Today, consumerscount.org launched as a consumer group and website using “crowdsourcing” to help consumers band together to fight back when they have the same complaint against the same company, but are limited by forced arbitration clauses and restrictions on class action rights from obtaining redress. At least until the CFPB bans forced arbitration, we need innovative ideas like Consumers Count.
The organization will help consumers get heard. When it makes sense, it will help them find lawyers to make their case. From the Consumers Count website:
“Corporations only understand the power of numbers. Numbers of dollars and numbers of people. They won’t listen until a critical mass of empowered consumers come together and share their stories. Consumers Count monitors each case on our website. As soon as the progress bar is filled, we spring into action. Whether the right forum is the courtroom, the government, or the press, we connect consumers who are fighting back with the people who can help them win.”
In a press release announcing the new organization, I joined Ira Rheingold of the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA.net) and Paul Bland of Public Justice in endorsing the idea behind Consumers Count.
“Forced arbitration clauses are a license to steal for companies that want to avoid improving their customer service or responding to consumer complaints,” said Ed Mierzwinski, director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s Consumer Program. “Why should a firm care about any customer if it knows it can’t even be held accountable even when it breaks the law? As forced arbitration becomes more common, Consumers Count will play an important role in beating back this alarming trend.”
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program, PIRG
Ed oversees U.S. PIRG’s federal consumer program, helping to lead national efforts to improve consumer credit reporting laws, identity theft protections, product safety regulations and more. Ed is co-founder and continuing leader of the coalition, Americans For Financial Reform, which fought for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, including as its centerpiece the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He was awarded the Consumer Federation of America's Esther Peterson Consumer Service Award in 2006, Privacy International's Brandeis Award in 2003, and numerous annual "Top Lobbyist" awards from The Hill and other outlets. Ed lives in Virginia, and on weekends he enjoys biking with friends on the many local bicycle trails.