Archive for December, 2008

New credit card statements

December 30, 2008

Congress finally passed new credit card disclosure laws.  One of the requirements is that credit cards companies must provide critical information about a customers monthly statement in an easy-to- read fashion.   Below is a link to what the new information will look like on your credit card statements.  But don’t get too excited because the credit card companies have until July 1st, 2010 before they have to provide this to you:

Link to new monthly statement disclosures

FTC orders top insurers to release data

December 30, 2008

The nine top providers of home-owner insurance have been ordered to provide the agency with information about policy holders, premiums, claims data, use of credit history etc.  The companies are: State Farm, Allstate, Fire Insurance Exchange, Nationwide, The Travelers, United Services Automobile Association, Liberty Mutual, The Chubb Corporation and American Family Mutual.   The FTC says that these nine carriers comprise sixty percent of the homeowners insurance market.  The companies have until April 24th 2009 to provide this information to the FTC

This request intrigues me because I don’t think insurance carriers have been required by the FTC to provide this kind of information before.   Also, the data itself will be a fascinating glimpse at a mostly hidden market; what it charges, terms and conditions of insurance, the relationship between credit-based insurance scores and the insurance provided.  Finally, this information about the top nine homeowner insurance carriers isn’t that easy to come by and here it is presented in a government news release.  I am surprised that Hartford Financial, Century 21 and CNA aren’t in this top group.

New release

“Poorest customer service of any cable company in the country”

December 30, 2008

Is it possible there is a silver lining to  Charter cable’s possible demise?  Could another cable company take over and offer its customers decent customer service? With comments like those below, it appears the bar is very low.

“Paying more for less

Charter Communications over the last three years has raised our rates twice, yet reduced the number of channels we receive. Now we are told it possibly is not going to carry Channel 4 and I find this ludicrous. These people have the poorest customer service of any cable company in the country. They give you hours that they are coming to repair your service, then don’t show up. They have become so arrogant, they don’t care about customer service. I think Charter need to be on the hook and I think our legislators and state government need to do something about this.

Cable runaround

I am calling regarding Charter Communications taking off KMOV as of Dec. 31. First the company takes away many channels such as Hallmark. Now it is going to take off KMOV. I called the number to lodge my complaint, and what do I get, a man gives me a different number to call. I call, it’s no longer in service. So once again, Charter is going to give its customers the runaround.”

Link

Layoffs Update: Dec 29th

December 29, 2008

AT&T Bus. Solutions faces up to 78 layoffs

Creative Loafing newsroom reduced with music critic among layoffs

Ashford Hospitality announces layoffs

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. will lay off 505 of its Live Oak employees

Cogdell Spencer to lay off 115

Lawsuit: Bank of America gift to customer – exploding dye pack

December 29, 2008

According to Wikipedia, a dye pack is an incendiary device that explodes with red dye staining the money and the robber’s hands.  This I did not know. 

According to the plaintiff in this case, she withdrew money from her Bank of America branch and found that she had been the recipient of a dye pack that exploded, “showering and striking the Plaintiff with nauseas and poisonous gas, flames and debris.”  I hope the problems with this sentence isn’t indicative of the plaintiffs’ claims.

Complaint courtesy Courthousenews

Charter Communications going bankrupt?

December 29, 2008

It seems that Charter’s claim of  “restructuring” when it laid off employees just before Christmas, was perhaps more honest than one would expect.

I’ve posted about the incompetence of Charter’s customer service but the company’s problems extend beyond that.   An analyst for Citigroup gives the cable company a 75% chance of going bankrupt in 2009.

Article

Lawsuit: Foot Locker won’t redeem gift cards for cash

December 29, 2008

A class action lawsuit was filed against the shoe retailer in San Bernardino Superior Court because allegedly they refuse to redeem gift cards that fall below ten dollars.  The plaintiff claims that California state law requires that a person or entity must redeem a gift card for cash when the card value is ten dollars or less.

I didn’t know that!

Complaint courtesy Courthousenews

Warner Spray delayed reporting battery fire-risk

December 29, 2008

In a complaint filed in Minnesota Federal Court, the United States Government filed suit against Warner Spray Tech that manufactures a cordless power drill that overheats and causes fires in consumers’ homes.  The complaint alleges that the company received complaints from consumers for several years before reporting them to the Consumer Product Safety Commission as required by law.

The commission allows consumers to report dangerous products on their website so are we to believe that the commission never received a complaint directly from a consumer about Warner Spray’s product?  Is the commission completely reliant on a company making a defective product to initiate a recall?  While its obviously bad and wrong for a company to fail to report a serious product defect, isn’t there a back-up plan for the agency to take action on its own?

Complaint courtesy Courthousenews

Holiday spending down significantly

December 28, 2008

I have been skeptical of the National Retail Federation’s reports about holiday shopping.  First, they reported that people wouldn’t be increasing their holiday spending as much as anticipated.  Then they reported that people were “procrastinating” in making their purchases.  They haven’t released any post mortems on the holiday shopping season but they did request Obama offer a sales tax holiday as part of his stimulus package to help retailers.

However, there is a report out on holiday spending and it isn’t pretty.  While sales overall were down between 5% and 8%, that was helped by the decline in consumer prices, driven by lower energy costs.  In the apparel, electronics and luxury sectors, spending was down between 20%- 35%.  Ouch.

Full report

Credit crunch drives up securities class actions

December 28, 2008

The number of these class actions increased 37% since 2007 and not surprisingly the biggest factor was the credit crunch which accounted for 43% of the total number of filings tripling  since 2007.

News release