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Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SPACE. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of S. 3386, the Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act, bipartisan legislation critical to protecting online consumers in Ohio and across the country.

Online shopping is becoming a common and critical part of our Nation's economy. The convenience of shopping and making purchases from home is an exciting revolution in commerce, and one that has broadened the opportunities and access available to American consumers.

As we saw on Cyber Monday, Americans are not hesitating to take advantage.

In particular, for people like my constituents who live in rural areas, online shopping offers an opportunity to avoid lengthy trips, saving both time and the cost of gas.

However, as the number of consumers taking advantage of these new opportunities continues to grow, I fear that the number of pitfalls for consumers is beginning to grow.

In particular, I am concerned about a growing new trend that is putting consumers on the defensive. Companies are using misleading Web sites and offers to sign up unsuspecting consumers for expensive subscription services. These companies are engaging in a new practice called post-transaction marketing, in which they purport to make special offers to consumers who have just completed a transaction.

Before they know it, consumers have unknowingly signed up for services, and their credit card information is on the way to the new company. Oftentimes, these same consumers don't even realize they have signed up for the service until they get their credit card statements.

This practice is egregious, and it is flat wrong.

We must act to bring it to a stop.

While I, like many of my moderate colleagues, fear the consequences of extending the reach of government too far into the economy, I also believe that there is a time when we, as legislators, have a mandate to act. This is one of those occasions.

Earlier this year, I introduced H.R. 5707, the Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act. This legislation would take initial first steps toward ending what is clearly a deceptive and troubling practice.

Specifically, the legislation would require that companies engaging in post-transaction marketing clearly disclose the terms of any agreement proposed to consumers, ensuring that they have full knowledge of the services for which they are subscribing.

In addition, it would also require that these same companies provide easy ways to opt out of any agreement or subscription service, empowering consumers to control their enrollment.

Recently, the Senate passed companion legislation, S. 3386 by unanimous consent. This bipartisan show of support indicates just how serious the problem is facing American consumers, as well as the common-sense nature of the legislation before us.

Now, the time has come for the House to act in kind.

We have before us a choice today--act on behalf of our constituents who every day use the internet for information and commerce.

Or, we can fail to act, and allow more American consumers to fall victim to a frightening practice that separates from them their hard-earned income.

I would be remiss if I didn't also raise a point that I have raised a number of times during my time in the House. The internet is an exciting and powerful tool. In particular, high-speed internet has brought a wealth of exciting new opportunities to American consumers.

However, not all consumers have access to this basic tool. Too many of my constituents do not have access to reliable and affordable broadband service, taking away their ability to participate in online shopping, distance learning, and all the basic services that many of us take for granted.

I hope that this body will continue to take seriously the plight of those individuals on the other side of the digital divide, and will rise to the occasion to address a major challenge facing rural America.


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