Target tightens credit-card rules; also: 3M introduces flu-detection kit, and Xcel Energy profits fall as customers trim energy use

Target card-holders, be warned: The company says it is increasing collections “intensity” as unpaid credit-card bills continue to rise. The retailer is tightening terms for all credit-card customers in areas hit hard by the housing slump. It’s also flagging inactive cardholders who suddenly start using their card again, officials said at an analyst and investor conference on Thursday in Minneapolis. (AP, Reuters, MarketWatch)

If the fever, chills and runny nose don’t give it away: 3M is introducing an automated flu detection kit to help doctors diagnose the virus. The company says it’s the first rapid flu test that provides automated results to help reduce interpretation errors. A quick swab and the results are ready in 15 minutes. 3M says the test will help doctors make faster decisions, which will result in better patient care.

All those CFL bulbs are having an impact. Xcel Energy customers “significantly” reduced their energy use over the summer. The company normally sees year-over-year electricity sales grow at about a 2 percent clip. Between July and September, however, sales fell 2.2 percent, even after factoring for the cooler weather. Good news for society, but bad news for Xcel’s bottom line. Earnings were down 13 percent, the company reported Thursday. (Pioneer Press, Star Tribune)

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