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Consumer Confidential: Rude workers, holiday sales, PETA porn

September 21, 2011 | 11:00 am

Stoogepic Here's your which-way-did-they-go Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--What's the top consumer complaint? Well, take your pick. But very high on many people's lists are rude employees. In fact, about one-third of consumers say they get treated rudely an average of once a month and that such episodes of uncivil behavior make them less likely to patronize those businesses, according to researchers from USC and Georgetown University. The researchers surveyed 244 consumers and found that incivility is widespread. Consumers recalled incidents involving an uncivil employee in many industries, and particularly in restaurants and retailing. Furthermore, managers may not be aware of how frequently their customers witness an employee behaving uncivilly because consumers seldom report the behavior to employers. Bottom line: Be nice to your customers. It's just good business.

 --Retailers are still waiting to see whether there's any ho-ho-ho this holiday season. A new forecast indicates that sales growth will likely not be as high as last year and that shoppers won't be hitting the stores as much. Retail sales for the November and December period are expected to rise 3% during what is traditionally the most critical period of the year for retailers, according to the research firm ShopperTrak. That would be below last year's 4.1% sales growth. Shoppers have been cautious about spending through 2011, faced with uncertain economic conditions, rising gas prices and high unemployment. Expect retailers to roll out plenty of sales to attract attention to their stores.

--PETA is mixing its animal-rights message with porn. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it will launch a pornographic website to promote its stance. The group has already applied for the domain. PETA says the site will feature "tantalizing" videos and photographs, which will lead viewers into animal-rights messages. The idea is to reach a broader audience, by any means possible. The site could be up and running by November, although critics are already saying that by resorting to porn, PETA is alienating itself from a large swath of the population that might otherwise be sympathetic to its cause.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Consumers hate it when employees are rude. Credit: American Movie Classics