A dismal Dow, the power of spam, and why Americans are taking better care of their cars

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

The latest quarter-point cut in federal interest rates couldn't keep the Dow Jones Industrial Average from losing ground. At Friday's close, it was down 2.1 percent for the week.

You may wish they'd stop, butthe marketing solicitations that turn up in your e-mail work, according to online advertising firm Endai Worldwide. In the past 12 months, its survey found, half of respondents admitted to making a purchase after opening such a solicitation. Just under 60 percent said brand recognition causes them to open e-mail.

With gasoline prices hovering around $3 a gallon in much of the US, drivers are taking better care of their vehicles than they used to, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association reports. In an online survey, it found a 20-point jump over the past five years in the percentage of respondents who said maintaining peak fuel efficiency has become a priority.

Try as they might, retail clerks apparently are having a hard time shaking the perception that they're pushy or, worse, incompetent. At least, that's the finding of a recent survey by human resources specialist Development Dimension International. Forty-six percent of respondents said they'd be ashamed to call themselves salespersons. Forty percent said the expertise of clerks is becoming worse. Any positives at all? Only that dealing with clerks, especially this time of year, is a "necessary evil."

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