Jupiterimages/Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ronald Dillon's employer didn't think it was funny that the IT specialist kept answering the customer service phone in a robotic voice.
Dillon's boss, the New York City Health Department, has suspended him for 20 days.
The case document, claimed that Dillon “states in a slow, monotone, and overenunciated manner, ‘You have reached the Help Desk. This is Mr. Dillon. How may I help you?’”
Dillon denied the accusation that he greeted callers to the Help Desk in a robotic voice, saying that he merely read a script he had been given in a “neutral tone.” According to the document:
“He contended that he articulates each word because he speaks fast and has a Brooklyn accent which is sometimes difficult to understand. He further asserted that he uses this tone to eliminate accusations that he treats callers differently…Additionally, he asserted that he is not a ‘people person’ and does not have the special talents and skills that customer service requires.”
Administrative Law Judge Kara Miller, however, described Dillon as a “disgruntled employee” in her Oct. 7 ruling.
“It may be true that [Dillon] is not a ‘people person’ and relatively new to customer service,” Miller wrote in the case document. “But the audio recordings show that respondent is capable of speaking to callers in a normal tone.”
This was not a one-time offense. The Health Department provided five audio recordings of Dillon putting on his best automation impression between February and April 2013, with other complaints stretching back to October 2012.
Dillon, who has worked for the Health Department since 1976, faces a 20-day suspension without pay.
tarabird/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets closed the week on a positive note, with the closing bell coming as two major indices finished back above milestones they had fallen below during the rough beginning of October.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 195.1, finishing at 17390.52.
The Nasdaq climbed 64.6 to 4630.74, while the S&P 500 ended the day back above 2000 -- closing at 2017.81, up 23.16 from its opening price.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics released data on Friday that indicated compensation for civilian workers increased in the last three months. Wages and salaries increased by 0.8 percent since July, and benefits increased by 0.6 percent.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new in-flight seat design for long-haul carriers could have passengers in premium economy and business class spreading their wings, so to speak.
Hong Kong designer James SH Lee's "Butterfly Seating Solution" recently took top prize at the International Air Transport Association’s 2014 Passenger Innovation Awards for providing flexible cabin configurations to suit the changing demands for seats from flight to flight.
"With a fixed configuration there are bound to be lost opportunities or inefficiencies,” Lee said in a statement. "Flexible seating configuration helps airlines battle uncertainties. Demand is never constant and predictable -- it differs seasonally, across different days of a week, across different markets, across different phases of economy cycle."
"Butterfly is composed of units of double seats, with the aisle seat offset backwards. It is premium economy when both seats are used," described Lee on PaperClipDesign.
Additional perks in this configuration include large cocktail trays, seat pockets and an adjustable ottoman.
"When used as business class, the inboard seat is simply flipped over to form a flat surface. The seating unit then becomes a private suite for one passenger, with a seat and a side couch," he said.
In this configuration, the passenger can choose to spread out while working, or invite another passenger to sit in the couch space for a more social experience. On long hauls, the aisle seat can also be flipped over alongside the "couch" to create a sleeping area.
At 77 inches long and up to 44 inches wide at hip areas, the business-class bed would be one of the largest in the industry.
MagicDreamer/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said on Friday that it would fine Ferrari $3.5 million after the company allegedly failed to submit reports identifying actual or potential safety issues for three years.
Federal law requires large manufacturers and their affiliates to submit comprehensive emergency warning reports every quarter in order to give the Department of Transportation notice of potential safety concerns. Ferrari failed to do so over a three-year period, additionally failing to report three fatal accidents.
"There is no excuse for failing to follow laws created to keep drivers safe," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. He also noted that "all automakers will be held accountable if they fail to do their part in our mission to keep Americans safe on the road."
In addition to the $3.5 million civil penalty, Ferrari will also be forced to take actions to improve its handling of emergency warning reports -- including additional training and retroactive submission of past reports.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Retail stores typically offer kids free candy on Halloween, but not these restaurants, doughnut shops and cafes.
Arby's will hold "Trick or Meat" day, adding bacon to your order at any of its locations Friday, so long as you say "Trick or Meat" with your order. Arby's will even add bacon to your curly fries and Jamocha Shake. Bacon with your shake? Well, why not? Here are some food-themed Friday freebies on Halloween:
Before you go, check your nearest location for availability, hours and restrictions. Some places even have costume limitations. Krispy Kreme, for example, asks that you don't wear a mask to its stores.
Kids in costume get a free kids meal with the purchase of any adult entree, with this coupon.
Get a free kids meal with the purchase of any individual meal, with this coupon.
Carrabba's Italian Grill
Receive a free kids meal, for children ages 10 and under, Friday through Sunday when you buy any adult entree, with this coupon.
Chevys Fresh Mex
Kids eat free at Chevys all week, according to its Facebook page, plus to-go burritos are $5 all day on Halloween.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Go to Chipotle dressed in a costume from 5 p.m. to close and get a burrito, bowl, salad or tacos for $3. Proceeds up to $1 million will benefit the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation.
Get a free kids meal on Halloween if your children are dressed in costumes, according to HomeTown Buffet's Facebook page.
Kids 12 and under, one per child, get a free "Scary Face" pancake for dine-in orders on Halloween.
Kids 8 and under get a free smoothie on Halloween from 2 to 7 p.m., at participating locations. Meanwhile, adults can customize an oatmeal order for $2 with a coupon, through Sunday.
Come in a costume on Halloween and get a free doughnut, but please don't wear a mask, says Krispy Kreme.
Old Country Buffet
Kids 11 years old and younger get a free meal when they wear a costume on Halloween, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Papa Murphy's(NEW YORK) — Like his customers who want to spend time with their families on Halloween, the CEO of "take 'n' bake" pizza chain Papa Murphy's will be bringing pizzas to his wife and son tonight.
Friday, Halloween, is the busiest day of the year for Papa Murphy's, followed by Valentine's Day, the fifth-largest pizza chain said.
"My family loves pizza too. I have to remember that, because I eat it all day," Ken Calwell, 52, said. "A lot of times I’ll bring home new pizzas we’re trying at the lab and they’ll get a sneak preview. I have to remember that they haven’t had pizza all day."
As part of ABC News' C-Suite Insider series, Calwell explains how Papa Murphy's is unlike any pizza chain you see on television. Calwell, in fact, proudly touts it as the largest pizza chain that doesn't advertise on national television. Customers customize the pizza they want, then you take them to bake in your home oven. "Fresh made, fresh created, fresh baked," Calwell said. The company's NASDAQ stock ticker symbol is FRSH.
He makes it a point to bring his wife pizza with "pink sauce:" her favorite combination of tomato sauce and creamy garlic sauce. Here's more from Calwell about what a pizza-centered house looks like: For someone who eats pizza a lot, what are your meals like?
"Breakfast in the morning is a refuel from working out so a lot of cereal and fruit and 'good for you' stuff," he said.
"Literally through the day I do miss a lot of lunches because I had pizza in the morning or right after lunch. Pizza becomes a big part of my day. We’re looking at new salads as well. Moms are coming in to Papa Murphy's not just for pizza but dinner for her family. We’re tasting a lot of dessert and bread items."
"My wife will ask, 'What did you have for lunch?' And she will guess pizza."
He said his wife is a "big cook...Almost every single night we have a family dinner. We hardly miss one. Dinner's probably around 7 o’clock every night. We eat a lot for dinner. My son especially. He's over 6' 3" with size 13 feet. He's growing like a weed. If he’s eating I’ll eat, then one day I decided 'I can’t do this.'" What does your workout look like?
"It starts with my son actually," Calwell said about his 17-year old, who is a competitive swimmer. "We are up at 5 a.m. each day."
Calwell either goes for a run (four to six miles), bike ride or swims about two miles.
"He swims with all the fast, young guys in one pool. And the other guys are in another pool," said Calwell, a former marathon runner and triathlete. "We compare workouts every morning."
(Calwell has had a favorite pair of Asics running shoes since 1979. When he learned they were being discontinued, he bought 22 pairs from the company at $45 a piece.)
"My son swims before and after school so he’s also at the pool from 3:30 to 6 p.m. every day also. I try to get there by 5 or 5:30 p.m. on nights I haven’t gotten a workout in and we go home together for dinner," he said. What do you do at work when you're not tasting pizza?
After he gets to the office, usually by 7:15 a.m., he starts the day with some planning, calls franchise owners on the phone, and attends a lot of meetings.
"We’re so focused on new products right now that a lot of the meetings are around new product launches," he said.
The company is in 38 states now with 1,440 locations and it is quickly moving east and west.
"We’re not in the Northeast yet. We’re in Baltimore, the Carolinas and Florida, plus southeast in Tennessee and Kentucky. We want to make sure we have a really strong following in the Midwest and West." Who's Papa Murphy's target market?
Papa Murphy's target market is a generation (and gender) away from that of larger chains, where the 27-year pizza industry veteran previously worked.
"When I worked at Domino’s and Pizza Hut, they will say their number one day is the Super Bowl. They focus on young males," Calwell said. "For us, Halloween and Valentine’s Day are our biggest days. We really go after families and moms; so for families and moms, it’s all about family events."
Similarly, competitor Papa John's estimates that this year’s Halloween, which falls on a Friday, is estimated to surpass Super Bowl Sunday as their busiest night with 1 million to 1.2 million pizzas sold.
"We find that moms want to give their kids a little food before they go out trick-or-treating," Calwell said. Along with pizza, Papa Murphy's sells raw cookie dough that customers can bake at home for a warm dessert. For Halloween, it's offering an orange chocolate chip cookie "Spooky Dough" and a Jack-O-Lantern Pizza with a face. Is there a family bed time?
"We’re really boring, because we’re very early to bed. After we have dinner together, he goes up and does homework. It’s time for Sandy and I to catch up on our day, then we’re pretty much in bed by 9:30 p.m." Any late nights on the weekends?
"To get up at 5 a.m., I can’t maintain that. The weekends are still swimming again. I get up really early Sunday mornings and do a long bike ride then go to church," he said. "Our downtime is Sunday afternoon. We like to do outdoor activities so usually go for a hike. We have a river behind us and a fire pit behind our house."
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A horror movie or a haunted house isn’t nearly as frightening as some jobs people hold down in this country.
At least that’s what a new CareerBuilder Survey of 3,000 workers found. They were asked what occupation they fear the most with politician topping the list, which probably makes a lot of sense on a number of levels.
Here are the top 10 scariest jobs and why Americans dread them:
Politician Dreaded by people who fear responsibility; accountability to a large number of people; rejection.
Microbiologist for Infectious Diseases Dreaded by people who fear germs; Ebola; microbes.
Security Guard at Teen Pop Idol Concert Dreaded by people who fear a stampede of teens.
Kindergarten Teacher Dreaded by people who fear little kid germs; wailing tots; trying to educate wailing tots.
Crime Scene Investigator Dreaded by people who fear blood; the fact that it’s never like anything like what’s on CSI.
Animal Trainer Dreaded by people who fear angry animals; allergies.
Mortician Dreaded by people who fear death.
Radio, Cellular and Tower Equipment Installers and Repairers Dreaded by people who fear climbing anything taller than a step ladder.
Stand-Up Comedian Dreaded by people who fear standing in front of people; rejection.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Women love playing games and not just the ones that drive men nuts.
The firm Superdata Research says that when it comes to playing games on personal computers and mobile devices, more women do it than men.
Actually, the break down on PC games is slightly over 50 percent across all genres for women and just under 50 percent for men. Women favor role-playing games as opposed to guys who are more into first-person shooter and multi-player games.
Meanwhile, when it comes to mobile games, women are comfortably ahead at 58 percent to 42 percent for the opposite sex.
In fact, the ladies are starting to catch up to men in digital console games as well, which also seems to shatter the belief that women are merely casual gamers.
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Federal Trade Commission has charged baby food maker Gerber Products Co. with false advertising for claims that its Good Start Gentle formula will prevent or reduce a child's risk of developing allergies.
According to an FTC press release, Gerber has advertised the product as having health benefits that it simply does not provide since 2011. "Parents trusted Gerber to tell the truth about the health benefits of its formula, and the company's ads failed to live up to that trust," Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich said.
Among the claims that prompted the charges, Gerber's ads state "you want your baby to have your imagination...your smile...your eyes...not your allergies," and a separate sticker on the package that says the product is the "1st and ONLY Routine Formula TO REDUCE THE RISK OF DEVELOPING ALLERGIES."
The FTC says Gerber has presented those claims as FDA-approved. In 2009, the FDA gave permission to Gerber to make a claim regarding one type of allergy -- atopic dermatitis -- but only if it qualified the statement to make clear that there was "little scientific evidence" for the relationship, according to the FTC.
bizoo_n/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is stepping up its investigation of the faulty airbags that resulted in the recall of more than seven million vehicles.
NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said Thursday that the agency is, "compelling [airbag manufacturer] Takata to produce documents and answer questions under oath relevant to our ongoing investigation into defective airbags they have produced."
The Detroit News reports that Takata must provide those documents by Dec. 1 or face fines of up to $7,000 per day.
The airbags are blamed for at least three deaths and over 100 injuries; in some cases, the canisters holding the bags reportedly shattered as the airbags inflated, sending metal fragments hurtling towards victims. Friedman said he expects the company's "full cooperation."
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A very happy birthday, indeed!
When Deisi Ocampo woke up on her birthday on Oct. 6, she had no idea the gift her father had given her would soon make her a multi-millionaire.
“I rarely play the lottery,” Ocampo, 19, of Chicago, wrote to ABC News. “My dad buys tickets once in a while and thought it would fun to get me two tickets for my birthday.”
The following day, she didn’t think much of it when she scratched off the first set of numbers. But when she finished scratching the second ticket, “I began to shake and sweat out of nervousness,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it was real.”
The birthday girl had won $4 million dollars.
She called her father, who needless to say, was equally stunned.
“He couldn’t believe it,” Ocampo explained of her dad’s reaction. “He thought I was teasing him. When I told him I had won, he asked if it was $500, and I said, ‘No $4 million!’”
But the newfound millionaire isn’t letting the money go to her head. She plans to continue working at a clothing store because her family "is humble and believes in a strong work ethic."
As for how Ocampo plans to spend the new earnings, she's being reasonable about that, as well.
“I will share with my dad so he can buy a new home for my mom, dad and sister,” she said. “I plan to use a portion to pay for college since I want to become a nurse and take care of babies.”
When asked if this was the best birthday she’s ever had, Ocampo simply replied, “Definitely!”
vichie81/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets rallied from a down day Wednesday on the back of positive earnings reports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 221.11 point, climbing to 17,195.42.
The Nasdaq jumped to 4,566.14, gaining 16.91 on the day, while the S&P 500 climbed closer to the 2,000 mark, gaining 12.35 to close at 1,994.65.
The Department of Commerce announced on Thursday that the national gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter -- exceeding private-sector forecasters' expectations.
"Today's advance estimate of real GDP shows that America's economy is coming back," Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said. "Recent data show that the U.S. economy has rebounded more strongly than most others around the world, leading the global recovery."
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In a settlement just reached, the Federal Trading Commission is fining more than 12 online dating sites about $600,000, saying those sites created fake profiles to lure users into upgrading to paid memberships.
According to the FTC, the sites, all run by parent company JDI Dating, created fake profiles to send messages to users, enticing them to upgrade to paid memberships in order to continue the conversation.
The FTC also said the sites did not disclose that the subscriptions would be renewed automatically, often without the users’ consent.
JDI’s dating sites boast more than 12 million users.
"The websites committed wrongdoing by failing to disclose the automatic renewal terms and they baited and switched by claiming these are the people who like you but they were really fake profiles," legal analyst Mark Eiglarsh told ABC News.
While browsing a site’s members may sometimes be free of cost, paying to send messages to members is standard and legal in the online dating industry.
For example, Match.com requires that people subscribe before they can send messages to people, but, according to the FTC, other sites, such as FlirtCrowd.com, which is run by JDI Dating, almost always used fake, computer-generated profiles that were designed to trick users into believing they had attracted the attention of an actual person.
In its press release, the FTC says, “The fake profiles and messages caused many users to upgrade to paid subscriptions.”
This is the first time that the FTC has taken legal action for alleged dating deception.
Couples therapist Dr. Mike Dow told ABC News there are two things dating site users should look out for.
"Make sure you're not looking at a picture that is too good to be true," Dow said. "If a site is trying to up-sell you at every turn, that may be another red flag."
JDI Dating did not reply to ABC News' request for comment.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Tim Cook is “proud to be gay.” The Apple CEO makes this declaration in an essay titled “Tim Cook Speaks Up” for Bloomberg Businessweek.
While Cook has never been secretive about his sexuality, he admits in the written piece, “this wasn’t an easy choice,” and that he has not publicly acknowledged the subject either -- until now.
“So let me be clear,” he writes, “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
Cook says privacy remains important to him and does not consider himself to be an activist, but “I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others.”
“So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade off with my own privacy,” he continues.
Earlier this week, Cook encouraged lawmakers in his home state of Alabama to move toward equality for all people, insisting the state had moved too slow on LGBT and racial issues.