Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Consumer Contact: Electricity Providers – WABI-TV

Video

Russ and Joy discussed choosing the right electricity provider, and things to look for to make sure you are making the right decision.

Some things to consider when making your decision:

  • The standard offer price
  • The price offered by a CEP
  • Whether the price is fixed or variable
  • The term of the contract
  • Termination fee
  • Your rights

For more information you can contact Maine Public Advocate at 287-2445 or online at http://www.state.me.us/meopa/utilities/electric/supply.html.

You can also contact North American Power at 1-888-313-9086, or email at customercare@NAPower.com.

Hearth & Home Technologies Recalls Gas Fireplaces, Stoves, Inserts and Log Sets Due to Risk of Gas Leak and Fire Hazard | CPSC.gov

Hearth & Home Technologies Recalls Gas Fireplaces, Stoves, Inserts and Log Sets Due to Risk of Gas Leak and Fire Hazard | CPSC.gov.

Click image for list of dealers in Bangor area

This recall involves Hearth & Home Technologies®, Heat-N-Glo®, Heatilator®, Outdoor Lifestyles® and Quadra Fire® natural or propane gas indoor and outdoor fireplaces, stoves, inserts and log sets.

Remedy

Consumers should immediately stop using the gas fireplaces, stoves, inserts and log sets, turn off the gas to the units and contact the fireplace store where the unit was purchased to arrange for a free inspection and, if necessary, valve replacement.  The firm’s dealers are contacting known purchasers.

Sold at

Fireplace stores from May 2014 through July 2014 for between $1,200 and $8,000.

Manufacturer

Fireplace Manufacturer: Hearth & Home Technologies, of Lakeville, Minn. 

 

Feds sue for-profit college network of predatory lending, phony career services

CONSUMER FORUM

By Russ Van Arsdale, executive director Northeast CONTACT

Posted Sept. 21, 2014, at 10:40 a.m.

It’s likely that only a small percentage of Maine’s college-age students have even heard of Everest University, Heald College and WyoTech. The three schools are operated for profit by Corinthian Colleges Inc (CCI). None is in Maine; the two closest campuses are in the Boston area.

Still, a lawsuit filed last week by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau against CCI should be of interest to students who have taken out private student loans to pay for their education. The suit charges Corinthian with predatory lending, persuading students to take out the higher-cost private loans by advertising phony job prospects and career services.

In announcing the lawsuit, the director of CFPB did not mince words. “We believe Corinthian lured in consumers with lies about their job prospects upon graduation, sold high-cost loans to pay for that false hope, and then harassed students for overdue debts while they were still in school,” Richard Cordray said in remarks prepared for a reporter telephone briefing.

Cordray cited “egregious” examples of alleged misdeeds by CCI employees. One school apparently paid legitimate employers to hire graduates just long enough to count them as “employed” (CCI apparently defined a “career” as a job lasting only one day).

Although it touted ongoing career services, students often got generic Craigslist job postings. Often they could not contact any CCI personnel in the various career services offices.

Once they signed up, students faced high-cost tuition. In 2013, CFPB says tuition and fees for an associate degree ran between $33,000 and $43,000; for a bachelor’s degree, the range was $60,000-$75,000.

Tuition was higher than the federal loan limit, so many students were forced to take out private student loans. Corinthian offered its own “Genesis loans” costing more than twice as much as federal student loans.

The CFPB investigation found that three of every five students were likely to fall behind on Genesis loan payments within the first three years. Investigators said CCI did not share that reality with students; rather, it said the students “had no idea they were being set up to fail.”

Corinthian set an unusual policy of requiring students to start paying back those Genesis loans as soon as their classes began. If they fell behind on the payments, they faced what the CFPB director called “harassing and bullying debt-collection methods.” If they dropped out of school, they had all the debt and no degree.

A statement on Corinthian Colleges’ website strongly disputes allegations in the suit. It says the CFPB “wrongly disparages the career services assistance that we offer our graduates and mischaracterizes both the purpose and practices of the ‘Genesis’ lending program.” The company says it discloses details about its loan program before students enroll, calling that process “clear and extensive.”

It also says that a number of the problems CFPB identified were brought to the agency’s attention by the company, and that Corinthian is working on improvements. CFPB is looking for full redress of all Genesis loans made since July 21, 2011, including those that have been paid off.

The future of the 100-plus campuses across the country is uncertain. The company entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education in July to sell or close a number of its campuses.

Meanwhile, a bill pending in the U.S. Senate would allow 25 million Americans to renegotiate their student loans at today’s lower interest rates. It would also cap undergrad loans below 4 percent; federal Stafford loans top out at 9 percent, while some private loans can exceed 14 percent.

You can read the “Downeaster Common Sense Guide to Student Loans” at http://www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/publications.htm.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visithttp://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

“Gone Phishing” – WABI-TV

Video link

David Leach of the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection was in the studio with Russ Van Arsdale on Monday for this week’s Consumer Contact segment. They were speaking to Joy about a new anti-scam guide being released by the bureau. The guide is called “Gone Phishing” and it gives tips on avoiding all manner of scams and protecting your credit.

Order form for all Bureau publications

Publications available on-line:

CFA Petitions the FCC to block the Comcast-Time Warner merger

Consumer Federation of America believes “Online Video Competition is the Last and Only Hope to Break the Stranglehold of Cable.”

Information posted in press release:

Washington, DC (August 25, 2014) – The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and its member groups today filed a petition calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable and the swap of additional systems with Charter Communications.  The petition shows that the Comcast-Time Warner merger poses a much greater threat to competition, consumers and the public interest than the Comcast-NBCU merger, which has not benefited the public.

“The inevitable result of this merger will be higher prices, worse service, and less innovation,” Mark Cooper, CFA’s director of research said. “Just four years ago the FCC and the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that Comcast has market power, as the nation’s largest buyer of professional video content and the largest provider of both multichannel video programming and broadband Internet access service.

“The acquisition of Time Warner would increase Comcast’s market power by at least 50% and create a Goliath that would tower over the industry.  Comcast would be:

  • 1.5 times as large as the next largest multichannel video program distributor (MVPD),
  • 2 times as large as the next largest Internet access service provider,
  • 3 times as large as the next largest service provider with the capacity to deliver an integrated bundle of video and broadband,
  • the dominant cable and broadband operator in 24 of the nation’s largest 25 video markets, including the addition of the most important media markets, New York and Los Angeles.”

Flooded Vehicle Resale – WABI-TV

Posted Monday, August 18th, 2014 at 9:02 am.

VIDEO Russ and Joy discussed the precautionary measures you can take when looking at used cars, especially due to all of the recent flash flooding.

Some hints to look out for when purchasing a new vehicle to see if it was ever flooded include:

  • Pull out the seat belts. The portion of the belt that’s been retracted inside the seat may be muddy, mildewed or water-spotted if it has been flood-damaged.
  • Check for water rings on the engine block or radiator, mud and dirt under the dashboard, and corrosion, rust or flaking metal on the undercarriage.
  • Smell for mildew; lift carpets and floor mats, check inside the glove box, and look for dew or droplets in instrument clusters on the dashboard, as well as the inside and outside lights.
  • Look for water stains, silt or mud, mineral deposits, even sticks and twigs.
  • Feel the wiring – check for stiffness.

 

You can get a vehicle history for a fee from Carfax (www.carfax.com), Auto Check (www.autocheck.com) and Consumer Guide (www.auto.consumerguide.com).

On the home page of the National Insurance Crime Bureau website (www.ncib.org), VINCheck lets you check a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to see if a vehicle has been reported as salvage by its member insurance companies.

For more information on titles and title searches, including applicable fees, contact Maine’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles at (207)624-9000 or visit http://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv

VIZIO Recalls to Repair 39- and 42-Inch E-Series Flat Panel Televisions Due to Risk of Tip Over | CPSC.gov

Safety Warning

Click screen for list of models

Recall Details

Units — About 245,000

Sold at:  Best Buy, Meijer, Target, Walmart and other retail stores nationwide , online at Amazon.com, Costco.com, Meijer.com, Sams.com and other internet retailers from December 2013 through June 2014 for between $370 and $450.

Description

This recall involves Vizio E-series 39- and 42-inch Full-Array LED flat panel televisions. The flat panel televisions are black with “VIZIO” printed in the lower right corner of the television front and the VIZIO logo in the center of the back.

Incidents/Injuries

VIZIO has received 51 reports of the recalled televisions tipping over. No injuries have been reported.

Remedy

Consumers using the stand assembly should immediately detach the stand, place the television in a safe location and contact VIZIO for a replacement stand assembly. Consumers with wall-mounted televisions should request the replacement stand assembly in case the stand is needed for future use.

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