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Consumer Confidential: Rental cars, JetBlue offer, Easy-Bake Oven

September 14, 2011 | 10:20 am

Avispic Here's your Wee-Willie-Winkie Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Avis Budget Group says it's dropping its $1.55 billion bid to acquire rival Dollar Thrifty. Avis and Hertz Global Holdings, the two largest publicly traded U.S. auto-rental chains, have been seeking  Federal Trade Commission approval of their competing bids for Dollar Thrifty, the fourth-largest rental-car company in the U.S. market. Hertz says it will press ahead with its own merger plans. Dollar Thrifty told Avis and Hertz on Sept. 7 that it wanted final offers by Oct. 10. Dollar Thrifty shareholders so far haven't liked the offers they've received. That may change now that Avis is out of the picture.

--JetBlue doesn't want Hurricane Maria slamming passengers in the wallet. The airline says it will waive ticket-change fees for people who rebook flights to or from Bermuda on Thursday to avoid the storm. JetBlue says customers can reschedule for travel through Saturday by calling the airline before their scheduled departure time. Passengers whose flights are canceled and who bought their ticket on or before Tuesday can get a refund, the company says.

--This isn't your mother's Easy-Bake Oven. The latest version of the famous toy first marketed in 1963 is now all curves and purple and snazzy graphics. And it comes with a new instruction: No light bulb necessary. The compact fluorescents that are becoming the new standard for household use are so energy-efficient that they're useless for baking a brownie, or any other miniature treats. So now the Easy-Bake boasts an actual heating element much like that of a traditional oven. The Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven is clearly designed to fit on any kitchen counter, assuming a parent is willing to shell out $49.99 for the gadget. As for its performance, I await the verdict of a new generation of Easy Bakers.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Avis says it'll drive solo, dropping its bid for Dollar Thrifty. Credit: Richard Derk / Los Angeles Times