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Post to repay shoppers for black-market Grape-Nuts purchases

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Feeling buyer’s remorse for that $100 box of Grape-Nuts? Help is on the way.

The maker of the cereal has pledged to reimburse shoppers who paid exorbitant prices for black-market boxes during a months-long supply shortage.

Post Consumer Brands declared that shortage officially over Wednesday by announcing that it’s once again shipping Grape-Nuts at full capacity to stores across the US.

But fans who turned to the secondary market during the drought faced prices as high as $110 for a single box of the high-fiber breakfast staple, the Minnesota-based company said.

“It became abundantly clear during the shortage that Grape-Nuts fans are ‘Nuts for Grape-Nuts,’” Kristin DeRock, the Grape-Nuts brand manager at Post Consumer Brands, said in a statement. “So much so that some of our loyal super fans were willing to pay extreme prices just to ensure they wouldn’t be without their favorite crunchy cereal.”

Post has reportedly blamed the shortage on a combination of supply constraints and high demand for Grape-Nuts — which is made from wheat and barley, but no grapes or nuts — amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Post is offering reimbursements of up to $115 for anyone who paid at least $10 for a box of Grape-Nuts between Nov. 1 of last year and March 15.
Post is offering reimbursements of up to $115 for anyone who paid at least $10 for a box of Grape-Nuts between Nov. 1 of last year and March 15.
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DeRock told news outlets in January that Post makes the mealy cereal with “proprietary technology and a production process that isn’t easily replicated, which has made it more difficult to shift production to meet demand during this time.” The company said last month that “healthy inventory levels” would return by mid-March after it ramped up production.

The shortage was a big enough deal among Grape-Nuts superfans that the brand acknowledged it in several social media posts, including one spotlighting an 89-year-old man who scoured supermarket shelves for the “biggest box of Grape-Nuts he could find.”

But many people on Twitter were shocked to learn that there was a black market for a cereal that tastes like cardboard to its detractors.

“Grape nuts being sold on the black market is a string of words I never thought would coexist together,” one person tweeted Wednesday.

“If you bought a box of GRAPE NUTS on the black market, I personally don’t think you should be reimbursed,” wrote another user named Parker Padgett.

Post Consumer Brands, however, does think you should be reimbursed. It’s offering up to $115 to anyone who paid at least $10 for a box of Grape-Nuts between Nov. 1 of last year and March 15.

The conglomerate says it will pay the difference between the inflated price and the suggested retail price — $4.29 for a 20.5-ounce box, $4.99 for 29 ounces or $6.49 for 64 ounces.

But the offer comes with some caveats — eligible consumers have to submit a receipt through Post’s website by April 15, and payments are limited to one per household. The company will only pay out a total of $10,000 in reimbursements, so it’s possible that not everyone will get some money back.





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Dogecoin hits new high boosted by DogeDay hashtags

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Dogecoin prices hit an all-time high on Tuesday, with a market capitalization above $50 billion, after social media fans used hashtags to fuel a rally in the meme-based cryptocurrency.

An 8,000 percent price surge this year has seen Dogecoin, which was launched as a satirical critique of 2013′s cryptocurrency frenzy, overtake more widely-used cryptocurrencies like Tether to become the fifth-largest coin.

While Dogecoin, whose logo features a Shiba Inu dog at the center of the meme, a represents only a fraction of bitcoin’s $1 trillion value, it can be traded on crypto exchanges and more popular mainstream trading apps.

“The Doge rally represents an interesting convergence,” said Diana Biggs, CEO of crypto start-up Valour, after Dogecoin’s price soared by more than five-fold in the last week to a record 42 cents, according to CoinMarketCap.

“A meme coin created as a joke for early crypto adopters whose community found that kind of thing to be fun, with now a new generation of retail investors for whom memes are a native language,” Biggs added.

Dogecoin fans used the hashtags #DogeDay and #DogeDay420 to post memes, messages and videos on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok, referring to the informal April 20 holiday to celebrate cannabis which is marked by smoke-ins and street parties.

“GIMME THAT DOGECOIN LAMBO!!! #DogeDay” one tweeted, referring to the Lamborghini car popular in crypto culture.

Dogecoin’s rise has come amid a surge in online trading of stocks and crypto by retail investors, stuck at home with extra cash because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not coincided with a growth in usage of the coin for payments or in commerce.

The same trend has spurred a boom in usage of online trading apps like Robinhood, and also fueled the social-media driven rally in GameStop stock that pitted retail investors against hedge funds earlier this year.

“It’s an extension of the same phenomenon that has led Tesla stock to be valued well beyond fundamentals and more recently to the GME (GameStop) short squeeze,” said Ajit Tripathi, head of institutional business at decentralised finance startup Aave.

Like other cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin’s price is heavily influenced by social media users including Tesla chief Elon Musk, whose tweets on the cryptocurrency in February sent its price soaring over 60 percent.

“If this goes as planned and everybody including Mr. Musk go ahead and just pour money into Doge on April 20th all at once Doge will reach prices that originally were not even conceptual,” a TikTok user said in a video promoting the coin.





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Amazon is opening a beauty salon in London

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Amazon is opening a hair salon in London — its latest odd lurch into new businesses as the pandemic continues to fuel the e-commerce giant’s torrid growth.

The Amazon Salon, unveiled in a Tuesday blog post, will occupy a two-story, 1,500-square-foot space in Spitalfields, a trendy neighborhood in East London that is also home to Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.

Indeed, the new salon, which will be open seven days a week, initially will only cater to Amazon workers. Members of the public will be able to make bookings in “the coming weeks” by calling, emailing or visiting the salon, the company says.

“This will be an experiential venue where we showcase new products and technology,” Amazon said in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that there are no plans to open other salons.

That will include making Amazon’s Fire tablets available at each station, allowing customers to use augmented reality technology to see what they look like as a platinum blonde, brunette or with highlights, the company said.

The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
Amazon

The salon will also test new “point-and-learn” technology, where customers can point at a product they are interested in on a display shelf and the relevant information, including brand videos and educational content, will appear on a display screen.



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Citigroup urges longer freeze over botched Revlon payment

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Citigroup on Friday urged a federal judge to extend a freeze on $504 million of its own money that it mistakenly sent a group of Revlon lenders.

The bank requested an injunction from Manhattan Federal Judge Jesse Furman, who on Feb. 16 said 10 asset managers could keep the funds because they had no reason to think a “sophisticated” bank could make such a mistake.

Citigroup is appealing, and last-minute talks with the asset managers’ lawyers on terms for a longer freeze broke down.

“They won’t guarantee, if we win our appeal, that we’ll get our money,” Citigroup’s lawyer, Neal Katyal, said. “Once this money goes out the door, it’s going to be hard to bring back.”

Adam Abensohn, a lawyer for asset managers including Brigade Capital Management, HPS Investment Partners and Symphony Asset Management, said they could not accept an injunction because their lender clients now held the money.

HPS Investment Partners CEO Scott Kapnick. A costly error by Citigroup resulted in HPS and other lenders of cosmetics giant Revlon being repaid their loans far earlier than expected.
Getty Images for Room To Read

He also said the lenders were paid the money they were owed, and there was a “strong presumption” they were free to use it.

Citigroup is trying to escape a back-office blunder that could dampen client confidence in its ability to handle money, and which it said could make handling wire transfers too risky.

The New York-based bank, which was Revlon’s loan agent, had intended last August to make a small interest payment, but instead paid off the cosmetics company’s $894 million loan from its own pocket. It has recouped about $390 million.

Furman had suggested a compromise where the lenders would agree to use “substitute assets” to repay Citigroup with interest if the bank won its appeal.

But Katyal said Citigroup would suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction.

Katyal pointed to the recent collapse of the investment firm Archegos Capital Management, saying it had $20 billion in capital and “poof, in a flash, it disappeared. That’s the point of having a secured interest.”

Furman said he will rule as quickly as he can.



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