The Affordable Care Act scored a major victory today as the Supreme Court upheld provisions allowing the government to provide tax subsidies for consumers who purchased insurance through the program, although their states don’t have an official insurance exchange of their own. [More]
I’m having trouble telling whether the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is serious, or whether someone at the organization saw that Venture Brothers episode and got confused, so I’ll just describe what they’re doing and you can decide for yourselves. The group has launched a letter writing campaign to demand that McDonald’s stop giving out Marvel superhero toys, specifically The Thing and The Human Torch, because they’re too violent.
Arizona has a lot of gun lovers. Almost anyone in the state over 21 will be able to carry a concealed weapon without a permit starting June 29th, but some pro-gun advocates are already visiting local businesses with their weapons in plain sight in an attempt to make the practice more socially acceptable. Arizona lets businesses ban guns at their discretion, so this weekend the Arizona Star looked at how restaurants and bars are deciding who to piss off more: gun carriers or the people who feel uncomfortable around them.
Kevin Trudeau, a diet and disease cure-all peddler who has a rich history with the FTC, just earned himself a fat 30 days in jail for encouraging his fans and followers to email a U.S. District Judge. Last Wednesday, Trudeau posted a request on his website asking supporters to email the judge who is presiding over an FTC civil suit against him. The idea, apparently, was for Trudeau’s happy customers to convince Judge Robert Gettleman to go easy on the pitchman. Instead, it had the opposite effect.
Kate Hanni, the founder of the passenger advocacy group FlyersRights.org, has filed a lawsuit against Delta Airlines in which she claims they hacked her email account and acquired personal email messages sent between her, some journalists, and a guy who was at the time working for Metron, a company hired by the FAA to investigate Delta.
Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke reports the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the California Youth Advocacy Network and the American Medical Association Alliance have teamed to launch an ad campaign to warn against Hollywood’s tendency to shill for the tobacco industry.
We don’t blame the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA)—
a pesticide an agribusiness trade group—for promoting its interests, but we still think it’s funny that they’ve asked the first family to not grow organic vegetables in the White House vegetable garden. MACA’s Executive Director Bonnie McCarvel sent a long letter to Michelle Obama reminding her of the importance of technology in modern farming, then publicized the letter via an email where she noted, “While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder.”
If You Love Junk Mail, Visit The Direct Marketing Association's Advocacy Website "MailMovesAmerica.org"
Did you know that “advertising mail is under threat?” It’s true! But what can you, the consumer who loves junk mail, do to stop the 15 states that, in 2007, “proposed the creation of state Do Not Mail registries, similar to the national do not call registry”? The Direct Marketing Association has set up a website just for you!
BusinessWeek’s cover story from their March 3rd issue, “Consumer Vigilantes,” looks at last year’s wave of stories about consumers who took matters into their own hands, either by smashing up a Comcast office with a hammer, starting a “Comcast must die” blog, or sending EECBs to unsuspecting executives. “Frustrated by the usual fix-it options–obediently waiting on hold with Bangalore, gamely chatting online with a scripted robot–more consumers are rebelling against company-prescribed service channels,” BusinessWeek writes. What we can’t figure out is how they got those three guys to actually pose with those goofy masks on—sometimes it’s okay to say no to the photographer.
Apparently “Supercapitalism” is making the rounds over at AlterNet, because they keep writing about it. This time there’s a good interview with the author, former labor secretary Robert Reich, and he takes the opportunity to summarize his main arguments from the book.
On the same day that consumer groups called for “Do Not Track” lists to preserve consumer privacy, AOL pre-emptively announced a new service that they say will let users opt out of receiving targeted ads. “Choosing to opt out sends a cookie to a user’s computer that blocks the ads from appearing. AOL’s system prevents the deletion of the opt-out cookie.”
Several consumer groups have joined together to request that the FTC implement a “Do Not Track” list for online use, which would allow Internet users to request that they be told in advance any time their online patterns are being tracked for advertising purposes. They submitted a formal request today, before the FTC’s 2-day workshop begins tomorrow where it will “study the increasing use of tracking technology to target online ads.”
At the risk of turning into an echo chamber, we want to point out that SmartMoney has a good list of five ways to escalate your customer service issue when the normal CSR route fails. Sure, we’re all about the executive email bomb here at Consumerist, but there are other viable paths you should consider as well—like turning to your local government, and not just for local businesses: “A problem with your communications provider, for example, may be resolved with a complaint to a common, but little-known town board — the cable access committee, which acts as a liaison between the government and the cable suppliers for that area. “
Earlier this month we asked our readers, are you a consumer or a citizen? It was sparked by comments from Robert B. Reich, who’s written a book called “Supercapitalism” that argues that we as consumers are in effect our own worst enemies—our collective desire to save a buck or earn more on our investments are contributing to the increasing “decline of democracy.” AlterNet has posted an excerpt from his book that expands on this idea of how we undermine our own best interests with, well, our other best interests.
The century-old National Consumers League (NCL) announced today that veteran consumer protection lawyer Sally Greenberg will become its executive director, starting October 1st. For the past 10 years, Greenberg worked as senior attorney at Consumers Union (who publish Consumer Reports), and this week she’s testifying at Senate toy safety hearings. [Washington Post]
Ohio’s legislature passed the Product Liability Act in 2006, which capped certain court damages at $5,000 and created special protections for companies that once sold paint containing lead. Gov. Ted Strickland vetoed it, but the Ohio Supreme Court overturned the veteo last month on a technicality. Today, a group of consumer advocates in Ohio turned in 1,800 signatures in an attempt to bring the issue to a public vote in November ’08. [Business Week]