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Consumer Confidential: Chase gets tough, Dannon pays up, more cars recalled

December 15, 2010 | 11:14 am

Chasepic Here's your we-belong-together Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Chase bank is getting tougher on checking-account customers. The bank is basically saying that customers who don't earn a lot of dinero may soon have to pay a monthly fee on their checking accounts. Chase started notifying customers this month that direct deposits will have to be at least $500 to qualify for a waiver on the $6 monthly fee. The change, which goes into effect Feb. 8, applies to basic checking accounts. Chase says the $500 monthly requirement is for a single direct deposit; multiple direct deposits that add up to $500 will not qualify for the waiver. The monthly fee can still also be avoided if customers make five or more debit card purchases in a statement period. And happy holidays to you!

-- Yogurt heavyweight Dannon is paying $21 million to settle charges that it improperly claimed some of its popular drinks could help prevent common illnesses and relieve irregularity. As part of a long-running national advertising campaign, Dannon had asserted that a single daily serving of its Activia yogurt could ease irregularity and that its DanActive dairy drink could reduce a person’s likelihood of catching a cold or the flu. Dannon claimed it had scientific evidence to back up its assertions, but federal regulators say otherwise. Now all of Dannon's health claims will have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

-- And today's car recall is brought to you by Chrysler and Volkswagen. Chrysler is recalling more than 367,000 minivans to address potential accidental air bag deployments in 2008 model year Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans. Water could leak near the heating and air conditioner drain, causing the air bag warning light to go off and deploy the air bag by accident. For its part, Volkswagen of America is recalling more than 228,000 vehicles, including 2007-2009 Golf, Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen and Rabbit models. A small plastic tab in the windshield wiper fluid reservoir could rub against a fuel supply line under the hood. A fuel leak could develop and lead to fires. And that would be bad.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Chase is raising the stakes for free checking. Credit: Richard Drew / Associated Press