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BUSINESS
April 6, 2014 | By Hugo Martin
Airlines in the U.S. don't have a very good reputation among travelers. Maybe those ever-multiplying passenger fees and ever-shrinking economy seats play a role in that. But American carriers can at least take solace in the news that travelers are pretty happy with airline websites. An annual customer study -- the American Customer Satisfaction Index -- found that airlines ranked near the bottom among all industries, with a rating of 69 on a scale of 1 to 100. But the same index found that airline websites got a satisfaction rating of 80. In fact, airline websites ranked slightly higher than websites for online travel businesses like Travelocity, Expedia and Priceline, which got a score of 77. The highest-rated websites were for credit unions (86)
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BUSINESS
April 3, 2014 | By Salvador Rodriguez
Count Twitter as the latest company to jump on the emoji bandwagon. The microblogging service said it will now display the cartoon icons on its website. The San Francisco company made the announcement Wednesday afternoon in a tweet filled with a dozen of the playful icons. ¿¿¿¿ Twitter users love tweeting emoji from their phones - now you can view these emoji on web! #emojiparty ¿¿¿¿ ¿¿¿¿ ¿¿¿¿ ¿¿¿¿ ¿¿¿¿ ¿¿¿¿ ¿¿¿¿ ¿¿¿¿ ¿¿¿¿ ¿ - Twitter Support (@Support)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 1, 2014 | By Cindy Chang and Robert Faturechi
A high-stakes power struggle at the union representing Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies has left members with two presidents, two boards of directors, two "official" websites and, for many, too much drama. Trouble at the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs came to light last month when the board ousted Armando Macias, its newly elected president, citing his poor attendance. The board installed a new president, but Macias is refusing to recognize the ouster. Now the two sides are accusing each other of illegitimate power grabs and misusing union funds.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 31, 2014 | By Emily Alpert Reyes, This has been updated below.
A cooling system outage Monday shut down the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power website, crimped the capacity of its customer call center and prevented people from using a new feature to leave their number and get a call back. Spokesman Joseph Ramallo said the outage forced the agency to shut down computer systems that rely on the cooling system. The problem began after both primary and backup cooling systems went out, he said. “We're able to take calls right now. However, the customer information systems that allow us to take payments and resolve customer problems are not available to our customer service representatives,” Ramallo said.
BUSINESS
March 31, 2014 | By Chad Terhune, Noam Levey and Soumya Karlamangla
Overrun by last-minute demand for Obamacare coverage, California gave many consumers until April 15 to enroll as thousands of people across the nation endured long lines and website troubles. Despite the problems, the late surge in sign-ups was a substantial boost to President Obama's signature law, particularly after such a disastrous launch in October. The final tally from the first year of the law's insurance expansion won't be known until later this spring. But as the Affordable Care Act's inaugural open-enrollment period wound down, an outpouring of interest pushed sign-ups on the new online marketplaces close to the Obama administration's goal of 7 million.
BUSINESS
March 31, 2014 | By Chad Terhune and Soumya Karlamangla
Facing a flood of interest, the Covered California exchange plans to prevent some consumers from finishing their Obamacare enrollment so others can start the sign-up process to meet Monday's deadline. Californians were waiting in line for hours Monday to get coverage and heavy consumer traffic was slowing down the state's exchange website at coveredca.com. Overall, health plan enrollment through Covered California surpassed more than 1.2 million by early Monday. Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said the state plans to log off some online applicants to make room for other consumers to use the website.
NEWS
March 31, 2014 | By Noam N. Levey
WASHINGTON - The federal government's online health insurance marketplace stumbled Monday as tens of thousands of Americans streamed to the HealthCare.gov website seeking to beat a midnight deadline for enrolling in coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Technicians were able to get the site back online after it went down in the early morning hours Monday, according to federal officials. But by midday, visitors to the site were getting an automated message alerting them that high volumes made it necessary to wait to set up an account or enroll in coverage.
NATIONAL
March 29, 2014 | By Maeve Reston
Enrollments in the nation's healthcare program have nearly concluded, but for states whose insurance exchanges have been crippled by technical problems, a difficult phase is just beginning: potential legal battles and a race to overhaul their systems before federal grant money dries up. Officials in Oregon, Massachusetts and Maryland are exploring legal options as they sever contracts with those who created their sites. All three states are considering a move to the federal exchange, which had its own grievous start-up problems but is now largely stable, or licensing the technology of a more successful state such as Connecticut.
BUSINESS
March 28, 2014 | By Chad Terhune and Soumya Karlamangla
Strong consumer interest in Obamacare coverage ahead of Monday's enrollment deadline was leading to long waits and website trouble for some Californians. The Covered California exchange said sign-ups have been building throughout the week with about 80,000 people picking a health plan Monday through Thursday. An additional 150,000 households created an online account and started the shopping process in the last three days, officials said. That heavy volume was creating havoc, confusion and delays for many consumers, enrollment counselors and insurance agents trying to use the exchange's website.
BUSINESS
March 26, 2014 | By Noam N. Levey and Michael A. Memoli
WASHINGTON - As Monday's deadline approaches to sign up for insurance under President Obama's health law, more than 1 million people a day are visiting HealthCare.gov, Obama administration officials said Wednesday. The site - the main portal for insurance marketplaces in 36 states - drew 1.2 million visitors Tuesday and 1.1 million visitors Monday, according to the administration. Over the same period, call centers received more than 500,000 calls. California's state-run health insurance exchange reported a similar surge in interest, with nearly 40,000 people picking a health plan Monday and Tuesday.
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