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By Liz Kay, The Baltimore Sun | July 21, 2010
The Office of the People's Counsel has recently revamped its website to help Marylanders keep track of upcoming hearings of the state's top utility regulator. The People's Counsel represents consumer interests in utility matters at hearings before the Maryland Public Service Commission and the Maryland General Assembly. The redesigned site, at http://www.opc.state.md.us , also offers tips for consumers with brochures about shopping for an electricity supplier, getting help paying utility bills and more.
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HEALTH
By Meredith Cohn and The Baltimore Sun | October 3, 2014
The state health insurance exchange continued enrolling consumers in Medicaid, adding almost 22,000 new people to the rolls in the last month, according to a report released Friday. The report said 376,850 people in the state have gained coverage under the federal-state program for the low-income since the exchange launched a year ago under the federal Affordable Care Act. Another 2,425 people bought private insurance plans in the last month, though the open enrollment period is closed.
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EXPLORE
October 24, 2011
The Maryland Insurance Administration, a state regulatory agency, offers a variety of consumer materials on all types of insurance products from annuities to title insurance and health, auto and homeowners insurance. Trained staff will be available in the coming weeks in Harford County to answer consumer questions. "A key aspect of the Maryland Insurance Administration's mission involves educating the citizens of our state about the choices available to them as consumers of insurance products," Therese M. Goldsmith, Maryland Insurance Commissioner, said in a press release.
HEALTH
By Meredith Cohn and The Baltimore Sun | September 26, 2014
The state's Mental Hygiene Administration didn't have adequate procedures to ensure consumers given care were eligible, according to audit by the Department of Legislative Services during fiscal 2013. The state funds in question totaled $16.4 million. The total budget that year was $788 million when federal funds were counted. The audit also found reviews weren't done in a timely manner by an accounting firm hired to monitor some of the agency's fiscal functions, with some reviews taking up to an extra 21 months.
EXPLORE
July 8, 2011
I wrote this open letter to Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, pointing out what I consider to exemplify the sort of spending that has contributed significantly to the pending insolvency of our wonderful country. I asked them to do whatever possible to cease such profligate spending. Several days ago, I received in the mail a slick, cosmetically impressive and expensively produced 80-page pamphlet entitled "Read Up! How to be an Informed Consumer.
BUSINESS
By DAN THANH DANG | March 23, 2008
If you as a consumer get defrauded or harmed in dealing with a business, you have some peace of mind in knowing that you are safeguarded by a number of consumer protection laws. You also have allies in various state agencies that can help fight for your rights. But if you as a small-business person get defrauded or harmed by another business, you have to fend for yourself. State consumer laws don't cover business-to-business transactions. This hard truth whacked Diane Geslois after she tried to open an indoor flea market in a building that once housed Seidel's Bowling Center in Baltimore's Gardenville community.
NEWS
By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun | April 9, 2012
Customers of a local propane supplier were unknowing charged a fee once they suspended service with the company, according to the Howard County office of consumer affairs. United Propane of Millersville in Anne Arundel County unfairly charged 39 Howard residents who discontinued service a "final processing fee," ranging from $12.59 to $250, which they had not been made aware of previously, the consumer affairs office said. United Propane denies any violation of the law, agreed to refund a total of $2,783.
BUSINESS
By McClatchy-Tribune | July 31, 2007
Get a credit card, buy a car, or sign up for a cell phone plan, and chances are, if you're unhappy with your transaction, you won't be telling your story to a judge. Many consumer contracts include mandatory arbitration clauses that force individuals to go through arbitration, instead of civil court, if a dispute arises. Some of these clauses also ban customers from joining class action lawsuits. For years, consumer advocates have claimed these clauses are unfair. Now Congress is considering a blanket negation of pre-dispute mandatory arbitration agreements.
BUSINESS
By Liz Atwood and Liz Atwood,Staff Writer | March 31, 1992
The Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland, a non-profit group that helps people straighten out their finances, is expanding its suburban operations by opening offices in Owings Mills and Columbia."
BUSINESS
By KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE | December 9, 1997
WASHINGTON -- A group representing some of the nation's largest computer makers issued modest guidelines yesterday that are meant to help its members better protect the privacy of consumers' personal data.But some privacy advocates questioned how effective the new rules would be, since they were strictly voluntary and would not be enforced.The Information Technology Industry Council, whose members include household names like IBM Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp., said its members should clearly tell individuals how personal data they collect will be used or disclosed.
BUSINESS
By Lorraine Mirabella and The Baltimore Sun | September 25, 2014
Custom sports uniform provider Sports55 Inc. has reached a settlement with the state over allegations that it failed to fulfill youth team uniform orders or delivered them late, the Maryland Attorney General's office said. The state Consumer Protection Division reached the settlement with Sports55 and affiliated enterprises Teamuniforms123 LLC and Dyesubsports LLC, all based in Anne Arundel County, and two owners, Kelly Burke and John Eberl, the Attorney General's office said. "Dozens of adult and youth league teams were left in the lurch when this company failed to promptly deliver the uniforms they ordered and paid for," Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said in a statement.
BUSINESS
By Natalie Sherman and The Baltimore Sun | September 13, 2014
Baltimore may have abandoned its "City that Reads" slogan too soon. Federal consumer spending data released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Baltimore-area residents spent an average of $154 annually on books, newspapers, magazines and other pleasure reading - about 45 percent more than the $106 national average. That's just a tiny fraction of area expenditures, but it's consistent with the profile of the wealthy, middle-aged average consumer revealed in the BLS data.
BUSINESS
By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun | August 8, 2014
Maryland might be a relatively pricey place to live, but the average resident can afford it - and then some. That's what a first-ever breakdown of consumer spending by state suggests. Per-person spending on goods and services for Maryland households is among the highest in the country but eats up a smaller share of personal income than in nearly any other state, according to a Baltimore Sun analysis of federal data. On average, Marylanders spent three-quarters of the money flowing in during 2012 on housing, gas, food and other consumer expenses, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates show.
NEWS
July 30, 2014
Does the recent uptick in consumer confidence indicate that the agendas of the White House and Congress are misaligned with middle class aspirations? The U.S. consumer confidence index jumped to 90.9 in July, marking the highest level in seven years from a revised 86.4 in June. Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board recently stated that "job growth helped boost consumers' assessment of current conditions while brighter short-term outlooks for the economy and jobs, and to a lesser extent personal income, drove the gain in expectations.
BUSINESS
Lorraine Mirabella | July 30, 2014
Do-not-call violations and telemarketing abuses ranked as the fastest-growing consumer complaints last year, according to a report released Wednesday. Three Maryland agencies participated in the annual survey by the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators. The survey compiled the top, worst and fastest-growing complaints. The Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs, the Maryland Attorney General's Office and the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection were among 43 agencies from 23 states that responded.
BUSINESS
By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun | July 28, 2014
An $8.5 billion merger creating North America's biggest dollar store chain could mean increased competition for mass discounters such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. but less choice for shoppers. In the Baltimore area and elsewhere, retail experts said, Dollar Tree Inc.'s planned purchase of Family Dollar Stores Inc., announced Monday, likely will lead to some store closings, though the companies have not identified any locations. Dollar Tree, which runs mostly suburban stores and sells a mix of consumables as well as items such as gifts, party goods and greeting cards for $1 or less, has about 55 stores in the Baltimore area.
TRAVEL
By Bob Tedeschi and Bob Tedeschi,New York Times News Service | April 17, 2005
The Internet is perhaps the only place where first-class fliers are treated like second-class citizens. A report issued last month by Consumer WebWatch, a division of Consumers Union, said that people who spent the most money on airline fares must at times overcome serious technology failures in their quest to book premium tickets. According to Forrester Research, an Internet consulting firm, nearly 19 percent of Americans who booked tickets online last year bought domestic business or first-class tickets.
BUSINESS
By NEWSDAY | December 7, 2003
Need to use an ATM? Go to a bank and stay away from stand-alone automated tellers. That's what consumer advocates are telling customers in the wake of the latest fraud, in which a phony ATM in a New York convenience store left victims' wallets thousands of dollars lighter. Advocates say independent automated teller machines, which are not run by banks, are not licensed or regulated and are therefore far riskier to use. "This is a glaring loophole in the law, which has enabled scams like this to happen," said Russ Haven, legislative counsel at the New York Public Interest Research Group.
NEWS
Thomas F. Schaller | July 8, 2014
Supreme Court conservatives continue to insist that corporations have the same rights as people on matters ranging from making campaign donations (Citizens United) to raising religious objections to government policies (Hobby Lobby). Meanwhile, anti-tax conservatives continue to argue that corporations are inhuman and it's foolish to tax them because the cost will be passed along to actual humans. Forget for a moment the contradictory notion that a corporation increasingly enjoys the same civil protections of a living, breathing person yet conveniently reverts to an inanimate entity when it comes to fiscal responsibility.
NEWS
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | May 31, 2014
Frustrated with her inability to get health insurance, Bonnita Spikes entered the political fray when she was featured in gubernatorial candidate Douglas F. Gansler's April radio ad lambasting Maryland's problem-fraught health exchange. But as irritated as she was with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Maryland, she's been much happier with the treatment she's received after she finally enrolled. Now Spikes has lent her voice to a publicity campaign praising the health reform effort.
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