NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ ANNOUNCES TOP VIOLATIONS FOR 2009
DCA Teams Blitz Every Borough to Issue Advice—but Not Violations—to Small Businesses in Its 7th Annual Business Education Day
As part of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) 7th Annual
Business Education Day, Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today dispatched DCA
staffers to educate businesses about key consumer protection laws—but not write
any violations—in retail districts across all five boroughs. Mintz announced the
most common violations of consumer rights in New York City over the last year
Illegal sale of tobacco to minors
Deceptive advertising of goods or services
Incomplete or missing purchase receipts
False product weight information
Inadequate product weight labels
Lack of quantity information on product labeling
Parking garage overcapacity
Overcrowding sidewalk stands with packages
Failure to post "garage full" signs
Failure to post parking garage rates
"One of the best ways to protect consumers is to ensure that businesses know
and understand the laws in the first place," said Commissioner Jonathan Mintz.
"On Business Education Day, DCA teams spend the entire day writing no
violations, but instead answering business' questions and providing them with
the information they need to do right by their customers and the law."
DCA hosts Business Education Day annually to share compliance tips with New
York City businesses instead of issuing fines or violations. Each year, DCA
inspectors joined by dozens of DCA outreach staff, representatives from the
Department of Small Business Services (SBS), community organizations, business
associations and elected officials blitz more than 1,000 businesses in
high-traffic retail areas across the City. Business Education Day teams visit
local businesses to point out what could be potential violations, but do not
issue violations or fines. Instead, the Department advises owners on how to
comply with New York City consumer protection laws and answers any questions
business owners and managers may have.
DCA visited more than 30 New York City neighborhoods this year in all five
Manhattan-East Village, TriBeCa, SoHo, Morningside Heights, Harlem,
Gramercy Park and Chelsea
Queens-Sunnyside, Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Richmond Hill, Rockaway
Beach, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens
Brooklyn-Greenpoint, Midwood, Kensington, Flatbush, Crown Heights,
East Flatbush, Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Bronx-Kingsbridge, Wakefield, Williamsbridge, Melrose and
Staten Island-Eltingville, Annadale, Pleasant Plains,
Tompkinsville, Stapleton and Clifton
Routine inspections conducted Citywide over the past year show an overall 94
percent compliance rate with Consumer Protection Laws for businesses. Moreover,
in fiscal year 2009, DCA fielded nearly 184,000 311 requests for information.
The Department also successfully resolved more than 7,600 consumer complaints
and secured more than $8.4 million in consumer restitution—a nearly 60 percent
increase from the Department's previous fiscal year work.
DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law and other related business laws
throughout New York City. Ensuring a fair and vibrant marketplace for consumers
and businesses, DCA licenses more than 71,000 businesses in 57 different
industries. Through targeted outreach, partnerships with community and trade
organizations, and informational materials, DCA educates consumers and
businesses alike about their rights and responsibilities. DCA's Office of
Financial Empowerment is the first municipal office of its kind in the nation
with a mission to educate, empower and protect New Yorkers with low incomes.
DCA's OFE administers a citywide network of Financial Empowerment Centers and
other products and services that help these New Yorkers make the best use of
their financial resources to move forward economically. For more information,
call 311 or visit DCA online at www.nyc.gov/consumers.
10 THINGS EVERY BUSINESS SHOULD KNOW
Laws. DCA enforces the City's Licensing, Consumer Protection, and
Weights and Measures Laws, as well as many state laws. The Department provides
free business guides and other information about these laws on www.nyc.gov/consumers, giving
local businesses easy access to the rules they need to know. Many materials
can also be requested by calling 311.
Licensing. DCA licenses 57 industries in New York City including
debt collectors, home improvement contractors and used car dealers. Always
contact DCA to see if your business requires a license. If so, the license
must be posted in a place that is visible to customers. Businesses can
download license applications at www.nyc.gov/consumers.
Enforcement. DCA inspects thousands of local businesses every year
to ensure compliance with City laws and regulations. The Department also
responds to consumer complaints and investigates deceptive
Refund rules. All New York City businesses must post their refund
policies at the cash register where customers can read them without
difficulty. The refund policy should explain the details that limit the return
such as time limits, required photo ID, or other special conditions. When a
refund policy is not posted, the business must give a full refund on demand by
Receipts. All receipts in New York City must include business name,
address, license number (where applicable), a list of itemized purchases and a
separate statement of tax. Businesses must provide a receipt for any sale of
$20 or more, and upon request for any sale from $5 up to $20.
Posting prices. A business with annual volume of $2 million or more
must post the prices of their goods and services, as described in the City's
Consumer Protection Law. Pricing items differently based on gender, such as
haircuts or dry cleaning, is illegal.
Weights and measures. DCA inspects store scales to make sure they
are balanced. Scales must be positioned so consumers can view weight
information regarding the price per pound. The weight of the item, or "tare,"
must be subtracted from the cost of the weighed item.
Selling tobacco products. All stores selling tobacco must be
licensed by DCA. Merchants caught selling to children under the age of 18 on
more than two occasions within a 2-year period risk high fines and losing
their City license, state registration and lottery license.
Violations and penalties. When DCA finds that a business has
violated the law, the business can be fined. In some cases of repeat or
egregious violations, the Department can revoke the business' license or
padlock the premises. Businesses may have the right to a hearing before an
administrative law judge when issued a violation. The violation notice will
include a date of that hearing, and how to proceed if you choose to settle
before the hearing.
Resolving complaints. DCA always contacts businesses when a
consumer files a complaint against them. Often complaints are settled right
away through mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful or a business is
unresponsive, charges may be brought to obtain consumer restitution and fines.