United courts fliers with fewer lines
The airline on Tuesday changed its boarding process: United reduced the number of boarding lines from five to two. Passengers in groups one and two will board in a single line. Remaining passengers will be asked to remain seated until they are called to board through the second line. They'll be announced by group.
The new procedure is part of a long-term effort boost ticket sales. United hopes to please passengers by eliminating long lines at the gate, said Jack Atkins, a research analyst at Stephens Inc.
United's reputation with fliers faltered after Dr. David Dao was dragged off a flight. The airline also came under scrutiny after a passenger's dog died in flight after a flight attendant said it must ride in an overhead bin.
Improving the boarding experience is a low cost way to improve United's customer service, Atkins said.
New boarding procedures have helped its competitors. Delta has over the past several years boosted its on-time numbers, which has allowed it to boost its profit and to attract new customers, Atkins said. Over time that allowed them to hike fares. That's what United is shooting for.
"It won't be faster, but the gates will be less confusing and have less of a cattle barn look," said Mike Boyd airline consultant at Boyd Group International. "The old procedures induced people to stand in line an hour ahead of time. This will be much better, but what people in Group 2 are going to do is still stand in their line an hour ahead of time to get overhead bin space."
The overhaul was requested by a large number of customers, said Sarah Murphy, United's operations strategy chief, in a statement.
The move is the latest in a series of changes United has made to improve its customer experience. It has also changed its ticketing methods to reduce the number of passengers bumped off flights. it also automatically compensates passengers $1,500 for permanently lost bags.
Visa and MasterCard agree to settle swipe fee class action for $6.2 billion
The settlement ends a 13-year old suit brought by the nation's leading merchants, which claimed that Visa and MasterCard violated antitrust laws by fixing prices to benefit the banks. It's the largest antitrust settlement ever.
The suit has been settled before, but the original settlement reached in 2012 was rejected by major merchants as unfair and overturned on appeal. Opponents of the earlier agreement argued it would have limited the retailers' ability to bring future lawsuits and done little to end uncompetitive practices.
The amended settlement represents a $900 million increase over the previous one. The new settlement was disclosed in corporate filings by Visa and MasterCard early Tuesday. It must still be approved by the court.
Under the new deal, Visa will pay an additional $600 million, while MasterCard will pay an additional $108 million, according to the companies' filings.
MasterCard and Visa said it was an important step to finally reach an agreement with merchants in this case.
"We can put this behind us and focus on continuing to innovate with our merchant partners to deliver the experience and convenience that consumers expect," said Tim Murphy, general counsel for Mastercard.
"After years of thoughtful negotiation, we are pleased to be able to reach this agreement and move forward in our partnership with merchants to provide consumers convenient, reliable, secure ways to pay," said Kelly Mahon Tullier, Visa's general counsel.
But many of the largest merchants in the nation, including Walmart, Target and Kroger, have already opted out of this settlement said Patrick Coughlin, one of the lawyers who brought the case.
Major retailers have the clout to negotiate better deals with Visa and MasterCard than are available to the typical retailer, he said.
"The top 1% of the merchants make up 25% of the nation's commerce," he said. "They were never going to be part of the deal. But this is important for the other 99% who handle the other 75% of purchases."
He said the new settlement is better than the rejected 2012 decision because larger merchants can now drop out without negating the deal for the smaller retailers.
And he said it also will bring more money for those smaller retailers, even though the amount paid by Visa, MasterCard and the banks will be partly reduced by the major retailers pulling out.
"At a minimum, we got them an additional $200 million," he said.
Papa John's new campaign pushes Papa John further away
On Tuesday, the embattled pizza company released a new commercial featuring a diverse panel of franchisees and employees.
"You've heard one voice of Papa John's for a long time," one employee says to the camera. "It's time you heard from all of us," said another.
At the commercial's close, a list of names scrolls to replace John's. Papa John's becomes Papa Kiersten's, Papa Brant's and Papa Daniel's.
A 30-second version of the ad will appear during the fall premiers of television shows, sports events and on streaming networks.
The spot is designed to "put the spotlight on the people who truly make up the Papa John's brand," said Melissa A. Richards-Person, Papa John's vice president for global brand strategy and consumer connections.
Papa John's used to feature founder John Schnatter prominently in its ads. His face once adorned the company's pizza boxes.
But the company has been distancing itself from the controversial founder, who resigned his role as chairman in July after news broke that he had used the N-word on a conference call. He had already stepped down as CEO months earlier, after he caused a controversy by blaming the NFL for poor pizza sales.
Over the summer, Papa John's CEO Steve Ritchie noted that "Papa John's is not an individual."
Tuesday's commercial is a continuation of that theme, said Richards-Person.
"This is really turning the next page and moving forward," she said, adding that It's the first step in a broader campaign that will highlight more individual stories.
The commercial was filmed in August.
Addressing the controversy
Recently, Papa John's has taken several steps to signal to employees and customers that it's moving on.
Last month, the company posted an ad to its social media platforms thanking customers for their honest feedback in the wake of the scandals.
"You expected better from Papa John's. So did we," the company said in the ad. "Thank you for your honesty ... It is making us better."
Papa John's is also conducting an internal audit on diversity and inclusion practices, launching a program to support minority-owned franchises and starting a foundation focused on local communities. In August, it promised to help out struggling restaurant owners by cutting some royalties, food prices and online fees for the remainder of the year.
The company also vowed to roll out mandatory bias training for its workers.
While it sends a message of change, the company is also fending off fierce attacks from Schnatter.
Schnatter, who is suing the company, accused the current leadership of allowing his comments to be misrepresented in the media. He has called CEO Steve Ritchie the wrong man for the job, and said that he has helped create a toxic culture rife with harassment and intimidation.
A special committee of the Papa John's board responded to Schnatter's many claims in a scorching letter, accusing him of "promoting his self-interest at the expense of all others in an attempt to regain control." Schnatter has said he regrets resigning as chairman, but that he doesn't want to regain his role as CEO.
Schnatter has set up a website, SavePapaJohns.com, with his own appeal to franchisees. He's using the site to post documents about his lawsuit, statements responding to Papa John's news and media coverage.
On Tuesday, Papa John's set up its own website, Papa John's stories. The site features the new commercial as well as information about the company's recent initiatives, testimonials from employees and messages from Ritchie, a well as links to news articles.
Papa John's sales have plunged over the past few quarters, and shares have fallen by more than 17% this year.
-- Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to a special committee as addressing Ritchie's claims rather than Schnatter's.
ACLU says Facebook allows employers to post discriminatory ads
On Tuesday, the ACLU, law firm Outten & Golden, and labor union Communications Workers of America filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Facebook and 10 other employers for allegedly using Facebook ads to discriminate against potential job seekers.
The complaint was filed on behalf of three female job seekers and a group of "thousands" of members represented by the labor union. The named complainants are also seeking to represent a broader proposed class of what the ACLU says is "millions" of Facebook users who may have been similarly impacted.
It alleges that job ads on Facebook were targeted exclusively to male users, and that most of these listings were for positions in male-dominated fields. As a result, all women and non-binary users were excluded from receiving the ads, according to the complaint.
"The employers for those jobs are probably thinking they need to fill them with people who look like the people who currently hold those jobs. The problem is, that is unlawful," Galen Sherwin, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU Women's Rights Project, told CNNMoney.
The complaint alleges that Facebook allows advertisers to target job ads based on age and gender. This is against federal and local laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Additionally, the government can forbid job advertising that discriminates based on sex, according to a Supreme Court ruling in 1973, the complaint said.
"I shouldn't be shut out of the chance to hear about a job opportunity just because I am a woman," said Bobbi Spees, one of the three complainants in the case, according to a press release.
"There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it's strictly prohibited in our policies, and over the past year, we've strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse," Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne said in a statement to CNNMoney. "We look forward to defending our practices once we have an opportunity to review the complaint." Facebook also said it would soon require all advertisers to consent to complying with its anti-discrimination policies and the law.
Juan Mundel, an assistant professor of advertising at DePaul University, noted that Facebook is "the biggest advertising agency in the world at the moment."
"While Facebook will do its best to satisfy regulations and make small adjustments, they won't actually make any decisions that will drastically affect their business model which allows it to hyper-segment consumers," he added.
According to ACLU's Sherwin, the fix is simple: She suggests Facebook stop making it an option for employers to select a gender for targeting job ads.
Mundel says, more broadly, Facebook could apply more oversight to determine if employers are appropriately and legally applying targeting for specific ad purposes.
Facebook isn't the only company allowing advertisers to target ads, according to Mike Yao, a technology and advertising expert at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"Facebook is an easy target, but I think the problem goes way beyond Facebook," he said.
In the past, the company has faced criticism about its advertising platform and whether its systems allow for discrimination.
Most recently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development accused Facebook of violating the 1968 Fair Housing Act in August. It filed a formal complaint against Facebook claiming the platform lets landlords and home sellers use targeted ads to discriminate against potential buyers or renters based on race, sex, religion, disability and other factors.
In response, Facebook said it eliminated 5,000 targeting options that could be potentially misused to discriminate.
Last December, a ProPublica and New York Times investigation found that dozens of major employers, including Verizon, ran recruitment ads only for certain age groups. At the time, Facebook said age-based targeting is "an accepted industry practice."
The ACLU complaint also includes allegations that employers were able to target younger users on Facebook thereby discriminating by age.
In November, a separate ProPublica report found discriminatory advertisements were getting through Facebook's systems. ProPublica was able to purchase dozens of home rental advertisements targeted toward audiences that specifically excluded "African Americans, mothers of high school kids, people interested in wheelchair ramps, Jews, expats from Argentina and Spanish speakers."
Discriminatory housing-related advertisements are not allowed under the Fair Housing Act. The law prohibits the advertisement of homes for rent or sale and discriminating "based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin."
Update: Due to an error in an ACLU press release, this story originally misidentified the quoted complainant."