Investors don’t want Tupperware to spoil


February 28, 2020

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Storage Wars

Tupperware lifted the lid on financial shenanigans, but now its investors can’t be contained

Rummage around your kitchen cabinets a little too long, and you might stumble across some light financial fraud. 

Tupperware, the brand so iconic that its name has become synonymous with household plastic containers, blew the lid off “financial reporting issues” in its Mexico division this week.

The disclosure spooked the market. Shares plummeted, and investors filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of artificially inflating its stock.

An army of sales reps once kept the brand fresh

Tupperware first hit the streets in the 1950s with a series of “Tupperware parties” — unfortunately NOT hotbeds of steamy (yet microwave-safe)  debauchery.

They were neighborhood sales hosted by company reps. Customers could buy the containers only from a Tupperware peddler.

That was 70 years ago. In an era of Amazon and Walmart, customers don’t really seek out Tupperware reps anymore. 

Meanwhile, their numbers are dwindling: Longtime salespeople are tossing their containers and flocking to new gig-economy entrants like Lyft or TaskRabbit.

Tupperware was trying to unseal a new era

Sales have been declining for 8 quarters, and the company has tried to turn things around. In November, Tupperware opened its first physical store in Manhattan — the vibrantly colored pop-up TuppSoho.

Among other cutting-edge, totally-not-decades-late innovations it rolled out: an online retail store. But with this week’s stock nosedive, any goodwill that the pivot won TUP may have already spoiled.

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A Loose Lease?

Best Buy’s Progressive Leasing can leave customers paying double

Last Spring, Best Buy began offering Progressive Leasing, which enables customers with bad credit to pay for big purchases in installments.

But a report from The Washington Post reveals that the program — owned by the furniture chain Aaron’s — often forces low-credit customers to pay more than 200% of posted prices. Critics describe that practice as predatory.

So, what’s the deal with Progressive Leasing?

Let’s look at an example of a laptop buyer at Best Buy, and what they might pay, according to the Post’s analysis.

First, the laptop buyer pays Progressive Leasing a one-time nonrefundable $79 fee and gives the company access to their checking account for 12 months.

Then, Progressive Leasing buys the laptop for $2,799.99 and leases it back to the buyer for a year, charging a monthly leasing fee. If the buyer pays over the full year, they’d pay 2.09x the original price — ~$5.9k for a Macbook that originally cost $2.8k.

A spokesman for the company told the Post that the program offers a better alternative to other options such as payday loans.

But critics — including former store managers — call the Progressive Lending program “abusive” and say it targets vulnerable customers.

Progressive Loans isn’t the only delayed-payment retail partner…

Other companies like Afterpay (which partners with Forever 21, DSW, Carhartt, Madewell, and others) offer similar financing.

But Progrssive Leasing is controversial, one analyst said, because it relies on “very, very high fees.”

In 2018, Progressive Lending made $2B in revenue on 1.6m leases, despite being illegal in 5 states with strict rent-to-own laws. Last week, its owner announced that it would pay the FTC $175m to resolve an investigation of its disclosure practices. 

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Surveillance State

Newborns and nurseries are the new frontier for AI-powered cameras

Would you trust your newborn to artificial intelligence?

Sounds like something straight out of The Matrix. But companies are slinging a slew of AI-powered baby monitors that keep a close eye on lil Keanu, according to The Washington Post.

Pediatricians and privacy experts point out that there’s no government-issued evidence to back up claims that the devices save lives.

But they’re still popular — here’s how they work

They record lil Keanu’s movements and alert his parents whenever he moves, cries, vomits, or covers his adorable lil Keanu face. 

Oh, and they do something else: They play right into the fears of anxious new parents.

  • One company, Cubo AI, says it has sold ~10k devices. Its chief strategy officer told the Post that “fear is the quickest way to get people’s attention.”
  • Other firms sell head-to-tiny-toes surveillance solutions. Like Nanit’s “complete monitoring system,” which runs for $379.

A Cubo owner told the Post his system successfully alerted his family when his son had pulled a blanket over his face.

But AI is imperfect, and AI in the nursery is no exception

The error rates of facial recognition algorithms have been shown to vary widely, depending on factors like race and gender. Few of them have been used on small children, and kids’ faces are less distinct than adults — meaning the bots might have even more trouble telling them apart.

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Snippets

🎉  Take that, tampon tax: Scotland is about to become the first country in the world to make menstrual products available free to all.

⚾️ Mets fans frustrated by the team’s tight-fisted ways have been Venmoing the club’s general manager.

👊 Above the law no longer? Steven Seagal will pay $314k to settle a fight with the SEC over his promotion of a cryptocurrency on social media.

☕️ A caffeine addict’s delight: Panera Bread is launching a coffee subscription.

📉 Is Twitter down? Is Facebook down? When the internet asks, Downdetector answers.

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Shower Thoughts

Wish every day could feel like Friday? Well, you’re in luck. Keep reading after these Thoughts to get your hands on our brand spankin’ new Daily Shower Thoughts Calendar. Ooh, fancy! 

1. While we sleep, our brain makes up stories and then gets scared of them.

2. You can’t feel every hair on your body, but one hair in your mouth is immediately noticeable.

3. If you’re really good at online games and have played for years, the odds are pretty good that you have caused someone to break something in their house out of frustration.

4. Lemons, limes, lemon soda, lime soda, and lemon-lime soda all taste completely different.

5. Darth Vader is so famous people recognize him simply by breathing.

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Nick “Not Microwave Safe” DeSantis

STAFF WRITER/EDITOR

Costa Grand

Insurance Estimator

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