Latest in Consumer News

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Payday Loan Rules Proposed by Consumer Protection Agency

Even supporters of the consumer bureau’s mission were critical on Thursday, saying that the proposed payday lending rules do not go far enough. A chorus of consumer groups said that loopholes in the proposal could still leave millions of Americans vulnerable to the expensive loans. … Driving the proposal was an analysis of 15 million payday loans by the consumer bureau that found that few people who have tapped short-term loans can repay them. Borrowers took out a median of 10 loans during a 12-month span, the bureau said. More than 80 percent of loans were rolled over or renewed within a two-week period.

PG&E pipeline ignites an explosion in San Bruno 9/10/2010.

Funds For Safety Went To Utility Execs’ Pay Instead, PUC President Says

Money collected from ratepayers and earmarked for pipeline safety was instead spent on executive pay raises by the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., in the months before a deadly pipeline explosion in 2010, lawmakers were told Wednesday. … After the two-hour hearing, [new Public Utilities Commission President] Michael Picker told The Times that he’s gathering additional documentation that PG&E put off safety and maintenance work to boost its profits and provide top executives with bonuses.

Creative Commons

Credit Card Issuers Shouldn’t Bully Customers Into Arbitration Clauses

[The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] study found that as many as 80 million U.S. credit card customers are subject to arbitration clauses. The study showed that arbitration is much better for businesses than for consumers. Only 20% of cases resolved in consumers’ favor from 2010 to 2011 resulted in relief being paid, according to the study, while 93% of cases resolved in favor of companies led to payments. More strikingly, the study found that when consumers prevailed in arbitration, they were awarded an average of 57 cents for every dollar claimed. But when companies prevailed, they received 98 cents on the dollar.

revolving door

PUC Critics Cite Concerns Over ‘Revolving Door’

[Michael] Peevey, who served as a PUC commissioner and president for 12 years, is seen by the agency’s sharpest critics as the poster child for the damage caused by the revolving door. He came to the PUC after working as president of Southern California Edison, which provides electricity for 14 million customers and is regulated by the PUC. … The exchange of jobs between the PUC and utilities extends to staff as well as commissioners. Tens of thousands of emails released starting last year and extending into January show many instances of PUC staffers working with PG&E executives in a cozy fashion.

Dave Jones

Why Did It Take 7 Months To Learn Blue Shield Lost Tax-Exempt Status?

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones on Wednesday applauded the [California Franchise Tax Board’s] move as further proof that “Blue Shield charges excessive rates and acts like a for-profit insurer.” Now consumer groups are asking for legislative hearings into the tax board’s handling of the Blue Shield matter. … State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), Senate Health Committee chairman, said he too wanted more answers from the franchise tax board and welcomes a debate over whether Blue Shield is meeting its obligations to taxpayers.