Advocates call on Biden Administration to act on airline passenger protection mandates

May 28, 2024

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

WASHINGTON, DC – With the summer travel season under way, consumer and passenger rights advocates today called on the Biden Administration to act expeditiously on consumer protection rulemakings and other actions mandated by the recently enacted Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization language. In a letter to President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg, the groups urged the Administration to prioritize the following actions:

  • Nominating a pro-passenger Assistant Secretary of Aviation Consumer Protection;
  • Ensuring that the FAA establishes minimum seat size standards for air carriers;
  • Improving reporting of the causes of flight delays to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT);
  • Ensuring that customer service channels are staffed by humans; and
  • Completing an independent non-partisan study of airline industry consolidation.

“Beginning the hard work of making airline travel less frustrating for passengers should not wait for the next election,” said John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud at the National Consumers League (NCL), which organized the letter. “Congress gave the Administration an aggressive timeline for implementing the new law, and we do not want these important new protections to be slow walked.”

“Both parties and both Houses of Congress put forth key protections for consumer advocacy, competition, and safety,” said William J. McGee, Senior Fellow for Aviation & Travel at American Economic Liberties Project. “In the past we’ve seen legislation that was not fully acted upon, and we urge the Biden Administration to swiftly and decisively implement these new laws.”

“The message from Congress is clear: the Administration must promptly take concrete steps to improve air travel for Americans,” said Erin Witte, Director of Consumer Protection for Consumer Federation of America. “Rather than waiting or delaying, the Administration should push forward and prioritize the implementation of the Reauthorization Act.”

“Congress has done its job and now it’s time for the Administration to do theirs,” said Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog Director at U.S. PIRG. “As we saw during COVID, our economy and our quality of life relies a lot on safe, reliable air travel. We’re eager to see these changes enacted quickly in hopes that air travel will become pleasant again.”

“Since 2007, FlyersRights as the largest airline passenger organization has been advocating for many of the provisions in this legislation,” said Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights.org. “But while Congress previously required the FAA to enact numerous measures such as minimum seat size in 2018, FAA and DOT have often failed to act on Congressional mandates. This time must be different!”

The letter was signed by nine consumer and passenger advocacy organizations, including the American Economic Liberties Project, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, FlyersRights.org, National Consumers League, Public Citizen, Travelers United, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

To read the full letter, click 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 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 expresses support for ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers in the state of Connecticut

March 4, 2024

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

Washington, DC – NCL CEO Sally Greenberg recently testified to the members of the Committee on Labor and Public Employees of the Connecticut General Assembly urging the inclusion of ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers in SB 221. In Connecticut, the subminimum wage for tipped workers is currently at $6.38 per hour.

The restaurant industry in Connecticut “needs to stop basing its business strategy on a 150-year-old system that is the direct legacy of slavery and join the modern working world,” says Greenberg. “It is time to raise the wage and ensure Connecticut’s restaurant industry does not get left behind.”

Greenberg cited One Fair Wage’s recent report claiming the current restaurant industry isn’t facing a worker shortage but rather a wage shortage. One Fair Wage recently published a fact sheet showing a comparative analysis of small business restaurants in Connecticut vs in California.

Greenberg’s full testimony 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 comments regarding Proposed Rule: Medication Guides: Patient Medication Information Docket No. FDA-2019-N-5959

November 21, 2023

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

The National Consumers League recently submitted comments regarding the Proposed Rule, Medication Guides: Patient Medication Information, that we believe will greatly improve the information patients receive with their prescription medicines.

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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 DC Council to reject anti-consumer and anti-worker bill

June 9, 2023

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

Washington, DC – In preparation for a June 8 hearing, NCL submitted a letter to the DC Council urging that the council reject Bill 25-0280, the “Workers and Restaurants are Priorities Act of 2023.” NCL believes this bill is both anti-consumer and anti-worker and it sets a dangerous precedent for carving out an exemption to our DC Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) for the sole protection of restaurants.

The letter can be found here.

Nation’s leading advocacy groups express their concern over partnership between Major League Baseball and CBD maker

November 9, 2022

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

Washington D.C.— The National Consumers League, along with CADCA – a national nonprofit organization committed to creating safe, healthy, and drug-free communities globally – submitted today a joint letter to the commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) expressing concern over the recently announced partnership between MLB and cannabidol (CBD) maker Charlotte’s Web.

“The lack of the product is not well understood by the public and this type of agreement sends … a deceptive message to consumers, implying that CBD is regulated – or at the very least, tested, and proven safe,” according to the letter.

 

To view the letter to FDA, click 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 https://nclnet.org.

Consumer groups call for moratorium on smaller airplane seats pending FAA safety review

November 2, 2022

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

Advocates caution that out-of-date emergency evacuation testing standards could put flyers at risk 

Washington D.C.— A coalition of six consumer advocacy organizations yesterday filed comments in response to a Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) inquiry regarding minimum passenger seat dimensions. The groups called for the FAA to prohibit airlines from installing smaller seats in commercial jets while the agency reviews and updates its decades-old emergency evacuation testing standards.

“Airlines have a profit incentive to cram more people on their planes,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League, which organized the letter. “This trend has created a dangerous environment that could impede safe evacuation in the event of an emergency. The FAA has looked the other way for decades as the airlines have increasingly prioritized their bottom lines over passenger safety.”

U.S. law requires air carriers to ensure that they can evacuate their aircraft in 90 seconds or less. In an alarming number of real-world emergencies in recent years, evacuations took between two and five minutes, even though every airline has certified that their planes comply with federal standards. Despite this, the FAA continues to rely on emergency evacuation testing standards that reflect what flying was like in the 1990’s, not the environment that passengers encounter today.

To address the insecurity of current flying conditions, the consumer groups called on the FAA to take immediate action, including:

  • Instituting a moratorium on the further shrinking of passenger seats. Airlines have reduced the sizes of seats to record lows, having shaved off several inches from when the federal government last updated U.S. evacuation standards.
  • Updating federal evacuation standards to reflect the modern cabin environment, accounting for smaller seat sizes, increased baggage around the cabin, and the proliferation of personal electronic devices.
  • If necessary, provisionally requiring that airline seats be no smaller than 32 inches in pitch (commonly referred to as legroom) and 20 inches in width. These dimensions would ensure that seat sizes are not smaller than the typical minimum dimensions that airlines utilized in the early 1990s.

“In addition to hampering evacuation speeds, it’s important to consider how diminished seat sizes impact traveler health, even when there is not an emergency,” said John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud at NCL. “Cramped airline seating increases the risk that passengers will experience deep vein thrombosis and pressure sores. Current seat sizes make flying more dangerous and often embarrassing for many passengers, particularly those with disabilities or those who are too large to safely fit into the seats.”

In addition to NCL, the letter was signed by the American Economic Liberties Project, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Ed Perkins on Travel, and U.S. PIRG.

To read the coalition’s full comments to the FAA, click 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 https://nclnet.org.

The National Consumers League applauds Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) recent decision to validate updated credit scores

October 31, 2022

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

Washington D.C.— The National Consumers League applauds Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Sandra Thompson’s recent decision to validate updated credit scores for the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs). By allowing the use of updated innovative, more predictive scores like FICO10T which reduce the impact of unpaid medical debt and include alternative data sources like rental housing payment information, more consumers will be able to get scored and have access to the market.

However, we are disappointed that FHFA will require the use of VantageScore 4.0  Our concern is prompted by the fact that VantageScore, the company that created VantageScore 4.0, is owned by the credit bureaus, who  have proven themselves to be careless with consumer credit data and consumer protection laws over the years.

In fact, over the past few months, congressional leaders like Housing Banking Chair Maxine Waters and House Majority Leader James Clyburn have raised significant concerns about the anti-consumer activities of the credit bureaus. In August, Chair Waters called on the CFPB to put a moratorium on Equifax after it reported faulty credit scores for millions of consumers. On October 14,  Leader Clyburn requested that the CFPB investigate and review the nation’s largest credit bureaus for possible violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

In July of 2021, NCL joined with other consumer groups in sending a letter to the CFPB and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking them to update a 2012 study about the accuracy of financial data at the credit bureaus.

In addition to our concerns about data accuracy and anti-consumer anti-competitive behavior by the credit bureaus and the score that they own, NCL is also concerned about the potential cost burdens for consumers that will result from transitioning to this two-score system. Back in our 2018 comments, we asked FHFA to consider what the impact would be for the FHFA, the GSEs, mortgage companies, banks, and most importantly for taxpayers and consumers.

As FHFA works to implement this decision over the next year, we hope they keep the concerns of consumers first and foremost. The housing economy is struggling and we need to ensure consumers aren’t left paying the cost of this transition in increased fees and hidden payments.  We also need to make sure FHFA listens to the concerns of Congress and the consumer community when it comes to the credit bureaus. There is much work to be done and we stand ready to help in any way that we can.

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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 https://nclnet.org.

NCL urges FDA and FTC to investigate potentially false advertising claims made by a recent-FDA approved anti-wrinkle drug

October 26, 2022

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

Washington D.C.— The National Consumers League (NCL) recently submitted a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging the agencies to look into misleading advertising claims made by a recent FDA-approved anti-wrinkle drug called DAXXIFY™ (DaxibotulinumtoxinA-lanm).

Revance Therapeutics, Inc., the manufacturer of DAXXIFY™, is promoting the drug’s ability to reduce the appearance of facial lines and wrinkles in about half of its users for about six months. However, FDA-required labeling verifies that roughly one-third of users experience no or mild facial lines for six months after injection – a 20 percent discrepancy from the company’s claim.

NCL believes this discrepancy is concerning and warrants a closer investigation. Moreover, a study mentioned in the company’s press release appears to make inaccurate claims about its results, according to NCL.

We ask that if our concerns are warranted, the FDA and the FTC should hold Revance Therapeutics to accurate claims and insist that the company correct anything deceptive in their advertising, says NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg.

To view the full letter, click 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 https://nclnet.org.