Consumer Protection Updates

Student resources during COVID-19

By | Lauren Banister
Democracy Associate

As we enter spring break, I wanted to share some important resources as our campuses transition to online classes. 

This change to our daily lives - and the whole country - may feel overwhelming. We’ll get through it together and so we wanted to offer some information for students who may be especially struggling to adjust to this major transition. 

As you are most likely aware, UT Austin has extended it’s spring break an additional week and will resume classes on March 30th. 

TexPIRG is happy to provide the following resources for students during this time.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

Coronavirus worry triggers most surgical mask, sanitizer prices to spike at least 50% on Amazon

AUSTIN-- Amazon may monitor its marketplace for price gouging, but a new analysis by U.S. PIRG Education Fund has revealed that these checks don’t always succeed in preventing significant price hikes. With so many people worried about Coronavirus, the consumer advocacy organization looked at the prices for two types of increasingly popular products: hand sanitizers and surgical masks.  

Researchers compared the average price for those items over three months to the high price on Amazon since the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on January 30. As the outbreak became more widespread, the price of most of the sanitizers and masks rose at least 50 percent higher than the 90-day average. Even one in six products sold directly by Amazon -- not third-party vendors using the online marketplace -- saw prices rise at least 50 percent higher in February, as Americans became more aware of the Coronavirus.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

Coronavirus worry triggers most surgical mask, sanitizer prices to spike at least 50% on Amazon

AUSTIN-- Amazon may monitor its marketplace for price gouging, but a new analysis by U.S. PIRG Education Fund has revealed that these checks don’t always succeed in preventing significant price hikes. With so many people worried about Coronavirus, the consumer advocacy organization looked at the prices for two types of increasingly popular products: hand sanitizers and surgical masks.  

Researchers compared the average price for those items over three months to the high price on Amazon since the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on January 30. As the outbreak became more widespread, the price of most of the sanitizers and masks rose at least 50 percent higher than the 90-day average. Even one in six products sold directly by Amazon -- not third-party vendors using the online marketplace -- saw prices rise at least 50 percent higher in February, as Americans became more aware of the Coronavirus.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New investigation: Supermarkets failing to warn public about food recalls

Americans are not hearing about food recalls, and that communication breakdown is having serious repercussions for public health. For example, less than two years ago, people kept getting sick for months after 12 million pounds of Salmonella-contaminated beef was recalled. The pattern has repeated for other recalls even when news outlets have publicized warnings from food safety agencies.

A new report finds that most grocery stores -- which should be some of the best sources for consumers to learn about recalls -- don’t make it easy for consumers to find. TexPIRG Education Fund’s Food Recall Failure: Will your supermarket warn you about hazardous food? scorecard gave a failing grade to 84 percent of the nation’s 26 largest supermarket chains. Chains receiving a failing grade include HEB,and Whole Foods. Shoppers can search for their grocery store on the organization’s website.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Meat recalls remain high; produce and processed food recalls drop

Contaminated food, from Tyson's chicken strips containing chunks of metal to E. coli-laden romaine lettuce, posed a serious danger to Americans’ health in 2019. TexPIRG Education Fund crunched last year’s numbers for its How Safe Is Our Food? report and found that while recalls for produce and processed food have fallen 34 percent since 2016, recalls for meat and poultry have increased slightly since then -- and are up 65 percent since 2013. 

 

“Consumers shouldn't have to worry that their next bite might sicken or kill them, especially when food safety agencies leave so many solutions in the pantry,” said TexPIRG Director Bay Scoggin. “Our analysis suggests that when commonsense protections are implemented, our food gets safer.”

The Watchdog: Tornado damage attracts bad guys, but here’s one who got away — and more Watchdog tales

new report from TexPIRG, a consumer public-interest group, accuses AutoNation, the nation’s largest auto retailer, of selling cars that required recall repairs that weren’t done.

Media Hit | Consumer Tips

Texas group warns about hidden dangers in toys

Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) has released its 2019 “Trouble in Toyland” report defining three safety categories parents should watch for in their children’s toys: detectable dangers, hidden toxics and hazards and recalled toys.

Media Hit | Consumer Tips

Texas group warns about hidden dangers in toys

The Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) has released its 2019 “Trouble in Toyland” report defining three safety categories parents should watch for in their children’s toys: detectable dangers, hidden toxics and hazards and recalled toys.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New government data & TexPIRG investigation reveal unsafe toys impact on kids

More than 226,000 kids went to the emergency room in 2018, according to newly released data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission--the majority from choking hazards.  TexPIRG Education Fund released its 34th-annual Trouble in Toyland report on the same day to help identify dangerous products still for sale in 2019 and provides tips for parents and gift-givers. 

 

“Toys have become safer over the last three decades, but dangerous and toxic toys remain on store shelves. With that in mind, parents need to be vigilant to keep their kids healthy and safe,” said  Lauren Banister, TexPIRG Education Fund Associate. “Manufacturers and regulators must do more to ensure all toys are hazard-free before they end up in a child’s hands.”

While stronger safety standards have significantly reduced the number of dangerous toys for sale, problems persist. TexPIRG Education Fund has identified three categories of toys that parents should be on the lookout for: detectable dangers, hidden toxics and hazards, and recalled toys.

1 in 7 used cars at Texas AutoNation lots have unrepaired safety recalls, study finds

America's largest auto retailer AutoNation is selling used vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls, according to a study by the Texas Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. Those recalls include explosive Takata airbags, faulty GM ignition switches and other defects with no known fixes.

“By selling recalled cars with safety defects, AutoNation endangers customers’ lives before they even reach home,” said Adam Garber, U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund’s Consumer Watchdog. “The only way that AutoNation can ensure a ‘worry-free’ purchase is to repair every recalled vehicle before selling it.”

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