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Consumer Confidential: Mortgage rates, Priceline, free booze

January 19, 2012|By David Lazarus
  • Mortgage rates have hit another record low.
Mortgage rates have hit another record low. (Seth Perlman / Associated…)

Here's your 'cause-this-is-thriller Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--How low can it go? The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell again this week to a record low -- the eighth record low in a year. But even bargain-basement loans are failing to attract takers because most who can afford to buy or refinance have already done so. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage dipped to 3.88% this week, down from the old record of 3.89% one week ago. The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage ticked up to 3.17% from 3.16%, which was also a record low. Records for mortgage rates date back to the 1950s. For the last three months, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has hovered near 4%. (Associated Press)

--First he died in "Star Trek." Now Priceline has killed him off as well. In a new 30-second TV spot set to begin airing Monday, William Shatner's Negotiator character rescues panicked vacationers from a bus teetering on a bridge's railing. "Save yourselves -- some money," he says, handing his cellphone to a passenger as he and the bus tumble into a dry creek bed. A violent explosion, real and computer-generated, follows. Shatner has been a pitchman for Priceline for 14 years, five of those as the relentless Negotiator preaching the gospel of travel bargains. But an advertising change was needed to reflect the company's broader strategy, says Christopher Soder, chief executive of Priceline.com North America. So Shatner hit his final frontier. (Associated Press)

--Free liquor when you fly is back -- whoo-hoo! American Airlines is providing a free glass of beer or wine to coach passengers on flights between the U.S. and Europe, Asia and some South American countries. The new offering begins Feb. 1. The airline's president of marketing says customers asked for complimentary beer and wine, and American listened. The move comes as the carrier emerges from bankruptcy. It filed for Chapter 11 protection back in November. (CNN)

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