Preserve Ohio’s Pro-Consumer CSPA
The Ohio Poverty Law Center’s Linda Cook recently wrote a letter to the editor explaining why proposed legislation (HB 275) in Ohio that would provide businesses a “right to cure” under Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA) is dangerous for consumers and bad for good business.
Text of letter:
The Ohio House of Representatives is currently considering legislation (H.B. 275) that would turn one of the most effective deceptive practices statutes in the country into one of the least effective. This would be a disaster for Ohio consumers, especially for low income consumers.
Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA) became law in 1972 and has been a bulwark against companies who engage in deceptive, unfair or unconscionable sales practices. At the heart of H.B. 275 is the “right to cure,” an amendment to the current statute that would allow suppliers to make a pre-trial offer in the form of cash, goods or services.
This so-called “cure” severely undercuts the CSPA’s provisions for attorney fees and enhanced damages, two crucial deterrents to bad business practices. The “cure” could also force consumers to accept as recompense more of the faulty goods or fraudulent services that prompted the dispute in the first place.
Ohio’s low income consumers, struggling to live from paycheck to paycheck, are less able to absorb the consequences of being on the losing end of a consumer transaction when a supplier lies, cheats or steals. H.B. 275 will only compound that situation.
This bill is also a disaster for honest businesses that treat customers fairly and play by the rules. Lowering the cost of bad business practices will only encourage a “race to the bottom.” We have already seen what happened in the housing market when lack of consequences for bad behavior spawned widespread fraud.
Ohio consumers deserve better.
Senior Staff Attorney
Ohio Poverty Law Center