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Could Lower Gasoline Prices Weaken the Economy?

Could Lower Gasoline Prices Weaken the Economy?

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Gasoline prices across the U.S. continue to fall, which is great for consumers, especially at this time of year.However, the oil industry and states that pump out the stuff are beginning to worry if prices come down too much more, it will wind up hurting the economy.Speaking for the Colorado Petroleum Association, Stan Dempsey says capital expenditures are being scaled back because of lower prices for crude and if they fall below $50 a barrel, the next step is laying off workers.Another one of the ramifications of less money for big oil is lower tax revenues for local governments.On top of that, environmentalists are concerned that as people fill up their tanks, it just sends more pollution into the air.

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Gas Prices Drop by Four Cents

Gas Prices Drop by Four Cents

bulentozber/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. fell by over four cents in the last week, following a decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to keep oil production at the levels previously set.The average gallon nationwide dropped to $2.78, compared to $2.82 last week. The biggest drop in price came in the Rocky Mountain region, where a gallon costs, on average, seven cents less than it did last week.The West Coast remains the most expensive place to buy gas, with the average gallon costing $3.12, while the Gulf Coast has the lowest prices at $2.53.

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Microsoft Buys Acompli, an App That Makes Email Easier

Microsoft Buys Acompli, an App That Makes Email Easier

SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Image(NEW YORK) -- Microsoft has joined forces with the team behind super smart email app Acompli to restore peace and order to cluttered email inboxes everywhere.Available for iOS and Android devices, Acompli allows users to work faster, smarter and more efficiently on their mobile devices across a variety of messaging services, including Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo and Hotmail, among others.The app displays the most important information, makes it easier to find old emails and helps create a calendar, making sure you never miss an important meeting or moment."This acquisition is part of our company-wide effort to help people accomplish more with their mobile devices," Rajesh Jha, Microsoft's corporate vice president, said in a blog post.The announcement of the acquisition comes days after a misfired blog post that was briefly published last week, fueling speculation that the two companies would soon join forces."We remain committed to the original Acompli vision of making the best mobile email application on any platform and across all services. Your app and accounts will continue to work and the team will continue on our fast pace of improving and adding new functionality every couple of weeks," Javier Soltero, CEO of Acompli, said in a blog post today.Productivity has been a prevailing theme at Microsoft this year. The company brought its Office suite to iOS devices earlier this year and recently released them to Android users for free.It appeared to pay off for Microsoft, with the Office apps climbing to the top of the most popular apps charts.Google also tackled the problem of email inbox clutter in October with "Inbox," a super powered app for Gmail users that provides organization and context to existing emails, such as letting you know if your upcoming flight is delayed.

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Feds to Investigate Graco’s Mass Child Seat Recall

Feds to Investigate Graco’s Mass Child Seat Recall

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government announced Monday it will investigate whether child product maker Graco delayed what the government called the largest child seat recall in U.S. history after learning of a safety defect in the seats’ harness buckles.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said in a press release that manufacturers have a maximum of five days to notify their agency once they, “reasonably know that an item of motor vehicle equipment, such as a car seat, contains a safety related defect” and will be investigating whether Graco “violated the law.”“There is no excuse for delaying a recall to address any safety related defect,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said in the release. “If Graco delayed in protecting children and infants from this defect, we will hold them accountable.”NHTSA said it had applied “continued pressure” to Graco before the company recalled more than six million “defective car seats” earlier this year.Documents published online by NHTSA show that the agency investigated the car seat problem back in October 2012 based on customer complaints. In January of this year, NHTSA wrote a Graco executive a letter in which the agency requested Graco conduct a recall. The letter said Graco had received more than 6,000 complaints of buckles that became stuck -- many times, parents had to cut the straps to free their child.NHTSA says Graco initially said that the root cause of the problem was ,“food, dried liquid drinks, vomit, formula, etc.,” seeping into the buckle and mucking up the works.Later, however, the company submitted a “Defect Information Report” to the agency regarding a problem with the harness buckles on some 3.7 million of their car seats in February, and expanded the recall population to over 4.1 million the next month. Then in June, the company recalled another nearly two million rear-facing infant car seats. In all, more than 6 million child seats are estimated to be affected.In a federal form posted online Monday, NHTSA said the new investigation will deal with the, “timeliness of reporting a defect in the harness buckles” of the child seats.“The safety of our products and the consumers that use them is paramount and underlies every decision we make,” Graco said in a statement to ABC News. “Graco takes all consumer feedback related to our products seriously and we work diligently to make changes and modifications to improve the safety and usability of our products. We thoroughly analyzed all data related to the buckles and took the required actions to keep our consumers safe. We worked cooperatively with NHTSA throughout its investigation and will continue to do so moving forward.”The Graco website features a section devoted to the recall, saying the seats are still safe and can be used until Graco can provide a replacement part. The website noted that no injuries have been reported related to the buckle issue.The NHTSA announcement comes just two weeks after Graco announced it was recalling nearly five million child strollers due to a “fingertip amputation hazard.”The next day, ABC News 20/20 reported the findings of an investigation into the flawed product recall system, showing that the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that for the average recall, up to 80 percent of the potentially dangers products are never returned or accounted for. In particularly bad cases, the government agency can only account for five percent of recalled items.

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Down Day on Wall Street, Despite ISM Report Showing Economic Growth

Down Day on Wall Street, Despite ISM Report Showing Economic Growth

tarabird/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street tumbled on Monday, falling even farther from last week's record highs.The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 51.44, closing at 17,776.80.The Nasdaq slipped 64.28 to a finish of 4,727.35, while the S&P 500 closed at 2,053.44, down 14.12 from its opening.The Institute for Supply Management on Monday reported that economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in November, the 18th consecutive month in which that was true. The economy overall, according to ISM, also grew, for the 66th consecutive month.

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Why “12 Days of Christmas” Gifts Could Set You Back $116K

Why “12 Days of Christmas” Gifts Could Set You Back $116K

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Turtle doves? French hens? OK, maybe golden rings. But otherwise, would most people really want the stuff in "12 Days of Christmas"? Add in the price tag, and it gets worse.If you went to stores to buy all the things in the holiday tune each time they were repeated, it would cost you $116,273.08, according to the 31st annual PNC's Christmas Price Index. Even without the repetition, it all would cost $27,673.22.Online, it would be even more expensive because of high-priced shipping for oddities like partridges and pear trees.“It would cost $192,470 to buy the 364 gifts online,” said Jim Dunigan, PNC's chief investment officer. “Things like the Internet, Black Friday and doorbusters have changed the pace of the holiday. As online shopping became more popular we started an online version of the index, as well.”The Internet price to buy the items only in the quantities first mentioned in the song would be $43,959 -- an 8 percent increase from last year, according to PNC.PNC worked with various outlets to calculate the gifts mentioned in the carol."We work with Petco for the calling birds, using the prices of pet store canaries," Dunigan said. "For 'nine ladies dancing,' we reach out to a local Philadelphia dance company called PHILADANCO, and the Pennsylvania Ballet Company for '10 lords a leaping.'"Significant changes in gift prices since 2013 were surprisingly few.

"Eight items went unchanged, and that’s the most we've had since 2006," Dunigan said.The charge for "six geese a laying" went up a staggering 71.4 percent. Swans stayed the same, as did "eight maids a milking," for which they calculated the rate of unskilled workers at minimum wage.Survey results were revealed on PNC's "The Great Carol Comeback" site. Visitors can view and share music videos to help revive the classic, which has dropped to number 98 on the list of Christmas songs.

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Amazon’s Fleet of Robots Work Around the Clock to Fill Orders

Amazon’s Fleet of Robots Work Around the Clock to Fill Orders

Amazon(NEW YORK) -- There's a place where robots and humans co-exist peacefully, working around the clock to make wishes come true.That utopia exists at 10 Amazon fulfillment centers where a fleet of Kiva robots work with humans to efficiently fill the rush of Cyber Monday and holiday orders.Amazon said this year, they're using 15,000 robots in 10 warehouses around the country.Craig Berman, Amazon's vice president of global communications, said the orange robots -- which are a foot high and weigh 320-pounds -- have helped the company get packages to consumers more efficiently."It makes things much faster," he told ABC News. "In our older generation buildings we are very proud we can get something out the door in a couple hours...in a Kiva building it is just minutes."What distinguishes a Kiva building from an older warehouse is that the 1.2 million square foot facilities don't have aisles, allowing Amazon to pack even more inventory into the space. Berman said Amazon has been able to increase its capacity by as much as 50 percent by nixing the aisles.The Kiva robots' stealth size and strength allow them to move diligently underground, picking up shelves that can weigh as much as 750-pounds and bringing them to human "pickers" to expedite the order.The human picker can tell from an LED screen which item they are picking up and in which bin it can be found on the shelf. They then take the items and put them in a tote where they are then sent to more humans who work on packing and shipping, while the Kiva robot returns the shelf.Berman said he expects Amazon's robot army to be a complement to the company's employees this holiday season, allowing Amazon to dominate the holiday shopping season."The Kiva units are not replacing humans," Berman said. "They’re just changing the job humans do."

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Girl Scouts Go Digital to Sell Their Iconic Cookies

Girl Scouts Go Digital to Sell Their Iconic Cookies

John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For the first time in their more than 100-year history, the Girl Scouts have gone digital.

Starting Dec. 12, all you have to do is go online to buy your Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs and more. Scouts can sell their cookies through personalized cookie websites and a mobile app, customizing their landing pages with pictures, text and more.One hundred percent of the net revenue earned from cookie sales will still stay with the local council that sponsors the sale, but those purchases can now be made from home using a credit card."For almost a century, the Girl Scout Cookie Program has been teaching girls to be leaders in the world of business and finance, and we intend to ensure that legacy continues in the digital age,” Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chávez said in a statement. “Digital Cookie is a game-changer for Girl Scouts, and a quantum leap forward in the evolution of the cookie program, coupling traditional sales activities with an online sales experience that teaches skills like online marketing and ecommerce, all in a digital space that puts an emphasis on learning, fun, and safety.”Not all troops will participate in the program the first time around, but Girl Scouts expects every troop to use the new systems by the end of 2015.

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The Best, Easiest 2014 Cyber Monday Shopping Hacks

The Best, Easiest 2014 Cyber Monday Shopping Hacks

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Cyber Monday 2014 is upon us, heralding the even longer pseudo shopping holiday of Cyber Week.So how do you wade through the junk that you don't need and find the real deals on the stuff you want?"We're all for using tools that can help you save," said Jody Rohlena, deputy editor of ShopSmart magazine. "But don't worry that you have to try every trick. Find a few sites and apps you like and make those your go-to resources. That way, you'll save money without spending a lot of time."Apps and websites like the ones below can help navigate the clutter of online deals this week and beyond:1. Shop It to MeDescribed as a "free online personal shopper" for clothing, shoes and accessories, website Shop It to Me allows you to pick your favorite designers from more than 600, then select your sizes and how often you want to hear about personalized items when they go on sale.2. Poach ItTrack products you love with Poach It, an app available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Then get coupon codes and receive alerts when the price drops.3. Frugaa.comFrugaa.com allows users to vote on how well coupon codes work for them and the results are displayed according to those rankings. It was included in the November issue of ShopSmart, a Consumer Reports publication, under a list of "Amazing Money Savers." You can search by category or store, and use the slider to set your budget."Join Frugaa Rewards to earn points when you comment and share; redeem points for gift cards to spend at participating-retailer websites," ShopSmart says.4. ReturnSaver.comGet "painless" and free returns for items you bought online with a $49 annual Return Saver membership, even if you bought the product at a website that charges return shipping, according to ShopSmart's description of this website in its "Amazing Money Savers" list."Just print a label from ReturnSaver.com and let FedEx take over," ShopSmart says.However, returns must be made within the merchant's time limit.5. ShopGeniusApp.com"This browser app really is a genius. Enable it for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari and it will show price comparisons, reviews and coupons as you shop," ShopSmart writes to describe ShopGeniusApp.com, another inclusion in the "Amazing Money Savers" list.Unfortunately, Shop Genius doesn't work with Amazon's Smile program, which donates a portion of your purchases to the charity of your choice, according to ShopSmart.

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Six Ways to Prepare for Cyber Monday

Six Ways to Prepare for Cyber Monday

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Even if you’re still recovering from the frenzy of Black Friday shopping, you can simplify your Cyber Monday and Cyber Week shopping with these tips.Retailers often announce their Cyber Monday deals later and with less fanfare than Black Friday promotions, because they want shoppers in their doors early and often.Don’t be caught off guard. Just run through this quick checklist, courtesy of DealNews, before you hit the e-commerce road.1. Know Your Sizes and Size ChartsIf you’re in need of a winter coat or boots, check out your favorite retailers’ size charts ahead of time, so you can expedite the shopping experience.2. Step Into a Store to See the Goods First“Showroom like you’ve never showroomed before,” writes DealNews’ Jeff Somogyi. This is helpful especially for big-ticket items or electronics, like appliances and smartphones.3. You May Want to Adjust Your Work DayThe best deals may hit between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. ET, according to DealNews. That means you might want to get to work before then, if you work during normal business hours on the East Coast. For those on the West Coast, get plenty of sleep the night before and set your alarm clock. There may be a surge of deals at the end of the day around 6 p.m. ET, writes Somogyi, so you might as well stay later at work too.4. Prepare Your Promo Codes“Use your Cyber Monday (formerly Black Friday) Wishlist to single out stores that might carry what you’re looking for, then Google for coupons or check out our coupon page,” writes Somogyi. These include codes for free shipping.Many stories have online discount codes. Sears, for example, uses CYBER25, which will give you an extra 25 percent off certain products, such as outwear that’s already reduced up to 50 percent. Sears’ sister-store Kmart uses that same code to give shoppers an extra 15 to 25 percent off Joe Boxer apparel for the family, which is already reduced up to 40 percent.5. Prepare Your Safe Passwords and Set Up Alerts, NewslettersRemember to protect your identity by using secure, complicated passwords that can’t be easily guessed by cybercrooks. And for extra savings, you can sign up for deal newsletters, or DealNews alerts that search for low prices on specific items you request.6. Know the Return PolicySave yourself a headache later by reading the return and exchange policy. Some stores like Nordstrom, American Apparel and Victoria’s Secret usually allow you to return online purchases to brick-and-mortar locations.

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Early Retail Promotions Take a Bite Out of Thanksgiving Weekend Retail Sales

Early Retail Promotions Take a Bite Out of Thanksgiving Weekend Retail Sales

Michael Nagle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Retail spending over the Thanksgiving weekend fell more than ten percent from a year ago, according to an industry trade group, and retailers -- the people most interested in strong sales -- are probably partly responsible for the decline.Total spending from Thursday through Sunday dropped 11 percent from a year ago, to $50.9 billion, according to a survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation.  The NRF said shoppers spent an average of $380.95 over the holiday weekend, down 6.4 percent from 2013.  The survey involved 4,631 consumers and was conducted on Friday and Saturday.Retail experts note that the decline, the second annual drop in a row, was partly the result of retailers offering bargains in the days and even weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Many shoppers were able to grab deals without having to face the lines and crowds that traditionally occur on Black Friday.Walmart and Target were just two of the many retailers that began offering holiday and Black Friday deals weeks before Thanksgiving.The National Retail Federation said the number of people who went shopping over the four-day weekend declined 5.2 percent from last year, to 134 million.Online shopping over the holiday also dropped this year.  The retail trade group said online shopping accounted for 42 percent of spending over the four-day holiday period, down from 44 percent last year. The NRF said consumers spent on average $159.55 online, down ten percent from a year ago.Many retailers offered the same discounts on the Web as they offered in stores.  Rolling discounts and online promotions like free shipping and price-matching allowed shoppers to get Black Friday-type discounts throughout the month without leaving home.The trend of shoppers taking advantage of earlier and longer promotions this season should continue on Cyber Monday. The National Retail Federation expects about 127 million people to shop online Monday, down from about 131 million who planned to shop online last year on Cyber Monday.But retailers can take solace in one bit of news from the National Retail Federation. It still expects total holiday sales through the end of the year to rise 4.1 percent.

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Amazing Discovery Revealed in 1999 Children’s Movie “Stuart Little”

Amazing Discovery Revealed in 1999 Children’s Movie “Stuart Little”

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The masterpiece had been missing since the 1920s.But there it was, hanging on the wall in the 1999 children’s movie Stuart Little, a film featuring Hugh Laurie, Geena Davis and Jonathan Lipnicki alongside a talking mouse, which was voiced by Michael J. Fox.Art historian Gergely Barki recognized the long-missing Robert Bereny painting “Sleeping Lady with Black Vase” while watching the movie with his daughter in 2009.“I went to the television and tried to clean the windscreen. Is it real?” Barki said in an interview with ABC News.Yes, it was real. Barki contacted people associated with the film, trying to track down the Bereny classic.The artist’s influence gave the discovery added impact. Bereny, an avant-garde painter known for cubism and expressionism, was one of the leading artists in early-1900s Hungary.The painting, which was purchased by an assistant set designer for $500, was eventually sold to a private collector.

Now the Bereny is hitting the auction block, part of an upcoming auction with Hungary’s Virag Judit auction house. The starting price is about $138,000, with an estimated sales price of about $240,000 to $325,000.

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The Best 2014 Cyber Monday Deals

The Best 2014 Cyber Monday Deals

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You've had your fill of turkey, maybe even elbowed a fellow shopper or two, and now it's time to get in front of a computer for Cyber Monday. With many Americans back in the office after the holidays, employees may have to check these online deals on their breaks. But don't worry, more retailers are stretching out Cyber Monday into Cyber Week.Be prepared for limited supplies, limited-time sales and restrictions. Here are some Cyber Monday deals to consider:AmazonAmazon's Fire phone is available unlocked for $199, originally $649, in a limited promotion that ends Monday. The phone works with GSM carriers including AT&T, T-Mobile, Metro PCS and Cricket. It comes with a full year of Amazon Prime membership for free two-day shipping and access to free streaming movies and television shows, like FX's "The Americans."Amazon's new Fire HD 7 tablet deal began Thursday and ends Monday. It's available for $109 (regularly $139) in six-inch and seven-inch models plus five color choices.Black LapelWant a quality, well-fitted custom men's suit at a fraction of the cost of traditional tailors? As part of Black Lapel's first sale ever, on Saturday and Sunday buy any two shirts and get any silk knit tie free. On Monday, buy any gift card and get a 40 percent bonus added in value. Black Lapel's online ordering system offers free shipping and a "flawless fit promise."GameStopStarting at 12:01 a.m. on Cyber Monday through Sunday, Dec. 7, GameStop.com will offer deals on new and pre-owned video games, consoles, smartphones and more. All week long, customers can snag deals both online and in its more than 4,200 retail stores.- Online Monday only: save $70 off Xbox One Holiday Value Bundle ($329.99) and $50 off Xbox 360 500GB Holiday Value Bundle ($199.99).- Online and in-store Monday: $20 off new video game titles for Xbox 360 and PS3: NBA 2K15 ($39.99), Borderlands the Pre Sequel ($39.99), WWE 2K15 ($39.99); and $10 off BioShock Infinite Complete ($29.99).- All week online: pre-owned PlayStation 3 console bundles for $199.99 and Xbox 360 console bundle for $149.99.- All week online and in-store: pre-owned Wii console bundle for $89.99 and Nintendo DS bundle for $69.99.Google PlayThough this year's details haven't been released, last year Google Play had free MP3s, including pop hits and classics."If last year's spoils were anything to go by, Google Play will be the one-stop shop for any movie buff or music-lover who may have overstretched themselves on Black Friday," according to DealNews.KmartKmart and Sears' Cyber Week deals start Sunday, Nov. 30 at midnight until Saturday, Dec. 6 at 11:59 p.m. The two sister companies interchangeably allow free in-store pick-up at any of 1,800 Sears or Kmart locations nationwide.- Save $100 on a RCA 46-inch 1080p LED HDTV, paying $349.99.- Get 50 percent off Hasbro games.- Save $70 on Craftsman 42 piece 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch Drive Bit and Torx Bit Socket Wrench Set, paying only $29.99.- Receive up to 40 percent off Joe Boxer apparel for the family plus save 15 to 25 percent off with code CYBER25.Office Depot and OfficeMaxThe sister stores Office Depot and OfficeMax will have exclusive online deals with a Cyber Monday pre-sale beginning on Sunday through Monday, Dec. 1. Then, the stores will have deals through the week on laptops and tablets through officedepot.com/cybermonday.Sears- Save $80 on Kenmore Elite 5 Qt. 400 Watt Stand Mixers and pay $169.99.- Save $30 on Craftsman C3 19.2V Lithium-Ion Hammer Drill Kit and pay $99.99; plus Shop Your Way members get an extra 10 percent off tools purchases at Sears.com, with some exclusions.- Save $530 on the Kenmore 25 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator and pay $819.99.- Save up to 50 percent on all outerwear for men, women and children (regularly priced from $30 to $180), plus an extra 25 percent off using coupon code: CYBER25.Staples- Save $100 on an Asus X205 laptop, spend $149 online only.- Get a Dell 24-inch monitor for $99 online, saving $100.- Get 40 percent off select custom holiday cards and photo calendars in-store and online.

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Seven Super Cyber Monday Travel Deals

Seven Super Cyber Monday Travel Deals

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While you're curled up in a post-Turkey Day food coma, reap the rewards of online shopping, because this year's Cyber Monday travel incentives are particularly plentiful. Below are 7 of the most enticing travel discounts worth your time and money:

Score a Hotel Room for just $7

Mobile app HotelTonight is offering a bargain-basement batch of $7 hotel rooms across the country on Black Friday, starting at 7 a.m. local time and going until they sell out. But if you're too slow on the draw, never fear. A second promotion featuring rooms starting at $70 per night will run through Cyber Monday.

Skim 70% Off the Top of a Stay at Topnotch Resort

Located in adorable Stowe, Vermont, Topnotch Resort is a 68-room and resort homes luxury property, featuring a 35,000 square-foot spa, indoor-outdoor tennis, two restaurants and shuttle service to and from the slopes. This Cyber Monday, the hotel will be offering 70% off winter and spring stays on applicable dates through June 29, 2015. If you're really ambitious, hit the "Power Hour" between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. EST to score 50 percent off all suite accommodations. Some restrictions apply.

Enjoy 50% Off Your Stay at a Mexican Luxury Hotel

A Robb Report favorite and romantic beachside retreat, Las Alamandas in Costalegre, Mexico, is offering a 50% discount on rooms to those who book between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Offer applies to a minimum four-night stay and extends through December 2015. To redeem, call 1-888-882-9616, email info@alamandas.com, or book online at www.alamandas.com using the code CYBERSUN. Some restrictions apply.

Historic Hudson Valley Getaway Gets Prices Slashed

Located 90 miles north of New York City, the sprawling Mohonk Mountain House resort is reducing prices on one- and two-night stays booked for select weekends in 2015: one night receives a 30% discount, while two nights receives 40% off. Applicable theme weekends include January 23-25 (Scottish Weekend); January 30 – February 1 (Locavore Weekend); February 27 – March 1 (Girlfriends’ Getaway); March 13-15 (Mohonk Thinks YOU Can Dance); and March 27-29 (Mohonk Sampler). All deals must be booked by 9 p.m. EST on Cyber Monday. Redeem at www.mohonk.com or call (855) 318-9892.

An Ah-mazing Austin Destination--for Less

Even the deals are bigger in Texas: Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas is taking 30% off off its lowest priced Three Night Resort Package. For $1204 per person, guests can stay in double-occupancy signature accommodations inclusive of three meals daily and unlimited activities, ranging from hiking to yoga to cooking classes. Or, indulge with "me, myself and I" at the solo-occupancy rate of $1480 for all three nights. Sale runs through Wednesday, Dec 3, 2014 and applies to trips booked through February 19, 2015. Some restrictions and fees apply.

Indulge in the Nation's Capital at a Fraction of the Cost

For just 24 hours, the luxe, art deco-inspired Melrose Georgetown Hotel in Washington, D.C. will offer discounts of up to 50% and beginning at $89 per night for reservations that take place between December 1, 2015 and January 11, 2015. To redeem, visit Melrose Georgetown online and use code CYBR13.

Take Your Mama to the Bahamas

Just because this Cyber deal is valid through Wednesday, Dec. 3, doesn't mean you shouldn't jump on it. Those who book a four-night stay at the Grand Lucayan Resort for travel between December 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015, will receive 60% off regular rates beginning at $79 per night. Plus, a $150 Resort Credit will be yours to apply toward spa treatments, dining or golf. To redeem, use code BLKFR.

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How to Turn Off Your Read Receipts

How to Turn Off Your Read Receipts

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's a modern day conundrum: You have a new Facebook message or text but don't want to open it because then the sender will get a receipt letting them know you've seen it.While the receipts may be helpful in certain cases, they can be a nuisance in others -- especially around the holidays.No longer can you get away with the "I'm sorry I didn't see this until it was too late" excuse.Not every service provides a way to turn off the receipts, but there are some third party workarounds.FacebookTo disable read receipts on your desktop, the third-party Facebook Unseen and Chat Undetected extensions allow users the ability to stealthily read Facebook messages from the Chrome browser.Facebook Unseen's Chrome page says it acts by blocking "a single line of code to disable read receipts from Facebook."It's also worth nothing that Facebook's terms of service state:"You will not do anything that could disable, overburden, or impair the proper working or appearance of Facebook, such as a denial of service attack or interference with page rendering or other Facebook functionality," so use at your own risk.There's also the Unseenly app within Facebook. It's important to note that none of these workarounds are supported on Messenger.SnapchatWant more control of your Snapchat? There's a third party workaround.Jailbroken users on iOS can download the GhostPrefs tweak, Life Hacker points out, allowing them to the ability to go into their settings and choose to turn off typing, screenshot and replay alerts.Again, it's worth keeping in mind Snapchat's terms of service:After private photos were dumped online last month, a spokesperson told ABC News that "Snapchatters were victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use precisely because they compromise our users' security.""We vigilantly monitor the App Store and Google Play for illegal third-party apps and have succeeded in getting dozens of these removed," the spokesperson said.iMessageApple has an easy solution for users who don't want to send read receipts on their iMessages.By default, the feature isn't on, however if you'd like to check the settings on your iPhone, go to settings and messages. From there, you can toggle "Send Read Receipts" on or off.

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Debt Collector Owes Over $33K for Making Woman’s Life ‘Hell’

Debt Collector Owes Over $33K for Making Woman’s Life ‘Hell’

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A debt collector who uses the name “John Anderson” when making calls is now a debtor himself after a California woman sued him and the debt collection agency he worked for.

Anderson, whose real name and employer ABC News’ 20/20 has agreed not to divulge, said he’s “one of the best in the world” at his job. He said he follows the law, for the most part.

“[I] push the edges a little bit sometimes,” Anderson told 20/20. “You’re not supposed to call after 9 o’clock at night. I might call at 9:15 [p.m.].”But after a court judgment, Anderson currently owes over $33,000 to Jessica Burke, who said Anderson called her several times a day over $350 in late payments for a used car she bought in Arizona in 2007.

“He suggested that because he was a private investigator, he knows everything. He could find me no matter where I was,” Burke said. “He knew who I worked for, and he had contacted my boss at that time and released the information that I had a debt.”

Although she had never even seen the caller in person, Burke said he was even able to learn some of the names of her coworkers and friends.

Anderson denied harassing Burke. “I wasn't really the one pursuing Jessica. The finance company pursued her more than I did,” Anderson told 20/20.

However, Anderson said he did get angry after he claims Burke got into a physical altercation with a woman he sent out to repossess the car, which Burke denies. Anderson also admitted that he did make remarks about Burke’s weight on the phone.

“She said, ‘I have a refund coming.’ I said, ‘A tax refund or a Jenny Craig refund?’ ... meaning that she was overweight,” Anderson said. “It’s probably not the proper thing to do.”

Richard Doane, president of the Debt Collection Trade Group, told 20/20 that most collectors scrupulously obey the law and provide an important public service.

“We’re not terrible people. The industry as a whole is a good thing,” Doane said. “We return $52 billion to the economy every year as an industry. That is a major amount of money.”

But Burke said the collector she dealt with wasn't so careful about following the rules and would text her constantly. She said she received around fifteen text messages a day, saying things such as, “Turn the car in or I send the sheriff,” and “Porky Pig, two hundred-pound slob in a double-wide.”

Anderson said that he never sent Burke those text messages, instead claiming that it was a “collections manager at that particular car lot.”

“[That’s] not in my vocabulary. That’s not something I would say,” Anderson said.

Even when Burke said she turned over the car to the finance company and repaid her debt, she said the collector would not stop tormenting her.

“I can’t tell you how many times I told him to stop,” Burke said. “There were times where I was crying on the phone, begging him to stop.”

Finally fed up with being harassed daily, Burke hired an attorney and learned her privacy rights and what she was entitled to as a debtor. She sued the debt collector and his agency for violating federal law by using abusive collection tactics.

“That person made my life hell for a little bit,” Burke said. “I was terrified for weeks.”

Anderson never appeared in court. On June 29, 2009, the federal judge awarded Burke over $33,000, but Anderson said he won’t pay.

“She’s not collected a dime. She never will,” Anderson said. “Because I don’t have it to pay her.”

Burke said she can’t be bothered to chase him for the money and is moving on.

“If I never see the money, that’s not really what matters to me,” Burke said. “I came out on top. I fought back. He can’t bother me anymore.”

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Small Business Saturday Still Small Potatoes, Owners Complain

Small Business Saturday Still Small Potatoes, Owners Complain

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Small Business Saturday is still very much in the shadow of Black Friday, according to small-business owners.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is meant to boost sales and customers far away from the big-box stores. But some owners say the day doesn't rake in nearly as much sales and traffic as Black Friday.

Black Friday is "more known," said Darrell Kingston, the owner of the footwear retailer Vamps in New York City.

Michael Blossom, the owner of Florodora, a women's clothes store in Chicago, agrees, saying that Small Business Saturday does not have much impact on his own business though he appreciates its efforts.

"I wouldn't attribute a lot of [sales] to small business Saturday," Blossom told ABC News.

American Express started Small Business Saturday in 2010, intending to help raise awareness about the importance and products offered by small businesses. The U.S. Senate officially recognized the day in 2012 with several politicians and President Obama expressing their support. Over 1,450 people and local organizations joined the movement last year as "neighborhood champions," pledging their support for small businesses in their community, according to American Express.com.Denise Stahl Shealy, who opened women's clothing store Steel Gardens in South Carolina earlier this year, says she is excited over her first Small Business Saturday and thinks it will bring in lots of customers."I think more exposure to it and more people learning about it, it will become a part of the routine just like going shopping on Black Friday," she told ABC News.But some say a major marketing effort is needed to boost the day."More marketing and advertising," Kingston told ABC News. "Because for this day and this year, I have not seen any marketing for this event."American Express offers discounts and other rewards Saturday to anyone who uses their card at a registered small business, with rewards differing every year. It puts out online advertisements about small companies to help raise awareness about the day.Amex says that on Nov. 29, if you spend $10 or more at qualifying businesses, you get $10 back, up to three times. "American Express holders can register to get up to $30 back when they Shop Small on Small Business Saturday," the company said.

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How Cyber Monday Is Different From Black Friday

How Cyber Monday Is Different From Black Friday

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Besides the obvious difference of shopping in the comfort of your home, Cyber Monday differs from Black Friday as a key bargain-hunting day in significant ways.

Traditionally, Cyber Monday emphasized deals on electronic goods, but these days it has turned into a mammoth Cyber Week event, with online sales on clothes, books and more.

Here are some major differences between Cyber Monday 2014, which falls on Dec. 1 this year, and Black Friday:

1. More People Buy Later in the Day

Maybe America’s worker bees can’t sneak in time to shop online during Cyber Monday. Last year, Cyber Monday online sales peaked between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern time, with sales that hour totaling $150 million, according to Adobe Digital Index Market Research. On Black Friday last year, online shopping sales peaked from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., bringing in the same $150 million for retailers.

2. Shoppers Do More Research

According to an AOL survey, 83 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers reported researching online before shopping, compared with 64 percent of Black Friday shoppers.

3. Fewer Ads

While retailers notify shoppers and the media of their Black Friday deals days or sometimes weeks in advance, there is less notice on Cyber Monday deals.

“Retailers want to tempt you with as many deals as possible, without discouraging early shopping,” writes Josie Rubio of DealNews.

4. People May Spend More

The average shopper spends $468 on Cyber Monday, compared with $309 on Black Friday, according to an AOL survey.

5. Slightly More People May Shop, With Gender Differences 

According to a Nielsen study, 52 percent of all survey respondents said they plan to shop on Black Friday this year, with men slightly more enthusiastic than women: 53 percent of men said they plan to shop in-store, compared with 50 percent of women. The 1,150 respondents were 18 years and older.

Slightly more shoppers (55 percent) plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year than Black Friday. But women will be more active on Cyber Monday: 60 percent of women plan to shop Cyber Monday versus 50 percent of men.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

The Craziest Moments From Black Friday Shopping

The Craziest Moments From Black Friday Shopping

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Some shoppers will do anything for a good deal.

As early as Thanksgiving, customers were battling for discounted electronics and Christmas gifts. Shoppers have been camped outside of big box stores for days waiting for the doors to open, while others woke at the crack of dawnon Friday to hit the shops.

The Black Friday madness has even spread to the U.K., where shoppers in London were spotted attacking each other over discounted television sets at an Asda superstore.

Another group of women brawled over underwear and lingerie at a U.K. Victoria's Secret, according to this YouTube video:

Four women got into a fight at Kohl's in Tustin, California, during Black Friday shopping around 1 a.m., KABC reported. Two women were arrested and one victim was taken to the hospital, according to the station.

Police were called to a Houston Walmart Friday after shoppers began to fight over TVs, ABC's Houston station KTRK reported.

Not everyone in the crowds was shopping. Black Friday protesters stormed into a New York City Macy's before marching north to Times Square.

 

BREAKING: A group of protesters just entered Macy's in NYC, the largest store in the world. #BoycottBlackFriday pic.twitter.com/FtZfGrzy5X

— Jenna Pope (@JennaBPope) November 28, 2014

 

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Wall Street Mostly Level, Dow Manages Record Close

Wall Street Mostly Level, Dow Manages Record Close

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street finished about level on Friday, on a half day of trading, though the Dow Jones Industrial Average squeezed out a new record-high close.The Dow gained 0.49, finishing the day at 17828.24.The Nasdaq climbed 4.31 to 4791.63, while the S&P 500 slipped off of a record close on Wednesday, dipping 5.27 to 2067.56.On Thursday, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries announced that they would keep their oil production targets where they had been set, despite a higher than expected supply of oil on the markets. That decision sent oil prices tumbling, according to the Wall Street Journal.Consumers were expected to spend Friday taking advantage of Black Friday deals at numerous retailers, though discounts being offered online have eaten into the turnout at some brick-and-mortar stores.

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