For the second time this year, federal regulators have handed down a record-setting fine to an automaker for failing to properly report and investigate possible defects. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration levied a $105 million fine against Fiat Chrysler, following months of investigations into the car maker’s leisurely pace in fixing more than 11 million vehicles connected to 23 safety recalls. [More]
Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, creditors are prohibited from discriminating against loan applicants based on race or national origin. But that was a rule Honda’s financing unit allegedly violated, resulting in thousands of African-American, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander borrowers paying higher interest rates than white borrowers for their auto loans. Now, as part of a settlement with federal regulators to resolve allegations that the company allowed discriminatory loan pricing, the company must provide $24 million in restitution to borrowers. [More]
Nearly five months after Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay more than $35 million – including $11.1 million in redress to affected consumers – for their part in an illegal mortgage kickback scheme, the purported masterminds behind the “pay-to-play” arrangement are finally facing action from federal regulators for their shady dealings. [More]
For many low-income consumers, tax time provides an opportunity to catch up on bills and get back on track financially. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous companies out there that aim to make money of these same consumers by pointing them in the direction of high-cost tax-refund-anticipation loans. That appears to be the case for the owner of New Mexico-based H&R Block franchises and a tax-time loan company operating an alleged illegal tax-refund scheme. [More]
Yesterday, when we posted about the record-setting $24 million penalty the FAA gave to American Airlines over allegations the carrier flew thousands of flights in planes with potentially dangerous wiring, some Consumerist readers expressed the sentiment that the massive fine was either ineffective in properly punishing AA or that it did little to make air travel better for passengers. [More]
January 15th is the last day you can pay estimated taxes for 2009 without worrying about the IRS’s 4% interest penalty. For most people, you need to have paid 90% of what you owe for 2009 or have a good reason why you didn’t (e.g. casualty, retirement). Kiplinger notes that even if you can’t pay the full amount, pay whatever you can by January 15th to reduce the amount that’s penalized. [More]
The FCC has made it clear that apartment complexes can’t force residents to use a specific cable company, but Amy Davis at KPRC in Houston reports that there’s a sneaky way to get around this restriction. The residents of one Houston apartment complex don’t have to go with the building’s chosen provider, but if they opt out they’ll have to pay an extra $40 per month for trash and water. [More]
I suspect some readers will say that Assefa Senbet is to blame for screwing up one of his final payments to Citibank on a deferred interest loan agreement. They’ll be right–it was his responsibility. But he didn’t skip a payment, and he wasn’t late. In fact, he frequently overpaid in order to pay it off early. Near the end of the loan, however, he sent in a check for $70 instead of $81. As a consequence, he’s now paying off $887 in deferred interest fees at a 30% interest rate. [More]
Wachovia has a new financial product called Way2Save that automatically moves $1 from your checking account into a high interest personal savings account every time you make an electronic bill payment. Susan tried to maximize her contributions by making a lot of little bill payments, but Wachovia cut off access to her funds without notice and triggered an avalanche of penalty fees. Now she owes over $5,000 to her credit card companies, far more than she would likely have ever earned through Wachovia’s complicated savings program, and of course Wachovia is denying any responsibility.
Looks like the CPSC can afford donuts tomorrow for their office: Target has agreed to pay $600,000 for selling toys with too much lead on them from May 2006 to August 2007, reports Reuters. The fine “resolves allegations” over the issue, so now Target can focus on what it does best, which is act crazy.
Here’s a story from a reader about a bad bank practice that we hear about too frequently—a bank cascades hundreds of dollars worth of overdraft fees on an error that’s beyond the customer’s control, but then is unresponsive or uncooperative on refunding those fees.
Banks now make more on debit card overdraft fees than credit card penalties—they’ll rake in about $27 billion in 2009 alone, according to the New York Times. They obviously have zero incentive to curb the practice. In fact, one economist told the paper that “45 percent of the nation’s banks and credit unions collect more from overdraft services than they make in profits.”
Today the FTC banned pretty much all telemarketing-based robocalls starting Tuesday, September 1st, 2009. At that point, “violators will face penalties up to $16,000 per call,” notes the Los Angeles Times.
Midwest utility Xcel Energy wants to charge anyone using solar panels a monthly fee for sustainably generating their own energy. According to company spokesman Tom Henley, “We just don’t think it’s fair that customers that don’t have solar panels on their homes should subsidize these solar panel customers any further.” Huh?
Over a year ago, we wrote about Lifestyle Lift and its attempts to astroturf a customer review website (while simultaneously suing that website for trademark infringement, naturally). But then they caught the attention of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office, and now they’ve agreed to pay $300,000 and will stop publishing fake reviews online.
Kids these days! Hawkins writes, “My lectures about financial responsibility appear to have failed: yesterday [my teenaged daughter] charged $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 at the drug store.” You would think Visa would have caught the error and addressed it, if you were high. What Visa actually did was slap a $20 “negative balance” fee on it, of course. Update: Here’s what happened!