Facebook’s banning of Holocaust denial content is a win for consumers

Facebook’s banning of Holocaust denial content is a win for consumers

October 13, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC – The decision by Facebook to ban Holocaust denial content from the platform is a welcome, if belated, move by the social media giant, according to the National Consumers League. The action, which comes after significant criticism by civil and human rights organizations, will help make Facebook a safer platform for all users, said the League.

The following statement is attributable to National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

“For far too long, Holocaust denial content was allowed to flourish on Facebook, a platform which reaches billions of users. We appreciate the statements from the company and its leaders, including Mark Zuckerberg, that they personally find such content abhorrent. However, words can only do so much without action to address the problem. Banning Holocaust denial content from Facebook will help create a safer and more welcoming platform for all consumers.

It will be a challenge for Facebook to enforce this ban at scale. We expect that the purveyors of hate will continually look for ways to get around the ban. That is why we will continue to work with the company to ensure that this ban has real teeth, so that consumers can be confident that they and their families will not be subjected to such hateful content.”

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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.

NBC News’ Vicky Nguyen, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, DC AG Karl Racine honored with national consumer watchdog’s annual awards

Oct. 6, 2020
Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, has honored NBC News Investigative and Consumer Correspondent Vicky Nguyen, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, and Attorney General for the District of Columbia Karl Racine with its highest honors in 2020.

Via a web broadcast (recording available here) on Tuesday, October 6, Rosenworcel and Nguyen received the 2020 Trumpeter Award. Attorney General Racine was honored with the 2020 Florence Kelley Consumer Leadership Award, named for NCL’s first general secretary and one of the most influential figures in 20th Century American history.

“These are NCL’s highest honors, given to leaders who are not afraid to speak out for social justice and for the rights of consumers and workers. No one fits that description better than this year’s honorees: FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, NBC News’ Vicky Nguyen, and our partner in the District of Columbia, Attorney General Karl Racine,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg.

“In the time of pandemic, these leading voices are more essential than ever, and each is doing their part to help consumers. Commissioner Rosenworcel’s genuine dedication to closing the homework gap has set her apart as a leader at the FCC. Vicky Nguyen’s reporting has helped millions of Americans sort through crucial information and distracting misinformation during the coronavirus crisis. And General Racine’s office has been busier than ever, helping protect the residents of the District of Columbia from scammers, fraudsters, and unscrupulous businesses. The National Consumers League is delighted to honor these deserving individuals with this year’s awards.”

WATCH THE REPLAY ONLINE

What: National Consumers League’s 2020 Trumpeter Awards
When: Originally broadcast Tuesday, October 6, 2020 | 4 pm EDT
Where: https://www.nclnet-trumpeter20.org/

ABOUT THE AWARDS

Each year since 1973, the National Consumers League has honored leaders in the fight for consumer and worker rights with the Trumpeter Award. Past honorees include Senator Ted Kennedy, the award’s inaugural recipient, as well as Labor Secretaries Hilda Solis, Robert Reich, and Alexis Herman, Senators Carl Levin and Paul Wellstone, Delores Huerta of the United Farm Workers, U.S. Representative John Lewis, and other honored consumer and labor leaders. Last year’s Trumpeter recipient was Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton presented the Trumpeter Award to Commissioner Rosenworcel.

“Jessica Rosenworcel has used her position to fight for greater access and telecommunication services for all Americans. She digs for the truth behind the numbers and understands the needs and concerns of the people who are most affected by the FCC’s decisions: teachers and students, healthcare workers and patients, first responders and small businesses, and tens of thousands of telecom and media workers,” said Shelton. “Jessica is the voice of consumers and workers at the FCC. She has welcomed CWA members into her office to provide perspective on what is really going on in the communities we serve. Her focus on greater opportunity, accessibility, and affordability of communication services and her tireless advocacy on behalf of workers and consumers has never been more important.”

Commissioner Rosenworcel on her award

“From where I sit at the Federal Communications Commission, this pandemic has proven with total clarity that access to broadband is no longer ‘nice to have’; it’s ‘need to have’ for everyone, everywhere. Now more than ever we should solve the homework gap and come up with policies to ensure no child is left off line,” said Commissioner Rosenworcel. “I will keep using my voice to speak up about the homework gap, the digital divide and the fact that everyone in this country needs to have a broadband connection to have a fair shot at 21st Century success. Thank you, National Consumers League for this honor, and thank you for the work that you do.”

Susan Hogan, Consumer Reporter at WRC-TV in Washington, DC, presented Vicky Nguyen with her 2020 Trumpeter Award.

“Vicky is a trusted voice for consumers. Her contribution has become even more critical during the pandemic. No matter the story, you can always count on Vicky to keep consumers informed and safe,” said Hogan. “NCL’s Trumpeter Award is a wonderfully fitting recognition of a great journalist reporter and consumer advocate and I cannot think of a more deserving person to receive this accolade. Vicky, congratulations.”

Vicky Nguyen’s acceptance remarks 

“I am very honored to accept this 2020 Trumpeter Award, and I can truly say this is one of the highlights of my year. I focus on reporting that helps people live smarter, safer, healthier, and wealthier lives. I want every viewer to walk away from my stories saying ‘that’s good to know,’ because what they learned will empower them to make the right decisions for themselves and for their families,” said Nguyen. “I’m so honored to receive the Trumpeter Award and to be in your company this evening, thank you.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James presented AG Racine’s Florence Kelley Consumer Leadership award.

“General Racine has fought to preserve affordable housing, employ evidence-based juvenile justice reforms, crack down on slumlords, hold employers accountable for wage theft, and has made countless strides to protect consumers from scams and abusive business practices,” said James. “Attorney General Racine has dedicated much of his time, passion, and energy to these important causes. It is clear Attorney General Racine possesses the same ‘tough-as-nails’ reputation as a fighter for consumer rights as Florence Kelley, and no one is more deserving of this award then he.”

Attorney General Racine on the pandemic’s effects on consumers

“Our work is going to continue, particularly now, while millions of Americans are out of work and struggling amid this public health emergency. Too many people are at risk of losing their homes or suffering the consequences of credit score hits or drowning under debt,” said General Racine. “They need help, advocates who will fight for them, representatives who will pass laws responsive to their needs, and attorneys general who will hold fraudsters, scammers, and unscrupulous business people accountable.”

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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 releases report examining sustainability, consumer choice, and confusion in food and beverage packaging

Oct. 1, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) has released a report on the rampant confusion among consumers about food and beverage packaging recyclability, and is today calling for changes to sustainability in food and beverage packaging for brands, retailers, and policymakers. The report explores the recycling enterprise in the United States, marketing and labeling practices, and packaging options that contribute to sustainability—and finds that most consumers are in the dark when it comes to the reality of the state of recycling in the United States.
“Consumers have no idea what is recyclable and what isn’t,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of NCL. “More effective and transparent labeling is necessary to advance sustainability goals for the benefit of consumers and the environment.”

The report finds that common symbols, especially the “Mobius Loop” triangle, misleads consumers about the recyclability of products—especially plastic—which is not, in fact, endlessly recyclable and usually ends up in a landfill or the natural environment. While some companies are leading the way on packaging sustainability, switching to endlessly recyclable glass bottles or metal cans, others are making short-term cost calculations without taking into account the long-term damage.

“Companies can, and should, employ packaging choices to promote sustainability,” said Greenberg. “Manufacturers and retailers, alike, should offer the most sustainable options wherever possible, whether it’s beverage containers or single-serving food packaging. We hope our report will help raise awareness about sustainability and ensure that consumers have better information and a greater selection of sustainably-packaged food and drinks.”

For more information about NCL and this report, please visit www.nclnet.org.

Read the report (PDF): Examining Sustainability, Consumer Choice, and Confusion in Food and Beverage Packaging

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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.

Delta and American ending change fees another victory for consumers

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) today applauded Delta Airlines and American Airlines for their decisions to end ticket changes fees. The decision, prompted by United Airlines’ decision on Sunday to end change fees, comes after nearly a decade of advocacy by NCL and other consumer organizations to put an end to such outrageous fees.

While the end of change fees at the Big Three airlines is a victory for consumers, the airlines continue to collect billions of dollars in add-on fees for services such as baggage, seat reservations, and early boarding. In addition, low-cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier and smaller airlines like JetBlue, Hawaiian, and Alaska continue to charge exorbitant change fees.

The following statement is attributable to National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

Following United’s lead, Delta and American have taken the right step for their customers by ending change fees. Consumers often need to change a ticket reservation due to circumstances beyond their control. We don’t think they should be penalized to the tune of hundreds of dollars when life’s uncertainties interfere with travel plans.

While Delta has committed to ending change fees permanently and American has agreed to also end change fees on some international flights, more needs to be done to ensure that change fees are consigned to the dustbin of aviation industry history. The commitment to not charge change fees should be included in all three airlines’ contracts of carriage, the legally binding document that underpins each ticket. Without this action, we fear that the airlines will simply slide back into their old ways when the economy rebounds from the COVID-19 crisis or when a new CEO takes over.

Congress should also continue to push for legislation like the FAIR Fees Act, which will promote transparency and fairness in the air travel marketplace for all consumers, not just customers of the biggest airlines. NCL will continue to advocate for such common-sense consumer protection legislation.

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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.

NCL hails sweeping Supreme Court decision protecting LGBTQ employees

June 19, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—With a mission of protecting workers and consumers, the National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the Supreme Court’s landmark employment protection decision this week finding that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited under federal civil rights law. This statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, NCL’s executive director:

We are applauding this week’s landmark 6-3 Supreme Court decision finding that the law’s prohibition on sex discrimination in employment extends to those who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender). We commend and thank Justice Neil Gorsuch and his five fellow justices for concluding that ‘An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.’ NCL was founded to advocate for the rights of workers to receive decent pay, work in safe conditions and be free from discrimination in the workplace. This decision further extends these critical protections to the LGBT community.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, religion, national origin and sex. We are pleased that the court found that “sex” is a distinct characteristic but inseparable from the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The decision is the most significant affirmation of LGBT rights in the United States since the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage and the Court’s first decision addressing transgender civil rights.

Before the decision, LGBT job discrimination was still technically legal in much of the nation. Less than half the states have laws explicitly prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. An estimated 11 million Americans identify as LGBT, according to the Williams Institute.

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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.

NCL applauds Supreme Court decision protecting DREAMERS

June 18, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the Supreme Court’s decision today to block the Trump Administration’s attempt to end the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivalsprogram for so-called “DREAMERS“—young people who came to the United States as children with parents who were not documented citizens at the time. Millions of these young people grew up in the United States, but their citizenship status is precarious. Thus, under this Obama-era program established in 2012, DACA is critically important to protect these young people and give them a path to citizenship 

This statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:  

NCL applauds the 5-4 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court today blocking the Trump Administration’s efforts to undo the protections of DACA. Thousands of aspiring and promising young people who arrived in the United States as children of undocumented immigrants will not, as a result of this decision, lose critical protections DACA provides. Today we join with them in celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision to block Mr. Trump from undermining these essential protections. NCL’s long history of fighting for the rights of workers and consumers includes the rights of immigrants, who remain among the most vulnerable targets of workplace and marketplace abuses. They deserve the same protections that flow to all American citizens. NCL’s policy position on this issue was adopted in 2013.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act—the proposal to grant temporary conditional residency, with the right to work, to qualifying immigrants who entered the United States as minor—and, if they later satisfy further qualifications, they would attain permanent residency.  

DACA was introduced by President Barack Obama in 2012 and allows young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to stay in the country and work without being deported on a two-year, renewable term. As of March 31, 2020, 640,000 people have active DACA status, and since 2012, more than 825,000 people have utilized the program. The 5-4 Supreme Court majority, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, determined that President Trump and DHS did not adequately consider the impact on the DACA recipients themselves and the potential hardships for the some 700,000 young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children by their parents. 

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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.

NCL statement on murder of George Floyd

June 3, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832 

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) is deeply saddened by the recent unjustified killing of an African American man by police in Minneapolis—just the latest in a long, tragic chain of unwarranted deaths of African Americans by police around the nation. The following statement may be attributed to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

The callous murder of George Floyd, an African American devoted father, husband, brother, and friend is especially devastating to me personally because it occurred only a few miles from the Minneapolis home I grew up in. Like millions of Americans, I watched as a police officer choked to death a man who was accused by a local store owner of a minor charge of passing off a counterfeit $20 bill.

Like many consumers of color, Mr. Floyd was suspected of a crime by just walking in the door. White Americans must grapple with this reality: African Americans are often followed in stores for no reason, pulled over by police for no reason, and have police called on them for no reason. NCL champions consumer protection and especially for those who suffer from discrimination and predatory practices when they engage in the everyday activities we all take for granted: shopping, walking, driving, jogging, playing music in our cars, or pumping gas. We have also seen how COVID-19 has had the most devastating impact on communities of color. These oppressive disparities must stop.

NCL’s first leader Florence Kelley, raised in an abolitionist Quaker family, refused to stay in hotels that didn’t admit African Americans and appeared on the original charter of the NAACP. To this day NCL has carried forth her legacy and stood alongside African Americans fighting for equality and fair treatment under the law.   

NCL supports the peaceful protesters advocating for systemic change. We pledge to be part of the solution as we try to move on from this devastating moment in American history and will seek out like-minded allies and friends to join us in this struggle.

We are all Americans, and we are all interconnected. It is time to listen and time for each of us to take responsibility to heal the nation. No more delays.

We can do this!

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneering 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.

 

Kudos to merchants fighting price gouging

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

There I was, searching for hand sanitizer to help keep reducing my risk of infection. I had scoured my local stores for hand sanitizer, to no avail. At last, desperate, I found a tiny bottle of sanitizer on the shelf at my local gas station. A bottle that usually retails for around a dollar was marked up to $3.99. What choice did I have? I paid the money and walked out of the store.

Like moths to the flame, profiteers cannot resist the allure of easy money. In this time of national emergency, it should perhaps come as little surprise that those who wish to make a quick buck off the desperation of consumers are finding few obstacles in their way.

In past natural and man-made disasters, whether in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina or the 2008-09 financial crisis, there were always crooks who sought to deprive those in need of their last penny. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis seems to be little different in this respect.

Price gouging is perhaps the most immediate threat. Most of us are aware of being asked to pay $5.00 for a bottled water in an airport or amusement park. In a time of crisis, however, the consequences of hiking prices outrageously is more than just a matter of a parched throat. For consumers in desperate need, it can come down to a choice between avoiding infection or paying the rent.

At a time when health care workers and first responders are putting their lives on the line to care for coronavirus patients, it is outrageous to see stories of unscrupulous sellers marking up the price on masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant and, yes, even toilet paper.

Price gouging in times of crisis is illegal in most states. For example, Maryland’s anti-gouging statute prohibits raising the price of many consumer goods and services that increase the seller’s profit by more than 10 percent while the COVID-19 emergency declared by Governor Larry Hogan is in effect. California has a similar statute, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. Price gouging is also illegal where I live, in the District of Columbia.

While state laws are important, enforcement alone won’t solve this problem. Reputable businesses must also play their part to keep price gouging off their shelves. This is one reason I was especially encouraged to see that that the biggest seller of consumer items on the planet, Amazon.com, stepped out so decisively against price gouging.

Last month, the company issued a policy that clearly states: “Amazon has zero tolerance for price gouging and longstanding policies to prevent this harmful practice.” In practice, this means the company is working overtime to remove price gougers from its marketplace, forwarding reports of price gouging to law enforcement, and making it clear to their sellers that price gouging is not allowed.

Amazon has removed more than half a million products and suspended more than 3,900 seller accounts in the United States.

The overwhelming majority of sellers on sites like Amazon, eBay, and other online marketplaces are honest. But these e-commerce marketplaces are where millions of consumers are going to find much-needed products. Particularly for consumers who are at high risk, these online services can be a lifeline, enabling them to stay home, avoid going out into public, and decreasing their chances of contracting the virus.

We should be very happy that there are state laws prohibiting price gouging and very grateful that Amazon has taken such a strong stance in protecting consumers by monitoring and prohibiting its sellers from gouging consumers and others during this terrible pandemic.

Consumer groups urge Congress to insist on consumer protections in airline taxpayer bailout

March 19, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832 

Washington, DC–A coalition of national consumer and passenger rights groups today called on Congress to include provisions in any contemplated airline industry bailout legislation that address both the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on passengers as well as long-standing consumer protection concerns.

After years of record profits, the airline industry is now facing steep and painful financial headwinds due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the industry has asked the Trump Administration and leaders in Congress for a bailout package of grants, loans, and tax relief reportedly totaling more than $50 billion. This includes $29 billion in grants, up to $25 billion in loans, three months of tax rebates and a repeal of aviation excise taxes through at least the end of 2021.

To address the immediate danger of the coronavirus and related passenger protection concerns during the national emergency, the groups urged Congress to require airlines to take steps to mitigate the spread of coronavirus on airplanes, require cash refunds for consumers who cancel flights or whose flights are canceled by the airline, require reasonable rebooking fares and increase call center staffing levels.

As advocates for consumers, the groups further urged Congress to heed the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis by including a slate of needed consumer protections such as making ancillary fees reasonable, restoring a private right of action, empowering state attorneys general to protect passengers, prohibiting further reductions in seat sizes, and ensuring equal access to fare, fee and schedule data.

“A commercially viable air transportation system is vital to the U.S. economy, but in the past decade the airlines have raked in $96 billion in profits on the backs of consumers with the implicit assurance that taxpayers would bail them out in the event of a major market disruption,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League. “If the airlines are going to run to Congress for a bailout when they could have invested in pandemic insurance or increased their cash reserves, then policymakers should require binding commitments to address long-standing consumer protection concerns.”

“After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Consumer Reports supported taxpayer relief  for the airline industry, but urged Congress to require protections to address longstanding consumer complaints,” said William J. McGee, Aviation Adviser for Consumer Reports.   “Unfortunately, no such protections were included, and since then, the airlines have consolidated, become less consumer-friendly, and laid off hundreds of thousands of workers as their profits soared.  Meanwhile, consumers have had to put up with tighter seats, indifferent customer service, and an increasing number of costly fees. Consumers should not be left out now.”

“Restoring a private right of action is the one necessary structural solution to provide sufficient industry discipline to prevent airlines from trampling on all the rights and interests of their customers,” stated Business Travel Coalition chairman Kevin Mitchell. “The right to sue when harmed is fundamental and is one that the U.S. Congress never intended to have stripped from airline consumers when it deregulated the industry in 1978. Moreover, it is a right that consumers exercise in every other consumer-facing industry to discourage market participants from abusing their rights.”

“As air travel is the main way the coronavirus has quickly spread to become a global pandemic, airlines have a special obligation to strictly obey government guidelines to mitigate the pandemic even though this means less revenue and increased expenses in the short term,” said Paul Hudson, President, FlyersRights.org, Public Member, FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee and Evacuation Advisory Rulemaking Committee. “DOT Secretary Chao must also strictly enforce the guidelines and abandon the agency’s weak enforcement of passenger rights. Congress at a minimum should repeal the exemption of airlines from consumer protection laws applying to all other businesses.”

“The last investment taxpayers made in the airline industry during a time of crisis was followed by record profits on the backs of consumers through less competition, transparency, passenger comfort and a proliferation of fees for services previously included in the price of a ticket,” said Kurt Ebenhoch, executive director of Travel Fairness Now. “This time, massive public assistance to the airline industry must be coupled with a meaningful commitment from the airline industry to passenger safety and consumer protection.”

“For years, the airlines have failed to place either passenger health and safety or passenger rights first, so Congress needs to require that they do,” said Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG Senior Director for Federal Consumer Programs.

“It’s time to put the public interest front and center as we take steps to address the immediate problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the airline industry in the long-term,” said Susan Grant, Consumer Federation of America’s Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy.

The letter was signed by the National Consumers League, Business Travel Coalition, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, EdOnTravel.com, FlyersRights.org, Travelers United, Travel Fairness Now  and U.S. PIRG.

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ABOUT

The National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneering 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.

Business Travel Coalition

Founded in 1994, the mission of Business Travel Coalition is to interpret industry and government policies and practices and provide a platform so that the managed travel community can influence issues of strategic importance to their organizations. For more information, visit www.businesstravelcoalition.com

Consumer Action

Through education and advocacy, Consumer Action fights for strong consumer rights and policies that promote fairness and financial prosperity for underrepresented consumers nationwide.

Consumer Federation of America

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of non-profit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, more than 250 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization’s Board of Directors. CFA is a research, advocacy, education and service organization.

Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports (CR) is a nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests, including their interest in safe and affordable air travel. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.

EdOnTravel.com

A longtime travel expert, Ed helps consumers get the most from their travel dollar. His feature and Q&A columns give readers up-to-the-minute advice on everything from planning an itinerary for a European rail trip to booking flights, renting cars and buying travel insurance. Perkins also peppers his columns with valuable tips to avoid travel hassles.

FlyersRights.org

FlyersRights.org, established in 2007, is the largest airline passenger organization. It publishes a bi-weekly newsletter, operates a free hotline for airline passengers 877-FLYERS6, advocates for passenger rights and interests, represents passengers on the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee dealing with air safety, and maintains a staffed office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.flyersrights.org

Travel Fairness Now

Travel Fairness Now is a non-profit coalition of 70,000 travelers advocating for greater transparency, competition and fairness in travel. For more information, please visit www.travelfairnessnow.org.

Travelers United

Travelers United is the only nonprofit, consumer travel organization dealing with air, rail, bus, rental car, cruise, and lodging.  With a presence in Washington, DC we regularly bring together the Department of Transportation, the Federal Trade Commission, congressional representatives, and major stakeholders to impact important issues on behalf of travelers. For more information, visit www.travelersunited.org

U.S. PIRG

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

Consumer groups applaud House hearing on anti-consumer practices in the ticketing industry

February 26, 2020

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

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League, Consumer Reports, Sports Fans Coalition, Fan Freedom, and Public Knowledge commend Chairwoman DeGette and members of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for convening the hearing, “In the Dark: Lack of Transparency in the Live Event Ticketing Industry.” Rife with fraud, deceptive marketing prices, and opaque restrictions on transferability, the live event ticket marketplace is one of the least consumer-friendly marketplaces available.

“The live event market is rigged against fans. It is rigged by a billion-dollar ticketing monopoly, rigged by unscrupulous scalpers who continue to use illegal ticket bots, and rigged by artists and promoters who would rather point fingers than bring transparency to the marketplace,” said John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud for the National Consumers League. “They say that sunshine is the best disinfectant. It is our hope that today’s hearing will be a step toward cleaning up a broken industry and holding the executives who run it to account for their anti-fan business practices.”

“We’ve heard from thousands of people across the country frustrated with being ambushed by sneaky fees that jack up the price of event tickets,” said Anna Laitin, Director of Financial Policy for Consumer Reports. “Companies should be required to advertise ticket prices with all mandatory fees included so there are no surprises and consumers know exactly how much they’ll pay.”

“The same things that harm concert fans harm sports fans,” said Brian Hess, Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition. “Fans deserve the right to transfer their ticket. Whether that is because they want to give a ticket to a family member, or try to sell it to recoup some costs if they can no longer attend the game. Restrictions on this right, ruin the fan experience and make it harder for fans, especially older fans, to enjoy the teams they’ve invested in.”

“Fan Freedom applauds the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for examining live event ticketing,” said Chris VanDeHoef, Fan Freedom President. “The industry is tilted in favor of the Live Nation Entertainment monopoly at the expense of music, sports and theater fans everywhere. We believe the BOSS Act begins the process of shifting power back into the hands of consumers.”

“Ticketmaster’s ability to leverage the ticketing portion of its business alongside the concert promotion portion of its business, Live Nation, is a classic example of anticompetitive behavior,” said Bertram Lee, Policy Counsel with Public Knowledge, “ Live Nation has refused to bring artists to venues that don’t use Ticketmaster, and this kind of anticompetitive behavior impacts both consumers and artists. Neither artists nor consumers who use Ticketmaster or Live Nation are able to take advantage of better prices or terms in the larger ticketing and venue marketplace.”

Many of the ills that plague this marketplace could be resolved by the passage of the Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act (HR 3248) as introduced by Congressman Pascrell (D NJ-9). The bill would require ticket sellers to adopt all-in pricing instead of hitting consumers with several fees at the end of check out, prohibit non-transferable tickets, require disclosures of how many tickets are being sold to the general public, and many more vital consumer protections. Following today’s hearing, the National Consumers League, Consumer Reports, Sports Fans Coalition, Fan Freedom, and Public Knowledge urges each member of the committee to cosponsor the BOSS Act to adequately address the myriad of harms that will be brought to light during this hearing.

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About the National Consumers League: The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneering 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.

About Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. It conducts its advocacy work in the areas of privacy, telecommunications, financial services, food and product safety, health care, among other areas. Using its dozens of labs, auto test center, and survey research department, the nonprofit organization rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 6 million members and publishes its magazine, website, and other publications.

About Sports Fans Coalition: Sports Fans Coalition was founded on the idea that sports fans deserve an advocate, someone who will stand up to the big sports leagues when they flex their political muscle, bully government officials or businesses, and attempt to harm the fan. Over the years, we have successfully supported fans across the country by overturning the Sports Blackout Rule; advocating for player safety; opposing publicly funded sports stadium construction unless fans receive a commensurate benefit, such as reduced ticket prices or free tickets for military personnel and retirees; protecting fans against ticket resale fraud; and drafting the Sports Bettors’ Bill of Rights, a set of consumer protections to promote safer sports betting.

About Fan Freedom: Fan Freedom is an organization comprised of entertainment and sports fans from around the country that support legislative proposals protecting the rights of fans and consumers.

About Public Knowledge: Public Knowledge is a consumer advocacy group that works at the intersection of copyright, telecommunications, and internet law to promote policies that serve the public interest. Public Knowledge advocates for freedom of expression, net neutrality, online privacy, affordable broadband access, digital platform competition, and other policies that benefit the public. In all our work, we endeavor to promote a creative and connected future for all Americans.