Banks Improve Disclosures, Falling Behind On Overdraft Fees, Binding Arbitration Clauses

Banks Improve Disclosures, Falling Behind On Overdraft Fees, Binding Arbitration Clauses

Checking accounts come in all shapes and sizes to fit every consumer’s needs – fine, not every consumer. While options can be good when you’re shopping around for a new bank, they also lead to a plethora of fees and risks for consumers. While some practices have improved, a new Pew Charitable Trusts report shows banks have a long way to go and it’s time the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau took action. [More]

8 Things Companies Have Said That Sounded Like April Fool’s Jokes But Sadly Weren’t

8 Things Companies Have Said That Sounded Like April Fool’s Jokes But Sadly Weren’t

For the calendar-challenged, we’ll point out that today is April 1, meaning the Internet is full of phony products, fake stories, doctored photos… so, you know, it’s like most days on the Internet. Rather than serve up a “United Charges Upgrade Fee For Merely Being Jealous Of First-Class Passengers” headline, or a post about Comcast CEO Brian Roberts giving up his job to play Gretl Von Trapp in a regional theater production of The Sound of Music, we’re looking back at some stories that would have been appropriate for April Fool’s. [More]

Comcast, Verizon March On To Worst Company Quarterfinals

Comcast, Verizon March On To Worst Company Quarterfinals

Today, four of the biggest names in Consumerist news, including one former champ, fought it out in the Worst Company Sandbox of… Sand. Each member of this cruddy quartet may be deserving of the Golden Poo, but only two could move on the next round. [More]

AT&T Promises: Kill Net Neutrality And You’ll Pay Less For Internet

In a filing with the FCC about net neutrality, AT&T swears that "flexible" neutrality rules would lower costs for you and me and everyone!

Most of the discussion about net neutrality and paid peering has been about who shoulders the financial burden for increased broadband use — the Internet Service Providers who need to invest in hardware and manpower to meet demand, or the companies like Netflix, Google, and Amazon whose content is so in-demand that it requires extra support from the ISPs? In the end, it doesn’t really matter since it’s the consumer who ultimately foots the bill, but AT&T is making its argument for weak net neutrality by saying it will lead to lower rates for subscribers. [More]

Montana Consumers Win Fight Against Online Payday Lender, Loan Debt Will Be Forgiven

Montana Consumers Win Fight Against Online Payday Lender, Loan Debt Will Be Forgiven

Montana consumers fill the winner’s column after winning a long-standing fight with the online payday lending industry. After three years of litigation, hundreds of hundreds of affected borrowers in the state will have their loans forgiven and receive their share of a $233,000 settlement. [More]

(Roadsidepictures)

JCPenney Worker Claims He Was Fired For Telling Truth About Fake Sales

Bargain-hunters love the thrill of seeing huge discounts fall off their total at the cash register, but this joy doesn’t necessarily reflect the truth. If a retailer never intended for anyone to pay the original sticker price, was it ever an original price at all? [More]

9 Federal Laws That Companies Can Skirt By Using Forced Arbitration

9 Federal Laws That Companies Can Skirt By Using Forced Arbitration

There are numerous federal laws that explicitly give wronged consumers the right to file a lawsuit against the company that harmed them, but all those statutory rights are being taken away by companies that insert arbitration clauses into their terms of service. [More]

Pew’s Model Disclosure Box for Prepaid Cards

Chase Becomes First Bank To Implement New, Simpler Disclosure Box For Prepaid Cards

In 2012, nearly 12 million consumers loaded more than $64 million onto prepaid debit cards. With so many people turning to these cards, more companies are getting into the prepaid debit business. To assist consumers faced with a plethora of card options, Pew Charitable Trusts unveiled a new model disclosure box for easy comparison of prepaid card fees and terms and conditions. [More]

Why You Should Opt Out Of Forced Arbitration, In 3 Sentences

(afagen)

While more and more companies are adding “forced arbitration” clauses to their terms of service, only a handful of these businesses are offering customers the choice to opt out of this part of the contract. Here are the reasons why you should take advantage of that option whenever possible. [More]

Supreme Court Won’t Stop Class-Action Lawsuits Over Front-Loading Washing Machines

Supreme Court Won’t Stop Class-Action Lawsuits Over Front-Loading Washing Machines

After several years of shutting down class-action lawsuits or affirming businesses’ ability to preempt such suits with forced arbitration, the U.S. Supreme Court today chose not to hear challenges to a trio of class actions about supposedly defective washing machines from three leading manufacturers. [More]

DropBox Jumps On Forced Arbitration Bandwagon, But Offers Online Opt-Out

DropBox Jumps On Forced Arbitration Bandwagon, But Offers Online Opt-Out

Another company is taking the coward’s way out of resolving legal disputes with its customers by tweaking its Terms of Service to take away users’ rights to take the company to court and to prevent multiple users from having their complaints heard as a group. This time, it’s online storage service Dropbox, which is currently notifying users of the bad news. [More]

Prepaid Debit Cards: Salvation From Overdraft Fees Or Putting Your Money At Risk?

Prepaid Debit Cards: Salvation From Overdraft Fees Or Putting Your Money At Risk?

No overdraft penalties, no overspending and sometime low but occasionally ridiculous fees are all perks that have led consumers to an increased use of prepaid debit cards in the last year. And while the cards are convenient there are plenty of reasons consumers should by wary. [More]

DirectBuy Closed Members’ Local Showroom: Now What?

DirectBuy Closed Members’ Local Showroom: Now What?

Longtime Consumerist readers might remember that we aren’t huge fans of the advertising or sales tactics that shopping club DirectBuy uses. But if someone does spend thousands of dollars to join, then they should be treated fairly by the company, right? Not when the nearest showroom closes down, and the company doesn’t understand why their new members can’t make an easy two-hour trip to the nearest one that remains open. [More]

Your Guide To Proposed Laws & Regulation That Could Help Consumers In 2014

Your Guide To Proposed Laws & Regulation That Could Help Consumers In 2014

2013 is gone, a collection of memories never to be dealt with again.  Next week, the 113th Congress returns for its second session, ideally to enact legislation throughout 2014, some of which could help consumers if they were to become law. [More]

Watch Al Franken Shred A Pro-Arbitration Professor For Trying To Gloss Over The Problem

Watch Al Franken Shred A Pro-Arbitration Professor For Trying To Gloss Over The Problem

Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on mandatory binding arbitration clauses, those fun bits of contractual language that take away your right to sue a company and force you into a resolution process that is heavily weighted in the company’s favor.  The hearing was chaired by Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, who earlier this year introduced the proposed Arbitration Fairness Act, and so he obviously has a thing or two to say on the topic. [More]

CFPB Report Confirms That Banks & Credit Card Companies Are Taking Away Your Right To Sue

CFPB Report Confirms That Banks & Credit Card Companies Are Taking Away Your Right To Sue

In 2011, the Supreme Court held that it was A-OK to not only hide a complicated forced-arbitration clause in a novel-length contract for a consumer product or service, but that it was also just peachy that such a clause stripped the consumer of his/her right to bind together with other affected customers in a class action. Since then, sellers of everything from cellphone service to video games have added these complicated clauses in an attempt to keep complaining consumers out of court and into the unfair arena of arbitration. Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued its first report on forced arbitration, and the results are, sadly, not shocking. [More]

Court To Hear Arguments In Case That Could Allow Companies To Litigate In Secret

Court To Hear Arguments In Case That Could Allow Companies To Litigate In Secret

Companies don’t ever want the public to know they’re involved in lawsuits. This is one of the many reasons that a growing number of businesses now force consumers to agree to mandatory arbitration for resolving disputes; it keeps the fight out of the public eye and often doesn’t allow for multiple consumers to join their complaints. Tomorrow, a federal appeals court will hear arguments regarding a case that ultimately could give companies the ability to litigate cases under a veil of secrecy. [More]

(Rich Rogala)

Yelp Sues Law Firm Over Allegedly Bogus Reviews

The folks at Yelp have decided to get tough with what they believe are businesses that post fake reviews on the site in order to appeal to customers or to counteract genuine, negative feedback from actual customers. The company has sued a small San Diego-based bankruptcy law firm, alleging that it filled its profile with false, positive reviews. [More]