A provision buried deep within the recently passed Wall Street reform bill has the power to finally kill off mandatory binding arbitration, one of the more dangerous anti-consumer practices still sanctioned by law. While the bill includes a limited provision banishing arbitration agreements from mortgages and home equity loans, it also gives broad powers to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to kill off arbitration in all other consumer financial products. [More]
Last week, Massachusetts Rep. Bill Delahunt introduced a bill called the “Main Street Fairness Act,” which is a stupid name for a bill. The text of the bill hasn’t been released yet, but if passed, it would presumably set up a process where sales tax could be collected on purchases made over the Internet. As anyone who has shopped online over the past decade is probably aware, this has been an ongoing and thorny issue, since billions in online sales tax would provide a welcome revenue stream for struggling states. [More]
It doesn’t look like it’s going to make President Obama’s July 4 deadline, but the financial reform bill did manage to squeak through the House of Representatives on Wednesday with a final vote of 237-192. [More]
If you were planning on putting your kids through college based on your foreknowledge that Toy Story 3 was going to rock the box office, you’ll need to do your gambling on the black market, because Congress has banned Hollywood box office futures trading. [More]
The financial reform compromise may keep our financial system from reprising Chernobyl anytime soon, but it will also change the way consumers use their credit cards. Merchants will soon be allowed to refuse plastic for purchases of less than $10, a rate the Fed can boost as they see fit. Both the Fed and universities will also gain the power to set maximum credit charges. That means no more free flights to Europe after charging your kid’s tuition to your rewards card. The changes will go into effect the day after the compromise is signed into law. [More]
If you are victimized by corporate behavior and asked to testify before a legislative body in order to tell your story and help get a pro-consumer bill passed, it can be really scary. You only have a few minutes to make your case. Are you gonna choke it, or clinch it? Just follow these 15 tips I just learned in a Consumers Union Activist Summit workshop: [More]
Though General Motors has made a big deal about allegedly paying back their bailout loan to the federal government, the fact is that most of the bailout money was turned into equity, which means the government — and ultimately the taxpayers — are the majority shareholder in the car maker. That’s why some members of Congress are a little upset about GM’s continued practice of destroying important documents. [More]
As the merger of Worst Company In America 2010 and only-worth-watching-for-Biggest-Loser network NBC continues to limp forward through the bureaucratic maze, a California Congresswoman hinted not so subtly yesterday that the cable giant had contacted her in a not-exactly-professional manner. [More]
While Walgreens may have voluntarily chosen not to sell home genetic testing kits in the face of an FDA investigation, its action has brought attention to the entire for-profit testing industry, and others may not have the luxury to quietly shut down on their own. A congressional committee is looking into the business, and could end up regulating the industry. [More]
Remember the recalled liquid Tylenol and other children’s medicines last month? Or the stinky drugs that were recalled back in January? Or the children’s Tylenol that was recalled last September? The FDA remembers, which is probably why it’s “conducting a company-wide investigation of McNeil Consumer Healthcare’s drug manufacturing practices to determine whether similar problems exist throughout the company.” Also, a date has now been set (May 27) for the House Committee hearing where the CEO and chairman of parent company Johnson & Johnson are expected to testify. [More]
Cash4Gold supports legislation designed to regulate it and its competitors, according to a letter from the company’s president, Jeff Aronson. “Cash4Gold supports HR 4501, the Guarantee of a Legitimate Deal Act, and the provisions outlined in the bill,” Aronson wrote to two congressman who are backing the bill.
The FCC has released a scan (PDF) of the five-page executive summary of the National Broadband Plan that it will present to Congress in two days. Although the summary is packed with recommendations, here’s a couple that a lot of broadband customers might be interested in: the FCC wants to develop “disclosure requirements for broadband service providers” so that consumers can make the best choice for service, and it wants to map broadband services across the country to better identify “specific geographies or market segments” where there’s not enough competition. [More]
In the weeks since it was announced that the U.S. Congress would be holding hearings on the current massive recall of Toyotas, the car giant’s president, Akio Toyoda, had been saying “Thanks, but no thanks,” to the idea of appearing before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. And then yesterday, he softened a bit, saying he would consider attending the hearing if given a formal invitation. Well, Mr. Toyoda… Ask and ye shall receive. [More]
Yesterday, four senators introduced legislation to make cell phone early termination fees be actually related to the cost of the phone. [More]
Congress is concerned about the new fees that airlines seem to enjoy piling on their passengers. But not out of any sense of concern for consumers’ wallets. The problem is the lost tax revenue that airports are missing out on when airlines increase their prices through the use of fees instead of by raising fares.
The House version of the health care reform bill passed the House on Saturday night. Now it needs to be merged with some sort fo Senate version of the bill and signed by the President to become law. So how does this reform bill actually affect consumers?