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What Americans Will Spend on Halloween This Year


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There's just 39 days until Halloween and that's counting Oct. 31 as well for those last minute shoppers.

So, what kind of Halloween will it be for the industry that thrives on our lust for dressing up strangely and wolfing down sugar?

Not bad, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers' Halloween Consumer Spending Survey. The ICSC estimated $11.3 billion in Halloween-related expenses this year.

About three-quarters of households planning to buy Halloween stuff will spend an average of $125 on costumes, decorations and candy.

Brick and mortar stores still dominate Halloween shopping with 90 percent of shoppers willing to leave the house to make a purchase. About seven percent will buy their holiday merchandise online.

Oh, the top costume for boys this year is super heroes, and princesses for girls.

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Apple Sales of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Set Record in First Weekend


Apple(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Apple said it sold more than 10 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models in the first weekend they were available in stores, making it the company's best launch ever.

"Sales for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus exceeded our expectations for the launch weekend, and we couldn't be happier," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “We would like to thank all of our customers for making this our best launch ever, shattering all previous sell-through records by a large margin."

Cook said he believes Apple could have sold even more iPhones in the first weekend had there been enough supply. He said the team was working hard to manufacture more of the new iPhones to meet demand.

With larger screen sizes -- 4.7 inches for the iPhone 6 and 5.5 inches for the iPhone 6 Plus -- Apple has tapped into the consumer appetite for bigger phones, giving Samsung, which has dominated the giant phone market, some competition.

The iPhone 6 starts at $199 for a 16 GB configuration, $299 for 64 GB and $399 for a 128 GB configuration, with a two-year contract.

The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 (16 GB), $399 (64 GB) and $499 (128 GB). Both phones come in three colors: gold, silver and space gray.

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'Bored Elon Musk' and Other Funny Business Parody Twitter Accounts


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Twitterverse sighed with disappointment when the Twitter account thought to belong to outspoken JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon turned out to be a fake. Twitter subsequently suspended the account a couple weeks ago, but there are a number of hilarious parody business accounts that fill the void of laughter.

Dimon's fake account, which had the Twitter handle JPMorganCEO, started with the first tweet, "We are excited to announce that our CEO James Dimon has joined Twitter. This account is managed by the Global Media Relations Department."  

San Francisco, California-based Twitter Inc. does verify celebrity accounts with a blue check, which none of these have, as they are clear parodies. Here are some of the funniest parody business accounts:

1. Bored Elon Musk

This parody account of the Tesla Motors CEO has this description: "Thoughts and inventions from Elon in his downtime. This is a futuristic hyper-parody account." Oh, and his Twitter profile indicates that Musk is from Mars.

2. David Karp

This parody account of Tumblr co-founder and CEO David Karp started in April 2012, more than a year before Karp made $209 million from Yahoo's acquisition of the company. This Twitter handle is among the most active of parody accounts, with multiple posts a day. Now it has more than 67,000 followers, more than the real 28-year-old's Twitter handle, which has 38,000 followers.

3. The Fake Pinterest

This Twitter account describes "fake Pinterest finds," like "a business casual romper."

4. Not BP Oil

The description for this account states: "This serves to show you just how much BP Cares for you, your family, the world, and animals. Mostly birds."

5. Not Mark Zuckerberg

The description for this parody account of Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg states: "My story is everyone's story: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy makes social network, girl and 1 billion others join social network."

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Think Twice Before You Buy That Extended Warranty


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What if you paid hundreds of dollars to buy an extended warranty on your kitchen appliances only to find out a critical piece wasn’t covered? That’s exactly what the Hoftiezer family said happened to them.

With their appliances a few years old, David Hoftiezer of Medford, N.J., found Stanley Warranty and said he thought he was getting the same kind of protection his original warranties had given him.

Hoftiezer said he paid $1,000 for a warranty for all of his kitchen appliances. Then he started having some "issues," he said.

First, the refrigerator's ice maker broke.

"Weeks go by and the warranty company finally said to me, 'The reason we followed up service is because your ice maker is not covered,'" he said.

Unfortunately, though the warranty specified that the refrigerator and freezer were covered, the contract said, about six pages in, that "ice maker controls" were not covered.

Hoftiezer told ABC News he wished he would have read that.

"I'm not going to say I don't take some responsibility," Hoftiezer said. "But when they sell you the product, they ask you what would you like to cover and you say, 'I would like to cover my refrigerator.' They don’t say, 'If your ice maker breaks, that isn't covered.'"

Stanley Mankovsky, the CEO of Stanley Safe Club and Stanley Warranty, said the ice maker was excluded from Hoftiezer's policy because "it's a high volume item that gets broken by people abusing it."

"If people want the ice maker covered, we have separate coverage for that in addition to the refrigerator," Mankovsky said.

"The reason you buy an insurance policy is to make sure that when something does happen, you are covered," he said. "The key is to read [and] make sure you go through every line."

Mankovsky also added that since Hoftiezer had bought his warranty, the language had been revised and improved so that it was easier for consumers to understand.

Anthony Giorgianni, a finance editor at Consumer Reports, said readers should think twice before buying an extended warranty.

"Not saying they will never work out but on a whole, you’re much better taking the money that you would put into a service contract [and] put it in the bank," he said.

Some items that might that might be worth getting an extended warranty for, Giorgianni said, are electronics that children usually use and are more likely to be dropped or damaged. He still encourages consumers to read the fine print on those agreements, too.

Giorgianni's other tips are to call the original manufacturer if something breaks-- because sometimes the companies will want to keep the customer happy -- and to check with your credit card company, which will sometimes offer extended warranties.


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Survey: Many Americans Still Looking for Work After Recession


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Twenty percent of the nearly 30 million Americans who were laid off during the Great Recession are still looking for work, a new survey from Rutgers finds.

"Of those people who were laid off during the Great Recession and its aftermath, one in five are still unemployed, in other words, they're unable to find a job, either a full-time or a part-time job, they haven't retired, they're still in the labor market, they're still looking for work today," explains public policy professor Carl Van Horn, who directs the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers.

But even more troubling is the number of people who have been out of work for more than six months.

"There still is a persistent problem of the long-term unemployed. It's the highest percentage of unemployed people it's been for many, many years and it's still three million people, it's a third of all folks that are unemployed who are still looking for work after all these years," Van Horn notes.

He says two-thirds of all adults -- including those who never lost a job -- say the recession had an impact on their own standard of living. This especially holds true for the long-term jobless.

"They've lost a great deal of money -- many of them borrowed from family and friends, they missed mortgage payments, some of them declared bankruptcy and had to move in with other people," he says.

And those who did find work didn't fare much better.

"About half of those who found work were paid less in their new positions and one of four of those individuals said that the job they found was only a temporary position -- so they haven't completely either recovered financially nor, in many cases, have they found another permanent job," Van Horn says.

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Average Middle-Class Household Income is the Same as in 1988


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Analysts say the American median household income is at the same level as it was in 1988.

In 1988 the average middle-class wage hit $52,000, and since 1999, middle-class earnings have been stagnant or in decline. And according to Ben Casselman with the ESPN data-mining site 538, we're back at the $52,000 mark today.

"After adjusting for inflation we've seen basically no gain in income over the past 25 years," Casselman said.

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Dow Loses Over 100 Points After Five Straight Gains


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks moved lower Monday as investors worry about some soft economic data from overseas.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had three record-high closes last week and was coming off of five straight gains. On Monday, the Dow went down 107.06 points, closing at 17,172.68. The Nasdaq lost 52.10 points, ending the day at 4,527.69, while the S&P lost 16.11 points, closing at 1,994.29.

Existing home sales dropped 1.8% in August, snapping a four-month streak of gains. Much of the slowdown came from the exodus of real-estate investors, who had been buying up properties in the aftermath of the housing bust and recession. Overall, the pace of home sales has dropped more than 5% since last year.

Analysts say middle-class wage earners have not gotten a raise for 15 years. The American median household income hit $52,000 dollars in 1988, and we're back at that level today.

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More Deaths Linked to GM's Faulty Ignition Switches


Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The number of deaths linked to General Motors' faulty ignition switches has shot up once again.

Ken Feinberg, the independent administrator of GM's compensation program, now says 21 deaths are eligible for a claim. Earlier this month, Feinberg bumped the figure up to 19.

GM had previously estimated that at least 13 deaths resulted from its defective ignition switches.

The automaker hired Feinberg to pour through more than 140 death claims from families whose loved ones died in accidents they believe were caused by the problem. Compensation for each confirmed death claim will be at least a million dollars.

The overall compensation program, which launched on Aug. 5, is open for submission until Dec. 31 through GMIgnitionCompensation.com.

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Some Apple iOS 8 Users Report Problems


Apple(NEW YORK) -- Apple's new operating system may look pretty, but the rollout hasn't been smooth for everyone.

Many people have taken to Twitter to complain about issues they say they've experienced with iOS 8, including slow download speeds, sluggish performance and problems with both Apple's native keyboard and third-party keyboards.

The majority of the comments haven't focused on the aesthetics, but rather functionality issues that have been apparently brought on after users upgraded their devices to iOS 8.

One of the new features of iOS 8 is the ability to easily send audio, video and photos to friends via iMessage. However, when fiddling with the new features, some users have found out the hard way that one click is all it takes to snap and send an accidental selfie to a friend.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request from ABC News about whether an iOS 8.0.1 update could be in the works. However, the company told ABC News in a statement last week that it's hotly anticipated HealthKit would not be released on the new operating system as expected.

"We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We're working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month," the statement said.

Aside from HealthKit, Apple's new iOS is packed with new bells and whistles to breathe life into your old devices.

The Family Sharing app allows up to six people in a household to share each other's iTunes, iBooks and App Store purchases. It also enables families to keep up with each others' photos, calendars and locations.

A "smart keyboard" that can suggest "contextually appropriate words" to complete your messages will be rolled out, along with the ability to seamlessly send video and audio iMessages, among other updates.

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Alibaba Begins First Full Week of Trading After IPO


Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After a record-breaking IPO on Friday, Alibaba is starting its first full week on the New York Stock Exchange.

The e-commerce campany’s stock, which is trading under the ticker BABA, was priced at $68 a share Thursday night. It closed Friday at $93.89, up 38 percent.

As of Monday morning, the stock was trading slightly lower.

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Americans Have Spent Billions on Smartphone Repair and Replacement


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- So, have you dropped your new iPhone 6 yet?  You know, it's bound to happen. The phone insurance firm SquareTrade says damaged iPhones have cost Americans $10.7 billion since their introduction in 2007.

The total amount Americans have spent on repair and replacement of all their smartphones in the last seven years -- including iPhones -- is over $23.5 billion.  

According to a SquareTrade survey of more than 2,400 smartphone users, the most common damage is the cracked screen. A quarter of iPhone owners have cracked a screen at some point, with 15 percent currently using a device with a cracked screen.

As you probably learned the hard way, cracked screens can prevent iPhone owners from using certain features.  Forty percent of iPhone owners with cracked screens couldn't read/send email or couldn't use certain letters, and 27 percent couldn't use apps like Facebook, Maps or Uber.  Twenty percent of people with cracked screens couldn't take photos, and 20 percent couldn't unlock the screen.

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General Motors Recalls 220,000 Sedans for Fire Risk


General Motors(DETROIT) -- General Motors is recalling more than 220,000 vehicles due to brake pad malfunctions that may result in a fire.

The defect can cause the pads to stay partly engaged, forcing the auto company to recall 205,309 vehicles in the United States and an additional 16,249 internationally, the New York Times reports.

Affected vehicles include 2014-15 Chevrolet Impalas and 2013-15 model Cadillac XTS cars, though the company says it is not aware of any injuries, deaths, or crashes related to the models.

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Professional Stand-Ins Wait in Line for iPhone 6


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- How much would you be willing to pay to get the new iPhone 6 on the day it came out, without having to wait in line?

Robert Samuel knows some people are willing to pay good money to have someone else do the waiting for them. In fact, he has turned line-waiting into a prospering business.

Samuel and his company, Same Ole Line Dudes, are professional line waiters -- literal stand-ins for other person who want the new iPhone 6, latest limited edition shoes, new video game console, whatever the hot ticket item is of the moment.

Friday was the first day customers could purchase the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in stores, and Samuel got an order to secure 22 iPhones for 11 impatient customers. Hours before Apple stores in New York City opened, he and the other 10 men he employed to secure the phones scouted locations across the city to see which would be best, sharing war stories and comparing wait times.

Samuel, 39, got in line at the Apple store on 14th Street in Manhattan around 6 p.m. on Wednesday and waited for the next 38 hours to secure the iPhones.

He charges $25 for the first hour of waiting, and $20 for each additional hour. The full rate for his 38-hour wait for the iPhone 6 was $765.

Most of the time, Samuel says he stands in line, but since he lives near the store, he brought an IKEA rocking chair and his desk chair with him from home so he would be comfortable.

“You have to be patient, and you have to find ways in creative times to occupy your time,” he said. “You should always try to engage the people around you because the one thing you don’t want to do when you’re waiting in line is you don’t want to want the people behind you to be taken back when somebody switches up.”

“Switches up,” meaning sometimes Samuel will be paid to wait in line for someone else, until he gets close to the front, and the person who paid him wants to take over his spot so they get the glory of purchasing the item themselves.

He works full time as a security guard, but his line-sitting business has gotten steadier overtime since his first line-waiting job last year -- getting paid $100 to wait in line for the iPhone 5s after posting an ad on Craigslist offering his line-waiting services.

He has picked up more business over time, waiting in for Nike Air Jordan releases, women’s shoe sample sales, show tickets, even waiting in line for the famous cronut, the croissant-donut combination pastry, on a regular basis. Samuel said he gets requests four times a week to secure and deliver two $5 cronuts for other people and gets paid $60 each time to do it.

Requests also come in for sporting events. Although he didn’t go to Brazil for the World Cup this summer, Samuel said he went to the Brazilian embassy to pick up someone’s visas and passports for them.

It’s clear that Samuel’s customers trust him, and he’s willing to negotiate cost if he can’t secure the item he was sent out to get.

“You’re paying for the service of us waiting,” he said. “I always make that clear, in the name of good customer service, I would offer to give the money back especially if they’re a loyal customer because I don’t want to stiff someone who decides to use us repeatedly… you want to keep a customer, you want to make them happy.”

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Chrysler Recalls More than 230,000 SUVs for Fuel Pump Issue


Chrysler Media(AUBURN HILLS, Mich.) -- Chrysler Group announced a voluntary recall of more than 230,000 SUVs Saturday, citing fuel pump issues in certain 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durango SUVs.

While the company said it is unaware of any related accidents or injuries, a routine internal review found a pattern of repairs for fuel-pump relays in the car models.

Further investigation revealed that some relays are "susceptible to deformation," the company said in a statement, which could affect the device's function and prevent a car from starting, or even lead to engine stalling.

Other operations, such as the deployment of airbags, are not affected by the fuel-pump relay.

The recall hits an estimated 188,723 vehicles in the U.S., 15,898 in Canada, 7,126 in Mexico, and 19,013 outside the North American Free Trade Agreement region. Services for customers will be performed at no cost, according to Chrysler Group.

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ExxonMobil 'Winding Down' Drilling at Russian Well


Photo by David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- ExxonMobil will suspend drilling at its oil well in the Russian Arctic, complying with U.S. sanctions against Russia.

The company said that it would wind down operation, with the permission of the U.S. Treasury Department. ExxonMobil cited "the need to protect the safety of the individuals as well as the risk to the environment" related to the "complexity" of it University-1 well.

The Treasury Department, ExxonMobil says, granted the company a license to slow their drilling instead of ceasing it entirely immediately.

The well was involved in exploratory drilling, meaning it will have little to no impact on oil output.

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