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BUSINESS
October 16, 2012 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON -- Consumers did a better job making on-time payments for mortgages and credit cards last month than at any point since the end of the Great Recession. A leading index of defaults on consumer loans fell in September for the ninth straight month, hitting its lowest level since 2009. Defaults in four of the five loan categories tracked by the S&P Dow Jones Indices and credit reporting company Experian also dropped to their lowest level 2009, the companies said Tuesday.
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NEWS
August 8, 2012 | By Betty Hallock
COFFEE COSTS The average monthly price for a pound of coffee fell 24% in July from a year earlier. But the price drop won't trickle down to customers until next year. [U.S. News] SPLASH LAB Watch an IBC root beer bottle shatter to bits through the power of tiny bubbles in a video produced by the Brigham Young University Splash Lab. [Bon Appetit] OVEN TEMP FALLACIES Think your oven is at 350 degrees when you set the dial to 350? Nope. It's anywhere between 330 and 370 degrees -- by design -- and that's if it's well calibrated.
BUSINESS
April 15, 2012 | By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
Californians are still struggling to get straight answers about the cost of common medical procedures despite state efforts aimed at lifting the veil on medical pricing. As consumers shoulder a larger share of their healthcare costs, the ability to comparison shop is key to keeping that care affordable. Medical costs borne by U.S. employees have more than doubled since 2002 to more than $8,000 a year, while the median household income has dropped 4%. Under a state law that took effect in 2006, hospitals must publish their average charges for the most common procedures on a state website.
BUSINESS
July 2, 2013 | By Andrea Chang
Consumers often turn to the Internet to research a product before buying. Fake reviews are always a concern, and the problem may be bigger than previously thought. There have long been reports and rumors of businesses posting negative reviews of their competitors' products or companies that pay or reward users to write glowing reviews (known as cyber-shilling). But new research shows that loyal customers are writing extremely negative reviews about products they never purchased.
BUSINESS
November 23, 2012 | By Walter Hamilton and Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times
As you pack into the mall today with hordes of other Black Friday shoppers, think of it as an act of economic patriotism. With your shopping bags full of holiday gifts, you'll once again be playing a central role in the U.S. economy. After retrenching in the early days of the recovery, consumers are reasserting themselves as the key driver of U.S. economic growth. And that's coming at an opportune time, given that other economic propellants such as manufacturing and exports have slowed.
BUSINESS
December 17, 2010 | By Sandra M. Jones
Early this fall, James Reinhart noticed something odd happening at ThredUp, the children's clothing swap site the Harvard Business School graduate and his buddies dreamed up a year ago. Swappers started using the online exchange to trade toys. As the volume of toy trading increased, ThredUp decided there was enough demand to expand its service. The San Francisco start-up officially launched its toy exchange site Dec. 6, just as holiday shopping shifted into full gear. The turn of events at ThredUp signals how dramatically shopping is changing in the wake of the Great Recession.
BUSINESS
June 8, 2013 | By Ken Bensinger, Los Angeles Times
When the tires on their Dodge Caravan had worn so thin that the steel belts were showing through, Don and Florence Cherry couldn't afford to buy a new set. So they decided to rent instead. The Rich Square, N.C., couple last September agreed to pay Rent-N-Roll $54.60 a month for 18 months in exchange for four basic Hankook tires. Over the life of the deal, that works out to $982, almost triple what the radials would have cost at Wal-Mart. "I know you have to pay a lot more this way," said Florence Cherry, a 57-year-old nurse who drives the 15-year-old van when her husband, a Vietnam veteran, isn't using it to get to his job as a prison guard.
BUSINESS
March 20, 2013 | By Salvador Rodriguez
A new poll says 46% of consumers surveyed would not spend more than $500 for Google's smartphone-like eyewear -- early versions of which the company is selling for $1,500. Nearly a quarter said they would not spend more than $1,000 for the glasses. Only 6% of respondents said they would spend whatever it takes to buy the device. Despite consumers reluctance to spend $1,500 for the glasses, interest in the product is fairly strong, according to the survey, which found that 61% of respondents would buy it if it was priced right.
BUSINESS
October 18, 2011 | David Lazarus
Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, you may not have the right to sue a company you think has wronged you. Instead, if the company prefers, you could have to arbitrate the dispute — a process that consumer advocates say tips the scales of justice in favor of businesses. That imbalance would be remedied with passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act, a bill under consideration in Congress that would supersede the Supreme Court's ruling and reestablish consumers' right to sue and to join with others in class-action lawsuits.
SCIENCE
January 16, 2014 | By Melissa Healy
Imagine for a moment that all of the nation's fast-food establishments--all the striped awnings and golden arches, the drive-thru windows, the beckoning dollar deals and wafting odor of French fries--were to vanish overnight. Would the number of our kids who carry an unhealthful amount of extra weight plummet? The answer is very likely no, says a study published Thursday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Because if you shut off the supply of 24-ounce fountain drinks, bacon cheeseburgers, fried chicken and stuffed tacos, the children who frequently eat at fast-food restaurants will go home and do what they generally do when not eating at a fast-food restaurant: They'll snarf cookies and chips, chug sugar-sweetened soda from a bottle, and heat up frozen pizzas.
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