If you were planning on picking up a sturdy switchblade or gravity knife from one of the Home Depots in NYC for your next home improvement project, or because you wanted to stab someone, you should note that they’re no longer available. That’s because last week, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office persuaded that store and 13 other retailers to stop selling such knives. They’re generally illegal in New York, and the retailers have agreed to surrender their inventory and forfeit any profits they made from illegal knife sales over the past four years. [More]
The New York Times has an article about Justin Kurtz, the college student who angered the owner of T&J Towing by creating a Facebook page about the company and who is now fighting a $750k defamation lawsuit. That sort of lawsuit–the kind meant to intimidate an opponent into silence–is called a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or Slapp. Now two Representatives are sponsoring a bill that would create a federal anti-Slapp law to protect consumers from vengeful businesses. [More]
A new law has made Hawaii the first state in the country to outlaw the possession of shark fin — a delicacy that goes for $48 a plate, according to the AP. [More]
Now that the Senate has passed the financial reform bill, it’s off to non-smoke-filled rooms, where it will go into a Blendtec with the version passed by the House last year. CNNMoney.com sifted through all 1,600 pages of the bill and came up with a handy cheat sheet explaining what’s actually likely to change when this thing becomes a law. [More]
Mail in rebates are a sneaky way to make things look cheaper than they actually are at the point of sale, since many consumers never actually get any cash back. Now New Jersey’s state Assembly is considering legislation that would require retailers to charge shoppers the after-rebate price on goods, instead of forcing them to mail in or submit online requests. If the retailer still wants to take advantage of the rebate, that’s no problem; he’ll just have to mail it in himself. [More]
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that debt collectors can’t use a “bona fide error” defense to avoid being sued for misinterpreting the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). In other words, if a debt collection agency makes a demand that’s in violation of the Act, it can’t say it didn’t know any better. Well, it can, but you can go right ahead and sue. [More]
This summer Californians will be able to vote on Proposition 17, which if passed will allow insurers to bypass some legal restrictions on how much they can charge for auto insurance. Mercury Insurance Group is a big proponent of the proposition, but maybe that’s because it’s been possibly sidestepping the law in recent years anyway. Hey, making it legal will just prevent another state report like the one Carla Marinucci at the San Francisco Chronicle obtained, which contains findings that Mercury “has engaged in practices that may be illegal, including deceptive pricing and discrimination against consumers such as active members of the military and drivers of emergency vehicles.” [More]
Starting on July 1st, the Federal Reserve has required banks to get consent from customers before enrolling them in overdraft protection programs so they can experience the excitement of cascading overdrafts. The problem is that consumers may be trading overdraft fees for insufficient funds fees and good old-fashioned bounced checks…and end up worse off in the long run. [More]
In case you missed it, Senate Democrats managed to succeed at their goal of pushing through some sort of health care reform bill before Christmas Day–the chamber voted this morning 60-39 along party lines and passed the bill. Up next: the Senate and House have to get together and negotiate some final version. If you want to compare what’s in the House and Senate versions, the New York Times has put together an excellent side-by-side comparison tool.
New Jersey politicians appear to be engaged in some sort of contest to see who can get the most stringent anti-junk mail law passed. First an Assembleyman introduced a bill a few weeks back that would ban companies from mailing unsolocited checks to consumers. Now the Assembley’s Consumer Affairs committee has proposed starting a “Do Not Solicit” list, which would block credit card companies from offering new cards to consumers who aren’t interested. [More]
Yesterday, four senators introduced legislation to make cell phone early termination fees be actually related to the cost of the phone. [More]
The AP says that police were called when Target employees tried to throw a couple out of the store because the woman was breastfeeding in the electronics aisle. The husband, a Detroit police officer, says they were told by the security guard that the act was “against the law.” [More]
Last week the Senate cooked up a Scooby Snack for the FDA. The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously approved a bill that will make the FDA run around all hyper and bestow it with super strength and ghost-catching ability, the LA. Times reports, though not in those words. [More]
Assemblyman Paul Moriarty wants direct mail marketers to stop sending out those “free money!” checks that auto-enroll you in expensive programs when you deposit them, while a senator has introduced a similar measure. “Instead of relying on tricks, companies looking to sell their services in New Jersey should go back to the old-fashioned way: earning consumers’ trust,” said Moriarty. [More]
When agents raided Gibson Guitar’s manufacturing facility earlier this week, some articles pointed out that the company’s CEO Henry Juszkiewicz was on the board of the Rainforest Alliance, a group that certifies businesses to sell their goods under an environmentally sustainable label. Now the group has postponed its annual certification of Gibson Guitars, and Juszkiewicz is temporarily stepping down from the board.
Yesterday, US Fish & Wildlife Services agents issued a search warrant on Gibson Guitars’ manufacturing plant in Nashville, TN. The Nashville Post writes that they “seized wood, guitars, computers and boxes of files from Gibson Guitar’s Massman Road manufacturing facility.”