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Consumer Confidential: Checked bags, plastic taxes, bad medicine

January 12, 2010 | 11:35 am

Here's your tardy Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Here's a surprise: Major airlines are raising fees again. This time it's Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines saying they'll jack up fees for checked bags to the highest levels yet -- $25 for the first bag, $35 for the second. Other carriers are expected to match the sky-high charges. The economy may be recovering, but airlines want to make sure they'll have plenty of cash pouring in from passengers. Anyone want to bet that you'll soon need some coins to open the bathroom door?

--How's this for a rewards program: American Express cardholders can now use rewards points to pay their taxes. But there's a minor, teeny-weeny catch: You have to charge at least $1 million worth of stuff to pay off just $5,000 in taxes. Cardmembers typically earn a single point for every buck charged to their plastic. It takes 200 points to pay just $1 in taxes. Still, AmEx says its new program should be a hit with people struggling to get by in these lousy economic times. That is, if you're still actually buying things.

--Like the song says, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. But the experts say spoons aren't your best bet when it comes to measuring out doses. A study by Cornell University says that using kitchen spoons to measure doses frequently leads to too much or too little medicine being taken, with overdoses sometimes running as high as 20%. Researchers say you'd be better off using a measuring cap, a special dosing spoon (if you have one) or a measuring dropper.

-- David Lazarus