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In brief: Avista will provide home energy reports

Fri., May 17, 2013

Avista Utilities will send personalized home energy reports to more than 70,000 residential electric customers in a bid to boost energy conservation.

The reports are generated by Opower, of Arlington, Va. They’ll give information on monthly energy usage with customized energy-efficiency tips, Avista said in a news release.

Customers selected to take part will have at least a two-year billing history. Avista also will target residences that have lots of comparison homes available and customers who have higher annual usage, because those provide the best opportunity for energy-efficiency savings, said Marketing Manager Mary Tyrie. Customers can opt out of the program but not opt in, she said.

The company said the three-year program will cost the company about $700,000 a year. Residents selected to take part will receive six or seven home energy reports during that time. The program begins this month.

Wal-Mart reports lackluster first quarter

NEW YORK – The first few months of the year were tough for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The world’s largest retailer reported Thursday that its first-quarter profit edged up just slightly, and the company struggled with a sales slump in its namesake business during the three-month period. The discounter also offered a quarterly profit outlook that came below Wall Street’s projections. Its stock fell on the news.

Wal-Mart blamed a litany of factors affecting its budget-conscious customers, including a payroll tax increase, delayed tax refunds, job worries and bad weather. It is the latest in a string of big-name consumer companies from McDonald’s to Macy’s, to cite such hurdles in the first quarter of the year.

Poor PC, laptop sales cut into Dell’s profits

SAN FRANCISCO – Dell’s financial decay worsened during its latest quarter as the company slashed its personal computer prices in response to the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets.

The dismal performance announced Thursday provided the latest evidence of a technological shift that is making it difficult to sell laptop and desktop machines.

Until recently, consumers had regularly replaced machines with faster ones every few years. The money is going instead to powerful, more convenient mobile devices such as phones and tablets. PC makers have had to cut prices sharply, obliterating their profit margins.

Dell Inc. earned $130 million, or 7 cents per share, in the latest quarter, compared with $635 million, or 36 cents per share, a year earlier.

Ticketmaster settles rewards program suit

LOS ANGELES – Ticketmaster has agreed to settle claims for up to $23 million over a lawsuit affecting more than a million people who, after buying a ticket online, were enrolled in a rewards program that cost $9 a month but never gave them any benefits.

U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer in Los Angeles approved the settlement last week.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Adam Gutride said affected customers will be sent an email Friday with a link to a website where they can file a claim. Each customer can get up to $30.

About 1.12 million people are eligible to file a claim. They signed up for the rewards program after buying a ticket at between September 2004 and June 2009. The plaintiffs argued that they didn’t know about the fees, which were charged to the credit or debit card used to buy the ticket.


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