Consumers Confused by Voice-Activated Controls

Morning Business Memo:

Many consumers are baffled by voice-activated controls and other technology in new cars and trucks. New car quality for Ford and Chrysler slipped in JD Power and Associates' latest survey, while General Motors' ratings improved. Owner complaints about technology continued to hurt Ford's standing. Two years ago, before MyFord Touch and Ford's voice-activated Sync control systems were rolled out to more models, Ford placed fifth, the best showing among nonluxury brands. This year, Honda was rated the top nonluxury brand in the survey, which asks owners to rate the quality of vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership. For the second year in a row, Lexus, the luxury brand of Toyota, retained the top spot for overall quality. Hands-free devices in new cars that don't recognize voice commands have become the most frequently reported problem cited in the survey, said Dave Sargent, an executive at JD Power.

Despite the weak labor market, 56 percent of employers who recruited new workers in the past year say a candidate rejected their offer. The finding comes in a new survey from the jobs website According to Forbes, CareerBuilder's Applicant Experience study tracked the experiences and opinions of more than 800,000 workers who applied for jobs from June 1, 2011 to April 30, 2012. A bad experience applying for a job can play a critical role in the candidate's decision to accept a position. Poor first impressions, for starters, can cause job seekers to eliminate the employer from consideration altogether. Twenty-one percent of respondents reported they'd experienced a recruiter who was not enthusiastic about his or her company, making it not an employer of choice for the candidate.

More gasoline price drops ahead? Oil prices dropped to fresh eight-month lows near $80 today in Asia. Benchmark oil for August delivery was down $1.40 to $80.05 a barrel, the lowest since October.

Spain successfully raised more money today at a debt auction. But interest rates were higher than the previous sale.

Subsidies and other forms of support for the U.S. sugar industry are just two sweet. That's been a long-standing claim by critics of price and import controls, who say the policy is proof the government supports agribusiness over the interests of consumers. Their arguments were not enough to convince the Senate, which voted not to change the program. Senators have been working their way through a 1,000-page measure that establishes safety nets for America's farmers, authorizes conservation programs and funds the food stamp program.

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