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Consumer Confidential: More hiring, guaranteed coffee beans, Verizon iPhone plan

February 2, 2011 | 10:11 am

Beanpic Here's your wake-me-up-before-you-go-go Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Employers say "par-tay!" According to Reuters, U.S. private employers added more jobs than expected in January, the 12th consecutive month that companies added to their payrolls. The private sector added 187,000 jobs in January, compared with a downwardly revised 247,000 jobs in December. These latest numbers come courtesy of payrolls processor ADP Employer Services. The ADP figures come ahead of the government's more comprehensive January labor market report, which will be released Friday. If the hiring trend continues, we'll likely see a gradual chipping away at sky-high unemployment numbers.

--Starbucks is standing behind its new line of instant coffee. According to Bloomberg, customers who are not happy with the company's Via instant coffee can get a free bag of ground beans instead. Starbucks has been heavily promoting Via, and says the line has generated more than $135 million in global sales since its launch. Still, the company wants to placate worried consumers by offering replacement beans through Aug. 31 for anyone displeased with the taste of Via instant. That's a smart way of getting people to take the plunge.

--If you're jonesing for a Verizon iPhone, here's the news you've been awaiting: The pricing of the service plans. According to the Associated Press, a basic voice plan including 450 minutes per month will cost $40. A voice and text plan including unlimited text messages will start at $60 per month. And a separate data plan for getting e-mail and the Web will cost $30 per month. Customers will also be able to use the iPhone as a Wi-Fi hotspot for an extra $20 per month. Verizon will start taking orders for the iPhone on Thursday.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Starbucks says if you don't like instant, you can have beans. Credit: Peter Wintersteller/For the Times