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Consumer Confidential: Happy Meals, cellphone fees, bank lobbying

February 9, 2010 | 10:22 am

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

--Who says we can't compete in a global economy? Our friends at Coca-Cola say their quarterly profit jumped 55%, thanks primarily to strong overseas sales. Meanwhile, the McFolk at McDonald's say their global sales rose 2.6% last month, thanks mostly to hearty appetites for Happy Meals and other fare in Asia and Britain. Here in the U.S., President Obama announced a new initiative to combat childhood obesity. Our next export, perhaps?

--Nobody likes those nasty fees that cellphone companies inflict if you break your contract early. Google, for one, feels your pain. The search giant says it will shave $200 off the fee levied on users of its new Nexus One phone if they decide to say sayonara early to service provider T-Mobile. That means a $350 fee that applied to new T-Mobile customers is going to $150, while a $250 fee for existing T-Mobile customers who upgrade to the Nexus One will be $50. All well and good. But how about no fee whatsoever and a more competitive marketplace? Or is that too much to ask for?

--Your tax dollars at work: Our buddies at Bank of America have disclosed that they spent nearly $1.2 million during the last three months of 2009 lobbying lawmakers to go easy on everything from new rules for executive compensation to new rules for credit cards. I know that BofA and other banks have a right to make their corporate voices heard. But wouldn't that money been better put to work adding more tellers at local branches, where lines frequently stretch far from the counter? Just a thought.

-- David Lazarus