The American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance endorses the consumer protection principles of the Consumer Federation of America:
Choice: The marketplace must give consumers the opportunity to make informed choices among services, goods, and sellers.
Safety: Consumers should be able to purchase goods and services that are safe or that carry appropriate warnings if they put the user at risk.
Fair Play: Contracts, advertisements, telemarketing, warranties, mailing envelopes, sweepstakes, and other written materials should not be designed to confuse, mislead, or frighten the public. Cooling-off periods should be available to consumers in transactions that have high financial risks or involve extended periodic payments.
Information Disclosure: The marketplace must make available to consumers complete and accurate information regarding the goods and services they purchase. Information should be communicated in plain language, with written information printed in type that is legible and readable or, if broadcast, is audible and understandable, to a reasonable consumer. Consumers should have reasonable time to review disclosures before consummation of the transaction.
Privacy: Consumers have a right to personal privacy and should be able to reject intrusive marketing practices, communications, technology, and unauthorized use of records. Consumers have a right to control individually identifiable transaction information and to decide to whom and for what purposes that information may go. Consumers’ records, such as financial and medical information, should not be released to a third party without permission and disclosure. Children’s privacy interests deserve special protections.
Redress: When consumers are wronged in a marketplace transaction, appropriate and adequate redress must be available. Clear disclosures identifying how and where aggrieved consumers can complain must be provided. Redress must be provided in a timely manner and with a right of appeal.
Enforcement: There must be strong federal, state, and local enforcement of consumer protection laws and regulations. The full range of enforcement actions (e.g., administrative, enforcement, individual and class action lawsuits, and civil and criminal prosecutions) should be available and utilized where appropriate by government officials and individuals.
Consumer education should be made a national priority. Federal agencies, a reinstated Federal Office of Consumer Affairs, new consumer advisory councils at all levels, state and local consumer protection agencies and nonprofits must aggressively educate homeowners regarding laws that protect homeowners and provide redress mechanisms in areas where there is a substantial evidence of problems. Areas receiving high levels of consumer complaints include home remodeling, purchase and sale of homes, and moving. Informal disputes resolution mechanisms for these types of disputes should be encouraged.
Homeowners suffer because of the current uncompetitive circumstances and confusing and contradictory policies in the air transport industry. Effective airline competition does not exist in many markets and ticket pricing reflects that companies are taking advantage of their monopolies in those markets. Widely varying and often changing airline policies regarding changing tickets, stand-bys etc. are confusing consumers. Congress and the administration should assign a high priority to maximizing competition in as many markets as possible by whatever means are appropriate. Airline companies should be required to adopt a standard industry policy for changing tickets, stand-bys, etc.
Antitrust laws should be aggressively enforced to protect the interests of
consumers. The primary question should be whether consumers are benefited or injured by a industry practice or company practice or service. Antitrust laws should not be used as a tool to protect competitors if consumer market choices have resulted in a declining market share for companies that are less efficient in providing for the needs of homeowners and other competitors.
Homeowners and other consumers worldwide benefit from international trade. Continued efforts to reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers result in lower prices for all consumers and ultimately higher employment. Polls in the US and in other countries reveal broad public support for free trade policies.
AHGA supports both free trade agreements, such as the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, and procedures that would facilitate their adoption, such as Trade Promotion Authority (formerly known as Fast Track). Fast track procedures strengthen the negotiating ability of U.S. trade representatives, and ultimately facilitate the removal of trade barriers. The U.S. Congress should oppose special interest groups who put the wishes of their narrow constituencies ahead of the best interests of the economy and the public at large.