November 30th, 2009
02:01 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Make way for ‘Cyber Monday’

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/TECH/11/03/angry.internet/art.internet.gi.jpg caption="The NRF estimates that 96.5 million Americans plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year, up from 85 million in 2008. "]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

We shopped but we didn’t drop - a lot of money anyway...

More Americans turned out to bag Thanksgiving weekend deals this year than last year, according to the National Retail Federation, but shoppers on average spent less on their purchases compared to a year ago.

Average spending over the weekend dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago. Total retail spending for the holiday weekend was about $41.2 billion, the NRF said, up marginally from $41 billion last year.

Now it’s all about today - Cyber Monday - the online retail world's version of Black Friday. Millions of people are expected to take some time at work today and surf the Web in search of bargains.

The NRF estimates that 96.5 million Americans plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year, up from 85 million in 2008.

And despite the hype associated with Cyber Monday, industry experts say the busiest online shopping day tends to be in December, and is the last day that gifts can be shipped to guarantee deliver by Christmas Day.

Struggling to stem the swelling foreclosure tide, the White House today announced new steps to pressure banks to help homeowners over the long term.

The Obama Administration says it will require top loan servicers to report their plan to reach a decision on each loan for which they have all the needed documentation. Also, these servicers must explain to the Treasury Dept. how they will communicate their decisions to borrowers.

Servicers will also be required to report the status of each modification. Those failing to meet their obligations could face penalties and sanctions.

To help borrowers through the process, the administration is providing more information on the documents they need to submit to be considered for a permanent modification. Federal, state and local officials will increase outreach to delinquent homeowners.

The administration's move is its latest attempt to jumpstart its $75 billion loan modification plan, which many fear will fall far short of its goal to help up to 4 million delinquent homeowners.

Help is on the way for some credit card customers as well.

Most credit card agreements are as big as a small book and are loaded with lots of legal jargon. Now, the nation's biggest bank is trying to make things a little simpler.

Bank of America is launching its “credit card clarity” campaign. Beginning tomorrow, it will start sending out 1-page summaries to its 40 million customers.

The summaries will include:

1) Interest rates you pay for purchases, balance transfers, cash advances.

2) Payment info to keep account in good standing.

3) All of the fees you're likely to pay - annual, transaction & late fees.

There's been much confusion and a healthy dose of outrage regarding some credit card companies that hit consumers with exorbitant late fees. Many are making many changes now before new legal reforms take effect that will restrict their ability to do so and have cut credit limits and raised interest rates and fees.

Now, however, some institutions like Bank of America are trying to make consumer-friendly changes ahead of the new laws that go into effect in February.

Follow the money… on http://twitter.com/AndrewTorganCNN


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Finance
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Tim Gibson

    When we hear consumer and friendly in the same sentence, it should come with a warning sign, dangerous curve ahead, or will that be left out of any summary by BOA.

    As to anything the Obama administration puts its fingers into should at this point give caution to confidence that it will be successful. To date, not much success has come out of the white house since our crisis began. Not from Bush and not from Obama.

    You can draw new lines on the sidewalk, but a game of hopscotch and still a game of hopscotch is it not.

    Yet, there is still a push for people to spend, to spend, to spend our way out of darkness, out of debt. Where do I sign up to learn how to spend without constraint like our leadership does and wishes for us to do as well.

    November 30, 2009 at 2:45 pm |