Ahead of Labor Day, DOT Launches New Dashboard to Help Air Travelers Know Their Rights When They Experience Flight Disruptions Caused by Airlines - U.S. Department of Transportation
After Secretary Buttigieg wrote letter to airline CEOs, airlines made significant improvements to customer service plans
WASHINGTON – Throughout 2022, Americans have experienced an unacceptable level of flight delays and cancellations. When these disruptions occur, airlines are required to support passengers based on commitments made in their customer service plans, but too often passengers find those plans are difficult to understand and do not guarantee services – such as meals or hotel accommodations when they must wait overnight at an airport – even for flights that are delayed or canceled because of the carrier. To ensure the traveling public has easy access to this information, the U.S. Department of Transportation today rolled out a new airline customer service dashboard, which includes recent improvements to customer service made by airlines at the urging of Secretary Buttigieg.
Two weeks ago, Secretary Buttigieg wrote a letter to airline CEOs informing them that DOT would publish the dashboard before Labor Day and urged the airlines to improve their customer service plans before the release. As a result, all but one of the ten largest U.S. airlines made significant changes to their plans to improve services provided to passengers when their flights are canceled or delayed because of an airline issue. For example, no airline unconditionally guaranteed meal vouchers or hotels prior to Secretary Buttigieg’s letter. Now, nine of the 10 guarantee meals and eight of the 10 guarantee hotel accommodations when an airline issue causes the delay or cancelation.
The dashboard provides air travelers a one-stop location to obtain information on the services and amenities they should receive from airlines if they experience delays or cancelations that are caused by something within the airline’s control like a mechanical or staffing issue. The dashboard also provides a clear comparison of amenities the airlines have committed to provide, which will assist consumers when deciding which airline to fly. The creation of this new tool is one of the many steps the Department is taking to improve customer service provided to travelers. The Department will hold airlines accountable if they fail to provide the promised services. The Department has also provided direct links to airlines’ customer service plans on its Aviation Consumer Protection website.
“Passengers deserve transparency and clarity on what to expect from an airline when there is a cancelation or disruption,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This dashboard collects that information in one place so travelers can easily understand their rights, compare airline practices, and make informed decisions. The Department will continue to support passengers and to hold airlines responsible for adhering to their customer obligations.”
Regardless of the cause of the delays or cancelations, the Department expects airlines to provide timely and responsive customer service during and after periods of flight disruptions. Moreover, regardless of the cause of significant delays or cancelations, airlines are required to provide prompt refunds to ticketed passengers should a passenger choose not to accept the alternative offered such as rebooking on another flight.
In addition to the dashboard, the Department is currently collecting comments on a proposed rule that would 1) require airlines to proactively inform passengers that they have a right to receive a refund when a flight is canceled or significantly changed, 2) define a significant change and cancellation that would entitle a consumer to a refund, 3) require airlines to provide non-expiring vouchers or travel credits when people can’t travel because they have COVID-19 or other communicable diseases; and 4) require airlines that receive significant government assistance related to a pandemic to issue refunds instead of non-expiring travel credits or vouchers when passengers are unable or advised not to travel because of a serious communicable disease. The Department is also considering options for an additional rulemaking that would further expand the rights of airline passengers who experience flight disruptions.
In addition, the Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) recently concluded its investigation of 10 airlines and is pursuing enforcement action against them for extreme delays in providing refunds for flights the airlines canceled or significantly changed. The Office is also actively investigating the refund practices of additional airlines flying to, from, or within the United States. In November 2021, OACP issued its largest fine ever against an airline for extreme delays in providing refunds to thousands of consumers for flights to or from the United States that a carrier canceled.
Further, over the past year, the Department has taken a number of other actions to improve protection for airline passengers such as:
Calling on airlines to seat families together free of charge.
Issuing fines to multiple airlines that violated tarmac delay rule violations.
Issuing a proposed rule to improve accessibility of lavatories on single-aisle aircraft for individuals with disabilities and creating the first-ever Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights.
Federal Register Notices:
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Large Residential Washers From the People's Republic of China: Continuation of the Antidumping Duty Order
• Certain Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products and Certain Corrosion-Resistant Steel Products From the Republic of Korea: Notice of Initiation and Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty and Countervailing Duty Changed Circumstances Reviews
• Non-Oriented Electrical Steel From the Republic of Korea, Certain Corrosion-Resistant Steel Products From the Republic of Korea, Certain Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products From the Republic of Korea, Certain Hot-Rolled Steel Flat Products From the Republic of Korea, Certain Carbon and Alloy Steel Cut-to-Length Plate From the Republic of Korea, and Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod From the Republic of Korea: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Changed Circumstances Review
• Finished Carbon Steel Flanges From India, Italy, and Spain: Final Results of the Expedited First Sunset Review of the Antidumping Duty Orders
• Welded Line Pipe From the Republic of Turkey: Preliminary Determination of No Shipments and Partial Rescission of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2020-2021
• Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Certain Video Processing Devices, Components Thereof, and Digital Smart Televisions Containing the Same; Notice of a Commission Determination Not To Review an Order Denying Respondents' Motion for Sanctions and To Deny Complainant's Motion for Sanctions; Termination of Sanctions Proceedings
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipe From the Republic of Korea: Notice of Court Decision Not in Harmony With the Results of Antidumping Administrative Review; Notice of Amended Final Results
• Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Certain Amorphous Silica Fabric From China; Scheduling of Expedited Five-Year Reviews
• Biaxial Integral Geogrid Products From China; Scheduling of Expedited Five-Year Reviews
• Certain Beverage Brewing Capsules, Components Thereof, and Products Containing the Same; Notice of Commission Determination To Institute a Rescission Proceeding; Rescission of a Limited Exclusion Order and Three Cease and Desist Orders; Termination of the Rescission Proceeding
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews:Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Order, Finding, or Suspended Investigation; Advance Notification of Sunset Review
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Order, Finding, or Suspended Investigation; Opportunity To Request Administrative Review and Join Annual Inquiry Service List
• Finished Carbon Steel Flanges From India: Final Results of the Expedited First Sunset Review of the Countervailing Duty Order
• Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand From the Republic of Turkey: Preliminary Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2020-2022
• Heavy Walled Rectangular Welded Carbon Steel Pipes and Tubes From the Republic of Korea: Preliminary Results and Rescission, in Part, of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2020-2021
• Certain Cut-to-Length Carbon-Quality Steel Plate From the Republic of Korea: Final Results, and Rescission, in Part, of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2020
• Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Uranium From Russia; Institution of a Five-Year Review
• Steel Nails From the United Arab Emirates; Institution of a Five-Year Review
• Stainless Steel Sheet and Strip From Japan, Korea, and Taiwan; Institution of Five-Year Reviews
• Paper Clips From China; Institution of a Five-Year Review
• Brass Sheet and Strip From France, Germany, Italy, and Japan; Institution of Five-Year Reviews
• Certain Robotic Pool Cleaners and Components Thereof; Institution of Investigation
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Certain Steel Nails From the People's Republic of China: Final Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and Final Determination of No Shipments; 2020-2021
• Hydrofluorocarbon Blends From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and Preliminary Determination of No Shipments; 2020-2021
• Utility Scale Wind Towers From the Republic of Korea: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and Partial Rescission of Review; 2020-2021
• Artists' Canvas From China; Scheduling of Expedited Five-Year Review
• Certain Portable Battery Jump Starters and Components Thereof; Notice of the Commission's Final Determination With Respect to Defaulting Respondents; Issuance of a Limited Exclusion Order; Termination of the Investigation
• Glycine From China
FTC Sues Heated Mattress Pads Marketer Electrowarmth for Falsely Claiming that Chinese Products Were Made in the USA - Federal Trade Commission
Agency Brings Enforcement Action under Textile Act and FTC Act, Putting an End to Electrowarmth’s Deceptive Statements
The Federal Trade Commission today sued Electrowarmth Products, LLC and its owner, Daniel W. Grindle, alleging that they deceptively claimed the heated fabric mattress pads they sell for truck bunks were made in the USA. The FTC charged Grindle and Electrowarmth with violating the Textile Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. The agency’s proposed order would stop Grindle and Electrowarmth from deceptively claiming that products were Made in USA, when in fact they were made in China.
“America’s hardworking truckers shouldn’t have to maneuver around marketers preying on their patriotism,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Electrowarmth’s false claims that its goods were made in the USA can also harm competitors who tell the truth about product origin.”
Based in Ohio, Grindle and Electrowarmth sell mattress pads of varying sizes, with wires and thermostats that provide heat. According to the complaint, before 2019, Electrowarmth used U.S.-made textiles for mattress pads intended for use in truck bunks. But then in a cost-cutting move, Grindle and Electrowarmth decided to move production to China and stop using U.S.-made textiles, while continuing to market their heated trunk bunk mattress pads as “Made in USA,” “Made in the USA since 1939,” and “made-in-America products.”
The complaint alleges that Grindle instructed the Chinese manufacturer to make and package Electrowarmth’s products “exactly the same” as they were when previously manufactured in the United States.
According to the complaint, Grindle and Electrowarmth violated the Textile Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act by labeling and advertising the origin of the textiles used in their products as the United States, when these textile fiber products were wholly imported from China. The complaint alleges that the defendants harmed consumers by:
Failing to accurately label imported products with the country of origin. Grindle and Electrowarmth deceived consumers by failing to correctly label the country of origin of their mattress pads.
Falsely advertising imported products as “Made in the USA.” Grindle and Electrowarmth labeled their mattress pads as being Made in the USA even though they were entirely made in China.
Electrowarmth warming pad package with ‘Made in USA’ label
The proposed order settling the FTC’s complaint against Grindle and Electrowarmth prohibits the conduct alleged in the complaint. Under the order, Grindle and Electrowarmth:
Are prohibited from making unqualified U.S.-origin claims for any product, unless they can show that the product’s final assembly or processing—and all significant processing—takes place in the United States, and that all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the United States.
Must include in any qualified Made in USA claims a clear and conspicuous disclosure about the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, ingredients or components, or processing.
Must ensure, when claiming a product is assembled in the United States, that it is last substantially transformed in the United States, its principal assembly takes place in the United States, and U.S. assembly operations are substantial.
The order prohibits Grindle and Electrowarmth from making any country-of-origin claim about a product or service unless the claim is not misleading and they have a reasonable basis that substantiates their claim. It also requires Grindle and Electrowarmth to make certain disclosures about the country of origin of any product subject to the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act, and to provide compliance reports.
The order imposes an $815,809 monetary judgment, which is fully suspended due to Grindle’s and Electrowarmth’s inability to pay. If the Commission concludes that the respondents misrepresented or omitted any material aspect of their sworn financial statements, the amount of the entire monetary judgement will immediately become due.
The FTC’s Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims provides further guidance on making non-deceptive “Made in USA” claims. The agency’s Made in USA page features cases, instructive closing letters, and the brochure Complying with the Made in USA Standard, which answers many of the questions companies ask. The FTC’s Made in USA Labeling Rule went into effect on Aug. 13, 2021. Companies that violate the Rule from that date forward may be subject to civil penalties. Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts provides further information on labeling textile products.
The Commission vote to issue the complaint and accept the proposed consent order for public comment was 5-0. The FTC will publish a description of it in the Federal Register. Instructions for filing comments appear in the published notice. Comments must be received within 30 days of publication in the Federal Register. Once processed, comments will be posted on Regulations.gov.
NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $46,517.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. Learn more about consumer topics at consumer.ftc.gov, or report fraud, scams, and bad business practices at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Follow the FTC on social media, read consumer alerts and the business blog, and sign up to get the latest FTC news and alerts.
USITC Institutes Section 337 Investigation of Certain Soft Projectile Launching Devices, Components Thereof, Ammunition, and Projects - U.S. International Trade Commission
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) voted to institute an investigation of certain soft projectile launching devices, components thereof, ammunition, and products containing same. The products at issue in the investigation are described in the Commission’s notice of investigation.
The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Hasbro, Inc, of Pawtucket, RI and Spin Master, Inc. of Los Angeles, CA on July 21, 2022. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain soft projectile launching devices, components thereof, ammunition, and products containing same that infringe patents asserted by the complainants. The complainants request that the USITC issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders.
The USITC has identified the following as the respondents this investigation:
Shenzhen Yi Jin Electronics Science of Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, China;
Guangdong Yu Lee Technology Corporation of Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, China;
Yu Lee Company Ltd. of Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong;
Gel Blaster, Inc. f/k/a Gel Blaster, LLC, Austin, TX;
S-Beam Precision Products Ltd. of Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province, China;
Splat-R-Ball, LLC, of Rogers, AR;
Daisy Manufacturing Company of Rogers, AR;
Prime Time Toys Ltd. of Kwun Tong, Hong Kong;
Prime Time Toys LLC of Pompton Lakes, NJ; and
Easebon Services Ltd. of Kwun Tong, Hong Kong.
By instituting this investigation (337-TA-1325), the USITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case. The USITC’s Chief Administrative Law Judge will assign the case to one of the USITC’s administrative law judges (ALJ), who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. The ALJ will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337; that initial determination is subject to review by the Commission.
The USITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time. Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the USITC will set a target date for completing the investigation. USITC remedial orders in section 337 cases are effective when issued and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the U.S. Trade Representative within that 60-day period.
USITC Releases the Year in Trade 2021 - U.S. International Trade Commission
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today released The Year in Trade 2021 (Inv. No. 332-345), its annual overview of developments regarding the operation of the U.S. trade agreements program for 2021.
The USITC's The Year in Trade is one of the government's most comprehensive reports available regarding activities related to U.S. trade policies, agreements, and trade laws. This report is the 73rd in a series of annual reports submitted to the U.S. Congress under section 163(c) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2213(c)) and its predecessor legislation.
The publication reviews U.S. international trade laws and actions under these laws, activities of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and developments regarding U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs), FTA negotiations, and U.S. bilateral trade relations with major trading partners in 2021.
In addition to discussion on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions on international trade, topics covered in The Year in Trade 2021 include:
• U.S. antidumping, countervailing duty, safeguard, intellectual property rights infringement, national security, and section 301 cases active in 2021;
• amendments to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, and the operation of U.S. trade preference programs, including the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the Nepal Trade Preferences Act, and the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, including initiatives for Haiti;
• WTO dispute settlement decisions and other significant activities in the WTO and initiatives under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum;
• implementation and enforcement matters under the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement and other U.S. FTAs in effect; and
• bilateral trade issues with selected major U.S. trading partners -- the European Union, Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and India.
The report also provides an overview of U.S. trade in goods and services during 2021. Statistical tables highlight U.S. bilateral trade with major trading partners and trade under U.S. trade preference programs and FTAs.
The Year in Trade 2021 (USITC Publication 5349, August 2022) will be posted on the USITC's Internet site at https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub5349.pdf.
CBP Warns Against Phone Scams - US Customs & Border Protection
WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection is aware of numerous telephone scams targeting residents nationwide.
Individuals nationwide have received unsolicited calls from scammers posing as U.S. Border Patrol agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. Residents are reporting calls with a pre-recorded message stating, “a box of drugs and money being shipped has your name on it and has been intercepted.” Others are reporting calls from individuals claiming to be CBP employees and informing call recipients that there is a warrant for their arrest or requesting information in exchange for Bitcoin. In either case, the resident is instructed to provide banking information or other personal identifiable information, such as social security numbers or dates of birth.
These calls are phone scams/phishing attempts and have been around for the last few years. Residents are urged to not provide the caller with any information. The Department of Homeland Security and CBP does not solicit money over the phone, nor does it use Bitcoin other digital currency or gift cards. If such calls are received, people should make a note of the number and any other pertinent details about the call and immediately hang up, and then report the incident to your local police department and the Federal Trade Commissioner at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/. If you would still like to talk to someone from CBP, please contact the CBP Information Center at (877) 227-5511.