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    Menu changes in store at McDonalds, Sheetz partners with Diebold.



    McMenu Changes
    Looking to reverse sputtering sales, McDonald's Corp. is tinkering with its famed hamburger. The company is eyeing beef patties with a reformulated seasoning mix to "improve the flavor of our meat," a company memo sent to franchisees disclosed, Down Jones Newswires reported. The memo, a year-end review of the Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's domestic turnaround attempts, said the company is examining ways to shrink the overall menu to simplify restaurant operations.

    Among the considerations is to reduce the number of French fries and drink sizes. As part of the review, McDonald's said it would beef up promotion of the chain's Dollar Menu and roll out new sandwich buns. "We understand the pressure that the Dollar Menu is adding to your margins. However, it's critical we stay the course," said the memo, from McDonald's U.S. president Michael Roberts. "After 10 weeks, the Dollar Menu is differentiating us from the competition. Our competitors are feeling the heat."

    Roberts didn't indicate whether two premium sandwiches the Big 'N Tasty hamburger and the McChicken would remain on the Dollar Menu. Their presence has sparked a price war with rival Burger King that has hurt sales. The report also indicated that McDonald's is evaluating pricing relationships between a la carte and combination orders that McDonald's calls Extra Value Meals.

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    Pepsi Settles Sex Suit
    SoBe, the trendy new age division of PepsiCo Inc., has agreed to pay nearly $1.8 million to five female employees who claimed they were subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation at the SoBe sales and distribution facility. PepsiCo spokesman Larry Jabbonsky said the company is "pleased the issue has been settled and we look forward to maintaining a respectful workplace for all employees in the future," the Associated Press reported.

    The consent degree, forged by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, must be approved in federal court. The nearly $1.8 million will compensate the employees and help establish a claims fund for other unidentified victims of the sex discrimination. The agreement also provides for the revision of anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies and continued training. Pepsi acquired SoBe in 2001.

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    Online Venture
    Alliance Data Systems Corp., a leading provider of transaction services, marketing services and credit services, said it would work with Transora, a consortium of consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, to provide online coupon capabilities for consumers. ADS will strategically align with Transora to co-market targeted marketing services (TMS), which designs and implements targeted, online e-mail communications and coupon programs for clients in the retail, consumer package goods and convenience store industries.

    Mike Beltz, president of transaction services for Alliance Data Systems, said the two organizations will bring significant relationships and consumer marketing expertise together for the benefit of clients trying to strengthen the bond they have with their customers. "We view TMS' integrated point of sale products and the relationships they have with key consumer packaged goods companies as valuable attributes to our service offerings," he said. "Online coupons are fast becoming an effective target marketing tool and are redeemed by the consumer at triple the rate of traditional coupons. Additionally, they provide a better mechanism for tracking results while ensuring that the right offer reaches the right consumer at the right time."

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    Cash Convenience
    Sheetz Inc. has installed Diebold Inc.'s new Change-Back Machines. The change-back system allows cash customers to pay at the pump, and then receive change from a Diebold self-service terminal, without ever entering the store.

    "Our goal is to provide the same convenience to our cash customers as we provide to our credit customers," said Rich Steckroth, new business development manager at Sheetz. "And for those busy 'cash and dash' customers who just want to fill their tank and leave quickly, we allow them to be on their way without having to stand in line inside the store."

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