Senators Harkin, Rockefeller, FCC’s Clyburn to be honored with prestigious advocacy awards in Washington – National Consumers League

September 27, 2013

Contact: NCL Communications, Ben Klein, (202) 835-3323,

Washington, DC— The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, will honor Mignon Clyburn, Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with its highest honor, the Trumpeter Award, on Tuesday, October 1, in Washington, DC. The event will bring together a diverse group of representatives from nonprofit organizations, labor unions, consumer organizations, and industry to celebrate Commissioner Clyburn’s accomplishments.

Commissioner Clyburn is the first woman to head the FCC and has a long list of accomplishments including: instituting a cap on calling rates for inmates to family and friends, announcing a spectrum auction that will raise an estimated $1.5 billion, negotiating a deal that will allow wireless devices used by smaller carriers to operate on larger carriers networks.

“The Trumpeter Award is NCL’s highest honor given to leaders who have tirelessly advocated for the right of consumers and workers. In just a short time as head of the FCC, Chairwoman Clyburn has demonstrated a commitment to a fair and open communications marketplace for consumers,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “We are very lucky to have such an adept leader at the FCC as Congress continues to delay a vote to confirm Tom Wheeler to that position.”

The first ever recipient of the Trumpeter Award was Senator Ted Kennedy. Previous honorees include Labor Secretaries Hilda Solis, Robert Reich, Alexis Herman, head of the FDA Dr. Margaret Hamburg, AFT President Randi Weingarten, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Senators Carl Levin and Paul Wellstone, Delores Huerta of the United Farm Workers, and many others.

NCL will also honor Senators Tom Harkin and Jay Rockefeller with the first-ever Consumer and Labor Leadership Awards. As their retirement from the US Senate draws near, NCL is proud to commemorate their years of service to America’s consumers and workers with this award. Both Senators were recipients of the Trumpeter Award in the early 1990s.

Dana Wiggins, coordinator for the Virginia Partnership to Encourage Responsible Lending (VaPERL) coalition and Director of Outreach and Financial Advocacy for the Virginia Poverty Law Center in Richmond, VA, will receive the Florence Kelley Consumer Leadership Award, named for NCL’s early leader and awarded to grassroots consumer advocates.

The event will feature a reception, dinner, and speaking appearances by NCL leadership and the honorees, as well as:

  • Cecil E. Roberts, International President, Untied Mine Workers of America
  • Mamie Locke, Virginia State Senator
  • Anna G. Eshoo, United States Congresswoman

Event details
What: National Consumers League’s 2013 Trumpeter Awards Dinner
When: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 | 6 p.m. Reception | 7 – 9 p.m. Dinner and Presentation of Awards
Where: Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, NW Washington, DC 20008
Questions or to RSVP: Ben Klein, National Consumers League (202) 835-3323


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

A DC resident’s letter to Mayor Gray about the LRAA – National Consumers League

The Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) was vetoed by DC Mayor Vincent Gray and then the veto was sustained by the DC City Council earlier this month. This was a defeat for DC’s low wage workers and a missed opportunity for Washington to set an example for the rest of the country that workers deserve a living wage.

This is a compelling letter from Daniel Solomon, a DC resident, to the Mayor urging him to sign the LRAA in the days leading up to his decision. Dear Mayor Gray, I have been following the progress of the Large Retailer Accountability Act since it first attracted public attention last year.  I find the arguments of its proponents compelling and the arguments of its opponents weak at best.  I urge you to act on your best instincts and sign the bill.

My grandfather, N. M. Cohen, founded Giant Food in Washington, DC in 1936.  From the beginning, he regarded his workers as his most important asset.  He would say, “This company is built on three things: people, people, people.” He paid his people well.  He dealt fairly with the union that represented them, even ordering coffee for strikers in the rare instance when his workers went on strike in winter.  He built Giant on the shoulders of his workers, not on their backs.

He made a lot of money as a high-road employer.  He plowed that money back into the community in a variety of ways, not the least of which is through the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, which continues to give back to the District of Columbia. N. M. would be appalled to watch WalMart’s hijinks.  Threatening to leave D.C. or cut back on its planned investments here if we don’t keep their workers’ wages down.  Using the needs of our poorest communities as leverage, rather than as a reason to build new stores and pay workers living wages.

Refusing to testify publicly on the Large Retailer Accountability Act, but seeking to kill the legislation  behind the scenes through highly-paid lobbyists and using other businesses and business associations as its surrogates.  Pursuing a low road to growth rather than the high road pursued by Giant Food and such other companies as Costco and Trader Joe’s and Quick Chek. Your campaign theme of One City meant a great deal to me, both as a member of the Giant family and as a prosperous resident on the prosperous side of town.

I believe DC will be One City and a thriving city only when the least fortunate residents have good jobs, excellent schools and the opportunities now available almost exclusively to those West of the River.  Good jobs are not retail jobs at or near minimum wages.  Those jobs will only perpetuate poverty.  Of course, not every retailer can afford to provide living wage jobs.  Those that can should.  Surely big box retailers whose parent companies earn $1 billion or more a year can afford far more than many of them choose to provide. You and some of the Council opponents of LRAA say that the residents of Ward 7 want the jobs WalMart may bring, no matter what they pay.  Elissa Silverman of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute has found otherwise.

Here is a link to her article: Your Administration has done much to raise the prospects and hopes of those East of the River.  I urge you to harness the wealth of the large retailers who want to do business here to provide the next boost. Please sign the LRAA. Sincerely, Daniel Solomon

Big changes in health care this fall – National Consumers League

This fall, there will be a new way to buy health insurance. NCL takes a look at what it means for you. October 1 marks the beginning of a new way to buy health insurance, put into place by the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” The ACA increases health care coverage for many Americans, even those who were previously underinsured or living without insurance.

Consumers can now buy health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Here, you can sign up for health care coverage and see apples-to-apples comparisons of costs and coverage between plans that fit your needs. Plans on the Marketplace will offer core set of essential health benefits like doctor visits, preventive care, maternity care, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and more

What: The Health Insurance Marketplace allows consumers to sign up for health care coverage and see apples-to-apples comparisons of costs and coverage to find the plan that is best for you. You can see what your premium, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs will be before you make a decision to enroll. The Marketplace gives consumers control over their health insurance options.

Who: Some states run their own Marketplace. In other states the federal government runs the Marketplace.

When: Enrollment opens on October 1, 2103 and ends on March 31, 2014. Coverage begins as soon as January 1, 2014.

Where: Go to to get started. With the ACA, it is easier than ever to see if you qualify for insurance or other assistance programs, like CHIP or Medicaid. Just one application will let you know whether you can get lower costs based on your income.

Why: Before the ACA, more than 40 million Americans were uninsured. No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point.

How: The ACA gives everyone new protections, no matter what insurance they have. Now most plans can’t refuse coverage or charge more for pre-existing conditions like asthma or diabetes. Your plan can’t set a dollar limit on what they spend on your care during the entire time you are enrolled in the plan. Young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance up to the age of 26, and all plans must give a Summary of Benefits and Coverage, easy-to-read info about a plan’s coverage and costs. 

Beware of Fraud! Know the warning signs and how to protect yourself

With any new program, there is a lot of confusion around how it works or where to go for information. Sometimes consumers can become vulnerable to scams and fraud. With fraudulent websites or phone calls offering to help you sign up for “Obamacare,” it is hard to know who to trust. Here are some tips to protect yourself and personal health information from fraud.

  • Visit, the official site for the Marketplace, to sign up for coverage and learn more about the health care law.
  • Look for official government seals, logos or web addresses (.gov extension)
  • Compare insurance plans before making a decision or paying for insurance. There can be many that fit your particular needs!
  • No one should be asking for your personal health information. Don’t give it to anyone.
  • Keep personal and account numbers private. Don’t give your Social Security number or credit card or banking information to companies you didn’t contact or in response to unsolicited advertisements.
  • Never give your personal health or financial information to someone who calls or comes to your home uninvited, even if they say they are from the Marketplace.
  • Consumers should only get help to sign up for the Marketplace for certified application counselors and Navigators—check online for those organizations in your area approved by the government to help enroll individuals. These are free services provided to anyone who needs help. Beware of anyone who charges a fee in connection with enrollment.
  • Write down and keep a record of a salesperson’s name or anyone who may assist you, who he or she works for, phone number, street address, mailing address, email address, and website.

Learn more!

Online: | Call center: (800) 318-2596 | 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

TTY: (855) 889-4325

Information is available in dozens of other languages as well, including Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean. 

Clarification on “refill reminder” programs, a win for patients and consumers – National Consumers League

By Rebecca Burkholder, NCL Vice President for Health Policy In a significant win for patients and consumers, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued important Guidance on pharmacy-run sponsored medication adherence (i.e., “refill reminder”) programs last week, reinforcing that patient health cannot take a back seat to privacy concerns.

In the wake of widespread confusion following OCR’s January 2013 final rule on medical privacy, the Guidance clarifies that “refill reminder” programs may include a wide array of patient communications, including messages about prescriptions that lapsed within the last 90 days.  OCR clarified that the payments that sponsors (e.g., pharmaceutical companies) provide to pharmacies for running these often costly programs may include all of the pharmacy’s “reasonable direct and indirect costs … including labor, materials, and supplies, as well as capital, and overhead costs.”

As a founding member of the Best Privacy Practices Coalition, the National Consumers League (NCL), strongly supported the final rule’s enhancement of patient privacy and data security protections.  But patient health is an equally important goal. Poor medication adherence is $290 billion problem in this country, resulting in an estimated 125,000 deaths annually.  In an effort to combat this ongoing public health challenge, NCL leads Script Your Future, a medication adherence public awareness campaign with partners across the health care spectrum.  The sponsored “refill reminder” programs addressed in OCR’s Guidance are critical support for our efforts. To help clear up misunderstandings about HHS’s January rule, NCL met with OCR leadership this summer, emphasizing the importance of compliance programs and asking for clarification on the two key issues discussed above.

We are pleased that OCR heard the concerns NCL and many others expressed and responded with this important Guidance. This much-needed clarification is a big win for patients and, given the September 23, 2013, compliance date of the final rule, arrived in the nick of time.  Recognizing the essential nature of sponsored medication adherence programs, OCR announced that it will not enforce the “refill reminder” provisions of the final rule until November 7, 2013.  This will pave the way for these vital programs to continue, and should encourage those pharmacies -such as CVS -and their sponsors that discontinued their programs in the wake of recent uncertainty to jumpstart them again. The new Guidance is also a win for American consumers.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that even a very small 1% increase in the number of prescriptions that are refilled translates into more than $1 billion in annual Medicare savings.  By helping address the ever-growing deficit in the Medicare program, OCR’s Guidance helps save tax dollars and benefits all American consumers. NCL applauds OCR for responding to these concerns and balancing the important public interests of patient privacy with patient health.

Weeding through chatter about the ‘ObamaPhone’ – National Consumers League

You may have heard about the federal Lifeline subsidy program in the news recently. This program has been under scrutiny by Congress, and many believe that the program should be shut down. Unfortunately, there has been a great deal of misinformation circulating about the program – dubbed by many as the “Obamaphone.”

To help set the record straight about the program, let’s take a look at what people are saying:

“[Lifeline] is a government run, taxpayer-funded program that’s running wild and costing more and more.”

–Official Web site for Congressman Tim Griffin (R-AR).

Fact: Lifeline is managed by the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), a federally-chartered not-for-profit corporation that administers money for a variety of telecommunications subsidy programs. In addition to Lifeline, USAC manages programs that make telephone service available in rural areas, provide health care in rural areas and connects schools and libraries to broadband.

Fact: Lifeline is funded by telecommunications companies that provide interstate services, including long-distance telephone companies, wireless carriers and VoIP carriers. These companies are allowed to pass along the cost of this program to their end-users through a line-item fee on customers’ bills (usually listed as “USF Fee”).

“This phone program has expanded far beyond its original intent, and as so many middle class Americans struggle underneath this economy, it is really offensive for Washington to make taxpayers pay for free cellphones for others,’

–Senator David Vitter (Louisiana) in a May 2013 press release.

Fact: The Lifeline program has grown considerably since the program was expanded to subsidize wireless phone service in addition to landline phone service. However, recent reforms have reduced spending by $178 million and the FCC estimates that these reforms will save $2 billion by the end of 2014.

Fact: Whether one considers a fee like the Universal Service Fee to be a “tax,” or not, the Lifeline program helps millions of consumers afford one of the basic necessities of modern life – access to telecommunications. According to a 2011 study by the New Millennium Research Council, (49 percent) of Lifeline subscribers said the cell phone had “improved their financial situation by helping them find or keep work.” For those working or looking for work, the numbers were higher (63 percent); surprisingly, even the retired (39 percent) and disabled (38 percent) said the phone had helped improve their financial situation. Significantly more African Americans (57 percent) than white Americans (43 percent) said the phone had improved their financial situation. According to the NMRC study, the LifeLine wireless subsidy generates a return $1.08 in economic activity for every dollar invested in the program.

“Obama claims a small cut to federal means losing local police and firefighters, but he’s spending $2.2 billion to give away ‘ObamaPhones.’”

Tweet by Congressman Steve Stockman, Texas (@SteveWorks4You), February 22, 2013

Fact: The Lifeline program is financed by the Universal Service Fee on telephone bills, not by annual budget appropriations. Even if the Lifeline program were ended, it would not affect federal budget appropriations for local police and firefighters not would it reduce the federal budget deficit or the national debt.

“Nobody should be talking about tax hikes when govt is spending taxpayer dollars on free cell phones.”

Tweet by House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio (@SpeakerBoehner), February 19, 2013.

Fact: The Lifeline program subsidizes telephone service, not the telephones themselves. Companies that offer “free” cell phones recoup the cost of the handset through profits generated by the subsidized cell phone service.

LifeSmarts, UL bring Safety Smart® initiative to high school student leaders – National Consumers League

September 24, 2013

Contact: Ben Klein, NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323,

Washington, DC—Just after the start of the new 2013 program year, which has been marked by a completely redesigned and improved, the National Consumers League (NCL) is announcing a major expansion to its LifeSmarts program: a new opportunity for high school students to conduct service learning programs in their communities as the result of a partnership with the global safety science company UL (Underwriters Laboratories).

LifeSmarts is an educational competition, run by the 114-year-old nonprofit NCL, that tests middle school and high school students nationwide on real-life consumer issues through online quizzes and live competition. It will culminate with the 20th anniversary national LifeSmarts championship in Orlando in April 2014, where winning teams and individual students are awarded academic scholarships and prizes.

By combining efforts on a joint educational project, this new opportunity expands UL’s decade-long support for NCL and the LifeSmarts competition. Joining UL’s knowledge of safety science with LifeSmarts consumer and marketplace knowledge, the team developed classroom curricula designed to complement and extend the LifeSmarts model. Utilizing UL’s Safety Smart® Program, an initiative aimed at improving awareness and understanding of safety, health, environmental stewardship and societal well-being, the team created turn-key lessons on health and the environment for LifeSmarts participants to deliver to elementary-school children in their own communities. In addition to adding this new service-learning component to the program, LifeSmarts is expanding its content for safety science and the environment and creating new resources and challenges for LifeSmarts competitors.

“We are excited to partner with UL to provide the student leaders involved with LifeSmarts a relevant, hands-on way to give back to younger students in their communities, ” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “The new lessons aimed at younger kids about ‘going green’ and being ‘healthy and fit’ are a win-win, providing high school LifeSmarts participants a dynamic leadership opportunity and their younger counterparts important lessons about being healthy and environmentally-conscious.”

Starting this month, LifeSmarts participants can become Safety Smart Ambassadors, an opportunity to fulfill community service requirements or to simply give back on a voluntary basis. Participants documenting their experiences will have the chance to receive post-secondary scholarships, and win monthly giveaways and iPad minis.

“UL has been a long-time supporter of the LifeSmarts program because we value equipping young people with relevant, real-world knowledge,” said Barbara Guthrie, Vice President, Public Safety Advocacy, Education and Outreach for UL. “We’re thrilled that this partnership gives us an opportunity to recruit new, highly-motivated Safety Smart Ambassadors, and share our safety science knowledge and expertise with all LifeSmarts participants.”

Safety Smart’s guiding principle is that unintentional injuries are avoidable and preventable through Safety Smart choices. When Safety Smart Ambassadors share Safety Smart concepts with children they help to build a consciousness and knowledge by raising awareness and inspiring action. Safety Smart Ambassadors help cultivate children to be safety advocates…safety scientists…safety smart.

The addition of the Safety Smart program is part of a series of recent expansion efforts for the program, including the revamped online competition and learning home,, as well as numerous partnerships in new states: Georgia 4-H, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, the Maine Jump$tart Coalition, and Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America in Idaho. LifeSmarts now has formal programs established in 30 states, with partnerships with Better Business Bureaus, credit unions, consumer protection agencies, and Councils on Economic Education. Interested students and adults can visit the LifeSmarts Web site to connect with the program in their state.

For more information about LifeSmarts and the Safety Smart Ambassador program, visit


About the National Consumers League and LifeSmarts

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. For more information, visit:, email, or call the National Consumers League’s communications department at (202) 835-3323.

About UL

UL is a premier global independent safety science company that has championed progress for 120 years. Its more than 10,000 professionals are guided by the UL mission to promote safe working and living environments for all people. UL uses research and standards to continually advance and meet ever-evolving safety needs. We partner with businesses, manufacturers, trade associations and international regulatory authorities to bring solutions to a more complex global supply chain. For more information about our certification, testing, inspection, advisory and education services, visit

Air travel insurance big bucks, little protection – National Consumers League

In a new report, NCL took a close look at travel insurance associated with airline tickets and found a string of disturbing trends in the industry.  Among the finds in the report are rising cancellations fees, the four U.S. legacy airlines just increased cancellation/change fees to $200 per ticket; an increase in revenue from travel insurance, in 2010 travel insurance was a $1.8 billion industry and between 2006-2010 travel insurance sales increased 39%; and the widespread use of misleading language and dense policy descriptions in airline insurance policies increasing consumer confusion over what these policies actually cover. We urge consumers to inform themselves about these policies before paying extra money for insurance.

Tips for consumers:

  1. Be sure to read over the exclusions and fine print of any travel insurance policy before you buy.
  2. Some travel insurance policies include a cooling off period during which you can cancel and receive a refund on your premium. Check you certificate of insurance for details.
  3. Before purchasing travel insurance, check to see if you’re already covered by other policies. For example, many credit card companies offer travel insurance protection to their cardholders.
  4. Check out an airline or online travel agencies’ cancellation fee policy before your buy. Some airlines charge low or no fees and instead bank the value of the ticket for a future flight.

Find out more about these travel insurance policies and check out our Facebook page to find out what your insurance actually covers.

The undeserved reputation of “Pink Slime” is tested again – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director
Schools not only educate the next generation, they play an important role in the nutritional development of our children.  With concerns over obesity, we expect schools to provide meals that not only taste good, so students will eat the meals, but that are also healthy from both a nutritional and food safety perspective.  The schools are to do all this at a time of increasing fiscal constraints.  Not an easy task.

Unfortunately, there are public misconceptions on products that can help schools meet these competing demands.  Case in point, lean finely textured beef (LFTB), or as it has been pejoratively referred to as, “pink slime.”  This term is inflammatory and has nearly eliminated the possibility of constructive dialogue over the benefits of this lean beef supply for our school systems or other commercial uses.  The negative buzz led many states to reject its use in schools and caused retail outlets to limit its use.  When the dust settled last year after the “pink slime” controversy, only three states opted to purchase products with LFTB.  This school year, four additional states are providing schools with the option.  We applaud this action.

Not surprisingly, with the increase in the number of schools making the conscious decision to purchase products with LFTB, the negative buzz is starting again.  This is a good product. The product is as lean as meat can be, so its use cuts down on fat and calories.  As I noted in a blog last year, “NCL is in agreement with the Consumer Federation of America that manufacturers of hamburger patties may replace LFTB with something that has not been processed to assure the same level of safety. CFA also expressed concerns that NCL shares about the potential effect this recent controversy may have on companies who seek to apply innovative solutions and new technologies to enhance food safety.”

It’s also interesting to remember that Phillip Boffey of the New York Times cooked hamburger made with LFTB and attested to its good taste. Of more importance than taste, the product has an exemplary safety record of over 20 years; it is produced in a state-of-the-art facility, and it is tested repeatedly for safety. Al Almanza, Administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, in the recent Politco piece on schools reintroducing LFTB into their menus, noted that the product is safe.  “Isn’t that what we want – a safe product to feed our families?” he said.

If consumers and school lunch administrators can get past the false information and the negative buzz, the fact is, LFTB can answer many of the competing demands of low fat, good taste, and product safety consistent with fiscal constraints.

We expect a lot from our schools.  We should not limit their choices in how to meet our expectations, especially not when the limitation is based on politics or publicity rather than facts and sound science.

Excessive fees, misleading cancellation insurance products drive up airline profits at consumer expense – National Consumers League

September 23, 2013

Contact: NCL Communications, Ben Klein, (202) 835-3323,

Washington, DC – Rising cancellation fees, unaffordable refundable tickets and misleading travel insurance marketing have become hallmarks of the airline industry’s growing drive to profit from life’s unpredictable events. Findings in a new National Consumers League (NCL) report suggest that the airlines are supplementing cancellation/change fees revenue with commissions from the sale of travel insurance policies that are often misleadingly marketed to consumers.

“The fact is, stuff happens and consumers may need to change or cancel a flight. We think it’s a bad business practice for airlines to rely on life’s unpredictability – a child’s broken arm, a parent needing to be taken to the hospital, a cancelled conference – to bring in billions of dollars in revenue,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “What’s worse, consumers who want to hedge against the risk of expensive change fees by buying travel insurance often find that they aren’t covered when the unexpected happens.”

Notable statistics from NCL’s report, entitled “$tuff Happens: Airlines Benefit Handsomely From the Unexpected … and Consumers’ Fears About It,” include:

  • Cancellation/change fees now account for more than $2.5 billion in airline revenue, an increase of more than 176 percent since 2007;
  • Annual sales of travel insurance and related services increased by approximately 46 percent from 2006-2012 to $1.9 billion;
  • Trip cancellation/interruption policies — the type most often marketed to consumers by airline Web sites and online travel agencies — accounted for 94 percent of travel insurance premiums in 2012, an increase of more than 22 percent since 2006;
  • Refundable tickets are not an affordable alternative for most consumers. On average, the least-expensive refundable ticket is 350 percent more expensive that the least-expensive non-refundable ticket (which make up more than 80 percent of all tickets sold).

As a hedge against rising cancellation/change fees and prohibitively expensive refundable tickets, it is logical for consumers to look to travel insurance. Unfortunately, travel insurance policies are misleadingly marketing by online travel agencies and airline Web sites.  Terms like “worry-free” and “peace of mind is only a click away,” encourage consumers to purchase add-on travel insurance policies during the ticket-buying process without learning about the significant limitations and exclusions hidden in the fine print of these policies.

“In comparison to a potential $200 cancellation fee, 5 percent of the cost of the ticket for travel insurance may seem like a great deal to many consumers,” said report author John Breyault, NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud. “All too often, however, consumers find that the protection they thought they had is denied due to pre-existing condition exclusions and other fine print.”

To address the linked issues of rising cancellation/change fees, unaffordable refundable tickets and misleadingly marketed travel insurance, NCL is recommending that cancellation/change fees be reduced to zero for changes made more than 5-10 days prior to a trip, consumers be allowed to transfer their tickets to another traveler without a fee and that standby fees be eliminated, among other reforms.

To read the full report, click here.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

Don’t text and drive! #ItCanWait – National Consumers League

Do you text when you drive? Sure, you can stay in constant contact with your friends, instantly “like” a picture on Facebook, or tweet what you just passed on the road, but it’s not worth it? More than 100,000 car crashes every year involve drivers who are texting. It can wait.

Over 75 percent of teens say texting and driving is common among their friends. This habit is widespread and deadly. AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign encourages teens to put down the phone when driving and focus on the road. Today, September 19, is the Drive 4 Pledges Day. Americans around the country are encouraged to sign a pledge that they will not drive and text. Texting isn’t the only distraction while driving.

In 2011, accidents resulting from drivers texting, calling, eating, reading maps, using navigation systems, and performing other distracting activities, resulted in 3,331 deaths and an additional 387,000 injuries. For teen drivers, over 20 percent of fatal crashes involved a distracted driver on a cellphone. Need a reason to sign the pledge? Watch these videos of family members telling stories of how they lost loved ones in car accidents involving distracted drivers. 

A driver who sends a text will be distracted for five seconds. Anything can happen in five seconds. Play this game to see just how dangerous it is to text and drive. In a survey of teen drivers, 97 percent of teens say texting while driving is dangerous, and yet 43 percent admit they do it. It’s time this changes. Become an advocate for the cause and pledge that you will not text and drive. This is a public health and safety epidemic; no text is worth the risk. It’s not worth it. Put the phone down. It can wait.