Consumer Confidential: Harry & David & bankruptcy, AmEx's e-wallet, Jetta recall
--What sort of gift basket do you send a bankrupt company? Harry & David Holdings, the purveyor of gourmet fruit baskets and other goodies, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to cope with nearly $200 million in debt. The company had an especially rough go during the recession, with consumers deciding that a pricey box of pears or sweets may not be the most economical way of sending your regards. Harry & David posted weak holiday sales that left it unable to borrow money under the terms of its revolving credit line, and that left only a date with the bankruptcy judge. The company will keep operating during the bankruptcy process.
--American Express ... don't leave home without it. And now you won't even have to leave home. The card issuer is jumping into the e-payment game with a new product, dubbed Serve, intended to compete with the likes of PayPal. Serve is a prepaid electronic wallet that can be funded by linking with a checking account, debit card or credit card. Starting now, Serve customers can send money to each other with their smartphones, shop online and receive plastic cards for use at brick-and-mortar retailers that accept AmEx. The only question: How do I get a gold or platinum e-account?
--Toot toot, beep beep. Volkswagen of America is recalling about 71,000 2011 Jettas to fix a wiring problem related to the alarm system and horn. The recall affects sixth-generation Jetta sedans built between March 2010 and March 2011. No injuries or accidents have been reported. The company says that in some cases, the wiring problem could cause an electric short in the horn, which in turn could cause the engine to stall. Owners will receive notification by mail. Or you can call the company at (800) 822-8987.
-- David Lazarus
Photo: A fancy pear from Harry & David might make bankruptcy easier to digest. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times