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Putting a Price on Our Love for Our Pets: $5.28

Survey finds that's what pet owners plan to spend this Valentine's Day

(Newser) - Showering our pets with affection no longer cuts it. A new National Retail Federation survey finds that a "record" 21.2% of Americans plan to buy their pet a Valentine's Day gift. The individual estimated spend isn't huge at an average of $5.28. But all told,... More »

Those Looong Lines Make Shoppers ... Happy

It gives them camaraderie and validation, say consumer experts

(Newser) - If you're not one of those to wait in line for department store doors to open on Black Friday or to queue up for a new iPhone, you might be the type to wonder, what is wrong with those people? Nothing, as it turns out. In fact, these consumers... More »

4 Products Going the Way of the Dodo

Bar soap, antiperspirant spray wane in popularity

(Newser) - Another casualty of the recession could be your favorite deodorant: As consumers flock toward store brands and stores in turn look to downsize, the result is the death of some of America's best-known consumer products, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. "As we shrink the size of stores, a number... More »

Obama: Warren Will Fight for Middle Class

President taps adviser to set up consumer protection agency

(Newser) - President Obama named Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren a special adviser today and tasked her with setting up a new agency to look out for consumers. Calling Warren "one of the country's fiercest advocates for the middle class," Obama said the new bureau would end abusive practices. "... More »

Top Complaints About Satellite TV

Watch the fine print on introductory offers, termination fees

(Newser) - It's almost enough to make you miss the old rabbit-ear antenna. The Consumerist rounds up the five most common complaints from satellite TV subscribers to the Better Business Bureau:
  • Early termination fees: They're sometimes as high as $600, with consumers complaining that they were misled or unaware of the policy.
... More »

Shopping Sites Use Your Cookies to Vary Prices

Cookies track location, habits to enable 'dynamic pricing'

(Newser) - One of the attractions of online shopping is that items have one price in the digital world. Or we think they do. In fact, stores on the Internet use those cute tracking cookies that remember your password to remember a lot more about you, including your physical location and shopping... More »

Cold Weather Means Hot Demand for Soup, Boots

Plummeting temperatures lead to marketing opportunities

(Newser) - When the weather turns cold, retailers swing into action, targeting ads toward areas where the mercury's dropping—even in normally temperate markets like Florida. “Marketing into a situation that's favorable for your product” is the key, one analyst tells Advertising Age . Take Campbell’s Soup, which uses a “... More »

Visa Corners Debit Card Market—With Higher Fees

Fees on signature debit purchases boost banks, screw merchants

(Newser) - In a bizarre twist, the intense competition among debit card companies has resulted in a race to higher prices, which benefit banks at the expense of retailers, not to speak of consumers. At issue is whether you sign for that debit purchase or enter your PIN instead—the former costing... More »

GOP Opposes Consumer Agency as 'New EPA'

Senate Repubs resist independent agency as a business-killer

(Newser) - Get ready for a bruising showdown over the consumer protection agency the Democrats are trying to create: GOP senators are pledging to kill a standalone body, which is critical to the Dems' plan. A strong, independent CFPA is anathema, says Utah Republican Robert Bennett: "Can you say EPA?" Bennett... More »

Holiday Shoppers Ditched Credit Cards

Most used cash or debit cards to snag bargains

(Newser) - Recession-strapped Americans may have developed a plastic allergy—only 26% of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers used credit cards. Though consumers proved willing to spend over the holiday weekend, they seem to be changing how they spend: a whopping 39% used old-fashioned greenbacks, with debit cards making up the rest, according to... More »

Troubled Banks Have a New Benefactor: You

Industry hikes fees on checking accounts, overdraft transactions

(Newser) - Your children aren’t the only ones who think you’re an ATM: Your bank does, too. Facing declining revenues and smacked with tough, new credit card legislation from Congress, banks are hiking overdraft, ATM, and checking account fees, the Washington Post reports. The average bounced check fee rose 2.... More »

Stimulus Boosts Americans' Incomes

Consumers tuck funds away: Savings rate hits 16-year high

(Newser) - Incomes in the US got a big boost from federal stimulus dollars in May, the Commerce Department reported today. But weary consumers stashed most of that lucre away, sending the savings rate to a 16-year high. “Households are reverting to a more sustainable spending path vis-à-vis income,”... More »

Credit Scores Plunge as Consumers Twist in Wind

Average drops 6 points, likely to fall further

(Newser) - Consumers are caught in the credit crunch, and their scores are starting to show it, USA Today reports. The average TransUnion credit score fell 6 points between the third quarter of 2008 and the first of 2009, and the group’s financial services director expects it to fall even more... More »

New Credit Card Rules Could Trim $10B From Industry Coffers

Law dials back crucial fees, interest rates

(Newser) - A law President Obama is expected to sign today bringing new consumer-friendly rules on credit cards could cost the industry $10 billion in revenue, the Wall Street Journal reports. The legislation, which dials back various fees and interest rates, will devastate companies that target consumers with checkered credit histories and... More »

One-Stop Web Portal Thinks It Can Save Newspapers

Group thinks consumers will be willing to pay for one-stop web portal

(Newser) - A web portal planned by some top media execs may be the way forward for beleagured newspapers. Journalism Online would act as a “one-stop shop” for pay content, writes Nate Anderson for Ars Technica. Consumers could buy subscriptions to many newspapers at low prices, and with a sliding scale... More »

Microsoft to Apple: Bring It On

(Newser) - With its snazzy ads and iPhone groupies, Apple has been winning the Mac vs. PC wars, but Microsoft is ready to strike back, Peter Burrows writes in BusinessWeek. Positioning itself as a cheaper alternative, the company has launched its own slate of “uncharacteristically cool” TV ads and is offering... More »

Coke Will Drop 'Classic' Tag from Labels

Branding was unveiled after much-panned New Coke experiment

(Newser) - If you’re still haunted by New Coke, fear no more: Coca-Cola plans to drop the “Classic” tag from its branding, ensuring that the original formula faces no more threats from upstart incarnations, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The “Classic” label, which was introduced in 1985, is “a... More »

Mexico Halts Shipments From Top US Meat Plants

Move is seen as retaliation for country-of-origin labeling initiative

(Newser) - Mexico has temporarily banned meat from 30 US plants run by some of the largest American meat companies, Reuters reports. The Mexican government says violations in standards of packaging, labeling, and transport conditions occasioned the ban, but many US analysts suspect Mexico is registering its dissatisfaction with an American law... More »

Cash Makes a Comeback

But cash isn't king for retailers, who'll likely see bigger drop in sales

(Newser) - Americans are reverting to cash for purchases in increasing numbers, according to top retailers Wal-Mart, Target and JC Penney. The shift away from credit is expected to further reduce spending by consumers—who will be limited to cash-on-hand purchases—not just during the holiday season, but during what could be... More »

Whole Foods' Labels Tell Half the Story

Food chain's labels don't provide enough information about allergens

(Newser) - Eat, drink, and be wary, chocolate lovers: Whole Foods may not be telling you the whole story about its premium chocolate bars, reports the Chicago Tribune. In an investigation into product labels that promised “good manufacturing practices.” the Trib found that the supermarket chain’s chocolate bars contained... More »

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