Current Events in June 2016

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    Clif Bar & Company recalls three flavors of Clif Bars

    The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

    Clif Bar & Company recalling its CLIF BAR® Nuts & Seeds energy bars, CLIF BAR® Sierra Trail Mix energy bars, and CLIF® Mojo® Mountain Mix® trail mix bars.

    The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

    The company says it has not received any reports of illness.

    The following products, sold throughout the U.S., are being recalled:

    • CLIF BAR® Nuts & Seeds energy bar all pack configurations with “best by” date ranges starting 08JUN16 through 21JAN17
    • CLIF BAR® Sierra Trail Mix energy bar all pack configurations with “best by” date ranges starting 05JUN16 through 24MAR17
    • CLIF® Mojo® Mountain Mix® trail mix bar all pack configurations with “best by” date ranges starting 16JUN16 through 02FEB17

    What to do

    Customers who purchased any of the recalled products should not consume them, but destroy them.

    Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-888-851-8456 or online at http://notice.clifbar.com/.

    Clif Bar & Company recalling its CLIF BAR® Nuts & Seeds energy bars, CLIF BAR® Sierra Trail Mix energy bars, and CLIF® Mojo® Mountain Mix® trail mix bars....

    Study finds students hit hardest by bank overdraft fees

    NerdWallet study focuses on university-affiliated banks

    Recently implemented banking regulations have cut down on bank overdraft charges. Now if you make a debit card purchase without sufficient funds in your account, the transaction is denied, unless you have opted-in to the bank's overdraft coverage.

    Previously, the transaction always went through. In return for covering your purchase, the bank assessed a fairly hefty fee. If you spent the day shopping, making five or six overdraft purchases, you would get socked with five or six overdraft fees.

    But overdraft charges have not disappeared. If you write a check that bounces, you can be certain that you'll pay a fee. And, if for some reason you have agreed to opt-in to the bank's overdraft coverage, you are right back paying overdraft fees for every debit card purchase not covered by adequate funds in your account.

    University-bank partnerships

    A study by NerdWallet of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) data shows college students tend to pay the most overdraft fees, especially if they have accounts at university-affiliated banks. The study looked at university-affiliated checking accounts at 20 of the largest schools in the country.

    It found that when schools partnered with banks, giving preferred access to new customers, students tended to pay for it. Not that the university-affiliated banks provided bad products. The study found the accounts it examined were no worse than the national standard.

    Even though the schools are profiting from the arrangement, the authors say it could be argued that banking services on campus are often needed. It's just that students need to be careful.

    Paying a steep price

    “History tells us that when schools and banks get together to jointly market products like campus checking accounts, credit cards or student loans, students can pay a steep price,” said Seth Frotman, assistant director for the Office for Students and Young Consumers at the CFPB.

    The NerdWallet authors have come up with some simple advice. Before signing up for a checking account at the university-affiliated bank – or any bank for that matter – do some investigating.

    Find out the amount of the overdraft fee. Is there a limit on the number of overdraft fees that can be charged in a single day? If you do not opt-in for overdraft coverage, can you still incur a fee?

    Most banks will encourage you to opt-in for overdraft coverage, but there is really no good reason to do so, and a lot of good reasons not to. Having your purchase declined for insufficient funds is not the worst thing in the world, especially if it spares you a $35 fee.

    Recently implemented banking regulations have cut down on bank overdraft charges. Now if you make a debit card purchase without sufficient funds in your ac...

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      More American Airlines rewards to be based on spending, not miles

      Airline joins United and Delta in adjusting its loyalty program

      You can now consider it a travel trend. American Airlines has joined the club, following competitors United and Delta in adjusting its loyalty program to emphasize spending rather than distance.

      Starting August 1, points will be awarded based on dollars spent, not on miles traveled.

      Last fall American made a similar adjustment to its frequent flyer program. The latest tweak makes all rewards, including minor perks, based on dollars spent.

      The new system rewards not only consumers who fly most frequently, but also those who spend the most per ticket. From the airline's point of view, the consumer flying in coach with a super-saver fare should not earn the same rewards as the customer in first class, even though they are flying the same number of miles.

      The new system also benefits the consumer who booked at the last minute and, as a result, is paying a higher fare than someone who bought a ticket weeks in advance.

      The AAdvantage program, one of the industry's oldest loyalty programs, will also introduce a new elite level in 2017.

      “American Airlines is evolving AAdvantage to continue our tradition of having the best loyalty program in the world by rewarding our most loyal customers with the benefits they value the most,” said Andrew Nocella, American’s Chief Marketing Officer.

      Earning Award Miles

      When travelers begin racking up rewards based on their spending, Elite members will earn even more miles based on their status level.

      AAdvantage members will earn five miles per dollar spent, but Gold members will get seven miles. Platinum members will receive eight miles per dollar spent and Executive Platinum will get 11 miles.

      The rewards for travel on flights marketed by partner airlines will be based on a percentage of the flight distance and the booking code purchased.

      Before the end of this month American customers will be able to go online to view an estimate of their miles and elite credits.

      New Elite Level

      On January 1, 2017, the AAdvantage program will add a fourth elite level, the Platinum Pro. It will include complimentary upgrades on eligible flights and will earn nine award miles per dollar spent, placing it between the Platinum and Executive Platinum levels. Customers will also get two free checked bags.

      Also starting January 1, American says members of the rewards program will be able to reach elite status by reaching the elite qualifying dollars (EQD) threshold, giving customers added flexibility.  

      You can now consider it a travel trend. American Airlines has joined the club, following competitors United and Delta in adjusting its loyalty program to e...

      Cra-Z-Jewelz Ultimate Gem Jewelry Machine recalled

      The “Slider Bracelet” in the jewelry making kit contains high levels of lead

      LaRose Industries of Randolph, N.J., and Target Corp. of Minneapolis, Minn., are recalling about 175,000 Cra-Z-Jewelz Gem Creations.

      The “Slider Bracelet” in the jewelry making kit contains high levels of lead, which is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health issues.

      No incidents or injuries are reported.

      This recall involves the following two models of LaRose’s Jewelz Gem Creations jewelry making kit and one refill product:

      Product Name

      Item# – UPC Code

      Sold at

      Shimmer N’ Sparkle Cra-Z-Art Cra-Z-Jewelz Gem Creations Ultimate Gem Machine

      UPC #884 920 174 504

      Retailers, including Kmart, Toys R Us and Walmart

      Shimmer N’ Sparkle Cra-Z-Art Cra-Z-Jewelz Gem Creations Gem Charm and Slider Bracelets

      UPC #884 920 174 849

      Retailers, including Toys R Us and Walmart

      My Look Cra-Z-Art Cra-Z-Jewelz Gem Creations Ultimate Gem Machine

      UPC #884 920 466 340

      Target

      The UPC code is printed on the outside of the product box and on the bottom of the “Gem Machine.”

      The kits, manufactured in China, were sold at Kmart, Toys R Us, Walmart. Other retailers sold the Shimmer N’ Sparkle Cra-Z-Art Cra-Z-Jewelz Gem Creations Ultimate Gem Machine from August 2015, through April 2016, for $30.

      Toys R Us, Walmart and other retailers sold the Shimmer N’ Sparkle Cra-Z-Art Cra-Z-Jewelz Gem Creations Gem Charm and Slider Bracelets from August 2015, through April 2016, for $10.

      Target stores sold the My Look Cra-Z-Art Cra-Z-Jewelz Gem Creations Ultimate Gem Machine from August 2015, through April 2016, for $30.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately take these recalled products away from children and contact LaRose for instructions to receive a full refund.

      Consumers may contact LaRose Industries toll-free at (855) 345-4693 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at recall@laroseindustries.com or online at www.laroseindustries.com and click on the Recall tab for more information.

      LaRose Industries of Randolph, N.J., and Target Corp. of Minneapolis, Minn., are recalling about 175,000 Cra-Z-Jewelz Gem Creations. The “Slider Br...

      Chrysler recalls model year 2016 Jeep Cherokees

      The left halfshaft may fracture without warning

      Chrysler Group is recalling 53 model year 2016 Jeep Cherokees manufactured September 30, 2015, to October 2, 2015.

      The left halfshaft may have been incorrectly manufactured causing it to fracture without warning. A fractured halfshaft may disconnect from the drive axle, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the left halfshaft, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Chrysler's customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's recall number is S38.

      Chrysler Group is recalling 53 model year 2016 Jeep Cherokees manufactured September 30, 2015, to October 2, 2015. The left halfshaft may have been...

      Kashi recalls Granola Bars and Bear Naked Granola

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Kashi Company is recalling Kashi® Trail Mix Chewy Granola Bars and Bear Naked® Soft Baked Granola, Cinnamon + Sunflower Butter.

      The products contain ingredients made from sunflower seeds that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There are no reports of illness to date

      The following products, distributed throughout the continental U.S., are being recalled:

      Description (Retail)UPC CodeSizeBetter If Used Before Date/Best If Used By Date
      Kashi® Trail Mix Chewy Granola Bars18627 030007.4 oz (6 ct)JAN0417; JAN0517; JAN0617; JAN0717; JAN0817; JAN09 17
      Bear Naked® Soft Baked Granola, Cinnamon + Sunflower Butter84623 1016311 ozJAN 10 2017 and JAN 11 2017
      Description (Club)UPC CodeSizeBest If Used by Date
      Bear Naked® Soft Baked Granola , Cinnamon + Sunflower Butter84623 1017326 ozDEC 24 2016; DEC 25 2016; JAN 11 2017; JAN 12 2017; JAN 13, 2017

      What to do

      Customers who purchased recalled products should discard them and contact Kashi for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company consumer hotline at 1-877-747-2467, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. (PST) or online at www.consumeralert.kashi.com.

      Kashi Company is recalling Kashi® Trail Mix Chewy Granola Bars and Bear Naked® Soft Baked Granola, Cinnamon + Sunflower Butter. The products contai...

      Mercedes-Benz USA recalls vehicles with airbag inflator issue

      The inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 199,705 model year 2008-2011 C300 Sedans, C300 4matic Sedans, C350 Sedans, C63 AMG Sedans; 2010-2011 GLK350, GLK350 4-Matics and E350 Coupes; 2011 SLS AMGs, E350 Convertibles, E550 Coupes and E550 Convertibles originally sold, or ever registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or "Zone A."

      Additionally, unless included in "Zone A" above, MBUSA is recalling model year 2008 C300 Sedans, C350 Sedans, C63 AMG Sedans and C300 4-Matic Sedans originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

      These vehicles are equipped with certain air bag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front air bag modules, and used as original equipment or replacement equipment. In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the front air bags, these inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to absolute humidity and temperature cycling.

      An inflator rupture may result in metal fragments striking the vehicle occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

      What to do

      MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger front air bag modules, free of charge. Parts are not currently available. Owners will be sent an interim notification in July 2016. A second notice will be mailed when remedy parts are available.

      Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at 1-877-496-3691.

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 199,705 model year 2008-2011 C300 Sedans, C300 4matic Sedans, C350 Sedans, C63 AMG Sedans; 2010-2011 GLK350, GLK350 ...

      BMW recalls vehicles with airbag inflator issue

      The inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation

      BMW of North America is recalling 91,806 model year 2007-2011 X5 xDrive30i, X5 xDrive35i, X5 xDrive48i, X5 xDrive50i and X5M vehicles; 2009-2011 X5 xDrive35d vehicles; 2008-2011 X6 xDrive35i, X6 xDrive50i and X6 M vehicles; and 2010-2011 X6 ActiveHybrid vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or "Zone A."

      Additionally, unless included in "Zone A" above, BMW is recalling model year 2007-2008 X5 xDrive30i, X5 xDrive35i, X5 xDrive48i, X5 xDrive50i and X5M vehicles; and 2008 BMW X6 xDrive35i, X6 xDrive50i and X6 M vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

      These vehicles are equipped with certain air bag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front air bag modules, and used as original equipment or replacement equipment. In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the front air bags, these inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to high absolute humidity and temperature cycling.

      An inflator rupture may result in metal fragments striking the vehicle occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

      What to do

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger front air bag inflator or air bag module, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 18, 2016.

      Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417.

      BMW of North America is recalling 91,806 model year 2007-2011 X5 xDrive30i, X5 xDrive35i, X5 xDrive48i, X5 xDrive50i and X5M vehicles; 2009-2011 X5 xDrive3...

      Millennials choose urgent care and internet resources over primary care physicians

      Experts say the tactic has serious health consequences, though

      Instead of checking in with a primary care provider, busy millennials often consult WebMD or Google before heading to a retail clinic or urgent care center.

      This mode of addressing a health concern is used by more than half of millennials, according to a recent survey by FAIR Health. Its primary allure: convenience

      The internet savvy, digital natives often take matters into their own hands when it comes to tracking down health-related information, explains William Curry, M.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine Associate Dean or Rural and Primary Care. But this plan can backfire.

      Consulting the internet or heading to an urgent care clinic when faced with an illness may be less demanding in the short-term -- but in the long run, this line of defense isn't nearly as effective as seeing a primary care provider.

      Inaccuracy of online information

      “I see them sometimes assuming all that information is equally reliable when it is not,” Curry said in a statement. He notes that millennials sometimes believe they can find simpler alternatives online, including dietary regimens or natural remedies -- which may or may not be helpful.

      In any case, while online remedies and urgent care clinics may be convenient, Curry says they shouldn’t take the place of medical screening and prevention.

      “It’s important to realize they cannot take the place of a primary care provider for the screening, prevention and long-term follow-up that we all need, customized to each of us,” he says.

      Younger people, who are especially prone to believing everything is fine (until it’s not), are less likely than other generations to believe primary care is important. To this end, Curry highlights the advantages of building a personal relationship with a primary care provider.

      Advantages of primary care

      Why is it important to take the time to find a primary care provider? Here are a few of the reasons, according to Curry:

      • Seeing someone who knows you and has a baseline record is quicker.
      • There is less chance that something will be overlooked.
      • Patients are more likely to get the correct diagnoses and treatments if they have a primary care provider with whom they have established a relationship.
      • Primary care physicians can screen for certain disorders, which can be present without symptoms for years. (For women, cervical cancer screenings and vaccinations can be obtained.)
      • Repeat checks can prevent avoidable complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, or vision loss.

      Choosing a doctor

      When it comes to choosing a primary care provider, Curry recommends finding someone you feel comfortable with. He also notes that it's important to ask such questions as: 

      • Do they have an internet patient portal to make communication easy for test results or questions?
      • Are office hours a fit for your schedule?
      • What kind of coverage is available from a partner or associate if your physician is out?
      • Do they have nurse practitioners or physician assistants in the practice to improve access?

      Instead of checking in with a primary care provider, busy millennials often consult WebMD or Google before heading to a retail clinic or urgent care center...

      Most expensive breast cancer treatments not always most effective

      Researchers say oncologists should consider cost when prescribing

      Drug costs have increased significantly in recent years, at times even`becoming a political issue. The drugs that seem to increase the most are specialty drugs, like those used to treat chronic diseases, such as cancer.

      Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have found the cost of different breast cancer chemotherapy treatments can vary widely, with little or no correlation to effectiveness.

      Dr. Sharon Giordana, chair of Health Services Research, says an understanding of costs should play a role in helping doctors and patients decide on a course of treatment.

      "The costs of cancer care have been increasing dramatically, both for the health care system and for patients. As physicians, we increasingly are recognizing the financial burden on our patients," said Giordano. "Both physicians and patients need greater access to information about the treatment costs, so this critical issue can be discussed during a patient's decision making process."

      Cut costs by $1 billion a year

      Giordana cites estimates from the American Cancer Society that there are more than 246,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer each year in the U.S. Since more than a third of these patients will be treated with chemotherapy, Giordana says choosing a therapy that is just as effective, but less costly, could shave $1 billion a year off the nation's health care bill.

      A recent study by researchers at the University of North Carolina concluded that cancer drug inflation is a very real thing. Specifically, the researchers found that when a new cancer drug comes on the market, its initial cost is much higher than the initial costs of drugs introduced a decade or more ago.

      Six times more expensive

      Their study determined that a month's worth of treatment with the newest cancer drugs, on the market since 2014, were, on average, six times more expensive than the launch prices of similar drugs introduced in 2000, even after adjusting for inflation.

      In the Texas study, researchers focused on younger patients who had private health insurance. Giordano says patients without private health insurance likely face even higher out-of-pocket expense for chemotherapy.

      For that reason, she says oncologists need to prescribe the most effective treatments, while being aware of the substantial financial burden associated with chemotherapy.

      Drug costs have increased significantly in recent years, at times even`becoming a political issue. The drugs that seem to increase the most are specialty d...

      Risky listening habits may lead to permanent hearing damage in young people

      A study shows that many young people are developing tinnitus due to listening to loud music

      The stigma of young people listening to loud music is one that stretches back for decades, but new research shows that it may be contributing to serious hearing problems.

      Canadian researcher Larry Roberts says that young people who listen to loud music are increasingly being affected by tinnitus, a condition signified by a constant ringing in the ears. The development of tinnitus signifies the potential for permanent hearing damage.

      “It’s a growing problem and I think it’s going to get worse. My personal view is that there is a major public health challenge coming down the road in terms of difficulties with hearing,” he said.

      Serious health risk

      Roberts and his fellow researchers came to this conclusion after conducting a study utilizing 170 students between the ages of 11 and 17. They found that nearly all of the participants engaged in some sort of risky listening habit – whether it was listening to loud music at parties or events or on some sort of personal device.

      Additionally, they found more than 25% of participants were already experiencing symptoms of tinnitus. Participants reported hearing a constant ringing or buzzing sound in their daily life, a condition that usually doesn’t affect someone under the age of 50.

      The researchers noted that having symptoms of tinnitus did not affect how well participants could hear; although this select group of students displayed symptoms of tinnitus, they were able to hear just as well as their peers. However, this same group was found to have a reduced tolerance for loud noises, a sign that Roberts says is indicative of hidden permanent hearing damage.

      Changing habits

      Roberts and his fellow researchers are confident that their research is able to provide a glimpse into what they consider to be a growing health problem for young people.

      Although prolonged exposure to loud music or noises can cause constant tinnitus, experiencing it for short stretches should act as a warning sign, he says. For example, young people who experience symptoms of tinnitus for a day or so after listening to loud music should be cautious about their listening habits moving forward.

      The full study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports

      The stigma of young people listening to loud music is one that stretches back for decades, but new research shows that it may be contributing to serious he...

      Baltimore considering warning for sugar-sweetened drinks

      Health advocates say it could reduce consumption

      In the battle against childhood obesity, many health advocates point to the over consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages as a significant contributor. Many health advocates would like to see a warning label added to these beverages, cautioning parents.

      Baltimore, Maryland, is the latest city to consider a warning to parents about the health consequences of too much sugar-sweetened drinks.

      Earlier this year an online survey showed participating parents were 20% less likely to choose a sugary beverage for their children if they encountered such a health warning. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

      The numbers break down like this:

      • Would choose a sugar-sweetened beverage if they didn't see a label – 60%
      • Would choose a sugar-sweetened beverage if they did see a label – 40%

      Surprising number of parents would buy it anyway

      While the results do show a significant drop in the number of parents who would choose the calorie laden beverage, it should also be noted that nearly half of the parents – after being warned that too much of the product might make their child obese – would buy the product anyway.

      The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through its Healthy Eating Research program. The researchers concluded that health warning labels may sway parents’ perceptions about the healthfulness of sugar-sweetened beverages. What's less clear, however, is whether the parents would eliminate or purchase less of the product.

      RWJF notes that its study is among the first to test the effectiveness of warning labels on changing behavior. Other studies of the effectiveness of providing consumers with additional health information have shown mixed results.

      Other research

      A case in point is the recent move by fast food restaurants to post calorie information on menus. A study last year by researchers at Arizona State University is not encouraging to those who believe information is the key to changing behavior.

      The researchers surveyed McDonald's customers who, at the time, had been exposed to calorie data on menus for three years. They determined that 60% of the customers had seen the calorie information, but only 16% used the information in deciding what to order.

      In other words, they might have noticed a particular burger and fries combination had nearly 1,000 calories, but they ordered it anyway, instead of the salad.

      The study found that customers with higher incomes were twice as likely to notice the calorie labels and three times more likely to use them.

      The author of the RWJF study, Christina Roberto, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, is testifying at a Baltimore City Council public hearing this week, commenting on the sweetened-beverage ordinance. 

      The measure would require businesses that sell or advertise sugar-sweetened beverages to post health warning labels indicating that the drinks contribute to tooth decay, obesity, and diabetes.  

      In the battle against childhood obesity, many health advocates point to the over consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages as a significant contributor. Man...

      Finding the best price on Amazon

      Researchers say it takes a little extra work

      Brick and mortar retailers continue to lose business to Amazon.com, which works to make the buying process easy and seamless. You search for a product, it pops up in the buy box, and you add it to your cart.

      But if it is too easy, you may not be getting the best price. At least, that's the conclusion of marketing researchers at Northeastern University.

      Keep in mind that not everything you buy comes directly from Amazon. The company works with many third-party sellers to provide products, especially for specialty items.

      Algorithmic pricing

      When you search for a product, what pops up first might not carry the lowest price. The study, led by Northeastern's Christo Wilson, discovered that Amazon is much more likely to feature sellers in the buy box who adjust prices using an automated system called algorithmic pricing. And a consumer should not assume this seller has the lowest price because Wilson says, more often than not, it doesn't.

      "For example, we found that 60% of sellers using algorithmic pricing have prices that are higher than the lowest price for a given product,” Wilson said.

      He admits the price will not be much higher. In fact, 70% of the time the price in the buy box was only a dollar higher. The rest of the time, though, other sellers had the same product $20 to $60 cheaper.

      To find the lowest price, Wilson says you have to take the extra step of clicking through the “other sellers on Amazon” button under the “add to cart” button.

      Anyone can use algorithmic pricing

      More companies are using algorithmic pricing than you might think, and they don't have to be all that large and sophisticated. For a relatively small fee, any independent seller can obtain the services of a firm that will adjust its prices in real time.

      The Northeastern team found these third party sellers have access to a number of different pricing strategies that include finding the lowest price offered by competitors and going above it by a set dollar amount or percentage.

      "Amazon has a relatively low number of algo sellers--from 2% to 10%," Wilson said. "But they cover almost a third of the best-selling products offered by outside merchants, so the impact is large."

      Amazon has its own system for selecting companies whose products get featured in the buy box, but Wilson says consumers can't assume the product has the lowest price. The chief take away from the study, he says, is that consumers need to take the time to look through the other seller options and consider them carefully.

      Brick and mortar retailers continue to lose business to Amazon.com, which works to make the buying process easy and seamless. You search for a product, it...

      Jaguar Land Rover North America recalls vehicles with airbag inflator issue

      The inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation

      Jaguar Land Rover North America is recalling 34,334 model year 2007-2011 Land Rover Range Rovers originally sold or ever registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or "Zone A."

      Additionally, unless included in "Zone A" above, Land Rover is recalling certain model year 2007-2008 Land Rover Range Rovers originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

      Vehicles not originally sold or ever registered in either Zones A or B are not subject to this safety recall.

      These vehicles are equipped with certain air bag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules, and used as original equipment or replacement equipment. In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the front airbags, these inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to absolute humidity and temperature cycling.

      An inflator rupture may result in metal fragments striking the vehicle occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

      What to do

      Land Rover will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger frontal air bag assemblies, free of charge. Parts are not currently available. Owners will be sent an interim notification around July 31, 2016. A second notice will be mailed when remedy parts are available.

      Owners may contact Land Rover customer service at 1-800-637-6837. Land Rover's number for this recall is P081.

      Jaguar Land Rover North America is recalling 34,334 model year 2007-2011 Land Rover Range Rovers originally sold or ever registered, in Alabama, California...

      Traxxas recalls X-Maxx Monster Trucks and electronic speed controls

      Vehicle modification or electronic failure can result in a short circuit

      Traxxas LP of McKinney, Texas, is recalling about 5,000

      X-Maxx Monster Trucks and 140 VXL-6 electronic speed controls in the U.S. and Canada.

      Vehicle modification or electronic failure can result in a short circuit, posing a fire hazard.

      The company has received 40 reports of fire. One injury to a finger has been reported.

      The recalled VXL-6s electronic speed control #3365 is sold installed in the Traxxas X-Maxx Monster Truck, model 77076-04, and is also sold separately.

      The electronic speed control is the electronic control module that manages the throttle control (speed), directional control (forward or reverse) and braking of the drive motor in the truck.  

      The truck is 30 inches long, 22 inches wide and 4 inches above the ground and comes in red and blue. It weighs approximately 20 pounds. The electronic speed control is located near the center of the truck in a vented blue case approximately 2 inches wide, 2 inches long and 2 inches tall. Traxxas XMaxx is displayed on the side of the truck.

      The trucks and speed controls, manufactured in Taiwan, were sold at HobbyTown and other hobby stores and Traxxas dealers nationwide from November 2015, through January 2016. The X-Maxx truck sold for about $840. The electronic speed control sold for about $250.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled trucks and return their electronic speed control to their dealer for a free firmware upgrade and installation of a new fusible link, or contact Traxxas customer support to return the electronic speed control and have a firmware upgrade and free fusible link installation.

      Consumers may contact: Traxxas toll-free at 888-872-9927 from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday or online at www.Traxxas.com, then click on “Support” and then “Repair-Exchange” for more information.

      Traxxas LP of McKinney, Texas, is recalling about 5,000 X-Maxx Monster Trucks and 140 VXL-6 electronic speed controls in the U.S. and Canada.Vehicl...

      Model year 2016 Jeep Cherokees recalled

      The right halfshaft may fracture without warning

      Chrysler Group is recalling 1,029 model year 2016 Jeep Cherokees manufactured October 3, 2015, to March 22, 2016.

      The right halfshaft may have been incorrectly manufactured causing it to fracture without warning. A fractured halfshaft may disconnect from the drive axle, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do


      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the right halfshaft, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Chrysler's customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's recall number is S39.

      Chrysler Group is recalling 1,029 model year 2016 Jeep Cherokees manufactured October 3, 2015, to March 22, 2016.  The right halfshaft may have bee...

      Are there alternatives for payday loan borrowers?

      The best alternative may be an improved credit score

      The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) proposed regulations for payday lenders produced a strong reaction from the short-term loan industry.

      Put them out of business, the industry warns, and people with lousy or no credit and no savings will have no place to turn when they need emergency cash.

      It's true that these consumers have almost no options in an emergency. What can be debated, however, is if a vulnerable class of consumers is well served by loans for just two weeks at triple digit interest rates. Who, after all, can be expected to repay a loan in just two weeks if he or she doesn't have the money today?

      "So often, people are forced into a situation to get a payday loan in order to survive between paychecks, and the payday lenders know the consumers will not be able to pay back the loan," said James Garvey, co-founder and CEO of the start-up Self Lender.

      No credit card

      The reason consumers go to a payday lender, more often than not, is they don't have a credit card. If they did, they could put the unexpected car repair bill on plastic and pay for it over a period of several months. They might pay 16% or more interest, but that would be a lot less than a payday loan that is due in two weeks.

      The problem is that consumers with lousy credit can't get a credit card or any other type of unsecured loan. So Garvey believes the best course of action is to help people improve or establish credit.

      Self Lender is an online source of credit builder loans which have been around for decades and are available from banks and credit unions. It isn't a quick fix, and consumers need a year to reap its benefits, but here's how it works:

      Credit-builder loans

      A consumer with bad or no credit who works through a bank – or in this case Self Lender – takes out a loan for $1,000. But the consumer doesn't get access to the funds. The money goes into an interest-bearing CD.

      For 12 months, the consumer makes payments of less than $100 a month on the loan. After 12 months, the loan has been repaid.

      So what's the point, you might ask?

      The point is that those 12 monthly payments are reported to the three credit agencies. If the consumer has no credit history, he or she does now – and if the payments have been made on time, that credit score should be pretty good. As a bonus, the consumer also has over $1,000 in savings.

      With a decent credit score, the consumer's chances of getting a credit card are now pretty good. If the consumer is careful, only using the card for emergencies, he or she will have no need to take out a payday loan.

      Garvey believes there is a huge market for this service. He says 20% of U.S. adults don't even have a credit score. Of the rest, he says half have subprime scores, making it difficult to obtain reasonably-priced credit.

      "The majority of U.S. adults aren't able to take advantage of low interest rates if they need to borrow money," said Garvey. "Poor credit history can cost a person tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest and fees over a lifetime."

      The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) proposed regulations for payday lenders produced a strong reaction from the short-term loan industry....