit a flaw with the site but with movie attendance reportedly already hitting a 20 year low partially due to piracy and other factors such as higher ticket prices and also people simply dissatisfied with the lack of good movies out there, it probably is a good idea for AMC to look into this and patch it as soon as possible.

Just Sayin’

 

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