National Consumers League urges Congress not to allow credit bureaus’ credit scoring company to dominate the credit scoring system

May 13, 2022

Washington, D.C. –

The National Consumers League has sent a letter to the Chairs of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees asking these leaders to conduct adequate oversight on the nation’s credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. “The three bureaus keep financial records and establish credit scores for hundreds of millions of Americans. For years, consumer organizations like ours have been raising questions about the behavior and actions of these entities, who in recent years have together created their own credit scoring company called VantageScore.”

The letter noted that “On April 12th of this year, the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) filed a lawsuit against credit bureau TransUnion and their long-time CEO for willfully violating the law and defrauding consumers, with CFPB’s director saying that ‘TransUnion is an out-of-control repeat offender that believes it is above the law.’  The letter also noted that “In September of 2017, the nation learned that another of the big three, Equifax, had been breached and the financial records of close to 150 million Americans had been compromised. “Investigations …found that Equifax had failed to protect the data that they had been entrusted with and a global settlement was reached.”  The letter goes on to say “… the three credit bureaus own a credit scoring company called VantageScore. Vantage Score is vigorously lobbying the FHFA to spend millions of dollars to change the credit scoring system for the GSEs in order to win market share.”

The letter urges these members of Congress to “ask tough questions and share your concerns directly with the FHFA, especially before that agency takes any action that could send millions of dollars into the pockets of VantageScore.”

Read the letter here.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

 

National Consumers League support for investigation of anti-competitive practices in the live event ticketing industry

Media contact: National Consumers League –  Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

 

April 1, 2022

 

The Honorable Jonathan Kanter

Assistant Attorney General

Antitrust Division

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

 

RE: National Consumers League support for investigation of anti-competitive practices in the live event ticketing industry

 

Dear Assistant Attorney General Kanter,

On March 15, 2022, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar urged the Department of Justice (“the Department”) to investigate the state of competition in the live-event marketplace, including potential violations of Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s updated consent decree.[1] The National Consumers League, America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, supports Senator Blumenthal’s and Senator Klobuchar’s request for the Department to take action on the issue of live entertainment marketplace competition.

As the Department is aware, just one company, Live Nation Entertainment (“LNE”), controls roughly 80% of the primary ticketing market following Live Nation’s vertical

integration with Ticketmaster.[2] In the Department of Justice’s own words, Ticketmaster benefits from “high barriers to other companies successfully, substantially, and profitably entering or attempting to expand in the market for primary ticketing services to major concert venues.”[3] There is no indication that the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger (and further monopolistic actions since 2010) have reduced these barriers to entry.[4]

In fact, anticompetitive behavior in the live-event marketplace is so egregious that the Department was forced to obtain an updated consent decree with LNE in 2020.[5] Although the modified final judgement was a welcome act, consumers still suffer due to many of LNE’s business practices.[6] Since the announcement of the updated consent decree, Live Nation has continued to eliminate marketplace competitors, including an acquisition that received the Department’s approval.[7]

As a result of toxic market practices, concert attendees, sports fans, theater enjoyers, and other live-event goers must endure punishing hidden fees. In 2018, the Government Accountability Office found that on average, purchasers paid an additional 27% of the ticket’s original value in fees.[8] Recent media reports have found fees as high as 78% of the ticket’s starting price.[9] This is after consumers must contend with scalpers employing illegal ticket-buying “bot” software and other unscrupulous methods in order to even secure their tickets.[10]

The unfortunate state of the live entertainment marketplace warrants an investigation by the Department—with specific attention to LNE’s compliance with the updated consent decree. The harmful impacts of LNE’s near-monopoly are unacceptable. We urge the Department to conduct a thorough investigation of these practices and, if necessary, take action to ensure market health and consumer protection.

Sincerely,

Sally Greenberg

Executive Director

National Consumers League

 

[1] United States Senator Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal & Klobuchar Urge DOJ Action to Restore Competition in the Concert & Live Entertainment Market. (March 2022). https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/blumenthal-and-klobuchar-urge-doj-action-to-restore-competition-in-the-concert_live-entertainment-market

[2] United States Government Accountability Office. Event Ticket Sales: Market Characteristics and Consumer Protection Issues. (April 2018). Pg. 4. https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-18-347.pdf

[3] United States Department of Justice. Competitive Impact Statement, United States of America v. Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., No. 1:10-cv-00139 (D. D.C. Jan. 25, 2010). https://www.justice.gov/atr/case-document/competitive-impact-statement-209

[4] The Hollywood Reporter. Live Nation Accused of Shutting Out Venues That Don’t Use Ticketmaster. (January 2022). https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/live-nation-ticketmaster-class-action-1235070131/; Ticket News. Ticketmaster Resale Returns to Broker-Focused Conferences Despite Past Controversy. (July 2021). https://www.ticketnews.com/2021/07/ticketmaster-resale-returns-to-broker-focused-conferences-despite-past-controversy/

[5] United States Department of Justice. Justice Department Will Move to Significantly Modify and Extend Consent Decree with Live Nation/Ticketmaster. (December 2019). https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-will-move-significantly-modify-and-extend-consent-decree-live

[6] Variety. John Oliver Blasts Ticketmaster in Scathing Broadside Against Ticket Prices, Fees, Secondary Market. (March 2022). https://variety.com/2022/music/news/john-oliver-ticketmaster-prices-fees-secondary-market-1235204410/

[7] Complete Music Update. Ticketmaster gets approval for deal to buy Rival. (April 2020). https://completemusicupdate.com/article/ticketmaster-gets-approval-for-deal-to-buy-rival/

[8] United States Government Accountability Office. Event Ticket Sales: Market Characteristics and Consumer Protection Issues. (April 2018). https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-18-347

[9] The Guardian. John Oliver rips Ticketmaster and live music costs: ‘One of the most hated companies on earth’ (March 2022). https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2022/mar/14/john-oliver-ticketmaster-live-music-costs

[10] United States Federal Trade Commission. Cracking down on ticket bots that leave you out in the cold. (January 2021). https://consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts/2021/01/cracking-down-ticket-bots-leave-you-out-cold#:~:text=Ticket%20bots%20may%20also%20be,the%20tickets%20for%20higher%20prices

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League joins LGBTQ+ coalitions to address credit issues for transgender and nonbinary community

March 17, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League –  Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— The National Consumers League has joined efforts with LGBTQ, consumer, and legal advocacy groups to address credit-related problems encountered by transgender and nonbinary consumers.

The letter  to the major credit reporting companies, notes that transgender and nonbinary consumers face a myriad of issues after they change their names — with serious consequences for their financial and personal lives. The transgender and nonbinary community have reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that they cannot get Experian, Equifax and TransUnion to correct their credit reports.

Some issues reported are that their credit report fragments into two or more unconnected files upon their name change or are not there at all. Many times their credit scores drop by hundreds of points, precluding them from accessing banking services, mortgages, auto financing, employment, and rental housing. Transgender and nonbinary consumers find that even when they were able to contact and persuade a customer service representative at one of the Big Three credit bureaus to manually fix their report, a new upload of data reverts their credit histories back to fragmented or incomplete files. Some have even reported serious fallout after their credit histories reflected their “deadname” or former name, thereby outing them as transgender to potential employers, rental agents, car dealerships, or financial institutions.

The letter asks the credit reporting industry to:

  • Utilize consumers’ full 9-digit Social Security numbers in matching algorithms to ensure credit information is associated with the correct credit file.
  • Facilitate name changes by having clear procedures to update a consumer’s name on their credit report when presented with a legal name change order and ensure that staff are sufficiently trained in those procedures and are able to provide culturally competent service to transgender and nonbinary consumers.
  • Reduce the burden on transgender and nonbinary consumers to submit name-change documentation to each credit reporting agency by instituting a “one-stop” system that allows a consumer to submit a single request to have the legal name on their report updated, and ensures the request is communicated to all consumer reporting agencies.
  • Prevent the occurrence and recurrence of fragmented credit files by creating procedures to detect when a consumer changes their legal name with a creditor, to associate the new name with their credit file, and to consolidate a consumer’s credit information in their current and previous names in a single credit file — as the industry presently does when cisgender women and other consumers change their last names.
  • Prevent the disclosure of transgender and nonbinary consumers’ deadnames to landlords, employers, and underwriters by disclosing only a consumer’s current legal name in reports provided to credit report users.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

Breyault and Amazon’s Alyssa Betz discuss policing fake reviews and counterfeits

 

By NCL Staff

 

This week, John Breyault, our Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud, sat down with Amazon’s Director of Public Policy, Alyssa Betz. On this episode of NCL’s We Can Do This! podcast, Alyssa and John discussed fake reviews, Amazon’s product liability, and more. This has been the latest collaboration between Amazon and NCL in our partnership towards improving consumer safety and online experiences.  

Fake Reviews 

With users increasingly relying on user reviews to make buying decisions, having access to trustworthy reviews is critical for consumers. Last month, Amazon sued a group of review brokers who were allegedly paying for fake reviews at large scale. In addition to discussing the suit, Betz outlined some of the steps they have taken to ensure that user reviews are trustworthy and accurately reflect consumers’ experiences. 

Counterfeits 

Given the vast number of products sold through nearly two million sellers worldwide, Amazon has an enormous responsibility to ensure consumer safety. Alyssa discussed some of the measures Amazon has taken to reduce criminals’ ability to operate on their platform, including investing over $700 million and employing more than ten thousand people to protect its store from fraud and abuse, including counterfeit products.

To hear the full episode, including John and Alyssa’s conversation about product liability and how to spot those phony Amazon delivery phishing texts, click here. 

If you have received suspicious communications or packages claiming to be from Amazon, you can find Amazon’s support page here. 

NCL applauds action to rein in deceptive marketing of contact lenses

February 3, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org or (412) 945-3242

Washington, DCThe National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, welcomed the enforcement action undertaken by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to end the deceptive marketing of contact lenses by Vision Path, Inc.

Vision Path, a direct-to-consumer seller of Hubble contact lenses, will pay penalties and redress totaling $3.5 million to settle charges that it violated the FTC’s Contact Lens Rule and put consumers at risk by failing to obtain proper prescriptions, and neglecting to properly verify prescription information, and by substituting Hubble lenses for those actually prescribed to consumers.

“This action against Vision Path should serve as a warning to any company that disregards laws intended to protect consumers. NCL has been at the forefront of efforts to get Congress and federal regulators to crack down on companies that deceptively market to consumers and illegally substitute their contact lenses in place of those originally prescribed by a patient’s eye doctor,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg.

The FTC’s complaint alleges that Vision Path engaged in other deceptive practices, such as failing to disclose that “independent” consumer reviews were actually solicited by the company. The FTC also alleges that Vision Path engaged in a deceptive negative-option billing model that encouraged consumers to sign up for 15 pairs of daily-wear contact lenses and then automatically enrolled them in a subscription plan. NCL has long supported legislation, such as the District of Columbia’s landmark Structured Settlements and Automatic Renewal Protections Act of 2018, that would require a consumer’s explicit affirmative consent before such automatically-renewing contracts could kick in.

“Consumers are best served when they work with their health care providers to ensure the most appropriate and safest use of FDA-regulated medical devices, like contact lenses,” said Greenberg. “We are grateful to the DOJ and the Consumer Protection Bureau at the FTC, which led this effort, for their rigorous enforcement of consumer protection laws. While this is an important development, violations of the Contact Lens Rule continue. We will continue to press Congress and federal agencies to ensure that the CLR is being implemented and enforced as Congress intended.”

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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 www.nclnet.org.

Airline executive testimony conflicts with travelers’ reality

By Eden Iscil, Public Policy Associate

Last month, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing titled “Oversight of the U.S. Airline Industry,” which featured the CEOs of the major domestic airlines (American, Delta, Southwest, and United). With the federal government’s $50 billion bailout of the aviation industry serving as the primary focus of the hearing, airline CEOs managed to avoid serious scrutiny despite the massive service failures seen in 2021 and early 2022.  

The underlying problem centers around the air traffic companies choosing to incentivize employees to leave their jobs, despite receiving billions of dollars in assistance from the federal government with the primary condition being not to fire workers. The bailout, officially known as the Payroll Support Program, served as an undeniably central piece to America’s quick economic rebound from the early COVID-19 recession. Yet, airlines still could not service hundreds of thousands of flights over the past seven months due to a lack of staffing. This caused a meltdown of delays and cancellations in the summer and early fall of 2021 and again during the end-of-year holidays over the previous two weeks. 

While certain conditions understandably contributed to flight schedule changes, such as the Omicron variant, the airlines’ lack of preparation remains a consistent problem. For example, in October 2021, Southwest Airlines cancelled more than 2,000 flights, blaming weather and FAA issues. But these excuses do not hold water, as consumers quickly pointed out that while Southwest cancelled 28 percent of its schedule, competitors only cancelled around 3 percent of their flights. A couple weeks later, CEO Gary Kelly acknowledged staffing shortages that had led to Southwest’s service problems. 

The reality travelers have faced does not match the rosy picture airline executives painted at the Senate hearing. Southwest’s Kelly expressed pride in not cutting hours or laying off employees throughout the pandemic. Yet, his airline was still understaffed at the end of October (according to Southwest’s own hiring goals) after the airline reduced its workforce by 28 percent at the onset of the pandemic. To get around the prohibition on involuntary firing, air traffic carriers like Southwest incentivized early retirement and extended time off packages. The results of these practices are visible in every major airport nationwide. 

Additionally, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told senators that “large events” of cancellations “don’t happen very often” and that a shortage of employees is not a problem. Just a week later, airlines began experiencing staffing troubles, which led to more than 18,000 flight cancellations between Christmas Eve and January 3. Given the predictable spike in COVID infections we have seen during periods of high travel for almost two years, especially during the winter holidays, it is unclear why airlines were entirely unprepared for the latest holiday traffic.  

To be clear, employees absolutely should not report to work when they are ill (hopefully by taking paid sick leave). Given the record-breaking transmissibility of the Omicron variant, workers’ safety needs to remain paramount. It is unfortunate that airlines did not take steps to rectify previous mistakes and increase staffing ahead of the winter travel season in order to avoid the enormous wave of cancellations. In addition to the headaches and last-minute adjustments stranded travelers needed to make, the service failures were especially impactful as this was the first holiday season for many people to enjoy with loved-ones since before the pandemic.

NCL, H&R Block partner to help consumers prepare for 2022 tax season

By Eden Iscil, Public Policy Associate

This week, NCL partnered with H&R Block to provide a free webinar on recent changes and other items to be aware of as we enter tax filing season. The event included a short presentation by Manuel Dominguez (Tax Agency Analyst at H&R Block) outlining the biggest changes tax filers should know, followed by a Q&A session with the panel of tax experts. Moderater NCL’s Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud, John Breyault, was joined by panelists Joanna Ain (Associate Director at Prosperity Now), Dominguez, and Garrett Watson (Senior Policy Analyst at the Tax Foundation). If you missed it, you can watch the event on NCL’s YouTube channel here. 

One of the biggest takeaways from the discussion is this: your tax return could look very different from what you may expect due to changes stemming from the 2021 American Rescue Plan (President Biden’s COVID relief bill). For example, parents who received advance Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments throughout 2021, could see a smaller refund than previous years since part of that credit was given in monthly payments throughout the year. Additionally, consumers who were eligible but did not receive an Economic Impact Payment (a.k.a stimulus checks) could see larger-than-expected refunds. 

Other credits that have seen changes include the Child and Dependent Care Credit, with allowable expenses increased to $8,000 for one dependent and $16,000 for two or more dependents. In addition, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) saw an increase in the credit amount and income thresholds for taxpayers with no qualifying children as well as a “loopback election” which allows filers to use either 2019 or 2021 income for the purposes of claiming the EITC (in order to get the highest credit value). 

Another change that could affect filings involves charitable contributions. Normally, filers who choose the standard deduction cannot claim a deduction for charitable contributions. But this year, single filers can claim a deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions to qualifying charitable entities ($600 for joint filers). 

Given the new assistance provided by the federal government, the IRS will be sending new tax documents that filers need to have available when filing. Letter 6419 relates to any advance CTC payments received in 2021. Letter 6475 relates to the third Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) which went out under President Biden. These documents are important to keep as they will ensure the information you input when filing taxes matches IRS data; if there are discrepancies, your tax return may be delayed.  

For consumers who do not receive a Letter 6419 regarding advance CTC payments, the CTC Update Portal can help. Filers who do not receive a Letter 6475 regarding the third stimulus check should check their eligibility for the Economic Impact Payment and its correlated tax credit here 

Confused? You’re not alone! 

Fortunately, there are government-sponsored tax preparation services available for free. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers help to people who make less than $57,000, filers with disabilities, and individuals with limited English language knowledge. Additionally, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program is aimed at people 60 and older, with specialization in pensions and other retirement-related issues.  

Lastly, taking the following steps can ensure that you receive your tax return as quickly as possible. First, filing your taxes online is much quicker than filing your taxes by physical mail. Because of backlogs in processing returns from 2021, returns mailed to the IRS will almost certainly result in slower-than-normal refunds being issued. Filing as early in tax season as possible is a great way to reduce the risk of tax identity fraud. Second, keeping those CTC and stimulus check letters (Letter 6419 and Letter 6475, respectively) as well as any previous notices given by the IRS will help avoid any errors and discrepancies which would otherwise cause a lag. Third, using direct deposit to receive refunds can save time by not relying on physical checks sent through the U.S. Mail. 

 If you would like to hear our panelists cover what you should know before filing your taxes in their own words, video of the full webinar can be found here 

Capital One eliminates predatory overdraft charges

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

Low- and middle-income consumers suffer serious economic harm when they are forced to pay predatory overdraft fees. These fees are triggered when consumers charge more to their bank account — either on a debit card or by writing a check — than the funds existing to cover the charge. These can mean that a $5 charge —when there isn’t enough money in the account to cover it — costs a consumer more like $40 due to an overdraft fee of $35. And if the customer makes other charges not covered by the balance, each one of them can add a $35 overdraft fee.

Some good news, though, came recently from the CEO of Capital One, Rich Fairbanks. He announced that the company will stop charging these harsh fees and return “simplicity and humanity” to banking.

It used to be that covering an overage was a courtesy extended to bank customers at no cost. Sadly, that changed during the 1990s and 2000s, when overdraft fees became a profit center. And the profits are kind of shocking: $15.5 billion in 2019 for banks and credit unions on overdraft fees alone, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For some financial institutions, these fees represent more than half of their profits. Reforms are badly needed.

A recent Washington Post editorial identified overdraft best practices:

  • Don’t charge more than one fee per overdraft
  • Provide at least a day grace period
  • Notify customers with a text or email alert about the overdraft
  • Limit the number of fees per year
  • Don’t assess fees at all if the overdraft is under $50

It’s just plain wrong for any industry to rack up big returns on the backs of low- or middle-income consumers. That’s known as a predatory practice for good reason. The National Consumers League hopes the example set by Capital One — to do away with harsh overdraft fees — will be a model for the industry. Banks are entitled to a fair profit, but overdraft fees are clearly a predatory practice. We applaud Capitol One for taking the first step and urge other industry members to follow suit; if nothing else, we hope the industry will move on its own toward the “best practices” playbook outlined above.

Addendum: As of this writing, Ally Bank, PNC, Santander, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Capital One Banks have either eliminated or reduced overdraft fees. We are very pleased to learn of these very important developments, which will greatly reduce the burden of overdrafts, particularly on low-income consumers. We thank these banks for taking important steps to reduce crippling charges for overdrafts

Groups offer support for Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act of 2021

December 9, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org or (412) 945-3242

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League, Business Travel Coalition, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, and U.S. PIRG have signed onto a letter to Members of Congress in support of the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act of 2021. Their letter appears below:

Dear Chairman DeFazio, Ranking Member Graves, Chairman Larsen, and Ranking Member Graves:

The undersigned consumer advocacy organizations support the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act of 2021. This bill would protect consumers from unreasonable fees that airlines have reimposed as consumer demand to fly has rebounded from the pandemic.

Millions of consumers are annually charged excessive fees for checking baggage, changing reservations, canceling flights, and other services.[1] These fees are a major profit center for the airlines. For example, U.S. airlines collected $5.8 billion in baggage fees alone in 2019.[2] Compare this to analyst estimates that it costs airlines less than $20 per bag flown to provide the service.[3]  Furthermore, exaggerated change and cancellation fees are especially punitive as consumers cannot plan for unexpected events that force them to adjust their reservations.

The capture of more than 80% of domestic air traffic by just four U.S. airlines is a clear predicate of the rise in ancillary fees.[4] The non-competitive nature of the industry has allowed predatory practices to go unchallenged for too long. To be clear, airlines have the right to charge appropriate fees to cover operational costs and to make a profit. However, the supra-competitive amounts that airlines collect for providing basic services are unjustifiable. Prior to some ancillary fees being waived during the COVID-19 pandemic, such add-on fees were a steadily increasing source of revenue for the industry.[5] Now that the airlines’ moratorium on many of their fees has ended, we are concerned that this trend will resume.

The federal government must act to protect consumers from being forced to pay billions of dollars in bogus charges. The FAIR Fees Act, which has received bipartisan support,[6] would bring much-needed relief to travelers by requiring fees to be reasonable and reflect the actual costs of the services provided.

In addition to this immediate cost-saving benefit to consumers, the FAIR Fees Act would also direct the Department of Transportation to review any other fees charged by airlines and work to reduce airlines’ untaxed revenue. Since the IRS does not consider baggage fees or other ancillary fees to be related to the transport of a person, airlines do not pay excise taxes on the earnings they receive from these charges.[7] As ancillary charges have become a major source of revenue for the industry, this loophole has allowed airlines to avoid (conservatively) hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes.[8] Therefore, reining in ancillary fees would help reduce the amount of untaxed income this industry receives.

We applaud Representative Cohen for his continued leadership in protecting consumers from the exorbitant ancillary charges found on too many plane tickets. We urge your respective committees to report the legislation without delay.

Sincerely,

National Consumers League
Business Travel Coalition
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Reports
U.S. PIRG

 

cc:       Members, House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure

[1] USA TODAY. Shopping for flights? Change fees and other pre-pandemic penalties are back or returning soon on cheapest tickets. April 2, 2021. Online: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/airline-news/2021/04/02/covid-travel-airlines-change-fees-return-cheap-tickets-american-united/4805128001/

[2] CNBC. US airlines charged almost $5 billion in baggage fees last year—here’s how to avoid them. May 16, 2019. Online: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/15/us-airlines-brought-in-almost-5-billion-dollars-in-baggage-fees-last-year.html

[3] McCartney, Scott. “What It Costs An Airline to Fly Your Luggage,” Wall Street Journal. (November 25, 2008). Online: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122757025502954613 (Note: $15 in November 2008 is equal to $19.11 when adjusted for inflation in September 2021, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

[4] Openmarketsinstitute.org. Airlines & Monopoly. Online: https://www.openmarketsinstitute.org/learn/airlines-monopoly

[5] Statista.com. Total ancillary revenue in the airline industry from 2011 to 2020. December 4, 2020. Online: https://www.statista.com/statistics/788849/airline-industry-ancillary-revenue/

[6] Office of Senator Edward J. Markey. “FAA Bill a Missed Opportunity to Protect Passengers from Ridiculous Airline Fees, Says Senator Markey.” Press release. (October 3, 2018) Online: https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/faa-bill-a-missed-opportunity-to-protect-passengers-from-ridiculous-airline-fees-says-senator-markey

[7] Smarter Travel. If Fees Were Taxed, Would Airlines Ditch Them? July 16, 2020. Online: https://www.smartertravel.com/if-fees-were-taxed-would-airlines-ditch-them/

[8] Testimony of Dr. Gerald Dillingham (Director of Civil Aviation Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office) before the House Subcommittee on Aviation. (July 14, 2010) (“However, if checked bag fee revenues that airlines reported in fiscal year 2009 had been subject to the excise tax on domestic travel, it would have generated about $186 million, or somewhat less than 2 percent of the Trust Fund revenues for 2009.”) Online: https://www.congress.gov/event/111th-congress/house-event/LC6763/text?s=1&r=9

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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 www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League statement on the passage of the INFORM Consumers Act

November 17, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org or (412) 945-3242

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, today applauded the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for its vote to report out H.R. 5502, the Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act.

The following statement is attributable to NCL’s Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault:

Over the past 20 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the important role that online sales platforms play in connecting consumers to the marketplace. As consumers have flocked to these marketplaces, the need for these platforms to better address unsafe products, counterfeiting, and the policing of third-party sellers has become ever more urgent.

Providing consumers with basic information about whom they are buying products from and how to contact the company is a cornerstone of consumer protection. We strongly support Congresswoman Schakowsky’s and Congressman Bilirakis’ bipartisan bill and urge the full House of Representatives to swiftly approve this legislation.

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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 www.nclnet.org.