Consumer Confidential: Countrywide deal, Chrysler recall, Exxon Mobil warning
Here's your magical-mystery Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:
--Bank of America will pay $108 million to settle charges that Countrywide Financial Corp. fleeced borrowers facing foreclosure. BofA purchased Countrywide about two years ago. The settlement aims to refund some cash to about 200,000 borrowers and represents the largest mortgage-industry deal so far by the Federal Trade Commission. The head of the FTC, Jon Leibowitz, accused Countrywide of "callous conduct, which took advantage of consumers already at the end of their financial rope." All things considered, $108 million seems like little more than a slap on the wrist for behavior like that.
--Today's car recall: Chrysler is recalling nearly 600,000 Town and Country and Dodge Caravan minivans, Jeep Wranglers and Dodge Calibers because of doors that could catch fire, brakes that could fail and gas pedals that could stick, all of which are generally regarded as bad things in the automotive world. Owners of the various vehicles, which each have their own particular problem, are being notified and should contact a dealer pronto.
--Our friends at Exxon Mobil, bless their little hearts, say we shouldn't be hasty in cracking down on deep-water oil drilling just because of one little well mishap that's flooding the Gulf of Mexico in the worst oil spill in U.S. history. "We need to guard against premature reactive changes to legislation that may not in the longer term be helpful but detrimental to the industry," Exxon Mobil Senior Vice President Andrew Swiger said at an industry conference in Malaysia. Yeah, I'm sure we all agree that new regulations or rules are the last thing that should come about at this point. Stuff happens, right?
-- David Lazarus