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Consumer Confidential: Chevron profits, Wells penalty fee, nurdle rights

July 30, 2010 | 10:13 am

Here's your frosted-flakes Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Well, all I can say is, "Thank goodness!" Our friends at Chevron are pleased to report that their quarterly profit more than tripled to $5.4 billion from a year before. The energy giant credited its bulging pockets to sharply higher oil and natural gas prices, which basically means you and I have been paying more for gas and hot water.  ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips also reported strong results, showing that even though the economy may be on the rocks, it's still a great time to be heavy into fossil fuels.

-- Way to go, Wells Fargo. The bank says it will do away with penalty interest rates imposed when credit card customers are 60 days late with payments. In the past, Wells would jack up your rate to 27% if you didn't hit the two-month mark. Now such rate increases won't be automatic, but could still be imposed if you're chronically late with a little do-re-mi. New regulations prevent banks from jacking up rates for existing balances if a customer is 60 days late with a payment. Wells is going a step further by having the policy apply to new balances as well.

-- Never let it be said that big corporations don't focus on the important stuff. Colgate-Palmolive is suing GlaxoSmithKline in Manhattan federal court over the right to depict a "nurdle" on its toothpaste packaging. What's a nurdle? Apparently that's the wave-shaped glob of toothpaste frequently shown sitting on the head of a toothbrush. Colgate and Glaxo apparently both claim primacy when it comes to nurdles, and thus they're in court duking it out over nurdle exclusivity. You couldn't make this up if you tried.

-- David Lazarus

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