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This Week's Winners and Losers in Business

From a company that blew away analysts' expectations to a CEO misusing corporate jets, here's a rundown of this week's smartest moves and biggest blunders in the business world.

What Amazon's Latest Sales Tax Deal Means for Shoppers, Retailer

Residents of Massachusetts will pay a little more to buy gifts on Amazon.com next holiday season. In its ninth such deal, Amazon has agreed to collect state sales tax on purchases made from the Bay State. Could these moves by states cost the e-commerce giant its edge on pricing?

Every Day Is Free Shipping Day -- Now, How About Free Returns?

Monday was Free Shipping Day. So is Tuesday. In fact, every day is. No, not officially: The official event is Dec. 17, the last day retailers will guarantee a pre-Christmas delivery. But so many retailers always offer ways to get free shipping, they need a new gimmick -- like free returns.

Microsoft's Tablet Moves Show Real Trouble Beneath the Surface

On Tuesday, Microsoft put out a chest-thumping press release about how well its new Surface tablet is selling. But read between the lines of the PR puffery, and you'll see a worried tech giant making another big gamble in its attempt to produce a tablet that can compete with the iPad.

Could Same-Day Delivery Save the Post Office?

By 2015, the U.S. Postal Service is expected to be losing money at a rate of $20 billion a year. But the Post Office has a plan intended to help stop the bleeding -- or at least slow it down. Next week, it will begin testing a new same-day delivery service called "Metro Post."

How Patent Madness Is Killing Innovation and Costing Us Billions

Big creative companies like Apple are taking out patents on everything they can think of -- lest they develop an idea only to discover someone else claimed it first. That may sound sensible on the surface -- but the rules of the patent game are actually doing more harm than good.

Free Smartphone With That Suit? The Best Deals This Weekend

This weekend represents something of a lull in the holiday season. Black Friday is behind us, and any lingering Cyber Week sales are wrapping up. The remaining big shopping days won't come until later in December. Still, there are deals to be found this weekend. Here are a few.

How to Get the Best Deals on Cyber Monday

On Cyber Monday, U.S. consumers are expected to empty their wallets of more than $1 billion, Merchants are offering some of their best deals, and it's time to take advantage. Here are a few strategies that should help you land the lowest prices.

Best Buy's Stock Price Falls to a Millennium Low

Best Buy shares were crushed on Tuesday after another disappointing quarter, hitting prices that the consumer electronics giant's investors hadn't seen since the 1990s. Here are some of the reasons why Best Buy has fallen to a millennium low -- and why things may get worse.

Slash Your Holiday Gift Bill By Tapping Credit Card Rewards

If you're looking for a way to save on gifts this holiday season, you might want to tap your credit card. No, not by charging up a big fat bill -- but by maximizing your rewards points. Here are six ways to do just that and in turn, stretch your gift-giving budget.

Staples Gets a Surprising Roommate: Amazon.com

Amazon has been rolling out a fleet of lockers for its customers since late last year -- a way to buy from the online retail king without having your item shipped to your home. Now, in an unexpected partnership, it's about install some of those locker banks inside Staples stores.

Amazon Leaps Into the Mobile Gaming Game with 'Air Patriots'

Amazon released its first mobile game, "Air Patriots" on Thursday, The classic tower defense strategy game is a free download for Apple iOS and Android devices; but can the world's largest online retailer compete in a marketplace filled with thousands of nimble little competitors?

Wall Street Watch: Icahn Streams Into Netflix, Buys a 10% Stake

Carl Icahn is making a move on Netflix. The infamous activist investor and corporate raider has taken a nearly 10% stake in the DVD rental and video streaming giant, which means he must see a way to make a profit on its recent troubles. So does Icahn have a buyer in mind?

Never Pay for These 6 Things Again

Some of life's little luxuries haven't gotten any more necessary -- but they have become cheaper. From learning a new language to finding a great read, these six things no longer require a line item in your personal budget. Go ahead, indulge for less.

Apple Earnings Fall Short, and Amazon's Miss Too

Apple can no longer be counted on to beat Wall Street's profit targets. The world's most valuable tech company posted mixed quarterly results after Thursday's market close. Though net sales soared 27%, this marked the third miss in the five quarters that CEO Tim Cook has been at the helm.

Netflix Earnings: Expect Those Disks to Keep on Skipping

Netflix shares were hammered on Wednesday after it posted weak domestic subscriber growth and dialed back its forecast. Many will argue that there's nothing wrong with where it is now, but there are real problems and real volatility driving the plot at the leading premium video service.

Amazon Prime Goes Subprime with Add-On Free Shipping Gimmick

Amazon has a new plan to get consumers to buy more: Its "Add-on" program enables the e-tailer to offer free delivery on "thousands of items at a low price point that would be cost-prohibitive to ship on their own." But wait -- isn't that just like Amazon Prime? Not exactly. Here's why.

4 Ways You Can Profit From the Zombie Apocalypse

AMC's "The Walking Dead" is a runaway hit,and its ratings just keep getting bigger. Clearly, America is in a post-apocalyptic mood, as hooked on zombies as we are on vampires. So if you've got the brains, you might want to invest in this undead trend. Here are four stocks to consider before the world ends.

Would You Buy a Best Buy Brand Tablet?

If you can't beat 'em, you may as well join 'em. That's Best Buy is reportedly doing in the tablet computer game. A source is telling Reuters that the struggling consumer electronics retailer will roll out its own Android-based tablet next month: the Insignia Flex.

Amazon's Sales Tax Advantage May Soon End in Massachusetts

In a move designed to level the playing field for local retailers on the cusp of the make-or-break holiday selling season, Massachusetts is maneuvering to collect state sales tax from e-tailing behemoth Amazon.com, according to the Boston Herald.

Is Amazon Hurting Staples?

It once seemed that Staples and other office supply stores were largely immune from Amazon's competition, with local advantages that the online superstore couldn't match. Now, however, Staples finds itself putting together a battle plan against Bezos & Co.

How to Profit From the Decline of DVDs: 3 Stocks and 1 Idea

Disney just released this summer's blockbuster "The Avengers" for the home market, and it's likely to sell a ton of DVDs. But if it does, it'll be a rarity: DVD sales have been slowing for years now. That's bad for Hollywood, but it could be financially good for you.

Hot Toys For the Holidays: Toys R Us, Walmart Make Predictions

Toys R Us and Walmart have unveiled their hot holiday toy lists, sending the message that the Christmas shopping season has officially begun. Here are a dozen that the nation's top two toy sellers expect will fly off their shelves this holiday season.

Endless.com Is Ending: Amazon to Absorb Designer Fashion Site

In the end, the name of Endless.com was a lie. Amazon.com will be shutting down its standalone high-end apparel store later this month. Endless.com will redirect to Amazon.com/fashion, where the leading online retailer is beefing up its fashion-savvy merchandise.

Fake Reviews: Don't Fall for This Online Marketing Scam

Shoppers love online customer reviews. They offer the benefit of other people's experiences with a product before you buy, so you can have a better idea whether it's worth the money. Yes, they're great -- if you can trust the source. But often, you can't.

Starbucks Gives a Potent Caffeine Jolt to the Daily Deals Business

Baristas will be busier in the coming days: Daily-deals website LivingSocial sold 1.5 million $10 Starbucks gift certificates Wednesday. It's not just a testament to the allure of Starbucks; it's a sign that group-buying websites are alive and well despite Groupon's free-falling stock.