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Consumer Confidential: Another telecom spat, American Airlines plays rough, time to change batteries

November 5, 2010 | 10:18 am

Here's your fill-er-up Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- In the latest spat between a telecom company and a TV programmer, AT&T U-Verse subscribers have lost access to the Food Network and HGTV because AT&T hasn't been able to come to terms with Scripps Networks Interactive over distribution fees. That means no Rachel Ray for AT&T customers, among other setbacks. This is the latest tiff on the telecom front that's resulted in blackouts of popular channels as the big dogs bicker over money. It's time that lawmakers required a la carte programming so that viewers could pay only for the channels they want.

-- Speaking of corporate set-tos, American Airlines may pull its tickets off the popular online travel site Orbitz amid a dispute over how the site gets information about flights and prices. Orbitz Chief Executive Barney Harford says American wants to force travel agencies to get information directly from the company instead of through middlemen, called global distribution systems. He says American's strategy would limit consumers' ability to compare airline prices. American says travelers would get better info directly from the source. Let's play nice, kids.

-- You already know that you'll be setting your clocks back an hour this weekend (you do, don't you?). But our friends at the Consumer Product Safety Commission also want you to know that this is a good time to check the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. "Properly working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can save lives by alerting you to a fire or to poisonous carbon monoxide in your home," says Inez Tenenbaum, the head of the commission. "In order to work properly, alarms need fresh batteries at least once every year." Good rule of thumb, change the batteries anytime you change your clock for Daylight Saving Time.

-- David Lazarus