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Digital, key played on piano as well in electronic glitch. Cost couple 10 mon to clear up $2M phone bill; Volkswagen? 87 billion


By WcP.Scientific.Mind - Posted on 03 October 2015

(quote)

ABC news - Couple Fighting With Verizon Over $2M cell phone bill, said it took them 10 months to clear up - $2 million for one month
A couple in Oregon say they spent 10 months trying to clear up a whopping $2 million phone bill, which they say has prevented them from buying the home of their dreams. Ken Slusher and his girlfriend, of Damascus, Oregon, have a balance of $2,156,593.64 on a Verizon Wireless bill that was for a wireless account that they opened in November. "Yeah, it's been very stressful to say the least," Slusher told KPTV.com.

The couple canceled their service in December and returned their phones in January, but the bills continued to arrive, as first reported by KPTV. Customer service representatives told them in-person and on the phone that they promised to clear up the matter, he said.

Slusher said he hoped to close on a new house next Monday and his girlfriend and their children are eagerly awaiting the move. But he said his mortgage company won't sign off on a loan due to the phone debt. They began receiving several calls from collection agencies demanding upward of $2,000, KPTV reported. According to Slusher, the couple's first bill should have been around $120, but it was actually $698 with a balance of $451.

CBS - Volkswagen said its cheating software affects 11 million vehicles and may cost up to $87 billion
A total bill of $87 billion would be equal to seven times last year's net profit and place enormous pressure on Volkswagen's finances. According to the company's latest earnings statement, it has 21.5 billion euros ($24.3 billion) in cash on hand. In compiling its estimates, Credit Suisse considered the cost of fixing the emissions problems, reimbursing owners and settling civil and criminal court cases. The bank's analysts believe the single biggest cost -- up to 33 billion euros -- could come from compensating owners for the loss of value to their vehicles. The technical fix is likely to mean higher fuel consumption, which combined with damage to the brand, will make the cars harder to sell.

CNN - What's important in the VW case is that the cheating was preprogrammed into the algorithm that controlled cars' emissions. For the past six years, Volkswagen has been cheating on the emissions testing for its diesel cars. The cars' computers were able to detect when they were being tested, and temporarily alter how their engines worked so they looked much cleaner than they actually were. When they weren't being tested, they belched out 40 times the pollutants. Their CEO has resigned, and the company will face an expensive recall, enormous fines and worse. Computers allow people to cheat in ways that are new. Because the cheating is encapsulated in software, the malicious actions can happen at a far remove from the testing itself. Because the software is "smart" in ways that normal objects are not, the cheating can be subtler and harder to detect.

We've already had examples of smartphone manufacturers cheating on processor benchmark testing: detecting when they're being tested and artificially increasing their performance. We're going to see this in other industries. The Internet of Things is coming. Many industries are moving to add computers to their devices, and that will bring with it new opportunities for manufacturers to cheat. Light bulbs could fool regulators into appearing more energy efficient than they are. Temperature sensors could fool buyers into believing that food has been stored at safer temperatures than it has been. Voting machines could appear to work perfectly -- except during the first Tuesday of November, when it undetectably switches a few percent of votes from one party's candidates to another's.

USA Today - a window into the world of software that abets cheating; the potential for abuse is huge: Investors crush Volkswagen shares as company sets aside $7.3 billion to address software that manipulates emissions tests. Volkswagen admitted that software designed to fool regulators affects 11 million vehicles worldwide and could cost more than $7 billion to address, threatening to undermine its new position as the world's largest automaker. The company's crisis dragged down stocks in Germany, undermined Volkswagen's claims of environmentally advanced diesel engineering. Investors crushed the German automaker's stock, driving shares down 20%, a day after the stock plunged 19%. The crisis began Friday when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused Volkswagen of installing sophisticated software on nearly 500,000 U.S. vehicles to manipulate emissions tests. The technology tricks regulators into believing that four-cylinder diesel cars comply with emissions standards, but the cars are actually emitting harmful pollutants up to 40 times acceptable standards.

NY Times Sept. 23, 2015 - 5 years ago, Professor Eben Moglen talked about the dangers of secret code, known as proprietary software, that controls more and more devices every day. On Tuesday, Volkswagen admitted it had rigged the proprietary software on 11 million of its diesel cars around the world so that they would pass emissions tests when they were actually spreading smog. A Columbia University law professor stood in a hotel lobby one morning and noticed a sign apologizing for an elevator that was out of order. It had dropped unexpectedly three stories a few days earlier. The professor, Eben Moglen, tried to imagine what the world would be like if elevators were not built so that people could inspect them.

Reuters - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) said it will repair up to 11 million vehicles. in the coming days they would need to have diesel vehicles with illegal rigging-of-emissions-tests software refitted, a move which some analysts have said could cost more than $6.5 billion. Europe's biggest carmaker has admitted cheating in diesel emissions tests, under huge pressure to address a crisis that has wiped more than a third off its market value, sent shock waves through the global car market and could harm Germany's economy. "We are facing a long trudge and a lot of hard work," Mueller told a closed-door gathering of about 1,000 top managers at Volkswagen's Wolfsburg headquarters late on Monday.
The crisis is an embarrassment for Germany, which has for years held up Volkswagen as a model of its engineering prowess and has lobbied against some tighter regulations on automakers. The German car industry employs more than 750,000 people and is a major source of export income. Klaus Mohrs, mayor of Wolfsburg where Volkswagen employs around 70,000 people, said on Monday he expected a sharp decline in business taxes due to the crisis, and announced an immediate budget freeze and hiring ban.

Fortune - Who really pays the ultimate price?
- The VW scandal could cost car owners $5,000. VW’s customers will likely end up losing out too, potentially through lost resale value.
- Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn paid the price of losing his job
- VW and its shareholders will in all likelihood pay a very high monetary price for this breach of trust as well, especially if the fallout grows beyond the “clean diesel” models and consumers find it hard to trust the VW brand.
- The company stands to lose billions of dollars in the U.S. alone as a result of this deception, with EPA fines of as much as $37,500 per car potentially tallying $18 billion.
- The liability in regulatory fines could grow much larger as other regulators around the world get involved.
- Diesel technology has long held a fuel economy advantage over gasoline engines, yet older ones were much dirtier, emitting 500 parts per million of sulfur, a key source of particulate emissions. “Clean diesel” engines of the last decade are designed to emit 97% less sulfur emissions, and yet still get as much as 30% better fuel economy than comparable gasoline-powered engines. This gave the cars both a “green” image and a fuel-efficient one as well. Adding up all the cars affected, that puts the potential loss in the neighborhood of $55 billion.
- Volkswagen has itself set aside almost $8 billion for recalls, and its market value has already plunged almost $28 billion (about 30%). - This puts a conservative estimate of the cost to Volkswagen and its shareholders in the vicinity of at least $54 billion, given fines outside the U.S. and lost sales that result from the scandal.
- To the extent that consumers extrapolate Volkswagen’s breach of their trust beyond its “clean diesel” models, the impact on future sales could be devastating.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of AskMen.com, automotorblog.com, and inquisitr.com

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