consumers

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Plunging oil prices are proving to be a boon for about six million homeowners in the northeast who heat their homes with oil. And they may also lessen the appetite for conversion to other fuels -- a movement that had been gaining ground. 

West Hartford Walmart to Close Its Doors

Jan 15, 2016
Mike Mozart / Creative Commons

West Hartford's Walmart Neighborhood Market is among 153 stores the multinational retail corporation said it will be closing across the country. 

Ron Dauphin / Flickr Creative Commons

Customers of United Illuminating will soon be getting used to the Avangrid name at the top of their bills.

Chion Wolf

Connecticut's Department of Motor Vehicles will temporarily stop forwarding to police lists of motorists whose vehicle registrations have been suspended due to a lack of insurance. 

Robots were popular on the big screen this holiday season. The newly released film Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought us more of C-3PO, R2-D2 — those sweet and capable robots that have enchanted us for decades — and the debut of BB-8.

At this year's big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, known as CES, there were more robots on display than ever. Some even looked like the Star Wars characters.

The most promising by appearance was Pepper. It has humanoid features — eyes, arms, a mouth. Pepper can even be a little self-conscious.

Volkswagen's use of a "defeat device" to fool U.S. regulators has resulted in a federal lawsuit against the company. Volkswagen has acknowledged that millions of its diesel cars worldwide relied on a ruse to skirt emissions controls.

The civil complaint was filed in federal court in Detroit, with the Department of Justice acting on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency — which says it hasn't yet reached an acceptable agreement with Volkswagen over how to handle a recall.

This fall, Secretary of State John Kerry stood at a lectern with a speech and an apple. He wasn't planning to snack, although the red, round fruit looked as he noted, "beautiful." It was a souvenir from Kazakhstan, made from local wool by artisans in Almaty, and just the right prop to introduce the idea that the world is hungry for crafts.

Time is running out for New York residents opposed to erecting high-voltage power towers across the scenic Hudson Valley to weigh in.

Peter Morenus / University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut is expanding its role in the New Haven Promise college scholarship program. The school said it will add a $5,000 supplement to students who attend UConn on the Promise scholarships beginning next fall. 

Ingram Publishing / Thinkstock

Some companies are trying to keep ahead of negative online reviews by suing or threatening consumers. 

Amazon has released a glimpse of what its much-anticipated drone deliveries could look like, although it warns the service is still very much in a testing phase.

Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Low gas prices are fueling more Americans to drive long distances to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Consumers seeking health policies with the most freedom in choosing doctors and hospitals are finding far fewer of those plans on the insurance marketplaces. And the premiums are rising faster than for other types of coverage.

Tax Credits / Flickr Creative Commons

Are you wondering whether to buy or rent a home? Or how much to save for your child’s education? How much should you set aside for retirement, depending on your age? 

Stephen Pierzchala / Creative Commons

In an era awash in the rollout of brand new gadgets, gizmos, fashions, and fads, it's easy to think of obsolescence as part of the natural order: Remember popped lapels, pay phones and laserdisc players? But the idea that an object should quickly fall from favor, lose functionality, and find itself in a landfill somewhere is quite new -- and it didn't come about by accident.

The U.S. economy grew at a considerably slower pace during the third quarter as companies cut back on the size of their inventories, the Commerce Department said.

Growth came in at an annual rate of 1.5 percent — a sharp slowdown from the 3.9 percent gain recorded in the preceding quarter. The economy has grown at about 2 percent so far this year.

Zeetz / Creative Commons

Whole Foods Market has recalled curry chicken salad and deli pasta salad sold in its stores in seven Northeast states because of possible listeria contamination. 

Tax Credits / Creative Commons

Are you wondering whether to buy or rent a home? Or how much to save for your child’s education? How much should you set aside for retirement, depending on your age? 

Volkswagen admitted it intentionally cheated on federal emissions tests. The German automaker now faces billions of dollars in fines and litigation, plus the cost of fixing some 11 million diesel cars worldwide.

That's just the company. The scandal is costing owners, too — at least those who are trying to sell their VW diesels. Not surprisingly, resale prices for the affected cars have been falling.

Bruce Guenter / Creative Commons

Look around Connecticut. We don't have fracking for natural gas. There aren't underground oil deposits, and solar energy is just now starting to get popular. All that means when it comes to managing energy that’s often produced out-of-state, Nutmeggers have historically been pretty thrifty. 

Flazingo Photos flazingo.com / Creative Commons

Unemployment among teenagers and young people in Connecticut stands at historic highs. New research suggests that those who suffer periods of unemployment early in their careers pay a penalty in terms of lowered earnings decades into their careers.

Every other Saturday, a huge semi truck with a 42-foot trailer pulls up in a parking lot in Putnam, Connecticut. Amid the barking of dogs in the background, a burly man named Greg Mahle hops out.

For the past 10 years, Mahle has made it his mission to find homes for rescue dogs. He brings them up from the South to what he calls “forever families” here in the North. He estimates he has saved some 50,000 dogs.

Uber Pushing To Expand To Upstate, Long Island

Oct 21, 2015

  The ride sharing service Uber, which already operates in New York City, is making a big push to move into upstate and Long Island. But that would require state lawmakers to take action.

Uber officials, armed with a study that says 13,000 new jobs could be created if Uber is allowed in all of New York, came to the State Capitol to make their case. They have started an online petition and ad campaign to help convince the state legislature to pass laws to allow the service to operate .

michael flickr.com/photos/fallsroad/5060557110 / Creative Commons

Connecticut's Consumer Counsel is advising that Connecticut residents who buy electricity from third-party retail electric suppliers should take a close look at their bills this month.

Americans collectively are losing billions of dollars a year out of their retirement accounts because they're paying excessive fees, according to researchers studying thousands of employer-sponsored retirement plans across the country.

The rearchers say part of the trouble is that many employers that offer 401(k) plans to their workers are outgunned by financial firms that sell them bad plans loaded with hefty fees. That's especially true, they say, for small and midsize employers that don't have much financial expertise in-house.

David DesRoches / WNPR

As a junior in high school, Michael Beale had a candy business that was pretty successful. But it wasn't exactly a school-sanctioned activity.

"Let's just say it was off the school's books," Beale said, speaking at a recent financial literacy event in East Hartford. Eventually the school shut down his black market sweets operation, but it didn't stop his desire to learn more about personal finance.

Four companies running urgent care centers in New York have agreed to disclose more fully which insurance plans they accept, following an inquiry by the state's attorney general that found unclear or incomplete information on their websites that could result in larger-than-expected bills for consumers.

On Thursday, German authorities issued a mandatory recall of all Volkswagen diesel cars outfitted with emissions-cheating software.

Shortly after the German Federal Motor Transport Authority ordered the recall of 2.4 million diesel cars in Germany, Volkswagen announced it would be recalling 8.5 million cars across Europe.

Creative Commons / redplanet89

The price to put a solar panel on your home has dropped in recent years, spurring a growth in residential solar energy installations. But at least one researcher said consumers still need to be diligent before deciding to put a panel on their house.

Tonight, as you plop down on the couch to watch the Democratic presidential debate or the baseball playoffs, consider for a moment what you're waving your remote at. If you're like millions of Americans, your cable box sits on a shelf under your flat screen, gathering dust, easy to overlook.

It's also easy to overlook the rent you're paying for that box month after month.

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