Democrats Deny Basic Consumer Protections For Maine Seniors

AARP and other aging advocates support LD 894 but Democrats evidently don’t think they’re credible on issues pertaining to the elderly.

Augusta – In a surprising move, Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against a bill designed to protect Maine’s elderly population by mandating that companies make it clear if an automatic renewal clause is included in a service contract.

LD 894 , sponsored by Rep. Karl Ward of Dedham would require any entities to disclose to the consumer any automatic renewal clause clearly and conspicuously in the contract, including the cancellation procedure. The bill also requires that written notice be provided to the consumer no fewer than 30 days and no more than 60 days before the cancellation deadline of the automatic renewal clause.

During the debate on the House floor, Democrats not only implied the bill’s supporters had ulterior motives, they essentially accused the sponsor of lying. One Democrat representative even said on the record that she doubted this bill was even designed to protect the elderly and in a shocking illustration of putting partisanship ahead of Maine’s vulnerable, wondered aloud what nefarious behavior the supporters of this measure were up to. Unbelievable.

“Many Mainers, including a lot of seniors, are being victimized by these automatic renewal clauses in contracts that they don’t even know are there,” said Rep. Ward. “This bill is about integrity and transparency. I’m appalled Democrats would throw Maine’s elderly under the bus like this. It makes no sense to me. My hope is the Senate will pass this bill and send it back to us so House Democrats will have a chance to reconsider.”

This bill was supported by many aging advocates, included the AARP who testified in support of the measure during the public hearing.

“Often, entities that sell a product do not fully clarify verbally or in writing that the service has an automatic renewal clause,” said Amy Gallant, Advocacy Director AARP Maine. “The renewal clause is regularly buried in the fine print of a multipage contract agreement. While we view the transparency that this bill creates as a positive step for older Mainers this will also be important for young adults entering into contract agreements for the first time.”

Tuesday’s vote was 77-67 with all Republicans that were present voting in support of the bill.

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