Consumer Law Professors, Please Take My Survey About Coverage

by Jeff Sovern

At the Teaching Consumer Law conference, on Friday, I asked questions of those who have taught consumer law recently or intend to teach it in the near future.  The questions, in a somewhat different form because of the limits of the survey software, were drawn from the survey that appears below the fold, but because of time constraints, I didn’t get through all of them.  I am reprinting the entire ten-question survey here so that those who want to take it and were not at the conference can, and also so that those who were at the conference can answer the additional questions, if they so desire.  Most of the questions are of two types: one is about what respondents cover in their consumer law classes, and will give you a voice in what we put in the next edition of our casebook, which we will work on next year.  The other questions consist of things I am curious to know about consumer law professors, like whether they read contracts and mandated disclosures.  A couple of questions ask about what kind of course people teach and how long they have been engaged with consumer law.  At some point, I plan to make the responses to the first three questions available, as well as as many of the others if they elicit enough responses, so you will be able to see what others cover, which may inform your own coverage decisions. You can email me your answers at, or if it is easier for you, I can email you a copy of the survey in Word and you can then send it back. If you answered the questions at the conference, please begin with question four.  Thanks for your help!

  1. Please indicate each item you already cover or would like to cover for at least twenty minutes by putting an x on the line (assume any casebook you use includes relevant materials):

__ The Consumer Product Safety Commission and related consumer law issues

__ Mortgage servicing issues (e.g., robosigning, foreclosure issues)

__ The role of a compliance attorney in consumer law

__ The Food and Drug Administration and related consumer law issues

__ Comparative consumer law (i.e., the law of other countries on consumer law issues)

__ Spam and CANSPAM

__ FinTech (e.g., FinTech privacy issues, obtaining loans via a smartphone, and FinTech usury


__ Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

__ Holder in due Course

__ Constitutional limits on advertising regulation

__ Advanced aspects of the TCPA, such how consumers can revoke consent and the application of the TCPA to debt collection calls to cell phones

__ Credit insurance

__ Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin or blockchain issues

__ Issues involving “credit invisibles” (people without conventional credit records who might want access to credit, such as some low-income consumers or young consumers)

__ Common law fraud

__ Modern versions of consumer leasing, such as WhyNotLeaseIt or in-store kiosks.

__ Cooling-off periods

__ Gramm-Leach-Bliley financial privacy disclosures

__ Health care consumer issues (e.g., the problem of unexpected out-of-network bills, the issue of whether networks can drop doctors in the middle of treating a patient, whether patients have a right to itemized bills)

__ Issues involving debit cards

__ Issues involving unauthorized use of credit cards

__ The FTC Credit Practices Rule

__ Student loan servicing issues (e.g., the duties of servicers to notify borrowers of their ability to reduce their payments)

__ None of these.

  1. How often do you read contracts before agreeing to them (e.g., before clicking “I agree” on a web site or to obtain wifi access; a rental car contract; a credit card contract)?

__ Always

__ Usually

__ Sometimes

__ Rarely

__ Never

  1. Do you read required disclosures before entering into consumer transactions?

__ Always

__ Usually

__ Sometimes

__ Rarely

__ Never

  1. Think of the credit card you use most often. Please select as many of the following that appear on the periodic statement (typically, monthly) for the card.

__ A phone number to call for credit counseling services.

__ The amount of any fees to be charged for cash advances in the future

__ Either the name of the balance computation method (e.g., adjusted balance method) and a phone number to call for more information about the method or a description of how the issuer calculates the balance on which the finance charge is calculated.

__ None of the above.

__ I don’t have a credit card.

  1. Have you found the CFPB database of public complaints useful?

__ Yes, for academic research

__ Yes, because I have used it to complain to the Bureau and made a complaint public.

__ Yes, for some other reason.

__ No.  I tried it but did not find it useful.

__ I have not tried to use it and so don’t know if it is useful.


  1. Suppose you are entering into a contract for a new credit card. The contract provides for arbitration of disputes and includes a class action waiver but permits you to opt-out of arbitration if you write a letter to the issuer so stating within 60 days of agreeing to the contract. Would you write such a letter?

__ Yes

__ No, because I have no problem with arbitration of disputes or class action waivers.

__ No, because even if I opt-out, the likelihood is that so few other consumers will that the requirements for a class action would not be satisfied and so I still would not be able to participate in a class action.

__ No for some other reason

  1. I teach the following type of consumer law course:

__ A survey course (e.g. consumer protection, consumer finance)

__ A clinic

__ A seminar

__ A doctrinal consumer law course other than a survey course or seminar

__ Other

  1. I have taught, written about, or practiced consumer law for

__ Less than one year but some

__ One to five years

__ Six to ten years

__ More than ten years

__ I have not yet taught, written about, or practiced consumer law

  1. Would you listen to a consumer law and policy podcast?

__ Yes

__ I would want to be interviewed about my scholarship on the podcast

__ I would be willing to interview someone about that person’s scholarship on the podcast if it meant I got interviewed about mine

__ No

__ I’m not sure

  1. Do you prefer covering at least some consumer law topics deeply in a consumer law course, even if it means covering fewer topics?


__ No, I prefer a casebook that enables me to cover many topics and so I don’t need a casebook that goes deeply into topics.

__ I’m not sure.

Comments on any of the above?

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