There's a General Electric (not to be confused with General Motors or General Mills) commercial making the rounds (I caught it during the Sunday morning talk shows) narrated by a child who proudly says things like “My mom makes underwater fans powered by the moon!” and “My mom makes trains that are friends with trees!” And it ends with this: “Imagination at Work.” How nice it would be if corporations actually used their collective imaginations that way.
Unfortunately a more accurate video might go something like, “My mom creates Pomegranate Blueberry juice that contains neither fruit.” Or, “My mom creates toys with toxic chemicals.” Or, “My mom searches public death records to find students whose parents have died so student loan companies can demand immediate repayment.”
The New York Times is reporting on this week's Supreme Court oral argument examining whether Coca-Cola is falsely advertising its “Pomegranate Blueberry” Minute Maid drink, which “is made almost entirely from apple and grape juice” and then dyed dark purple. It actually “contains no more than trace amounts of the two featured juices. It is 0.3 percent pomegranate juice and 0.2 percent blueberry juice. Pom Wonderful, which sells pomegranate juice, is suing for false advertising.”
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy made people laugh in court after Coke’s lawyer insisted consumers know the juice is fake: “Don’t make me feel bad because I thought that this was pomegranate juice,” he said. (Believe me, there are plenty of other reasons to make Justice Kennedy feel bad.) Interestingly,
Much of the argument concerned a 2009 ruling, Wyeth v. Levine, in which the court said that state juries may award damages for harm from unsafe drugs even though their manufacturers had satisfied federal regulators. [Seth P.] Waxman, a lawyer for Pom Wonderful, said the Wyeth decision established that federal labeling regulations set a floor, and not a ceiling, for consumer protection.
Speaking of federal regulations setting the floor not the ceiling,
New York officials are asking the federal government to seek a recall of a foam dart toy they say could be dangerous to children.
The Division of Consumer Protection says “Clingy Darts,” sold at Dollar Tree stores, contains more than six times the federally allowed limit on a chemical known as DEHP.
The National Toxicology Program said Monday that DEHP, which is used to soften plastic, is a reproductive and developmental toxin in animals that could have health implications for infants and toddlers.
Then comes this new disturbing study from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If a parent has co-signed a student loan from a private student loan company, the parent’s death can result in, “sudden demands for full, early repayment of those loans, and can be forced into default” and this happens “no matter how good their student’s payment record.” Writes the New York Times:
The problem … arises from a little-noticed provision in private loan contracts: If the co-signer dies or files for bankruptcy, the loan holder can demand complete repayment, even if the borrower’s record is spotless. If the loan is not repaid, it is declared to be in default, doing damage to a borrower’s credit record that can take years to repair.
The bureau said that after a co-signer’s death or bankruptcy, some borrowers are placed in default without ever receiving a demand for repayment. The agency did not accuse loan companies of doing anything illegal.…
Rohit Chopra, the bureau’s student loan ombudsman, said that he did not know how common the practice was, but that a steady stream of consumer complaints indicated it was becoming more frequent. He also said companies appeared to be doing it more or less automatically, combing public records of deaths and bankruptcies, comparing them to loan records and generating repayment demands and default notices.
So here’s something to note if you have a student loan like this:
Borrowers often can have their loans released from the co-signer requirement if they have a few years of earnings and credit history, or have the loans transferred to a new co-signer. But the consumer bureau said that borrowers were not often aware of those options, and that even if they were, the loan companies made it difficult to exercise the options.
Mr. Chopra urged people to take advantage of such provisions when they could, adding, “Borrowers need to be aware that these defaults can seriously impair their credit profile,” making it hard to start a business, or buy a house or a car.
So get those loans released! Do it now!!