NCL expresses concern over Colorado Senate Bill 184, which seeks to impose new tax on car rental consumers

March 29, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) recently sent a letter to Chairwoman Faith Winter of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee, Colorado State Senate, expressing concern over Senate Bill 184, which seeks to impose a new tax on car rental consumers of up to $3 per day, for the purpose of creating a new rail light line service. NCL does not believe taxpayers should bear the burden of paying for this new service.

The full letter can be found 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 nclnet.org.

NCL urges regulators to investigate auto makers’ data collection practices

March 27, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – Today, the National Consumers League sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging oversight of vehicle manufacturers’ collection of consumer data. Modern cars can collect a range of information on drivers, including the locations they visit, their exact weight, and their texts and call records. Consumers are often unaware of this data collection and are even more surprised when insurance companies utilize this surveillance to increase drivers’ premiums. As digitally connected vehicles become more commonplace, the risks they pose to consumer privacy will only become greater—absent mandatory safeguards.

The full letter can be found 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 nclnet.org.

NCL endorses the Shrinkflation Prevention Act

March 13, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – Today, the National Consumers League sent a letter to the United States Senate urging action on the Shrinkflation Prevention Act. As American consumers struggled with spiking inflation, companies posted steep profits. One analysis found that corporate greed drove over 50% of consumer price increases in the years following the pandemic. One of the methods businesses have used to extract greater profits has been shrinkflation—selling less product at the same price. The Shrinkflation Prevention Act would officially designate this as an unfair or deceptive practice.

“Multiple surveys have found that consumers are unhappy with this practice,” said NCL CEO Sally Greenberg. “Almost four out of five Americans say they feel cheated by shrinkflation. Despite this sentiment, sellers continue to take advantage of the public and participate in this trend.”

The full letter can be found 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 nclnet.org.

A coalition of consumer, health groups – including NCL – call for nutrition, ingredient, and allergen labeling on alcoholic beverages

February 27, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – A coalition of consumer and health groups is urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to ensure that the agency responsible for regulating most alcoholic beverages in the U.S. – the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) – keeps its commitment to require standardized alcohol labeling on all beer, wine, and distilled spirits products by initiating three promised rulemakings on nutrition, ingredients, and allergen labeling on an accelerated basis.

The appeal comes in the form of a February 27 letter from five leading public interest groups as TTB begins a series of “listening sessions” on labeling and advertising of alcoholic beverages on February 28. Raising concerns that the listening sessions are no more than a delay tactic to maintain the status quo and “slow walk deliberations for months,” the organizations – the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Consumer Federation of America (CFA), Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), and National Consumers League (NCL) – called for TTB to publish the rulemakings by June 2024.

The Treasury Department promised that TTB would issue mandatory alcohol labeling rules in a November 17, 2022 letter in response to a lawsuit filed by CSPI, NCL, and CFA. The Department stated its intention to publish the three rulemakings before the end of 2023.

“We write … to express our dismay and serious concern that TTB has backtracked from its written undertaking of the November 17, 2022 agreement,” the groups wrote to Secretary Yellen. “TTB has, in effect, enabled recalcitrant companies by delaying indefinitely rulemakings on mandatory alcohol labeling while opting for a voluntary rule under which labeling “Serving Facts” or “Alcohol Facts” and ingredients are optional.”

Focusing on the health consequences of delaying action on alcohol labeling, the letter from advocates to Secretary Yellen describes how better alcohol labeling will benefit the 84 percent of U.S. adults who drink alcoholic beverages – 216 million people – and who currently do not have the facts about the alcohol they are consuming to protect their health and safety. Overconsumption of alcohol is a costly public health problem that has become much worse in recent years, as alcohol-related deaths have risen substantially. Among the key concerns, alcohol is involved in about 30 percent of all traffic crash fatalities in the U.S, is a source of empty calories that contributes to obesity, can impact blood sugar control in people with diabetes, and labeling can be a life-or-death matter for people with food allergies. Additionally, excessive drinking increases the risk of liver disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, alcohol use disorders, certain cancers and severe injuries.

“The consensus among public health and nutrition experts and consumers themselves, in favor of mandatory and complete alcohol labeling is overwhelming,” said Thomas Gremillion, Director of Food Policy at the Consumer Federation of America. “By reneging on its promise to initiate rulemakings, TTB continues to deny Americans the same helpful and easily accessible labeling information now required for conventional foods, dietary supplements, and nonprescription drugs.”

The letter to Secretary Yellen also stresses that alcohol manufacturers have the capability to put standardized Serving Facts labels on their products, when required. This is the case for products such as some hard ciders, hard seltzers, and wine coolers that are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which requires such products to have the same Nutrition Facts panel and ingredients statements on nonalcoholic beverages, from soft drinks to juices.

“To date, TTB has taken the position that requiring standardized nutrient content labeling on alcoholic beverages is too costly and burdensome for beverage alcohol manufacturers,” said Sally Greenberg, CEO of the National Consumers League. “However, the inconvenient truth for the industry is that some of the very same companies whose products do not include a Serving Facts statement if they are regulated by TTB already put complete alcohol labeling on their hard ciders, hard seltzers, wine coolers, and other FDA regulated wines and beers.”

Highlighting that the time has come for mandatory alcohol labeling, the letter makes clear that the agency’s current voluntary labeling rules are not working. Although the rule gives companies the option of putting “Serving Facts” or “Alcohol Facts” and ingredients information on their products, new research from the Center for Science in the Public Interest finds that most manufacturers have opted out of TTB’s voluntary program. Using TTB’s COLA database to examine the labels for 132 of the nation’s top beer and wine brands, CSPI’s study found that only 11 labels of the 65 beer brands examined (17%) and none of the 67 wine brands included ingredients lists while 18 beers (28%) and no wines used the voluntary “Serving Facts” label, and one additional beer brand carried the voluntary “Alcohol Facts” label. CSPI’s review also showed that even when serving information is included on beer and wine labels, there is no standard format for where and how the disclosures appear, making it hard for consumers to find information easily and compare different brands.

“We have the data that demonstrate that Treasury’s voluntary rule has failed to adequately improve transparency in alcohol labeling,” said Dr. Peter G. Lurie, President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Ensuring that the agency ends this ineffective voluntary regime by issuing mandatory labeling rules necessitates national leadership. This is why we are appealing directly to Secretary Yellen to intercede personally to require the agency to commit to publish all three proposed rules by June 2024.”

The 2022 letter whereby TTB undertook to publish standardized alcohol content, calorie, and allergen labeling by the end of 2023 resulted from a lawsuit filed by Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, and the National Consumers League on October 3, 2022. The suit charged TTB with failing to act on a citizen petitionsubmitted to the Treasury Department in 2003 to mandate alcohol labeling. CSPI, CFA, and NCL filed the petition along with a coalition of 66 other organizations and eight individuals, including four deans of schools of public health.

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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 nclnet.org.

NCL urges Congress to improve air travel as FAA reauthorization progresses

February 15, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – Last week, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee advanced the five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The legislation does contain some victories for consumers, but it does not contain the deep reforms of an uncompetitive industry that are sorely needed.

“Passengers are crying out to Congress to implement real reforms that make flying less miserable,” said NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault. “The Senate Commerce Committee could have used its twice-a-decade opportunity to swing for the fences on behalf of the flying public. Unfortunately, they settled for a bunt single.”

NCL, in coalition with other consumer and passenger rights organizations, has called for stronger safeguards to be included in the FAA reauthorization bill for years. Last February, NCL and eight other advocacy groups sent a letter to House and Senate Commerce Committee leaders urging support for a range of critical reforms to the airline industry. Key among those demands was a change to allow state attorneys general to enforce consumer protection laws against airlines, something that federal law currently prohibits them from doing. Thirty-seven bipartisan state attorneys general have also supported this reform, which both the House of Representatives and the Senate have so far ignored in their bills.

“Congress is running out of time to get this right,” said Breyault. “We strongly urge members of the Senate to make protecting the flying public a bigger priority as this bill moves to a floor vote.”

Several of the passenger rights coalition’s other priorities were included in the bill reported out of the Senate Commerce Committee. These reforms include a requirement that children be seated with their family and caregivers without additional fees, a requirement that air travel vouchers not expire before five years, standards for refunds in the event of a delay or cancellation, minimum customer service call center requirements, and creating an assistant Secretary of Aviation Consumer Protection.

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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 nclnet.org.

NCL applauds competition regulators for centering consumers and workers in 2023 Merger Guidelines

December 19, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

This week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released their final merger guidelines, describing how the agencies will review mergers and acquisitions. The agencies improved upon existing guidelines by recentering marketplace competition and federal antitrust law, a break from previous enforcement regimes that allowed waves of consolidation to occur economy-wide with few repercussions.

“The 2023 Merger Guidelines mark a historic return toward these agencies’ original mandates—to protect the public from predatory corporations,” said National Consumers League Chief Executive Officer Sally Greenberg. “Decades of rubber-stamping harmful deals have allowed anti-consumer and anti-worker practices to run wild. NCL welcomes the updated guidelines and appreciates that the Commission and Department have signaled an intention to examine proposed deals holistically. Strong enforcement of our antitrust laws is key to combatting price gouging, privacy violations, wage suppression, and other noxious practices.”

NCL strongly supports the application of antitrust laws to protect consumers, workers, and our democracy. NCL’s comments to the DOJ and FTC on the 2023 Merger Guidelines can be found 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 nclnet.org.

Consumer advocates seek to block Virginia’s $2 billion handout to Ted Leonsis – National Consumers League and Sports Fans Coalition launch #MonumentalDisaster campaign

December 15, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831; Sports Fans Coalition – Brian Hess, hess@istreetadvocates.com, 703-659-7557

Alexandria, VA – The National Consumers League (NCL) and Sports Fans Coalition (SFC) today urged the Virginia General Assembly and the Alexandria City Council to reject Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s plan to offer billions of taxpayer dollars to Monumental Sports Entertainment for the construction of a new arena for the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals. Governor Youngkin’s proposal would reportedly require the General Assembly to authorize the issuance of $1.4 billion, and potentially as much as $2 billion, in public debt. In addition, the citizens of Alexandria are being asked to contribute as much as $106 million in additional funds. Monumental Sports & Entertainment, would be required to invest $403 million, potentially less than 20 percent of the project’s estimated cost.

There is widespread consensus among economists that subsidizing sports stadiums almost never yields a net economic benefit for the local community and is instead a burden to local governments and taxpayers. Despite this, community after community continues to offer enormous taxpayer-funded incentives to professional sports teams. The Monumental Sports Entertainment deal is no different.

“This is a terrible deal for Virginia taxpayers, Wizards and Capitals fans, and residents of the surrounding community,” said John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud at the National Consumers League. “Communities across America continually fall under the spell of billionaire sports team owners who promise the moon in exchange for billions in public money. Our elected leaders must not allow Virginians to become the next suckers in this shell game.”

“Fans love their teams, and they hate when they leave the city. That doesn’t mean fans like seeing their hard-earned tax dollars get spent on lavish sports arenas,” said Brian Hess, Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition, lifelong Northern Virginian, and avid DC sports fan. “We have long opposed public money being used for sports arenas, and have even called for fan-friendly conditions – the Danifesto – to be included in the handouts. However, even those conditions may not be enough to tip the scales on just how bad a deal this is. In no uncertain terms, lawmakers should vote ‘no.’”

NCL/SFC’s #MonumentalDisaster campaign launched with a petition found on SFC’s website: https://www.sportsfans.org/open_letter_to_virginia_lawmakers. Here, fans can fill out a form and sign the open letter which will be delivered to lawmakers. NCL/SFC will also partner with local activists who have already started opposing this deal. Anyone can join the fight by signing the open letter and posting on social media with #MonumentalDisaster.

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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 nclnet.org.

About Sports Fans Coalition (SFC)

Founded in 2009, Sports Fans Coalition represents fans wherever public policy impacts the games we love. They work to promote pay equality for women athletes, provide resources to fans at risk for gambling addiction, ticket buyer consumer protections, college athlete name, image, and likeness rights, and many other issues in the sports industry. For more information, visit www.sportsfans.org.

Supreme Court should affirm legality of student debt cancellation

February 28, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Supreme Court is hearing challenges to President Biden’s student debt relief program. With the potential to narrow the racial and gender wealth gaps, affirming the legality of debt cancellation would be transformative for over 40 million Americans.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Chief Executive Officer Sally Greenberg:

“We believe the Administration’s effort to cancel student debt is legal and long overdue. College tuition has grown substantially over the past few decades, and disproportionately burdens students of color and women. We hope that the Supreme Court will uphold the validity of the President Biden’s student debt cancellation and allow the Administration to ease the burdens associated with achieving an advanced degree.”

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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 nclnet.org.

The National Consumers League mourns death of Bob Krughoff, founder of Consumer Checkbook

February 27, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Consumers League is deeply saddened by the death of consumer icon and pioneer, Robert M. Krughoff.  Bob devoted 45 years of service to consumer protection as the founding president of Consumer Checkbook. Bob started Consumer Checkbook, an invaluable tool published in the six metropolitan areas – DC, Boston, Chicago, Delaware Valley, Puget Sound and the Twin Cities – after his car repairs failed for a third time. He wondered why there wasn’t a Consumer Reports for local service providers. He then launched Consumer Checkbook and the publication has been in continuous print since then. The nonprofit takes no advertising, referral fees or other money from businesses it evaluates.

National Consumer League Chief Executive Officer Sally Greenberg provided the following statement. “Bob turned Consumer Checkbook into the highly respected publication it is, providing consumers with unbiased expertise on pricing and services provided by healthcare plans, doctors, dentists, hospitals, and dialysis centers, along with best bargain and quality ratings for buying diamonds, solar energy systems, tree care, electricians, remodeling, right to repair, planning a funeral, estate planning, tire buying and much more. NCL was privileged to honor Bob last year with our Lifetime Achievement Award after he announced his plans to retire from Consumer Checkbook. Consumer Federation of America’s longtime leader, Jack Gillis, longtime friend of Bob Krughoff, was also honored. Bob’s legacy will live on, but this is a sad day indeed for consumers across America who have lost a friend and legendary champion for their rights.”

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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 nclnet.org.

As Ticketmaster tries to change the subject, NCL defends fans’ rights in Maryland and Colorado

February 24, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, announced record quarterly results, underscoring their dominance of the live event industry. Not content with revenues of $16.7 billion (up 44% from the pre-pandemic era), Live Nation launched a glitzy nationwide public relations campaign to roll out the so-called “FAIR Ticketing Act,” a not-so-subtle attempt to create laws that would cement its monopoly power.

State and federal legislators should not be fooled by Live Nation’s new push to change the subject after months of well-earned bad publicity. Despite its fan-friendly name, the FAIR Ticketing Act is anything by fair for consumers. We agree with Live Nation that there should be curbs on speculative ticketing, better enforcement of anti-ticket bot laws, and industry-wide all-in pricing requirements. Unfortunately, the true aim of the bill appears to be to give Live Nation, not fans, the ability to set prices and terms of sale on the secondary market; the one part of the industry the company does not monopolize.

The National Consumers League (NCL) has been active in trying to push back against such efforts. On Wednesday, John Breyault, NCL’s Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud testified before the Maryland House of Delegates in support of House Bill 795, common-sense consumer protection legislation that would mandate all-in pricing of tickets, promote transparency of ticket holdbacks, and guarantee that consumers can benefit from a competitive secondary market.

“Fans in Maryland and throughout the country benefit from an open, competitive market for live event tickets,” said Breyault. “HB 795 would put Maryland at the forefront nationally of states that have made putting fans rights ahead of the interests of a monopolistic ticketing industry that is too often rigged against consumers.”

Breyault also testified before the Colorado Senate in opposition to SB 60, a bill supported by the ticketing industry that would allow multi-billion-dollar companies like Ticketmaster to dominate the secondary ticket market. The bill would allow Ticketmaster and sports teams like the Colorado Rockies or Denver Broncos to limit resale to ticket exchanges where they set the prices and terms of sale.

“Ticketmaster is already the 800-pound gorilla of the live event industry,” said Breyault. “If SB 23-060 was to become law, Ticketmaster would have free reign to cut off competitive choices for fans in Colorado”

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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 nclnet.org.