Many employees Christmas-shop at work; 'friendly' auto dealers may not be cheap; mothers seek advice online

A Week's Worth: Quick takes on the world of work and money.

A 181-point upturn in Friday's trading failed to keep the Dow Jones Industrial Average from losing 1.5 percent of its value last week, its third drop this month.

Now that Christmas shopping season is under way, how many people will use office computers on company time for their gift-buying? If results of a new survey by the Accountemps specialized staffing service are accurate: 1 in 5. On average, those who answered "yes" said they expected their online shopping would take roughly 2-1/2 hours. Accountemps advises gift-buyers to be aware, because visiting shopping websites often is against employer policy.

Just because an auto dealer treats customers well doesn't mean they're getting good deals, says the national research center of Consumer Reports. In fact, dealer sales tactics may cost the buyer thousands of dollars. Example: luring the customer into a discussion of trade-in value on the old vehicle before settling on the price of the new car. The younger and less affluent the buyer, the more vulnerable he or she tends to be to such tactics, Consumer Reports says.

In a break with tradition, 21st-century mothers who want advice on parenting are likely to seek it from online networks because they feel less "judged" there. Or so says Tixylix, a British maker of cough suppressants. It studied 1,000 mothers from the current generation as well as from the 1970s. The latter, by contrast, often preferred to "go it alone" rather than risk the judgmentalism of an outside source, such as a mother-in-law.

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