By Jeff Sovern
During next month’s Teaching Consumer Law Conference, I intend to survey the audience about what topics they would like to have in a consumer law casebook, as part of the process of preparing the fifth edition of our consumer law casebook (with Dee Pridgen and Chris Peterson). I plan to ask whether people would want to teach topics not already covered in the book, to guide us in what to add; whether people still want to teach some topics covered in the current edition, to guide us in what to cut, as well as some other questions. Many of the topics appear below, but I’m wondering if readers of the blog have any thoughts about what else I should ask about (please post answers in the comments below or email me directly).
Here's some of what I plan to ask (though the format for the actual questions will probably vary somewhat):
First, the question about potential new topics, in no particular order: If you already teach a consumer law course or if you plan or hope to teach a consumer law course in the near future, please select each item you already cover or would like to cover for at least twenty minutes (assume any casebook you use includes relevant materials):
a. FinTech (e.g., FinTech privacy issues, obtaining loans via a smartphone, FinTech usury issues)
b. Student loan servicing issues (e.g., the duties of servicers to notify borrowers of their ability to reduce their payments)
c. Mortgage servicing issues (e.g., robosigning, foreclosure issues) [we already have some on this in the fourth edition, but could add more]
d. The Consumer Product Safety Commission and related consumer law issues
e. The Federal Drug Administration and related consumer law issues
f. Comparative consumer law (i.e., the law of other countries on consumer law issues)
g. Advanced aspects of the TCPA, such as the definition of automatic telephone dialing systems, how consumers can revoke consent; and the application of the TCPA to debt collection calls to cell phones
h. Health care consumer issues (e.g., obtaining insurance coverage)
i. Issues involving “credit invisibles” (people without conventional credit records who might want access to credit, such as young consumers or some low-income consumers, or who might have a record of consistent payment to creditors, such as utilities, that may not report to credit bureaus)
j. Modern versions of consumer leasing, such as WhyNotLeaseIt or in-store kiosks.
k. Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin or blockchain issues
l. None of these
Now, the question about what topics to cut, also in no particular order: If you already teach a consumer law course or if you plan or hope to teach a consumer law course in the near future, please select each item you already cover or would like to cover for at least twenty minutes (assume any casebook you use includes relevant materials)
A. Spam and CANSPAM
B. Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
C. Holder in due Course
D. Constitutional limits on advertising regulation
E. Credit insurance
F. Common law fraud
G. Cooling-off periods
H. Gramm-Leach-Bliley financial privacy disclosures
I. Issues involving debit cards
J. Issues involving unauthorized use of credit cards
K. The Credit Practices Rule
L. None of these.
Now, some general questions I thought might tell us something we didn’t already know about consumer law professors:
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; on a rental car contract; on a credit card contract)?
Do you read required disclosures before entering into consumer transactions?
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, because I have used it in a different way in my capacity as a consumer.
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.
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?
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 will not be satisfied and so I still would not be able to participate in a class action.
No for some other reason
I also plan to ask what type of consumer law course the respondents teach and the number of years they have practiced or taught consumer law. I have a couple other questions in mind, but they can keep. I would love to get comments both about additional things to ask and the text of the questions. And I am also eager to hear other suggestions for the book.