About NCCC

Our Timeline

For decades, NCCC's philosophy and mission have remained remarkably constant. We strive to empower consumers with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions and to represent consumer interests as whole. We've never wavered on that philosophy.

Since we started doing business in 1968, we have been a leader in North Carolina's consumer marketplace, helping to spot shady practices, defective products and unjust laws and regulations.

We've put together a timeline of the highlights over the past several decades. We'd love to put everything here, but we've simply done too much to list everything!

You can see some of our recent and notable achievements or you can browse back to when we first got our start with those very humble beginnings!

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Payday Lending

We joined the Center for Responsible Lending in calling on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to close existing loopholes and issue a strong final national payday rule to rein in payday lender abuses and protect consumers in North Carolina and across the country from predatory payday lending.

2016
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Consumer Advisory

We issued a national recommendation that consumers avoid purchasing model year 2005-2010 Nissan Pathfinder, Frontier and Xterra vehicles due to concerns of a potential defect that could cost thousands of dollars to repair and put the vehicle occupants' safety at risk. We also called upon the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Nissan Motor Company to quickly conclude a more than four-year long investigation into this alleged defect for the sake of consumer safety.

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2016
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Deceptive Hotel Resort Fees

We worked with Travelers United to take action against hotels that engage in a deceptive and misleading practice of advertising nightly rates that do not include mandatory fees.

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2014 - 2016
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Ford Lighting Recall

We pushed for a recall of 2003-2005 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Marquis vehicles suffering a loss of exterior lighting. We were successful in recalling more than 312,000 vehicles, vehicles that Ford previously insisted were 'safe.'

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2014 - 2016
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Defective Child Safety Seats

With other organizations, we called upon Graco Children's Products, Inc. to recall all child safety seats equipped with defective buckles, not just those used primarily by older children.

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2014 - 2015
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Jeep Rear Impact Recall

We urged Chrysler Group to reconsider its decision to decline a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) request to recall 2.7 million Jeep vehicles at risk of catching fire if involved in a collision. The vehicles were later recalled.

2013 - 2015
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Workout Equipment Investigation

formally requested that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigate the dangers of the JD2.2 Flat Bench, as well as other Apex-branded personal training products that could pose personal injury risks to users.

2012
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501c3 Conversion

We completed an effort to convert from a 501c4 nonprofit civic group to a 501c3 educational charity. As we ceased political activity in 2006, it only made sense to change our status to keep in line with our activities. As a result, membership fees are now tax-deductible, as are donations.

2012 - 2014
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Member Discounts

To give our members a little more for their membership dollar, we created member discounts. We now have more than 100,000 discounts for members, with more being added every day.

2013
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Waste Reduction Grant

We received a grant from Wake County Solid Waste Services to promote waste reduction and worked with Sunoco Recycling and Food Lion Stores as part of a test project to educate consumers about the impact of plastic bags on the recycling process, to promote proper plastic bag recycling, and to promote the use of reusable shopping bags.

2012 - 2013
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Ford Throttle Body Defect Petition

We petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a defect investigation of throttle body failures in 2005-2012 Ford Escape vehicles. An investigation was opened and later closed when Ford Motor Company issued a nationwide extended warranty campaign for Ford Escape, Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Mercury Mariner vehicles.

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2012 - 2014
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Deed Copy Scam

After we discovered a deed copy scam that mimicked county tax notices, we worked with the Federal Trade Commission, the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office, and the United States Postal Service to shut it down. We worked with county tax departments statewide to distribute warning information locally until those behind this scam were apprehended.

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2012 - 2013
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North Carolina Law Directory

We created the North Carolina Law Directory, a directory of attorneys in North Carolina with no public disciplinary actions with the North Carolina Bar who have agreed to abide by a set of consumer standards and to limit or waive their initial fees for anyone. It gives consumers a legal outlet whenever they require legal services.

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2012
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Energy Efficient Bulb Giveaway

We announced a member-only program to outfit two homes with LED light bulbs as part of an endowment from former Board member Jane Sharp-McRae. The program was designed to promote energy efficiency and to educated consumers on the benefits of LEDs. We selected two recipients by random drawing.

2012
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Nissan Oil Cooler Defect Petition

We petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a defect petition into 2005-2010 Nissan Pathfinder, Frontier and Xterra vehicles with cracked oil coolers leading to catastrophic transmission damage. We feel that the courtesy extended warranty does little to protect consumers as the defect commonly occurs after the warranty expires. The petition is still ongoing.

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2012
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Just Label It Campaign

We announced our support of the Just Label It Campaign, which is a coalition of those who believe genetically engineered foods should be labeled. While not voicing an opinion on the safety or quality of such foods, we do believe that consumers have the right to know what goes into a food product so that they can make their own informed choices based upon the information available.

2012
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Saturn Outlook / GMC Acadia Defect Petition

We petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a defect petition into 2007-2009 Saturn Outlook vehicles that included the sister vehicle, the GMC Acadia. The petition alleged a loss of one or both headlights due to headlamp wiring harness melting.

2011 - 2012
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Fraudulent FDIC Emails

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) reported that consumers were receiving e-mails appearing to be FDIC communications. We conducted an educational campaign in North Carolina to warn consumers about fraudulent emails and the malware that was included with them.

2009 - 2011
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Auto Warranty Repair Survey

We worked with consumers on a test program to rate dealership auto repair facilities. Using vehicles of different makes and models, each being less than two years old and having less than 30,000 miles, our staff obtained warranty repairs without informing dealers that they were working with the owners. Some dealerships did well while others were poor, including some with personnel that damaged vehicles and with service managers who made empty promises.

2009 - 2010
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Do Not Call Registry Expansion

We supported efforts to make the national Do Not Call Registry permanent. We had been a vocal proponent of making it permanent since helping to pass the initial law creating the registry. Consumers are still protected by state law in regards to a Do Not Call Registry should the national law be challenged.

2004 - 2008
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Name Your Own Star

We tested the International Star Registry’s (ISR) selling of the naming rights to stars with a map and certificate. We found that naming stars was a novelty only and was not officially recognized by the scientific community. This fact was not being disclosed by the company. We advised the Federal Trade Commission of this finding and the use of “Library of Congress” in advertisements. Subsequently, the company was forced to alter its advertisements through actions taken by state and federal agencies.

2007
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Misleading Software Update Company

We investigated the practices of an online software update website known as RadarSync. Consumers alleged misleading claims, dysfunctional software, and worthless guarantees. During our investigation, we were told that nine software updates were needed but only one was installed successfully. Two others were the same version already on the computer, one was a bad link, and the remainder were not the promised versions. We requested a refund per the company’s 60-day refund policy but received a repeated run-around and avoidance of the request. The North Carolina Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission were notified.

2006
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Health Club Investigations

We worked with the North Carolina Attorney General to investigate complaints about Capital Fitness, a Raleigh health club chain. Due to its popularity, membership rose by some 17,000 members over the previous year. The business responded by secretly charging all of its members an illegal $25 ‘up fit’ fee. Eventually, we helped secure reimbursements for 33,400 North Carolinians due to contract violations.

2003 - 2004
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Saturn L-Series Recalls

We petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a recall of Saturn L-Series vehicles with repeat tail and brake light failures and were successful at recalling more than 306,000 vehicles. We petitioned for a recall of those vehicles for timing chain failures in 2005 and were successful at recalling more than 20,000 vehicles. We continued to push for recall expansions for these failures until 2013, when we advised consumers not to purchase the vehicles due to the lack of further recalls.

2004 - 2008
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Lemon Law Changes

We drafted, introduced, and successfully advocated for improvements in the North Carolina Lemon Law. The changes protect North Carolina consumers when it comes to the purchase of new vehicles that suffer a repeated defect. We clarified how an eligible vehicle's weight is determined, lowered mileage deductions, and stopped mileage deductions at the third repair. Vehicle manufacturers are now encouraged to settle claims quickly instead of dragging their feet on valid claims.

2005
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Computer Comparison Survey

We completed a two-month test of the major computer brands for both desktops and laptops and reported our findings to the public. We also reported out customer service experiences, as well as our results with computers purchased from the shelf at stores versus configuring a computer on the manufacturers' websites.

2004
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Cigarette Tax Increase

We supported the North Carolina Alliance for Health to raise the state cigarette tax in order to fund government programs for health and consumer protection. North Carolina was suffering from a large budget shortfall while having the third lowest cigarette tax in the nation. State officials reported an 18.5% drop in cigarette sales and $157 million in increased revenue following the increase.

2004
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Home Improvement Projects Survey

We surveyed the most common home improvement projects and expenses and compiled a listing of the projects ordered by their return on investment. We attempted to dispel some of the myths regarding return rates for home improvements and stressed the importance of evaluating the current market before making expensive home improvement projects.

2003
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Safer Window Switches

A new requirement regarding a safer style window switch in all vehicles sold in the United States was to take effect in 2008. Dismayed by a five year delay before they became mandatory, we began a campaign in North Carolina advising consumers of the dangers the old switches posed and offered a program to retrofit vehicles with new switches. As a result of the program, 218 vehicles were retrofitted with the safer window switch design.

2003 - 2004
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Staged Accident Rings

We worked to raise awareness among consumers regarding an increase in the number of staged accidents in North Carolina. These schemes involve dishonest drivers who maneuver innocent motorists into auto crashes. Even though the vehicles involved may only suffer a small dent, the criminals make large and illegal claims for fake injuries and fake vehicle damage against the innocent driver, causing rises in insurance rates for all consumers.

2003 - 2004
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Firearms Safety

We made several public appearances at various community events throughout North Carolina to educate the public about the health, social, and environmental costs stemming from a lack of federal oversight in the firearms industry, specifically relating to the lack of recall authority by the government over gun manufacturers and a proposed law to give the government the authority to force firearms manufacturers to recall defect firearms.

2001 - 2005
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Do Not Call Registry

We fought hard to deal with annoying telemarketing phone calls. Through our efforts, state and national Do Not Call Registry legislation was effectively passed into law. We were especially active with SB 872, which closed loopholes created by the federal law that enabled banks, financial institutions and telephone companies to continue calling consumers. In 2008, we supported efforts to make registration permanent.

2002 - 2003
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Prescription Medication Costs

We actively lobbied state legislators about high prescription medication costs and urged them to consider the Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals (GAAP) Act. Our interest in this piece of legislation involved supporting efforts to close the loopholes that name brand drug companies often use to keep generic drugs off the market for as long as possible.

2002 - 2003
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Payday Lending

We lobbied heavily against payday lending practices and also educated consumers about the questionable practices of such businesses. Interest rates among payday lenders could range anywhere from 40% to 5000% or higher. Since then, payday lending services have either been outlawed in many states, including North Carolina, or tightly regulated in others.

2001 - 2003
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ATV Safety

We assisted the Consumer Federation of America in raising awareness surrounding child injuries on All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). We also conducted surveys of consumers regarding their knowledge of safety standards, which in turn gave support for a national set of safety standards for ATVs for children 16 and younger. At the time, the only set of safety standards for children and ATVs were voluntary standards that were ineffective at preventing child injuries and deaths.

2001 - 2005
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Auto Recall Notifications

We began offering our members a free service to notify them of vehicle recalls by mail. As many vehicles change hands and people move, not all recall notices sent by vehicle manufacturers reach the new vehicle owners. This program has helped vehicle owners fix more than 850 vehicle recalls that had been outstanding for four years or more and for which notice was never received from the vehicle manufacturers.

2003
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Energy Star

We worked with Lowe’s Home Improvement stores to make consumers aware of the many advantages of ENERGY STAR certified home appliances. The promotion of ENERGY STAR education and awareness initiatives were funded through a grant from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to decrease the carbon footprint caused by high amounts of energy consumption.

2002 - 2003
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Playground Safety

We participated in a national playground survey with the Consumer Federation of America and the US Public Interest Research Group to identify child safety issues on public playgrounds. Following these surveys, a national set of standards were enacted by legislators to ensure that public playgrounds and playground equipment fall within specific safety guidelines

2000 - 2006
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Radio Segments

We were honored to have a radio segment on both Food Forum and the Better Living show on WDNC-620AM in Durham, which were produced and hosted by NCCC Board Member Fred Benton. The segment reached consumers twice weekly across more than half the state and highlighted timely consumer issues, including scam alerts, and featured lay explanations of current happenings in the General Assembly and Congress. Benton continued highlighting consumer issues as the food editor of SPECTATOR Magazine until his untimely passing in 2010.

2002 - 2004
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Bank Fee Survey

We joined the US Public Interest Research Group in a bank fee survey for banks and financial institutions across North Carolina. The results indicated that ATM fees and surcharges had tripled the cost of using ATMs since 1996 and that the nation's biggest banks charged the highest combined ATM transaction fees.

2002
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Identity Theft

We researched the growing threat of identity theft and provided consumer protection educational information to the public about protecting identity and the steps to take if an identity is believed to have been stolen.

2000 - 2001
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North Carolina Elections and Wealth

We filed a lawsuit against the State of North Carolina alleging that primary elections required potential candidates to have a minimal net worth in order to run for office and to compete against those receiving major funding from a select donors. We argued that many qualified candidates can't run for office given such income requirements since less than one percent North Carolinians gave more than ninety percent of campaign contributions.

2000
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North Carolina Groups and Coalition Support

In an effort to provide consumers greater access to information, we collaborated to form a network of resources with many different groups and coalitions including the NC Board of Appraisers, the NC Real Estate Commission, the Food Service Advisory Committee of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the AARP, the NC Council of Churches, the NC Justice and Community Development Center, the NC Health Access Coalition, the State Council on Social Legislation, the US Public Interest Research Group, NC Hunger Net, the Community Reinvestment Association-NC, Judge Advocate General staff at Fort Bragg, Coastal Credit Union, Consumer Credit Counseling, the Coalition for Responsible Lending, the NC Alliance for Democracy, the NC Alliance for Clean Energy, the NC Solar Energy Association, the NC Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers, the Public Forum Institute, the NC League of Women Voters, NC Fair Share, and North Carolinians for Credit Union Choice.

1999 - 2000
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Used Car Dealer Survey

With the aid of a grant from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), we investigated reports that used car dealers were in violation of federal laws aimed at protecting car buyers. Our surveys showed that only 39% of dealers in North Carolina posted prices on all cars offered for sale and 78% of dealers permitted independent inspections by a mechanic of the buyer’s choice.

1998
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Credit Union Access

We supported credit unions in a lawsuit filed by the American Bankers Association and three North Carolina banks seeking restrict credit union membership to one specific group instead of an array of different groups. More than 80% of the 1.7 million consumers belonging to credit unions would have been forced out of their credit unions. We secured petitions for North Carolinians for Credit Union Choice against the lawsuit.

1997
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Area Code 809 Telephone Scams

We worked with the media on a campaign to warn North Carolina consumers regarding a telephone and internet paging scam involving numbers with an 809 area code. If consumers followed through with the call, they were charged $25 per minute. Because 809 numbers were in the British Virgin Islands, US regulations would not cover issues related to these scam practices.

1997
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Blue Cross For Profit Conversion

We successfully opposed Senate Bill 993, a bill that would have allowed Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina to convert to a for-profit status without any responsibility to commit its fair market value to a charitable health care trust to aid citizens without health insurance

1997
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Electric Utilities Restructuring

We worked with the Public Forum Institute of Winston-Salem to co-sponsor a congressionally convened summit conference to educate the public of electric utility restructuring. We discussed the restructuring of the electric utility industry that would provide consumers with more choices in a market that had been a monopoly for most residential users.

1997
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Campaign Finance Reform

We advocated the passage of Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 361, bills to improve campaign finance reporting and procedures. The intent of the bills was to move the political process towards cleaner campaigns and cleaner money, and consumers had expressed the need for more transparency in political campaigns for years.

1997
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Drug Price Survey

We completed our second survey of retail drug prices. In all, 140 drugs were surveyed. This information was especially needed in the senior population because of the difficulty most individuals have in making extensive price comparisons given the diversity of retail outlets. Prices at the most costly pharmacies ranged from 30 to 74 percent more than those at the least costly for groups of brand and generic drugs.

1996
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Grocery Store Comparison Survey

We completed a study comparing prices charged by major North Carolina supermarket chains. A comparison of six chains in Charlotte revealed that average prices at the highest priced chains were 5.4 percent greater than those at the lowest priced chains. We worked to formalize a food price comparison of popular food supermarkets to better inform consumers of buying options.

1996
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Health Special Interest Group

We established the Health Special Interest Group (HSIG) in an effort to develop our health issues program. We worked with the North Carolina Medical Society, the North Carolina Nurses Association, and North Carolina Hospital Association to develop positions on health issues affecting North Carolina consumers

1996
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Website

We joined the World Wide Web with the introduction of our first website. It quickly found a niche as a source of consumer information. Since being created, the website has been redesigned a number of times and has grown to be a reliable resource, servicing hundreds of thousands of consumers every year

1996
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Food Tax Repeal

In alliance with the League of Women Voters, NC Fair Share, and NC Citizen Action, we were successful in lowering the food tax rate by one cent. We had fought for years to lower the food tax rate and continued fighting for further repeal of the food tax, but a full repeal was never successful. In 1997, we were successful in opposing efforts to raise the food tax back to its previous level

1996 - 1997
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Credit Card Competition

We took part in a lawsuit brought by Bankcard Holders of America against the Visa credit card company alleging that Visa was promoting an illegal monopoly and limiting competitive products and pricing.

1995
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Telecommunication Deregulation

We presented testimony at hearings on House Bill 161, a bill to deregulate local exchange telephone companies in North Carolina. After consulting with representatives on both sides of the debate, in addition to talks with the Public Utilities Commission, we urged the committee to delay reporting the bill until various amendments could be considered, including some from the North Carolina Attorney General.

1995
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Drug Price Survey

We conducted a drug price survey of 70 common prescription drugs in store and by mail used by seniors and found only one vendor stocked all of the drugs and that generic counterparts were available for about 90% of the brands. The average price for brand medication varied between $66.71 and $87.73. The average price for generic medication varied between $21.62 to $33.49.

1995
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Solar Tax Credit Increases

We helped pass SB1045, which raised the personal tax credit for all solar equipment from 25% to 40% with a maximum of $1000 to $1500 for each installation. For commercial and industrial applications, the bill raised the credit from 25% to 35% with a limit of $25,000. The bill also raised the tax credit from 20% to 25% for a PV manufacturing plant.

1994
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Deposit Insurance Coverage

Following the passage of new and confusing deposit insurance coverage regulations, we reached out to consumers about how they could protect their money when placing it in financial institutions.

1994
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Deceptive Auto Repair Practices

We reached out to the public regarding deceptive practices of invitations for free oil changes and full-service vehicle check-ups. Consumers had reported to us that service departments were advising them of repairs that needed to be performed immediately after coming in for the free check-ups. These consumers subsequently reported that an independent examination found no problems with the vehicles.

1994
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Healthcare Reform

In conjunction with the North Carolina Health Care Coalition, we helped study various reforms and helped lay out principles that we felt a satisfactory set of reforms should embody. Some of the topics under this healthcare reform included managed care, cost control, employer-provided health insurance, and other similar matters.

1994
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Campaign Finance Reform

We partnered with Common Cause, the Institute for Southern Studies, Public Citizen, and other public interest groups in sponsoring a press conference at the state legislature in support of campaign finance reform. We have always felt that money should not be involved in political decisions, which should instead be based upon merit and necessity.

1993
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North Carolina Health Access Coalition

We were a member of the NC Health Access Coalition and were heavily involved in its policy committee. We helped to set basic principles for adoption by the coalition to which any healthcare plan should conform. NCCC President Al Sawyer listed out the provisions of Clinton’s Health Security Act of 1993 and educated the public as to how it adhered to the principles laid out by Coalition.

1993
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Cable TV Consumer Protection and Competition Act

We educated consumers about the passage of the 1992 Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act, a law created to regulate basic cable rates in all communities so that there is no competition. Following the enactment of this legislation, we worked with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure the fair implementation of the law.

1993
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Healthcare Seminars

We cosponsored a series of six seminars presented by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine dealing with the financing of healthcare. Additionally, several NCCC Board members attended General Assembly committee meetings dealing with the health insurance crisis in North Carolina, urging the adoption of a requirement that all insurance and healthcare providers use one standard report form.

1992
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Playground Safety Initiatives

We helped investigate the safety of children’s swings and other playground products for the Consumer Federation of America. At the time, there were no national standards for the design and construction of outdoor play equipment. We later contributed to creating a set of national playground standards that are a basic requirement for all new playgrounds today.

1992
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True Rent-to-Own Costs

We were vocal regarding rent-to-own purchases, which were becoming popular in the state. We found that consumers paid more than twice the highest retail prices through rent-to-own contracts and that rent-to-own purchases do not belong to the buyer until the very last payment is made, which meant a consumer could lose money for failing to make one payment.

1992
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Health Insurance Forms

A study conducted by Public Citizen and Harvard Medical School showed that millions of dollars each year were wasted in administrative costs in the health insurance industry. Due to a number of different confusing forms, we noted that the industry was a large contributor to the problems. We worked with a number of insurance companies toward developing a uniform system for the forms used in the system to streamline the paperwork process and save money.

1992
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Fair Taxes

We petitioned the NC General Assembly against raising the sales tax and cutting social services and education as solutions to the state’s budget crisis, arguing that the costs of cutting programs and raising the sales tax would be ultimately borne by those who could least afford it, such as moderate to low income working families.

1991
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Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

We reached out to consumers regarding Duke Power efforts to save its customers money through a switch to energy efficient light bulbs. Citing the benefits of switching to these bulbs, we encouraged Duke Energy consumers in the Chapel Hill, Durham and Charlotte metro regions to seek out some of the 10,000 energy efficient bulbs the company pledged to distribute.

1991
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Part-Time Lobbyist

We hired Margot Saunders as a lobbyist. Saunders, who was a former NCCC Board Member, was a lawyer who worked for NC Legal Services focusing on consumer issues. The areas of concentration in her lobbying efforts included the opposition of the deregulation of credit cards, the opposition of increases in revolving credit rates, regulations toward burial trusts, regulation of reverse mortgages, and removing the sales tax on food.

1991
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Community Reinvestment Act

We called for a repeal of decisions made by the House Banking Subcommittee to pass bank reform legislation that stripped the Community Reinvestment protections from the law. Those protections provided full nationwide branching without any restraints, protected against deposit dollar suction from states and regions without restraints, and protected against rising fees due to branching and consolidation.

1991
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Reverse Mortgage Regulation

We reached out to consumers citing reverse mortgages as a way for older homeowners to raise their incomes above the poverty line. At the time, Congress passed legislation which required HUD to develop regulations and insurance for the issuance of 2500 reverse mortgages around the country, 50 of which would be made in North Carolina.

1991
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Healthcare & Eldercare Committee

We appointed a Healthcare and Eldercare Committee with the goal to research North Carolina’s role in providing access to healthcare for the poor and elderly poor, limiting the rapid escalation of healthcare and health insurance costs, and making health insurance available to more of North Carolina’s currently uninsured citizens.

1989 - 1990
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Environment, Safety & Utilities Committee

We formed an Environment, Safety, and Utilities Committee to focus on utility issues, indoor air quality, water quality, and energy conservation. The Committee planned and implemented a symposium on a least-cost energy initiative, prepared consumer education news articles on these areas of consumer interest, and attended related conferences.

1989
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Automotive Safety

We worked with the media to warn consumers that almost all 1983-1986 Ford and General Motors cars, along with millions of other cars and light trucks from the same years, were under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) amidst allegations of brake failures, fires, loss of steering, seatback problems, and ignition problems. A toll-free hotline number was created to contact the NHTSA regarding any investigations or recalls.

1987
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Auto Insurance Rate Increases

We addressed auto insurance rates with John Dalzell on several airings of National Public Radio. We noted that auto insurance rate increases were not likely to stop and that insurance companies were applying for a rate increase in January 1988, even before the 1987 rate increase went into effect. We used the radio program to educate consumers on ways they could protect themselves from rate increases.

1988
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Lemon Law and New Car Buyer Rights

We reached out to consumers of their rights as new car buyers under the North Carolina Lemon Law and the federal Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act. This campaign was necessary as many consumers were unaware of, or failed to understand, the 1983 law.

1986
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Consumer Check Holds

We conducted a survey regarding check hold practices of North Carolina Banks in order to understand practices that lead to consumer financial hardship. We found that consumers lost an average of $13 per check when banks placed a hold on funds. Nationally, consumers paid about $125 million annually in charges while banks made hundreds of millions of dollars by immediate investments of funds withheld from depositors.

1986
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Nuclear Power Plant Safety

We made consumers aware of the safety issues associated with Carolina Power and Light Company’s nuclear facilities in North Carolina. While administrators touted improved safety regulations in 1979, numerous safety violations were discovered from 1980 to 1982. Following these violations, Carolina Power and Light again stated in 1984 that safety had been improved, but in 1985 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found safety problems in their plants, concluding that these repeated issues were a result of poor management.

1986
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Mobile Home Financing

We filed an amicus curiae to the North Carolina Supreme Court for review of a trial court's dismissal of a class action case against Citicorp Acceptance Company, a mobile home financing company assessing finance charges that far exceeded the 18% state limit and that failed to provide federal consumer protections. The Supreme Court reversed the decision, making this case the first in which a class action was certified for unfair and deceptive trade practices under the Retail Installment Sales Act.

1986
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Home Weatherization Coalition

We were a member of the Wake County Weatherization Coalition, a pilot program to assess low-income weatherization in conjunction with twenty-one other groups. We worked directly with consumers to reduce energy usage with $28,000 of donated supplies by Carolina Power and Light. The City of Raleigh used data from the project and incorporated it into building codes for new dwellings. With our help, the city established a materials warehouse for unused materials to be used by city residents in future weatherization projects.

1986
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Insurance Legislation

We petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly to consider ways of dealing with private insurance companies that red-lined entire classes of insured persons so that they could pressure for favorable regulatory changes and try to increase profits. We also recommended pooling and reinsuring as immediate remedies.

1986
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Greedy Fundraising Companies

We investigated claims that professional fundraisers were pocketing the majority of donations instead of passing the funds along to their respective causes. We also discovered that some fundraisers, far from setting their profit at 10% as some expected, were pocketing an average of 88% of funds raised, passing along only 12% to the charities for which they worked

1985 - 1987
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Southern Bell Phone Rates

We encouraged Southern Bell to keep rates at a reasonable level for local subscribers and to extend ‘lifeline’ rates for low-income and supplementary-income customers in response to ever-increasing phone bills. We also requested that the full costs of new and ‘exotic’ services be paid for by those who use the services as opposed to raising rates across the board.

1984
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Staffed Raleigh Office

1984 opened with good news with the announcement of a $5,000 grant from the Julia Peters Trust of Rochester, NY. The funding marked the start of a new era for NCCC since it was used as seed money to raise further funds through endowments to open a staffed office in Raleigh. The office would then be used to engage in research projects, legislative lobbying, and the day-to-day functions of NCCC.

1984
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Medicare Supplement Insurance

We urged the use of Comparison Buying Guides that would compare fifteen Medicare supplement plans in North Carolina. Waiting to present the information at the time of application often resulted in confusion and ultimately led to beneficiaries being overcharged. Instead, we urged that the information be given at the time of first contact, not only at the time of application.

1983
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North Carolina Lemon Law

Following the enactment of a lemon law ruling on June 23, 1983 establishing a lemon law, purchasers of new cars who reported having serious problems with their cars were covered under this new legislation. We conducted a lengthy educational campaign to make consumers across the state aware of this ruling and of the benefits of the law.

1983 - 1984
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Economic Recovery Act

We prepared and distributed a special bulletin regarding how the Economic Recovery Act of 1981 would affect North Carolina. The legislation was forecast to cost the state around $12 million in uncollected revenue, mainly from North Carolina corporations.

1982
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Phone Cost Increases

Following the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) ruling separating local and long distance telephone companies, companies began seeking acceptance of “toll-free area-wide” service in North Carolina, potentially doubling or tripling rates. We recommended to the North Carolina General Assembly, the FCC, and the North Carolina Utilities Commission that bypasses be installed upon request for all local customers who did not desire area-wide long distance “toll-free” service.

1982
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Food Tax Repeal

Supported by Governor Hunt, we sought to repeal the food tax. During the time, most consumers nationwide did not pay a sales tax on food and North Carolina was the only one of the ten most populous states that taxed food and non-prescription drugs. We felt it was unfair to middle and low income families since they spend a higher percentage of disposable income on food and therefore paid a higher percentage of tax. We worked with state legislators on ideas to replace state revenues and to replace county option sales taxes on food with other revenue-producers.

1982 - 1994
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Sanitary Work Practices

We testified before the North Carolina Department of Labor on the lack of drinking water and hand washing facilities for migrant workers. We felt that all workers, regardless of citizenship, should have access to safe and healthy working conditions. At a time when food was harvested and grown in large part by migrant workers, consumers had a legitimate interest in sanitation and pesticide control.

1982 - 1984
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Consumer Product Administration

We supported the Consumer Federation of America’s position to preserve the powers of the Consumer Product Administration (CPA), which the federal government wanted to reorganize with lower powers. We urged government officials that the powers and organizational structure should be retained and that problems that could be created by stripping the CPA of powers.

1981
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Insurance System Inequities

Our activism with other organizations regarding unfair aspects of auto insurance legislation and the point system led to a review of changes to the legislation, which was reviewed by a Study Commission and later became a proposed change by Insurance Commissioner Jim Long.

1981
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Alternative Energy Corp

Established by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, the Alternative Energy Corp (AEC) was created to find alternatives to electrical power and thus curtail the construction of costly new electrical power plants. In an effort to protect consumer interest from privatized corporations, we worked with then Governor Jim Hunt to pass a motion that the majority of the members be appointed from the general public.

1980
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Mosquito Control Program

We were a plaintiff with the Conservation Council of North Carolina in a lawsuit against the Department of Human Resources concerning the Salt Marsh Mosquito Control Program in eastern North Carolina. The lawsuit alleged mismanagement and misuse of public funds for private gain, that the program was improving drainage for select private properties and not addressing mosquitoes infestation.

1980
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Collection of Money Judgements Bill

We opposed the Collection of Money Judgments Bill, which if passed would have placed an intolerable burden on poverty-ridden debtors. The bill would have permitted the seizure of property without notice or hearing, would have allowed for imprisonment in cases where payments are late or not made, and would have made substantial procedural changes burdening the debtor.

1979
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Product Liabilities Bill

We opposed House Bill 235, which would have severely reduced manufacturer liability for injuries resulting from defective products and created a statute of limitations that would have limited consumer redress to specific and often short time frames from which to receive restitution.

1979
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Container Deposit Bill

We supported a deposit on beverage containers and state and federally-funded research and assessment activities directed to evaluating the benefits and costs of source reduction of solid wastes generated from disposable packaging. The premise was simple: pay a deposit on your container at the time of purchase and then get that money back when you return it.

1979 - 1998
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Unemployment Benefit Taxes

We urged the state to repeal income taxes on the first $7,200 of unemployment benefits as a means of helping the unemployed pay for basic needs and services. At the time, North Carolina was the only state to assess income tax on unemployment benefits, leaving consumers with less disposable income in times of financial need.

1978
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Seminar on Wage Conditions

With a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Committee, we hosted a series of seminars on wage conditions in the south. The Southern Mind and the Southern Wage explored a variety of topics with panelists from across the state in an effort to determine the factors affecting wage conditions.

1977
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Gubernatorial Candidate Discussion Panels

Feeling that having candidates’ positions on consumer issues on record prior to the gubernatorial election was critical for voter education, we hosted a series of discussion panels with gubernatorial candidates on a variety of matters relating to the consumer interest in North Carolina.

1976
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Small Loans Bill

We appeared before the Senate Banking Committee of the NC General Assembly to testify regarding a proposed Consumer Finance Act, which would have raised the interest rates charged by small loan companies on low-income consumers to as high as thirty-six percent without cause or justification and would have required application fees, credit insurance, and real property collateral for loans under $7,500.

1975 - 1979
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Insurance Rate Thresholds

We reached out to consumers regarding re-proposed legislation regarding insurance rate thresholds and No Fault Auto Insurance. We also made recommendations as consumer experts before the North Carolina General Assembly that insurance companies be prohibited from transferring a consumer’s policy to another company without prior permission from the consumer.

1975
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Home Mortgage Interest Rate Ceilings

We criticized the General Assembly's elimination of the interest rate ceiling on home loans after concluding in a study that the action failed to make conventional home mortgage money available to more home buyers in North Carolina. We found that the legislation only led to unreasonably high interest rates to be charged on the few conventional mortgages that were made.

1975
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Milk Pricing Study

We conducted a study with law students of the University of North Carolina on the production, processing, and retail sales of milk. It highlighted the dairy industry’s handling of fluid milk on all levels and the effects on the consumer, surveyed the activities and effectiveness of the North Carolina Milk Commission, and compared North Carolina to other states in the regulation of prices. We ultimately proposed fourteen recommendations for consumer protection in the area of fair price competition.

1973 - 1974
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Attorney General Questionnaire

Due to the absence of a primary election, we conducted a survey of candidates seeking election as North Carolina Attorney General in order to get them publicly on record regarding various positions. According to then NCCC President Lillian Woo, “Our only purpose is to make the candidates' views known -- in their own words -- so voters can make an informed choice when they select the man who will represent them in this crucially important office.''

1974
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Home Financing Study

We conducted a study of home financing following attempts by political action campaigns to raise or remove the 8% interest rate cap on first mortgages. Since home buyers had better access to loan money in larger quantities and at better rates than most other states, we felts that those wishing to change the caps must first present convincing proof that a change will create more favorable conditions in North Carolina.

1973 - 1974
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Soft Drink Tax

We advised the General Assembly that the 1969 Soft Drink Tax should not be repealed, but instead be used for public services and programs that would benefit everyone. We conducted research and determined that the state treasury would lose $20.45 million and that a tax repeal would benefit the soft drink industry, not consumers, since a one cent tax was usually followed by up to fifteen cent increases in the price of soft drinks.

1973
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Property Tax Research

Collaborating with students from East Carolina University, Western Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina, we researched statewide property taxes in order to assist state legislators, civic groups, statewide groups, and General Assembly committees with data that was used for a number of research studies.

1972
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Telephone Rate Research

We researched Southern Bell phone rates following their promotion of the use of direct dialing for long distance calls because of “lower cost.” We found that some calls were more expensive if direct dialed contrary to advertisements. After much persistence, representatives from Southern Bell finally agreed to disclose the company’s phone rates to us in writing, which we then distributed statewide.

1972
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Small Claims Court

Collaborating with law schools at the University of North Carolina, North Carolina Central University, and Duke University, we analyzed the small claims court process and determined how it could better benefit consumers. Our study found that in 95% of magistrate decisions, small claims courts were being used against consumers by businesses, that 80% consumers were unaware of their ability to file small claims actions, and that only 4% of consumers knew anything about the court beyond its existence. Subsequently, we worked with the North Carolina Attorney General's Office on a campaign to educate consumers about this court and its uses.

1972
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Auto Insurance Complexities Study

Board Member Ruth Cook, the first female State Representative from Wake County, was appointed as observer and representative of NCCC to hearings of the Governor’s Study Commission on Automobile Insurance and Rates. Our research uncovered that legal fees and other expenses accounted for 56% of the insurance premium, that it takes an average wait of fifteen months before compensation is paid, and that 25% of all accident victims never get a settlement. We also uncovered that in claims of $400 or less, compensation is often four times the claim and in claims of $25,000 or more, compensation is less than one-third of the claim.

1972
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Credit Card Reference File

We created a credit card reference file, similar to the file created for consumer products, in order to provide consumers with the correct contact information in the event of credit card theft, erroneous charges, and general questions and concerns.

1971
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Supermarket Truth in Advertising

Working with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), we educated consumers about pricing and sales discrepancies in food stores. We helped consumers learn how to spot discrepancies and work with the FTC to expose violators. Working with students from the University of North Carolina, we conducted a survey of supermarkets and forwarded the results to the FTC, which then prosecuted A & P Supermarket for violations of the Truth in Advertising Law.

1971-1972
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Unjust Utility Rate Increases

Working with the Attorney General’s Office, we voiced opposition against Duke Power and Carolina Power and Light requests for large unwarranted rate increases. Following a State Supreme Court ruling linking rate increases to quality of service, we successfully challenged the companies to prove that they were making efficient use of current revenues prior to getting a rate increase.

1970-1973
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Comprehensive Health Planning Councils

New laws recognized the need for organized planning in the expenditure of public funds for health care services and facilities, resulting in the enactment of the Office of Comprehensive Health Planning. It required the creation of local planning councils to encompass all areas of the state. We urged consumers to participate in the process to control how public funds were used for healthcare expenditures.

1970-1976
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Consumer Price Index

We worked alongside state government to create the first state consumer price index that lists the changes in the costs of goods and services to a typical consumer. Also referred to as the cost-of-living index, the formation of this index was an important step toward the direction of better understanding the effects of cost trends on consumers.

1968-1970
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Consumer Protection Division

We were responsible for getting $198,000 from the North Carolina General Assembly to create the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office for the protection of consumers across the state. We even developed and distributed the their first leaflet, which was instrumental in reaching consumers about common consumer pitfalls, predatory practices and tips.

1968-1969
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Consumer Information File

One of the first things we did was create an information file for several hundred product manufacturers. Back then, there was no Internet and consumers had difficulty resolving complaints because they didn't know how to contact manufacturers. It was updated continuously until the the Internet made it obsolete.

1968-1995
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An Idea Becomes Reality

It all started with a back porch get together, a 1966 lemon MG sedan and a repossessed trailer. Growing from the idea that North Carolina needed consumer representation, the North Carolina Consumers Council developed through various steering committees and was made possible by the North Carolina Fund grant.

March 7, 1968