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Consumer Confidential: Incomes and spending rise; lawsuit targets 'odorless' paint

April 29, 2011 |  9:05 am

Here's your finally-they're-hitched Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- We're earning more and we're spending more, but a lot of our cash is disappearing into gas pumps. According to the Commerce Department, personal incomes rose 0.5% last month and consumer spending increased 0.6%. But after adjusting for inflation, spending rose a more subdued 0.2% and after-tax incomes were essentially flat. As the economy rebounds, there have been hopes that consumers will loosen their purse strings. But high gas prices appear to be swallowing much of our extra cash. The national average at the pump is now $3.90 a gallon -- 31 cents higher than a month ago and more than $1 than what consumers paid a year ago. Less growth in consumer spending was a big reason the overall economy slowed sharply in the first three months of the year. The 1.8% growth rate was weaker than the 3.1% growth in the previous quarter.

-- The paint was promised to be "virtually odorless," but it didn't past the test for one California woman. Marlene Sway has filed a class-action lawsuit against paint maker Benjamin Moore alleging that the company's Natura interior paint actually emits a strong odor -- for months. The suit claims the company knew about the problem and issued a "product replacement" notice to retailers, but that the notice covered up the extent of the problem. According to the suit, Benjamin Moore markets the product as a quick-drying paint that "dries to the touch in 30 minutes." In fact, the suit alleges, the paint remains wet and sticky for months.

-- David Lazarus

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