CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Senate bill balances retirement and student loans, FTC enforces right to leave negative reviews online, Amazon creates specialty warehouses for hazardous materials

Michael Finney Image
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
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New Senate bill balances retirement funds and student loans, FTC enforces consumers' right, and Amazon creates warehouses for hazardous materials.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Senate bill would allow employer matches to retirement as employees repay student loans

Hopeful news for those saddled with student loans.

There is a Senate plan allowing those with student debt to build a retirement fund while paying off their loans. Currently, a company can match an employee's 401k contribution, but cannot give money to those who don't contribute. Many paying off student debt can't afford to contribute. The Retirement Parity for Student Loans Act, introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), allows companies to match an employee's student loan payment.

More than 40 million Americans are carrying student loan debt.

Amazon building dedicated warehouses for hazardous materials

Amazon is building a new type of warehouse, but it is probably not what you think.

The online retail giant is building dedicated warehouses around the country to store hazardous materials. This comes after an incident last year where a can of bear repellent exploded -- hospitalizing 24 workers.

The new warehouses will be for products designated as hazardous, and feature more serious safety measures, such as specialized sprinkler systems. Amazon staff will also receive training on how to handle dangerous items and how to respond to an accident.

FTC proves it is serious about allowing consumers to post business reviews

The government is trying to protect your right to write a critical review.

The Federal Trade Commission has proved it is serious about your right to post reviews of products and services. The FTC has announced three separate enforcements of the Consumer Review Fairness Act. The Act prohibits businesses from having clauses in their contracts that bar consumers from writing or posting negative reviews online. This is the first action since the law was enacted; none of the companies caught up in the FTC crackdown are in California.

"Many online shoppers use customer reviews and ratings to get information, but these companies used gag clauses in their form contracts to stop customers from posting honest but negative feedback," said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "These gag clauses are illegal, and companies that know it but use them anyway will be subject to civil penalties."

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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