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Consumer Confidential: More free shipping, less tarmac time, bad filberts

December 21, 2009 | 10:16 am

Here's your magnificent-Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- It's snowing in cyberspace. That big storm on the East Coast has prompted many e-tailers to extend free-shipping offers to help snowbound consumers finish their holiday shopping. The move also follows a busy weekend of e-tailing, which prompted a number of businesses to conclude that they should continue offering free shipping as an incentive to keep the procrastinators motivated.

-- If you get stuck on a plane because of a storm, here's some good news: A new federal rule requires that passengers stranded on the tarmac be released after three hours. Airlines have fought such a provision, arguing that it would be too costly for them to implement. Angering your customers apparently isn't seen as a significant business cost. In any case, the new rule won't help this holiday season. It won't take effect until April.

-- Heads up: Whole Foods is recalling several batches of organic raw hazelnuts -- a.k.a. filberts -- because of possible salmonella contamination. The dubious nuts (which is a great name for a rock band) turned up in stores in California and about half a dozen other states. Make sure you check with store employees before buying any hazelnuts.

-- David Lazarus

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