Archive for February, 2009

Peanut recall widget working overtime

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Literally thousands of products have been recalled in recent months due to the salmonella contamination problems linked to Peanut Corp. of America.
Experts say that about the safest measure consumers can take is to restrict their intake of peanut products to raw peanuts or peanut butter sold in jars.
One of the handiest ways to check on which products are on the recall list is to use the FDA’s widget, which is updated automatically as new recalls are announced. The widget was included in a previous post on this blog.

Outdoor stoves are burn hazard

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

About 15,000 Jetboil outdoor stoves are being recalled because they are a burn hazard. Details are here.

Clamp lamps sold at Staples recalled

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Some Catalina halogen clamp lamps sold exclusively at Staples are being recalled because they are a fire hazard.

Dick’s recalling billiard game, camp stoves

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Two products sold at Dick’s Sporting Goods are being recalled.
A Golfer’s Billiard Game made by Acuity is being recalled because the balls exceed federal allowances for for lead content.
Also, “Field & Stream” camp stoves are being recalled because they pose a burn hazard.

Social networking hacking on the rise

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

If you have an account on Facebook, MySpace or any other the many other Internet-based social networking sites, beware. The sites are the latest venue for scammers who hack into accounts and then target friends of the account-holder.
Hackers will target friends on say, Facebook, by changing the Status message to “CHARLES IS IN URGENT NEED OF HELP!!!”.
Usually the help needed is of a financial nature. One friend who was duped by the messages wired $1,200 to the hacker.
Security pros say before you assist anyone seeking help through your social network, ask a few qualifying questions, such as when they last talked with you, your common interests, spouses names and other information that might not necessarily be revealed on the site.

Lead, phthalates content rules effective Tuesday

Monday, February 9th, 2009

New federal standards for phthalates and lead content in toys and other items meant for use by children take effect Tuesday.

Business customers pan area electric utilities

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Business customers of Consumers Energy, Detroit Edison and Toledo Edison aren’t as satisified with those area utilities as business customers of other electric companies in the Midwest, according to a J.D. Power & Associates survey.
All three ranked below the regional average in customer satisfaction among 24 companies. On a satisfaction scale of 1,000 points, Consumers ranked 18th with 588 points, Detroit Edison ranked 20th with 584 points and Toledo Edison ranked 23rd with 561 points.
The survey was of business customers who had bills of at least $500 a month.

Consumer confidence in banks continues sliding

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Consumer confidence in the financial strength of banks dropped again in January, according to a new national Morpace poll. Even customers’ financial certainty about their own bank, which normally remains high and stable, has eroded significantly.
“This decline in confidence at all levels is a cause for concern,” said Tom Hartley, vice president of customer loyalty at Morpace, a polling organization.
Only 61 percent of consumers are now “very confident” about the financial strength of their primary personal bank, a decline from 68 percent in November. Confidence in the “financial strength of banks in general” – which Mr. Hartley says is typically lower than confidence in one’s own bank – dropped to 32 percent from November’s low 38 percent level.
“Previously the pattern was more typical,” Mr. Hartley said. “Confidence in the banking industry was declining, but people continued to trust their own bank. With the prolonged crisis, more consumers now feel less secure even about their own institution. This clearly reveals a need for reassurance – particularly among larger national banks.”
In fact, customers of large national banks are now much less likely to be very confident about their bank compared to customers of credit unions – 54 percent versus 81 percent.

Hiring hitting bottom this month

Friday, February 6th, 2009

A Monroe resident was telling a friend that he had applied to 13 different places in the past month and hasn’t heard back from any of them.
It’s not unusual now, especially with a larger pool of unemployed workers from which employers may choose.
So it’s no surprise either that the Society for Human Resource Managements is predicting that hiring in manufacturing and services sectors will drop substantially this month. Its monthly employment report forecasts a 36 percent drop in manufacturing hiring and a 23.5 percent drop in service sector hiring compared to this time last year — the worst drop in the survey’s four-year history.
“The February forecast paints a clear picture of a down economy experiencing layoffs and hiring freezes,” said Jennifer Schramm, SHRM manager of workplace trends and forecasting.

Bogus checks drawn on Clinton National Bank

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Counterfeit cashier’s checks using the name of Clinton National Bank in Clinton, Iowa are being mailed with letters that try to recruit the recipient into an “Extreme Secret Shopper” scam.
Checks in amounts in the $2,900 range are being sent with instructions to cash them and wire some of the proceeds to a third party. The Extreme Secret Shopper program supposedly is based in Kent, Wash.
Details are here.

Phthalate ban takes effect Tuesday

Friday, February 6th, 2009

A New York judge has ruled that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission can’t let toys containing toxic chemicals known at phthalates remain on store shelves after a ban takes effect on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe says the CPSC must eliminate a loophole that lets the substances remain in toys made before the ban is in place.
Manufacturers have said they’d have to pull hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of products from store shelves to comply.
CPSC spokesman Joe Martyak says the commission decided not to appeal the ruling, which relates to phthalates, chemicals used to soften plastics commonly found in bath toys, books, teethers, bibs, dolls and plastic figures.
Phthalates can be absorbed through the mouth or skin, interfering with reproductive hormones.
Consumer advocacy groups Public Citizen and the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) sued he CPSC in December, contending the agency created a loophole by saying the ban didn’t apply to toys or child-care products manufactured before Feb. 10.
Attorney Aaron Colangelo, who argued the case for the NRDC, described the ruling as “a big win for children’s health and for consumer safety.
Colangelo said phthalates already have been banned in some places around the world, so phthalate-free products are already available to toy companies. “It won’t be hard for them” to comply,” he said.

Intermatic digital times are faulty

Friday, February 6th, 2009

About 200,000 heavy-duty Intermatic lamp and appliance timers are being recalled because have a grounding problem that could end up shocking consumers.
Details on the digital timer recall may be found here.

Counterfeit checks used in shopping scam

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Counterfeit cashier’s checks drawn on Harbor National Bank of Charleston, S.C. are being mailed as part of a mystery shopper scam using the name Consumer Research Service. The checks usually are in amounts of $4,996 and instruct the recipient to cash it and wire part of the proceeds to a third party.
Details on the scam are here.

Drug can cause serious bleeding

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Xigris, a drug used to treat blood stream infections, appears to be causing serious bleeding in some patients who have been administered it. The Food and Drug Administration has issued an early warning letter about some of the experiences being seen.

Playland swing sets have flawed weld

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Arch swing sets made by Playland International have a top weld that is flawed and can break causing users to fall or causing parts of the set to fall on bystanders. Details may be found here.