Posts Tagged ‘Consumer Protection’

Okay, it’s not exactly a line from John Lennon’s utopian activist anthem “Imagine,” but it’s a common-sense priority of President Obama’s proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency that’s certainly worth getting behind. And even if the line isn’t all that musical, the likelihood that the agency could make it so you don’t need a law degree to understand your mortgage – and stamp out predatory lending and forced arbitration in home contracts (read Public Citizen’s report) in the process – should be enough to inspire a song (that is, if you’re anywhere near as musically inclined as the various buskers who ply their trade near our Q St. office).

Watch the above video by Americans for Financial Reform (a coalition including Public Citizen and several other groups) and circulate it widely. We need all the support we can get to make sure the proposed agency regulates home-mortgage lenders so the needs of the home-buying public remain priority number one.


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A few days ago, we told you about Public Citizen’s annual ranking of state medical boards – including a list of the six states with the worst-performing boards: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and New Hampshire.

When doctors make mistakes, they must be held accountable, which is why we’re urging you to take action and contact the six worst-performing boards.

Simply visit our Web page with a list of the six states, and click on a state to submit a letter to that state’s medical board.

Nothing is more valuable than your health, and state medical boards must serve the public by consistently doling out and enforcing serious disciplinary actions for doctors’ serious violations.

Demand these boards do a better job today!

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Like many folks, I often feel a twinge of guilt for not reading all the fine print when signing  contracts for credit cards and other services. I feel like there’s something there I should know (and worry) about, and if I could figure out exactly what it is, then I might be able to fight back if it turned out I signed a bad deal. But, of course, I start to read, my eyes glaze over, and … well, I never figure out what that worrisome item is.

Today, we need Congress to overturn one of the most unfair items in contracts like these: binding arbitration agreements. Sign one, and you sign away your right to take the company to court. They’re tucked into many contracts for numerous services and employment, and there’s little a consumer can do to combat them directly.

Sound too boring to bother with? Ask Debbie Dantz, a former Applebee’s employee. Ian Millhiser writes of her plight in the Huffington Post. Dantz endured appallingly cruel sexual harrassment at work. Her complaints to management were ignored, and she eventually was presented with a binding arbitration agreement to sign. (more…)

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 By David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division

The confusion and misunderstanding circulating among small businesses regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) recently culminated in an attempt by South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint to undermine this critical product safety law with an amendment to the economic stimulus bill. Fortunately, his effort was unsuccessful. Further attempts to change the law – bills have been filed in both the House and Senate – should also be defeated.

Weakening the law would mean putting children at risk from dangerous products. We should always be cautious about that type of proposal, but it’s a particularly bad idea here because it’s not even necessary to address the concerns that small businesses have raised. The Consumer Product Safety Commission can resolve those concerns with some simple, commonsense rules. It already has begun to do so. For example, the agency’s Web site includes guidelines on lead and phthalates, and information for secondhand and consignment stores. (more…)

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Flickr photo / Don Solo

For American consumers, this has been the year of living dangerously. A record number of product recalls this year and last — many involving dangerous toys — put American children and families at greater risk than ever before. But with the U.S. Senate passing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act Thursday night, after the House passed it Wednesday, there may finally be reason to think that things might get better.

As David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, put it: “The overwhelming support the bill received in Congress sends a strong message that protecting American consumers is above partisan politics.” (more…)

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The Chicago Tribune scored a Pulitzer prize today for its investigation into the failings of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and its inability to protect our children from toys that can kill them. Read the series, “Hidden Hazards: Our Kids at Risk,” and you can’t help but get angry. There are stories like the preschool teacher who warned the CPSC about a magnetic toy that almost killed one of her students. Do something before a child dies, Sharon Grigsby pleaded. She got a form letter back telling her the CPSC would look into her complaints. Six months later, her fears came true when a Seattle toddler swallowed magnets from the same toy the teacher had warned the CPSC about. That child died before his parents could reach the emergency room. (more…)

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cpscupdate.jpgWhen it comes to keeping dangerous, sometimes life-threatening, defective products off the shelves, the Consumer Product Safety Commission often has all the urgency of someone taking a leisurely stroll through the park. A new Public Citizen review of publicly available information shows that it takes the CPSC seven months from the time it receives a manufacturer’s report of a hazardous consumer defect to the time it notifies the public.


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