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Hillary Gets Cosmetic Industry Vote

The cosmetic industry expects to get a big lift from incoming First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Noting that Clinton had a complete make-over during the presidential campaign (from Cristophe in Beverly Hills), cosmetic company executives are predicting a surge in hair lighteners, eye makeup, anti-wrinkle creams and facial scrubs. One firm, Cosmair Inc., is already boasting that Clinton uses its L’Oreal hair tint.

Larry Freeman, chief executive of Freeman Cosmetics in Beverly Hills, believes 45-year-old Clinton could spark a return to youthfulness and glamour not seen since the 1960s, when then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy set fashion trends. Said Freeman: “There’s great potential here.”

Executives grumbled that the beauty business has suffered through the recession without getting much of a boost from outgoing First Lady Barbara Bush, 67. Sporting a gray, grandmotherly look, “it’s as if she went out of her way to be boring,” New York consultant Alan Mottus said.

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Mottus said the trend-setting potential doesn’t stop at Hillary Clinton. Noting that President-elect Bill Clinton tints and styles his hair, Mottus expects men to take a greater interest in hair coloring too.

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Move over: Southwest Airlines is boasting that it won the airline industry’s “triple crown” for customer service in September. The Dallas-based carrier said the U.S. Department of Transportation has ranked it first in the industry for customer satisfaction, timeliness and baggage handling.

It’s all true. But here’s another fact that Southwest isn’t telling you: According to the government, you’re more likely to get “bumped” on Southwest than on other airlines.

Southwest spokeswoman Linda Burke said most of the people forced to give up their seats arrive at the boarding gate less than 10 minutes before takeoff. Burke contended that Southwest “bumps” stragglers more frequently than its competitors to make sure that its planes leave on schedule.

“If we didn’t do it,” she said, “our performance would suffer.”

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Things could be worse: By most measures, Los Angeles is an expensive place to live. But according to a new survey, there is at least one area in which we’re getting a break: day care costs.

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Runzheimer International, a management consulting firm, recently surveyed the cost of for-profit day care for a 3-year-old child in 82 U.S. cities. Weekly costs in Los Angeles averaged $79, just below the national median of $80. Boston had the highest day care costs, averaging $122 weekly. Jackson, Miss., and Salt Lake City tied for the cheapest day care at $46 a week.

Runzheimer spokesman Peter D. Packer said costs in Los Angeles are moderate because for-profit centers must compete with many not-for-profit centers run by churches and other groups, as well as a large pool of in-home nannies and baby-sitters, many of them recent immigrants to the United States.

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Checking out auto insurance: An enterprising insurance company from Cleveland hopes to profit from consumer confusion over auto insurance. In a pilot program, Progressive Insurance Co. is offering a price quote service to San Diego drivers. If it is popular, the company plans to expand to the rest of the state.

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Here is how the program works:

After dialing a toll-free number, consumers give information about themselves, their driving record, their car, and the kind of coverage desired. The next day, Progressive will mail a list of customized insurance rates for the eight largest auto insurers in the state: Allstate, Auto Club of Southern California, California State Auto Assn., Farmers, Mercury, Safeco and 20th Century. (Progressive does not provide quotes for its own policies and has no plans to do so.) The cost of the service is $24.95

The service is available only to “good” drivers, defined as a licensed driver for three years with a clean record or either one violation point and no at-fault accidents or no violation points and one at-fault accident. (The accident cannot involve injury or death.)

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Odds and ends: The University of San Diego’s Center for Public Interest Law is opening a privacy rights hot line Nov. 16 to answer consumer questions about telecommunications issues. . . . Sears, Roebuck & Co. says it will begin taking Visa, Mastercard and American Express at stores in San Diego and six other cities Nov. 15 as part of a test program. Sears now takes only its own store card and Sears-owned Discover.


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