Consumer Confidential: IRS cash, hot TVs, Siri’s abortion stance

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Here’s your theme-from-Shaft Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- The Internal Revenue Service may have some cash for you. The Tax Man has $153 million in undelivered refund checks looking for the right homes. The IRS says there are 99,123 taxpayers to whom the checks weren’t delivered because it had the wrong mailing address. The returned checks average $1,547 apiece. It’s an annual exercise for the IRS, which has been nudging taxpayers toward accepting their refunds through direct, electronic deposits to their bank accounts. Out of the nearly 103 million refunds the IRS issued through early June this year, 76 million were direct deposits. Taxpayers hoping to claim their refund can click on the “Check on Your Refund” link at, or call (800) 829-1954. (Associated Press)

-- The latest economic indicator: Pricey TVs are hot. Wal-Mart says TVs are among the top gifts people are putting on layaway at its 3,000-plus U.S. stores during the holiday season. The Westinghouse 46-inch LCD HDTV that was on sale for half off at Target for $298 was a top seller during the start to the season last weekend. And Abt Electronics already has sold out of 55-inch Samsung LED TVs that were marked down by half to $1,099. TV sales had slowed as consumers tightened their budgets, and technologies such as 3-D failed to spark people’s interest the way tablet computers and smartphones have. But now shoppers are responding to the discounts of up to 50%. That’s going to make Santa’s sleigh a whole lot heavier. (Associated Press)

-- Apple says Siri isn’t really so anti-abortion after all. The apparent inability of the virtual assistant in the iPhone 4S to come up with info about abortion clinics and women’s health services in some areas was not intentional or deliberate, the company says. Apple attributed the problem to kinks in the software that are still being ironed out. Siri’s odd behavior was first noted earlier this week by several bloggers who found that they were not able to get complete or accurate results when searching for information about reproductive health services. When asked to find an abortion clinic in Manhattan, for example, Siri’s answer is: ‘Sorry, I couldn’t find any abortion clinics.’ (New York Times)


-- David Lazarus