These anti-consumer laws should be repealed now

Some rules and regulations work as intended. Some don’t.

Last week, I took a hard look at new laws that needed to be passed in order to protect consumers. But such legislation goes against the prevailing political winds, which are to dismantle “burdensome” regulations that hurt businesses and consumers. So, let’s go there.

I asked the biggest proponents of deregulation which rules they’d like to remove. Their answer: not just a single regulation, but an entire regulatory agency.

“Abolish the Food and Drug Administration,” says Arvin Vohra, vice chair of the Libertarian Party. “Expensive FDA approval drives the regulatory costs so high that no drug company can hope to recoup costs on rare diseases.”

Vohra says that as a result, consumers with rare diseases will almost certainly never see a cure. Eliminate the FDA, and the cost of medications will go down, pharmaceutical companies will be able to turn a profit, and lives will be saved.

I’m sure there are doctors, regulators, industry-watchers, and even patients who would disagree with that analysis. But the broader point is sound: Some regulations probably have, to use a medical term, unintended side effects.

But which ones?

How about the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA)? That’s what Monica Eaton-Cardone thinks. She’s the co-founder of Chargebacks911, a cybersecurity company that helps e-stores and online merchants eliminate chargeback fraud.

“The Fair Credit Billing Act of 1974 was intended to protect consumers and encourage credit card spending by guaranteeing zero liability for cardholders,” she explains. “Unfortunately, the law was designed for a pre-Internet economy.”

Result: The law is now artificially inflating prices by tens of billions of dollars each year.

“That’s because the Fair Credit Billing Act also created the chargeback mechanism, which costs merchants and e-stores $40 billion annually in fraud, product loss and penalties,” Eaton-Cardone says. “Online stores are then forced to raise their prices to offset the rising cost of fraud, making consumers pay more money for goods and services. It’s like a hidden tax on eCommerce.”

That argument — that regulation raises prices for consumers — resonates across the more politically conservative landscape, whether it’s provable or not.

Since I handle an unusually large amount of airline cases, people also often ask about the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, which, to quote a recent trade publication article, changed the airline industry beyond recognition.

The law’s goals were laudable. They included:

The availability of a variety of adequate, economic, efficient, and low-price services by air carriers without unjust discriminations, undue preferences or advantages, or unfair or deceptive practices, the need to improve relations among, and coordinate
transportation by, air carriers, and the need to encourage fair wages and equitable working conditions.

Unfortunately, deregulation created an oligopoly where rising prices, preferential treatment, unfair and deceptive practices and collusion is being served up daily. Shouldn’t this law be removed from the books, some airline passengers wonder?

“I believe that the worst thing that ever happened to air travel is deregulation,” says Ted Hochstadt, an independent farming professional who lives in Pimmit Hills, Va. “The supposed savings in airfare has not been worth the discomforts and ripoffs of deregulated travel. I long for the good old days when an airplane ticket was the equivalent of money, either for a refund or to be used on any other carrier traveling to the same destination.”

The deregulation act must go, Hochstadt adds.

“If you want human rights for air travelers,” he says, “reregulate air travel.”

That’s easier said than done. The Airline Deregulation Act removed some unnecessary barriers, and even the most pro-consumer voices aren’t ready to give up those benefits. But the law also created the consumer-hostile commercial airline industry we have today, where passengers are charged ever-increasing fees and squeezed into ever-smaller spaces. Corrective action is necessary.

And then there’s healthcare and the polarizing debate over the Affordable Care Act. It’s hardly a perfect law, and the side effects are fairly dramatic. I know because I just tried to buy health insurance in Arizona. I had only a few expensive ACA-compliant policies to choose from, and in order to bring my costs down, I had to fill out endless forms that made my insurance company believe I was a small company (I am not).

That’s the problem with lifting any of these laws. If you do, you also eliminate the benefits. Who knows how many lives have been saved by the FDA? Or how many consumer purchases were salvaged by the FCBA? Or how many more people could afford to fly because of airline regulation? Or how many Americans now have healthcare because of the ACA?

Getting rid of laws — or entire agencies, for that matter — that might hurt consumers sounds like a good idea. But, as with any legislation, there will be unintended consequences.

Underwritten by

Underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.