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U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Recalls: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/toy.html

Medicare Scams: http://www.naic.org/documents/consumer_alert_medicare_scam.htm


“Big COUPON Brother” is watching:
Free Money or Fraud????
The favorite topic on one message board is finessing bar codes. Veteran coupon cheaters post detailed  messages, passing their knowledge onto self-described “newbies,” who typically return a few days later to brag about their virgin forays into bar code chicanery.  One newcomer to the game recently posted this message: “You can use a 992 for anything — anything you buy, made by that company or not. You can buy eggs and use a 992, or meat or milk and use a 992. The coupon does not correspond to any product — it's like free money!”
There are cyber crooks working together to find a way around it. And they are generous with other would-be coupon counterfeiters. Wrote one, “I had a friend make a file for me with the coupon….now I can print out as many as I like….my store has triples this week so I am getting a lot of stuff free…if anyone wants the file for it, let me know.”
It's unclear how much Internet-related coupon fraud has cost manufacturers and retailers so far. The Coupon Information Council estimates $500 million a year in the U.S. But that includes old-fashioned deceits, such as clipping and redeeming coupons in bulk under phony retailer names.

Pizza Hut Pushes National Mobile Ordering Service:
A new mobile ordering service, called Total Mobile Access, which lets people place orders via text messaging or mobile Web to be delivered from its 6,200 locations nationwide. For text orders, people send their order to shortcode 749488 or (749HUT). A confirmation text from Pizza Hut follows. Customers with a Web-enabled phone can place orders through http://www.PizzaHut.com. The site includes popular menu items and a store locator. Customers can also set up a “pizza playlist” of their four favorite orders with the new service, the company said. Standard text messaging fees will apply for messages sent and received and time spent browsing the Web. Pizza Hut is promoting the service on its homepage.

Starbucks to Slow Growth, Close Stores, Fight McD’s New Coffee Bars:
Starbucks plans to slow growth and close some U.S. stores, following a year which saw stock plummet 50 percent over the previous year and a decrease in traffic in domestic stores. Challenging times have fallen on the world’s largest chain of coffee houses as competitors such as McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts have added lines of gourmet coffee. McDonald’s has plans to step up that competition: the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the fast food chain plans to add coffee bars complete with baristas at its nearly 14,000 locations. After introducing its gourmet blends and adding lattes and cappuccinos to two-thirds of its stores, McDonald’s increased its U.S. coffee sales by 39 percent in the first nine months of 2007.

Original "George of the Jungle" series is being released on DVD on Feb. 12. A video game, “George of the Jungle and the Search for the Secret,” will follow a month later:

Gatorade Debuts New Lifestyle Beverage: http://www.drinkG2.com
Super Bowl ads for new G2 will feature Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade. PepsiCo’s Gatorade division will launch a new low-calorie “lifestyle beverage,” G2, with the help of some well-known sports faces and a TV spot during Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3.

MySpace Agrees to Anti-predator Steps:
Social network MySpace has reached an agreement with most of the country’s state attorneys general on creating a new set of guidelines for protecting young members in its community.  The agreement, announced Monday with the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking, commits MySpace to “explore” 60 new features or design changes aimed at stopping online child predators. It comes about nine months after the social network bowed to a subpoena by state authorities for data relating to registered sex offenders known to have used the community site.  As part of its negotiation with attorneys general in 49 states and the District of Columbia—Texas remaining apart—MySpace has agreed to delete the profile pages of registered sex offenders and to review every image, video and social group offered on the network for age-appropriateness. MySpace also promises to respond within three days to complaints about inappropriate content.
The social net will make the profiles of 14- and 15-year-old members private to prevent those members from being contacted by unknown adults. It will also make “privacy” the default setting for 16- and 17-year-old members’ profiles.  MySpace said it will also let parents submit their children’s e-mail addresses so the social network can prevent third parties from using their names to set up profile pages.

Marketers Line Up to Give ‘Iron Man”Movie:  Debuts on May 2, 2008
Audi, Burger King, LG Mobile and 7-Eleven are all on board with a variety of ploys to help build a buzz around the upcoming summer release. “Iron Man” is the story of kidnapped billionaire and genius inventor Tony Stark who escapes captivity, creates a high-tech armor suit and saves the world.  Audi plans to trumpet a high-tech link between its engineering and design and the main character’s lifestyle. Burger King will distribute collectible figures from the film at its 11,200 locations worldwide. The 7-Eleven activation will consist of “Iron Man” Slurpee cups at its 6,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada. LG Mobile will run a multimedia ad blitz.

Dairy Queen Tests Mobile Coupon Program:
Select Dairy Queen stores are testing mobile coupons to drive in-store traffic. Dairy Queen is testing mobile coupons in an effort to drive traffic to its restaurants. One2One Mobile has launched a pilot program for three Dairy Queen restaurants in central Indiana owned by the JD Restaurant Group, in which customers send text messages to receive mobile coupon offers. Customers text DQ to shortcode 474992 to opt in to the DQ Mobile Rewards program. To redeem the offer, subscribers show their cell phones with the offer to a Dairy Queen employee. The current offer includes a coupon for a free combo meal consisting of a hamburger, French fries and a drink. Mobile coupons are part of a growing trend marketers are using to get customers in-store. About six different coupons will be delivered to subscribers’ mobile devices each month during the two-month flight, Scott Yancy, president of One2One Mobile http://www.one2onemobile.com, said.
“We might send lunch time coupons around 11 a.m., or if we want to get high school kids, we’ll have offers for mid-day snacks around 2:30 p.m.,” Yancey said. “We want people to think about Dairy Queen before they go to lunch and after school.” In-store signage promotes the program, which launched two weeks ago.

LEAN POCKETS: is extending its line with new products featuring whole grain sandwiches. The line comes in seven varieties and hits stores in January. The items will sell for $2.46 per box.