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Consumer Confidential: Wireless merger, hybrid sales soar, Target not going Gaga

March 9, 2011 | 11:01 am

Gagapic Here's your wishing-and-hoping Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Sprint and T-Mobile are reportedly talking about merging. According to Bloomberg News, negotiations have been on and off, and the two sides are dickering about T-Mobile's value amid dwindling profits. Sprint and T-Mobile are the third- and fourth-largest wireless companies in the United States, behind Verizon and AT&T. A merger of this size would certainly benefit the two service providers, allowing the combined entity to compete more effectively with the two biggest players. The way things are going, all this consolidation in the wireless sector may eventually leave us with only a couple of companies. Just think what that would do for pricing.

-- Soaring gas prices are apparently good news for makers of fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles. The number of Toyota Prius hybrids sold nationwide in February increased by some 70%. Sales of the Honda Civic hybrid jumped close to 54%. Four out of five drivers surveyed by Kelley Blue Book said gas prices influence their decisions on the kind of car they buy. Toyota says sales of its various hybrid vehicles have now hit the 3 million mark as consumers seek ways to alleviate the pain of higher pump prices. We can expect hybrid sales to keep going up. Hopefully we'll also see use of public transit rising as well.

--Looks like Target isn't gaga for Gaga. Pop superstar Lady Gaga's deal to sell a special edition of her upcoming album at Target has fallen apart. A representative for the singer says the two sides "came to a mutual decision to end their overall exclusive partnership a few weeks ago." Last month it was announced that Target would be selling a deluxe edition of the album, to be released May 23, with bonus content. But gay advocates were concerned about the partnership, citing Target's donations to a political candidate who was opposed to gay marriage. Gaga told Billboard that her relationship with the retail giant was tied to the company's "reform" and support for the gay community. Apparently they weren't ready to sing that tune.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Lady Gaga won't get cozy with Target. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times