News In Brief


"You can never take security too seriously," an official of Scandinavian Airlines said after technicians in London scoured a jet for six hours for the source of a strong odor that might indicate a critical leak in the fuel system. Passengers were sent back to the boarding lounge for the Oslo-bound flight as a precaution, but nothing turned up - until one of them was discovered wearing a brand-new oilskin coat. He was ordered to surrender it for storage in the cargo hold before the plane finally took off.


From Burlington, Wis., comes word that the local Liars Club's is in some distress. Reason: a dramatic falloff in the number of entries for its annual contest. The organization was hoping to celebrate its 70th year with a bang, but, said president John Soeth: "Maybe America is all lied out." A motion to grant honorary membership to politicians was rejected because "our club is only open to amateurs."

Survey lists 10 top sources of consumers' complaints

In their eighth annual survey, the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators and the Consumer Federation of America found home improvements sparked the biggest increase in complaints in 1998 - a 1,037 percent jump. The study is based on responses from 50 city, county, and state consumer agencies to questions about their 1998 complaint records. The auto-leasing, travel-and-tourism, and utilities industries appeared among the top 10 for the first time. Internet-related complaints weren't among them, but were up 39 percent, following a 23 percent rise in 1997. What consumers complained about most in 1998:

1. Auto sales

2. Auto repair

3. Home improvements

4. Household goods

5. Credit and lending

6. Mail orders

7. Auto leasing

(tie) Landlords

9. Utilities

10. Travel and tourism

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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