ONLINE TRADERS BEWARE Ever tried to get your broker on the phone for an urgent trade, only to be greeted by a constant busy signal? That's what happened to E*Trade customers for three days last week when a software glitch prevented the site from executing trades for an hour or two. The incident, which came only a week after SEC chairman Arthur Levitt warned traders about the dangers of Net stock mania, spurred New York State's attorney general to launch an investigation into the booming industry. Some online brokers, hit with a flood of service complaints, are trying to temper customer enthusiasm: Waterhouse Securities prohibits Web trading of certain volatile Net stocks, and Schwab and Discover have made it harder to trade on margin. For a reliable site, go to and , which regularly monitor broker performance.
Airfares Taking Off No Wonder So Many Airline Passengers Are angry. It was bad enough that some unlucky travelers had to sit captive for hours on planes during January storms. Now over the past two weeks, all the major airlines have increased the price of leisure tickets by 4%. Delta and United also announced that most full-fare tickets purchased for the Y2K New Year's holidays will be nonrefundable. Last week though, Senators John McCain (R.-Ariz.) and Ron Wyden (D.-Ore.) said they would introduce a bill to give passengers 48 hours to cancel nonrefundable tickets and require airlines to explain why flights are delayed. For now travelers can assert their rights by seeking out last-minute, cheap deals at websites like , , and --or by flying Southwest, which isn't raising fares and will soon fly to New York's Long Island.