July 24, 2016 |
Credit cards are more than just a convenient way to pay for stuff. When you use one, you automatically get very strong protection against most lousy-service scenarios and companies that sell faulty goods. The genesis of these protections is the federal Fair Credit Billing Act, a law that protects you from fraud by requiring credit-card companies - not consumers - to deal with fraudulent charges. The law also provides important protections against billing errors. What many consumers don't know is that the law also requires your credit-card company to give you the chance to dispute charges and withhold payment for goods and services that you didn't accept or weren't delivered as promised.
June 14, 2016 |
The prospect of being able to buy wine in supermarkets captured much of the public attention last week when Gov. Wolf signed Pennsylvania's most significant liquor reform bill since Prohibition. But for the state's most devoted wine lovers, a much bigger deal is the adoption of direct-to-consumer shipping from winemakers nationwide - putting Pennsylvania in line with 43 other states that give residents access to wine clubs from obscure West Coast wineries. Jeremy Benson, executive director of Free the Grapes!
May 28, 2016 |
This week's capacity auction for the regional power grid contained some good news for consumers: Prices are down. But the results will increase pressure on generators struggling to compete in a new energy world dominated by abundant natural gas. Payments from consumers to suppliers that can guarantee capacity in the year starting June 2019 will fall by $4.1 billion to $6.9 billion, said PJM Interconnection L.L.C., the Valley Forge grid operator that...
May 22, 2016 |
Somewhere this weekend, the lovelorn, the lonely, the lustful will stand alone before an open freezer with a single spoon, ready to plunge into the consolation only an entire container of something creamy with fudge ribbons and caramel swirls can bring. Ignoring the calories, the fat grams, the added sugars on the label is easy. Who can read that tiny type at such a time? Over-consumers are about to have a tougher time looking the other way. First Lady Michelle Obama and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday the long-awaited overhaul of the familiar Nutrition Facts labels.
May 13, 2016
A federal indictment Tuesday charged Democratic State Sen. Larry Farnese of Philadelphia with providing a phony scholarship taken from campaign funds for the daughter of a party foot soldier. The allegations earn him membership in a growing club of indicted Philadelphia legislators and a particularly impressive series of indicted state senators from the city's First District: Farnese makes three in a row. Unlike his indicted (and convicted) predecessors Vincent Fumo and Henry "Buddy" Cianfrani, Farnese never rose to become more than a backbencher in Harrisburg.
May 10, 2016 |
Tucked into our cellphone bills, credit-card statements, checking accounts, car leases, and private student loans is language most of us never read. If we have a problem with the company, it says, we can't sue. Instead, we have agreed to something called arbitration. That may be about to change. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) unveiled last week a proposal that could allow U.S. consumers to sue rather than be subject to mandatory arbitration. The agency is seeking comments from the public until June 12. The outcome could be a win for the consumer, advocates say. "We applaud the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for proposing a strong rule to prevent lawbreaking financial institutions from using 'fine print' arbitration clauses to ban class actions," said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy.
April 28, 2016 |
Safety advocates are pressing federal regulators to make Ikea stop selling a popular line of bedroom dressers, after a Minnesota toddler became the third child in two years to die when his dresser toppled onto him. In a letter sent Tuesday to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a coalition representing four groups said buyers of the Malm line should be allowed to return them for a full refund. It also scolded the safety commission and the retailer over Ikea's decision to keep selling the dressers, despite knowing they fail to meet industry-accepted stability standards.
April 25, 2016 |
There just aren't enough single-family homes under construction in the suburbs to satisfy consumer demand. That's the complaint of buyers who don't want to move to the city but prefer to live in suburbs close to urban areas, or so a recent National Association of Realtors survey says. The Realtors group's survey showed an overwhelming consumer preference for single-family suburban homes, with only 15 percent of homeowners and 21 percent of renters saying they would buy in an urban area.
April 22, 2016 |
If you're a business traveler flying to St. Louis then on to Chicago to see a client, with a stop in Cincinnati on the way home, that multi-city itinerary may now cost you a lot more. The nation's largest airlines - American, Delta, and United - on April 1 changed the way they price multiple-city trips. Until very recently, reservations computers would find the lowest non-refundable fare for each one-way flight in an itinerary and tally them for one cost of the trip. Starting this month, however, the big three airlines changed their "combinability" fare rules so that customers cannot string together what airlines call "discounted local fares.
April 1, 2016 |
Mayor Kenney has contended that thirsty Philadelphians won't bear the full brunt of his sugary-drinks tax if it's passed. Rather, it would be partly absorbed by distributors and retailers, he says. But, at the same time, it seems the mayor's revenue projections assume the opposite: that the entire 3-cents-an-ounce tax gets passed on to consumers. "It's not contradictory," city spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said Wednesday. "The administration has said we think it's unlikely the entire tax will be passed on to customers based on what we've seen in Berkeley.