DirecTV will pay $14 million, improve consumer dealings

Satellite-TV provider DirecTV will pay $14.25 million to reimburse states’ attorneys general for investigating allegations of deceptive advertising and unfair sales practices.

The payments are part of a 50-state settlement. DirecTV Group Inc. is the nation’s second-largest pay-TV provider behind Philadelphia’s Comcast Corp.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, the governor-elect, said the agreement required DirecTV to make several improvements in its dealings with consumers.

Among them, DirecTV must replace leased defective equipment at no cost but for shipping; must clearly disclose limits in availability of local channels; and must notify consumers before they are obligated to pay for a seasonal sports package.

Former Wal-Mart executive can’t take CVS post just yet

A Delaware judge on Wednesday barred a former top executive for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. from taking a job as CVS Caremark Corp.’s new pharmacy president until a trial is held on Wal-Mart’s claim that the executive signed a noncompete agreement that prevents him from working for CVS.

Vice-chancellor J. Travis Laster granted Wal-Mart’s request for a preliminary injunction following a hearing, which the nation’s largest retailer argued that Hank Mullany possessed confidential Wal-Mart information that CVS, a competitor, could use to its advantage. The judge scheduled a trial for March.

CVS, based in Woonsocket, R.I., announced earlier this month that it had hired Mullany, who until last month was president of Wal-Mart’s Northern U.S. business.

Chevrolet delivers first Volt four years after unveiling

The first customer has received a Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car.

Just before 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jeff Kaffee of Parsippany, N.J., took the key to his silver Volt. The car had left General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck plant early Monday evening and arrived Tuesday night at Gearhart Chevrolet in Denville, N.J.

The first Volt delivery comes nearly four years after GM first revealed the Volt at the Detroit auto show. The first Nissan Leaf, a pure electric car and a rival of the Volt, was delivered on Saturday.

Kaffee traded in a Toyota Prius hybrid he bought in 2005.

Twitter raises $200 million, led by venture capital firm

Twitter has raised another $200 million to help its popular online communications service keep on growing.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s best-known venture capital firms, is leading the investment announced Wednesday. The funding values privately held Twitter at $3.7 billion, up from $1 billion when the three-year-old company raised its last round of financing 15 months ago.

The funding was first reported by the technology blog, All Things Digital. 

EBay acquires Critical Path to boost mobile platforms

Online auction hub eBay Inc. said Wednesday that it had acquired Critical Path Software, a mobile application developer that has helped develop iPhone apps for eBay, StubHub, eBay Classifieds and Shopping.com.

Terms were not disclosed.

EBay said Critical Path would play an integral role in making faster improvements for eBay’s mobile platforms worldwide.

Southwest changing order to get 20 bigger Boeing jets

Southwest Airlines Co. is getting new, larger planes that could pave the way for the all-domestic airline to offer international flights.

CEO Gary Kelly said Wednesday that Southwest will change an existing order with Boeing Co. and get 20 new 737-800 jets beginning in March 2012.

Those jets have 175 seats, 38 more than the largest planes in Southwest’s current fleet, which means potentially more revenue per flight.

The airline plans to add international service when it completes the purchase of AirTran Airways, which flies to Mexico and the Caribbean. It could still use AirTran’s planes for those flights.

Internal Revenue increases number of returns it audits

The Internal Revenue Service is making it riskier to cheat on your taxes.

The tax agency increased the number of returns it audited by nearly 11 percent this year. Statistics released Wednesday show that wealthy taxpayers were most likely to be targeted.

In all, the IRS examined more than 1.58 million individual returns in the budget year that ended in September, up from 1.43 million the year before.

The IRS collected $57.6 billion through enforcement actions, an 18 percent increase from the previous year.

Overall, a little more than 1 percent of returns were audited, either by mail or in person. More than 8 percent of the returns with incomes above $1 million were audited. 

Applications for mortgages decline as interest rates rise

Applications for mortgages fell last week as higher mortgage rates chased borrowers away.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday overall applications for loans declined 2.3 percent from the previous week.

Refinance applications slipped 0.7 percent, while purchase applications dropped 5 percent from the previous week.

Rates on both 30-year and 15-year mortgages increased to the highest levels in at least six months.