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Consumer Confidential: BofA woes, Ivory upgrade, reader privacy

October 4, 2011 | 10:13 am

Bank of America
Here's your whoa-nellie Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Bank of America just can't catch a break. After taking it on the chin over a new $5 monthly debit card fee, the bank has been struggling to keep its website up and running. The company had said Friday that the troubles had been fully resolved, but some customers still had difficulty accessing their accounts through the weekend. A message on the bank's homepage Tuesday noted that customers can still access their accounts at ATMs or at one of the company's nearly 6,000 branches. It also suggested that customers try logging back on during a "non-peak time." BofA is the largest U.S. bank and has 29 million online customers.

--Ivory soap is getting a facelift. Procter & Gamble is updating its 132-year-old Ivory brand with colorful, eye-catching packages, a remade logo and a new marketing campaign. But the soap itself isn't changing. The remake is part of an effort by the Cincinnati-based company to breathe new life into Ivory. It comes at a time when Americans are scaling back on spending but are looking for little, cheap ways to pamper themselves, by, say, taking a long, hot shower. As P&G has focused on bigger, faster-growing brands, the white bar of soap has lagged behind its rival Dove and faced increasing competition from the likes of Dial and Irish Spring.

--You are what you read. And thanks to a new California law, readers' privacy has new safeguards. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the Reader Privacy Act, updating state privacy laws to cover new technologies such as electronic books and online book services as well as local bookstores. The Reader Privacy Act will become law on Jan. 1 and will establish privacy protections for book purchases similar to long-established privacy laws for library records. In other words, your online book browsing, buying and reading won't be revealed to marketers, lawyers and others. Not that we have anything to hide, of course.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: BofA is having technical troubles. Credit: Andrew Gombert / EPA