Archive: December, 2010
Consumers who use debit cards - that is, most of us - surely understand that the system isn't free, but we also don't pay much attention to the costs or how they're shared. You pay $12.99 for a book at Barnes & Noble, and walk away with a $12.99 book How much Barnes & Noble gets, and how much is siphoned off by various banks and by Visa, isn't your concern, right?
The new financial-reform law suggested that maybe it should be, because - guess what? - you're the one who's ultimately paying. Thanks to an amendment pushed by a coalition of merchants and fought by the finance industry, the Dodd-Frank Act directed the Federal Reserve to limit so-called debit "swipe fees" to amounts that are "reasonable and proportional" to the interchange systems' actual costs.
Today the Fed weighed in, seeking comment on alternative approaches - none of which make the finance industry happy. The American Banker reported:
What kinds of companies are most likely to anger consumers? For customers of Angie's List, which helps people find local services based on other consumers' opinions, home-warranty services won top honors, so to speak, for the sixth year in a row.
Here's the Angie's List rogue's gallery for 2010, with an asterisk marking the catergories making a return appearance:
A report from Kaufman Bros.' analyst Shaw Wu says Apple "got the terms it wanted from Verizon" in negotiations to introduce a Verizon version of the iPhone, widely expected early next year.
That's according to a report on Fortune magazine's website, which says that even Wu was expecting worse for Apple, "given the strength of Android and higher cost of [Verizon iPhone] components, particularly those associated with CDMA," the cellular technology used by Verizon.
Fortune says "Apple's hand was strengthened by the 14.1 million iPhones sold last quarter," the competitive gains of AT&T as iPhone's exclusive platform, and the trajectory of Google's Android smartphone, which Wu says has started "to lose some of its luster" for Verizon.
Some days are too busy to keep up, and this has been one. But today's announcement that the Federal Trade Commission staff wants to implement a "Do Not Track" option for online activities is too important to ignore.
This is far from a done deal. But that doesn't undermine its importance, according to privacy-rights advocates who follow these issues closely and offered their perspectives today via conference call.