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NATIONAL CONSUMERS WEEK KICKS OFF

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“Service Signals Success” is the 1996 theme for National Consumers Week sponsored by the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs (USOCA). Seeking to build on the themes of honesty, courtesy and fairness in the marketplace, National consumers Week 1996 will be celebrated across the country on October 20-30, 1996.

“Service” was selected as the central message because of President Bill Clinton’s addition of “The Right to Service” to the Consumer Bill of Rights, originally put forth by President John F. Kennedy. Consumer advocates and business groups have praised this addition as a reaffirmation of the principle of good service as the cornerstone of American business.

“Service directly impacts every American. Good service benefits consumers by delivering quality products and services. It benefits business by increasing the corporate bottom line. Everyone wins, ” stated Leslie L. Byrne, Special Assistant to the President and Director of USOCA.

“During National Consumers Week, consumers, businesses, educators, and government will develop programs illustrating the importance of good service to our nation’s economy, stated Byrne.

Youth activities, contests, workshops, seminars, and information fairs will be held throughout the United States. State, county, city and school districts will be involved in these interesting and educational events.

To celebrate National Consumers Week 1996, USOCA will help sponsor and host events around the nation. Highlights include:

— The National Consumers Week 1996 Kick-Off will include the unveiling of the 1996 Consumer’s Resource Handbook, dedicated to the late Secretary of Commerce, Ronald H. Brown. (Monday, October 21, 8.00 am – 11:00 am at the Old Executive Office Building Treaty Room, Washington, DC)

— A “Conference on Consumer Issues” will bring together community and industry consumers. Presentations and material from Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and the Health Alliance Plan will be provided. Consumers will receive information on auto leasing and avoiding medical insurance fraud. There will be panel discussions, consumer resource information, and a Question and Answer session for participants. (Tuesday, October 22, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at the Westin Hotel, Renaissance Center, Detroit, Michigan.)

— “Harlem Consumer Awareness Day” is a joint effort with state and federal agencies to provide a public conference on consumer issues which will include credit, student loans, scholarship scams, auto leasing and financing, HMO’s and other important topics. (Wednesday, October 23, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building, New York, New York)

— A “Credit Education Exchange” forum which will provide a sharing of information about new educational initiatives sponsored by educational institutions, companies, associations, government agencies and consumer groups. Presentations and material from the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, National Bankruptcy Review Commission, Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship, National Coalition for Consumer Education, U. S, Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service, and International Credit Association will be featured. This event is being sponsored by the International Credit Association. (Thursday, October 24, 12:00 – 4:00 pm at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Washington, DC)

— A “Consumer Education Symposium on Travel Fraud” which will be an open and frank discussion by consumers, government regulators, consumer organizations, the media and the travel industry about the concerns and challenges consumers face. Issues to be addressed include deceptive sales practices, effective mechanisms for adequate redress, quality customer service, consumer education and government safeguards. This event is being sponsored by the American Society of Travel Agents, and the National Association of Attorneys General. (Friday, October 25, 9:00 am – 12:00 at the White House Conference Center, Washington, DC)

— Students will participate in a “LifeSmarts” consumer education competition in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Topics covered will be Personal Finance, Health and Safety, Environment and Technology, Consumer Rights and Responsibilities. Mr. Mike Herr, Director of the New Jersey Office of Consumer Affairs and Ms. Carole Glade, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Consumer Education will be speakers. Ms. Leslie L, Byrne, Special Assistant to the President and Director of the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs will be the Question Master at this event. (Monday, October 28, 9:30 am – 10:15 am at East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, New Jersey)

— Consumer Affairs professional in the Chicago area will have an opportunity to meet and discuss the current status of consumer affairs offices in the Midwest with Ms. Leslie L. Byrne, Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs.(Monday, October 28, 6:00 pm – 8:00 Put at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, Illinois)

— “Consumer Smarts Day” at Bell Multicultural High School program is an all day Consumer Education Fair during which students will be provided with consumer information on how to make informed purchasing decisions and to begin to develop lifelong consumer skills. Some of the topics to be discussed include financial responsibility, product testing, and safety on the Internet Superhighway.

One of the events will be held during an afternoon student assembly and will be a consumer education competition called “Consumer Smarts: A Life-Long Education.” (Wednesday, October 30, 9:00 am – 4.00 pm at Bell Multicultural High School, Washington, DC)

— A “Roundtable On Online Consumer Issues,” in conjunction with the Interactive Services Association’s Project OPEN (the Online Public Education Network), has been designed to help create a dialogue between industry representatives, government agencies and consumer groups over concerns and issues that consumers may have when they use the Internet and online services. The goal is to help participants understand one another’s perspectives on the best ways to address such issues as user privacy, online fraud, online security and online consumer education in general.

Speakers include Ms. Leslie L. Byrne, Special Assistant to the President and Director, U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs, Susan Grant, Director, National Fraud Information Center, Bill Burrington, Director, law and public policy, America Online and Glee Harrah Cady, Manager, Public Policy and NETCOM On-Line Communication Services. (Wednesday, October 30, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm at the Old Executive Office Building Treaty Room, Washington, DC)

— National Consumers Week Contest will be held nationwide. The purpose of this contest is to promote National Consumers Week activities and acknowledge the hard work that it takes to create a successful event. Only activities that are National Consumers Week events and take place during October, 1996 qualify. Awards will be given for the best, most creative, and well attended program in the following categories: Government, Non-profit, Corporate, and Partnerships (Government/private, non-profit or corporate partnership).

Awardees and honorable mentions will be selected by a committee of judges and the Awards will be presented at the annual National Consumers League (NCL) conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April, 1997. NCL and corporate partners will provide scholarships for all winners to attend the award ceremonies.

USOCA is the Federal advocate for consumers, advising the President on consumer policy, working with businesses, educators and consumer groups and coordinating consumer-related activities of other Federal agencies.

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