CONSUMER CONFIDENTIAL

Rebate check is not in the mail

That might not be such a bad thing. I'm hearing that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is leaning toward signing the bill. It would be the right call.

Stormy weather

First the time lady, now the weather guy.

After the pulling the plug this month on (213) 853-1212 and other recorded time services in California (you can read about it at www.latimes.com/lazarus), AT&T is doing away with (213) 554-1212, which for decades produced a recorded weather forecast for Southern Californians.

Theresa Eisenman, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service, said weather-deficient people could still get a forecast whenever they desired. Only now they'll have to dial long-distance to the agency's Oxnard office at (805) 988-6610.

They'll also have to muscle their way through an automated switchboard to get the weather in their area and -- the final indignity -- they'll have to accept the weather being read by a machine rather than a living, breathing (albeit recorded) meteorologist.

"It's not a human voice," Eisenman acknowledged.

John Britton, an AT&T spokesman, said the phone giant had gradually cut back on providing local numbers for weather recordings. In recent years, the service has been offered only in Los Angeles and San Diego.

"AT&T and the National Weather Service jointly agreed it was time for the client to take over the service," Britton said. "There are simply too many sources for people to get the weather and the time in today's world."

He added: "Technology is always changing."

Not always for the better.

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Consumer Confidential runs Wednesdays and Sundays and frequently in between. Send your tips or feedback to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

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