Business news

Mark Lennihan / associated press file

A federal lawsuit claims Starbucks regularly overfills its cold drinks with ice instead of using the advertised amount of coffee or other liquid in its plastic cups.

The lawsuit was filed last week in Chicago on behalf of Stacy Pincus, a local woman who accuses Starbucks of misleading consumers. The lawsuit alleges that an iced beverage advertised at 24 ounces contains about 14 ounces of fluid, and that ice isn't a fluid or beverage.

Mayor Kasim Reed and outgoing Delta CEO Richard Anderson signed a contract Wednesday, April 27, keeping Delta Air Lines in Atlanta for at least 20 years and keeping the city from operating or funding any airport other than Hartsfied-Jackson.
Alison Guillory / WABE

While the city of Atlanta just struck a new 20-year deal with Delta Air Lines over Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Paulding County is moving ahead with its plans to establish commercial air service north of the city.

Michael Pugh / The Coca-Cola Co.

The Coca-Cola Co. will turn 130 years old on May 8, and there’s no company that brands Atlanta more than the beverage giant. As goes Coke, so goes Atlanta – and vice versa.

So holding this year’s annual meeting at the World of Coca-Cola for the first time was symbolic. The company was bringing its shareowners into the home they built. Not only was the meeting held there, the company opened the doors of the attraction for a special Shareowners Day at the World of Coca-Cola.

Comcast said it will bump up data limits from 300 GB to 1 TB for customers in the nine states it serves in the Southeast.
Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press

Starting in June, Comcast internet customers in metro Atlanta will no longer have to deal with 300 GB data caps.

This move affects heavy users in its Southeastern market, which includes nine states from Virginia to Florida.

The Philadelphia-based company said it plans to increase its data caps from 300 gigabytes to 1 terabyte. The company said most customers only use about 60 gigabytes of data per month, but that’s changing.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said outgoing Delta CEO Richard Anderson served as a personal mentor he called on during his early years as a fresh mayor.
Alison Guillory / WABE

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson were wiping away tears as they signed a 20-year lease extension. 

Delta, which has called Atlanta home since 1941, committed to sticking around for at least another 20 years on Wednesday. 

Anderson was hired as Delta's CEO in 2007 and plans to retire on May 2. 

Reed said Anderson has served as his personal mentor from his early days as mayor and said he feels like the training wheels are now off. 

The founder of Atlanta-based PulteGroup Inc., Bill Pulte, continues to call for the immediate resignation of CEO Richard Dugas.
Courtesy of PulteGroup Inc.

The public internal feud within the PulteGroup Inc. doesn't appear to be hurting the bottom line so far.

The Atlanta-based homebuilding company reported strong first-quarter earnings Thursday morning with more than $83 million in net income and stronger revenues from home sales compared to 2015.  

Bob Edme / Associated Press

Georgia Power is in the middle of three days of testimony before the state’s Public Service Commission to defend how it plans to get electricity in the future and how much electricity it thinks the state will need over the next 20 years. 

Georgia Power is required to file an Integrated Resource Plan every three years, which must be approved by the commission in a months-long review process.

Steve Helber / Associated Press

Hotels are getting more aggressive in their fight to get travelers to book reservations directly with them instead of through online travel agencies such as Expedia and Priceline.

Hyatt Hotels Corp. on Monday became the latest chain to offer guests a discount for booking a room directly on its own website. Members of its Gold Passport loyalty program can save up to 10 percent at hotels in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

The move follows similar campaigns by Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Dan Raby / WABE

Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) on Thursday reported first-quarter profit of $946 million.

On a per-share basis, the Atlanta-based company said it had net income of $1.21. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were $1.32 per share.

The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.29 per share.

The airline posted revenue of $9.25 billion in the period.

A car drives past an Allstate Insurance Co. office Wednesday, April 27, 2011, in Lyndhurst, Ohio.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens has issued a rare consumer alert over a rate hike proposed by auto insurance company Allstate.

Allstate has filed to raise automobile rates statewide by 25 percent, with the rate hike going into effect May 22.  

Hudgens said that 25 percent bump is only the average rate change, and that some policyholders could see increases as high as 58.3 percent.

 In this file photograph taken July 30, 2009, Rubbermaid containers are stacked at a store in Detroit.
Paul Sancya, file / Associated Press

From Sharpie pens to Yankee Candles, chances are you’ve used products owned by Newell-Rubbermaid or Jarden, which is based in Boca Raton, Florida.

Now Newell-Rubbermaid, which employs about 900 people here in Atlanta, is planning to buy Jarden, another Fortune 500 Company, for $16 billion. 

Newell-Rubbermaid is one of the region's biggest employers. 

But Emory economist Tom Smith says that its acquisition of Jarden probably won't mean an immediate boost to Atlanta's economy ─ at least not right away.

In this April 8, 2009 file photo, the Pulte Homes community of Liberty Park is seen in Novi, Mich.
Carlos Osorio, file / Associated Press

The founder of PulteGroup Inc. is again calling for the removal of its current CEO Richard Dugas.

“I supported the appointment of Richard Dugas as CEO in 2003, which in hindsight was a mistake and perhaps the biggest mistake of my career,” founder William J. (Bill) Pulte wrote in a letter released Monday morning.

Dboybaker /

An unusual strain of virus-like hacker software that exploits computer server vulnerabilities — without requiring human interaction — is a leading example of a new generation of "ransomware," according to a new report by Cisco Systems Inc.

Hackers use such software to target large-scale networks and hold data hostage in exchange for bigger payments. Such a strain, known as Samas or samsam, hit the MedStar Health Inc. hospital chain last month.

The website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

This story was updated at 5:23 p.m.

United Healthcare, the nation's biggest health insurer, will stop offering plans through Georgia's insurance exchange in 2017, according to the state Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner.

The department confirmed that United is currently the only insurer that has notified the state that it will not participate on the state's health insurance marketplace in 2017.

A travel advocate accuses Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines of shaming certain customers into buying a higher fare ticket. Delta says it's providing transparency as a way to better inform customers.
Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines reportedly could be in talks for a big order of new airplanes.

The news agency Reuters said Delta is in talks with plane manufacturers to buy dozens of small, narrow-body jets that seat around 100 people, possibly from the Canadian company Bombardier.

Reuters reports:

Mariordo via wikipedia

Self-driving cars are more likely to be a threat than a boon to public safety because of unresolved technical issues, engineers and safety advocates told the government Friday, countering a push by innovators for expedited government approval.

Even a trade association for automakers cautioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at a public meeting that a slower, more deliberative approach may be needed than the agency's plan to provide in six months federal guidance for deploying the vehicles on roadways.

Tesla Motors says worldwide orders for its new lower-priced Model 3 electric car have hit 325,000.

CEO Elon Musk says on Twitter Thursday that the number is still rising.

Customers must put down $1,000 to order the cars, which start at $35,000 and have a range of 215 miles per charge. The deposits are refundable.

The Palo Alto, California, company started taking orders March 31, shortly before Musk unveiled the car in Los Angeles. It's not scheduled to go on sale until late next year.

John D. Helms / Fort Benning

Fort Benning is the largest employer in Columbus, Georgia, and the federal government is in the process of cutting 2,400 positions. 

The Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Valley Partnership Joint Development Authority is now working on a plan through a study and series of public meetings to prepare for the loss.

The chamber’s Executive Vice President of Military Affairs Gary Jones estimated the loss of 2,400 soldiers by the end of July will take a $286 million economic toll on the region based on salaries and purchasing power. 

After public demands from the company founder for the current CEO to resign, Atlanta-based PulteGroup Inc.'s board of directors released a letter Tuesday reassuring shareholders the real estate company is under good leadership.
Courtesy of PulteGroup Inc.

One of the nation’s largest homebuilders is having a very public internal feud, with the company's move to Atlanta getting a lot of the blame.

Atlanta-based PulteGroup Inc.'s board of directors released a letter Tuesday reassuring shareholders the real estate company is under good leadership. 

PulteGroup Chairman and CEO Richard J. Dugas Jr. will retire next year, a decision the homebuilder attributes in part to a leadership change demanded by the company's founder and his grandson.

Dugas has served as CEO since 2003 and chairman of the company's board since 2009. The Atlanta-based company said Monday that Dugas decided to retire in May 2017, due in part to the actions of company founder Bill Pulte and his grandson, Jim Grosfeld, who was appointed to the board at the founder's request.

The promise of an affordable electric car from Tesla Motors had hundreds of people lining up to reserve one.

Tesla planned to unveil its Model 3 Thursday night at its Los Angeles design studio. It doesn't go on sale until late 2017, but potential buyers could reserve one with a $1,000 deposit at Tesla stores starting Thursday morning.

Long lines, reminiscent of the crowds at Apple stores for early models of the iPhone, were reported from Hong Kong to Austin, Texas, to Washington.

Michael Kappel (cropped) /


The Home Depot has started using the Google Cloud Platform for some of its data.

Officials with the Atlanta-based company wouldn't specify what kind of company information its entrusting to Google, nor would they say whether this has anything to do with the recent data breach that affected tens of millions of Home Depot customers.

"IT security is of the utmost importance, regardless of any of the technology platforms you're using. I mean, that is across the enterprise, and that will continue to be on the forefront," said Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes.

Diane Bondareff / Associated Press

Giorgio Armani has agreed to stop using fur for all its products, following years of lobbying by animal rights activists.

Armani said in a statement Tuesday that new technologies "render the use of cruel practices unnecessary as regards animals." The Armani group will be fur-free from the autumn/winter 2016 collection.

Fur Free Alliance chairman Joh Vinding said the announcement "makes it clear that designers and consumers can have creative freedom and luxury all without supporting animal cruelty."

Kohl's is closing three Atlanta area locations in June and November. One is an anchor tenant at Northlake Mall in North Dekalb County. The new owner of Northlake Mall says it hopes to better match tenants and amenities with the demographics of the area.
Mike Kalasnik (cropped) /

The department store Kohl's announced it is closing stores in three Atlanta area locations this year: in Roswell, Lithonia and Dekalb County.

The Dekalb County Kohl's is an anchor tenant for the struggling Northlake Mall.

Some developers say the success of future malls is now less about anchor tenants and more about customer experience.

Morehouse College freshmen Philip Rucker, Damon Redding and Tyree Stevenson use a programming language called Python to plot a map of weather stations in the United States.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Silicon Valley has a diversity problem: only one percent of technical employees at large tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google are African-American.

Industry leaders in Atlanta say tech companies here do a little better -- partly because there’s a more diverse pool of talent to draw from in the city. But those leaders also say there’s a still a long way to go.

Several groups in the Atlanta area are looking to change the picture.

Black Men Code

Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

Uber is launching a pilot program intended to help the ride-hailing service's drivers draw their pay faster, an effort that may also fend off emerging payday lenders who are targeting drivers.

Uber will allow drivers to deposit their earnings from each ride into an account with GoBank, a subsidiary of the pre-paid debit card company Green Dot. Uber won't charge any fees for the service, and GoBank will not charge a monthly fee so long as drivers access their accounts at least once every six months. Should it go untouched for longer, drivers would face a monthly fee of $8.95.

Lisa Marie Pane / Associated Press

The decision by the owner of a small Georgia insurance company to require his employees to carry firearms at the office has sparked a debate: Would having a gun on the job make you safer, or is it inviting violence into the workplace?

Lance Toland said his three offices, based at small airports in Georgia, haven't had problems with crime but "anyone can slip in these days if they want to. I don't have a social agenda here. I have a safety agenda."

In this Sept. 10, 2009 photo, job hunters wait in line to meet with recruiters at a job fair in Philadelphia.
Matt Slocum / Associated Press


The hiring process in metro Atlanta has slowed down, but that's not a reason for concern.

According to a new survey from the national staffing company Manpower, 10 percent of companies in metro Atlanta plan to add staff in the second quarter of 2016.

That's down more than half compared to the same time period last year.

But analysts and experts say that is to be expected midway into an economic recovery.

An exterior view of the new Mercedes-Benz USA metro Atlanta headquarters in Sandy Springs. The company released its first rendering this week.
Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz USA released the first renderings of its new headquarters in Sandy Springs, Georgia. The company said it plans to break ground in spring 2016, with a target completion date of early 2018.

The company began moving staff in July 2015 to a temporary office Sterling Pointe in Dunwoody near Perimeter Mall. It first announced it would relocate from its former headquarters in Montvale, New Jersey, in February 2015.

Its new headquarters will be located at the corner of Abernathy and Barfield roads, near the intersection of Georgia 400 and Interstate 285.

Eric Risberg / Associated Press

Technology isn't just for humans anymore. It's also for their furry friends.

In Silicon Valley and beyond, a growing number of startups are selling devices to keep pets safe, healthy, entertained and connected when their owners are away.

"Pet tech" entrepreneurs and investors see a big opportunity as pet ownership grows and owners show a willingness to spend serious money on their four-legged companions.