Forget the dry debates over all those dull agency budgets.
What you really need to know is what the Legislature might do that will make it easier to avoid telephone solicitors, get air for your tires, find out what a hospital is billing you for and protect your credit rating.- A bill to limit the use of recorded telephone solicitation is one of the hottest consumer bills in the session.
If HB155 passes, telephone solicitors can't bug you with their recorded messages before 9 a.m. or after 8 p.m. They must get the approval of the Public Service Commission before they can start randomly dialing Utah numbers and they must summarize their message in the first 10 seconds of the recording. They must also include a statement early in the recording asking you to hang up if you aren't interested.
If those rules still don't make such calls palatable to you, you can register your phone number with the PSC. The PSC will give the phone numbers of those who don't want recorded solicitations to telephone solicitors. If the solicitors dial those numbers, they can be fined.
The bill passed the House and now goes to Senate committee.
- The House has passed a bill that requires hospitals to provide their patients with an itemized list of all the services they provided and the cost.
The list should be sent to the patient within 10 days of a patient's discharge from the hospital and no later than 30 days. The bill says the itemized list must be provided at the hospital's expense, but don't you believe it.
"Nothing is free. Somebody has to pay for it," said Robert Burton, vice president for the Utah Hospital Association. That "somebody" isn't going to be the hospitals. Asked if the cost would be passed on to the consumer, Burton replied, "Oh, yeah. Sure."
His association hasn't assessed the cost yet, but a footnote on the bill noted that in 1987 the association reported 2.3 million hospital admissions. The cost of preparing and mailing over 2 million itemized statements is likely to be hefty.> The bill excludes Medicaid patients.
- If you are tired of the convenience stores that sport gasoline pumps but don't provide an air hose or something to wash your windows with, you aren't alone. Rep. Robert A. Slack, R-Washington, has filed a bill forcing all businesses that sell gasoline to also sell basic motor vehicle products and offer accompanying services. HB197 would require the businesses to provide the consumer with water, air for inflating tires and solutions for cleaning car windows. They must also sell motor oil and transmission fluid.
However, the bill is mired down in the Rules Committee. Convenience stores that would be forced to put in air hoses and expand their inventory have banded together to battle the bill.
- If you have been exasperated by erroneous credit reports that damage your credit, you will rejoice in HB315. The bill, filed Tuesday, would fine consumer reporting agencies if their files contain outdated or incorrect information about a consumer that could hurt the consumer's credit rating.
The consumer reporting agency would be liable to a consumer for $100 plus collection fees and court costs if the consumer can prove that the correct information was available to the reporting agency and the correct information could improve the consumer's credit.
Any creditor who supplies the incorrect information to the consumer reporting agency that caused the agency to be liable to the consumer is, in turn, liable to the agency for $100 plus court costs and attorney fees.>