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Consumer Confidential: Black Friday comes early, another Lipitor recall, McD's told to pay up

October 29, 2010 | 10:26 am

Here's your feel-the-burn Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Remember when "Black Friday" came the day after Thanksgiving? Not any more. Customer-hungry stores are launching their year-end sales earlier than ever, with some rolling out the deals this weekend. Sears, Amazon and Toys R Us are among retailers jumping on the Black Friday Now bandwagon.  Target plans to run a four-day sale beginning the Sunday before Thanksgiving. This means there will be plenty of bargains out there for shoppers. It also means you should be ready for some pretty intense experiences as you throw yourself into the retail arena.

--Pfizer is recalling another 38,000 bottles of the popular cholesterol drug Lipitor because of a musty or moldy odor. This is the third Lipitor recall in three months related to a funky stench coming from the Puerto Rico-made bottles. Pfizer says the odor was caused by a chemical found on wooden pallets used to store and ship its bottles. Rival Johnson & Johnson has issued five recalls this year over similar odor issues. You'd think these guys would be able to get such things under control.

--A Brazilian court has ordered McDonald's to pay a former franchise manager $17,500 because he gained 65 pounds while working at the fast-food restaurant for a dozen years. The 32-year-old man said he felt forced to sample the food each day to maintain quality standards, because McDonald's hired "mystery clients" to randomly visit restaurants and report on the food, service and cleanliness. The man also said the company offered free lunches to employees. His identity was not released. I'm thinking maybe this guy's next gig should be managing a salad bar.

-- David Lazarus