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  • Jun 23 / 2014
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New York Lawmakers Choose Tigers Over Consumers

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Celock
(703) 232-1514

Arlington, Va. – New York lawmakers bypassed important legislation to protect the state’s consumers in this year’s legislative session, focusing instead on banning selfies with tigers. Yes, that’s right, tigers now come before consumers in Albany.
State lawmakers have sent the governor legislation that would outlaw people from taking selfies with tigers at traveling circuses and county fairs across the state. The photos have become popular on online dating sites. The price though, important legislation that would improve the lives of consumers across the state.
“Thank god that New Yorkers can rest easier tonight knowing their lawmakers have prevented the state’s traveling tiger population from ending up in more photos on Tinder and OkCupid. It’s obvious this issue has been keeping people up all night. I mean why else would it end up on the Legislature’s agenda? ” 21st Century Consumers executive director John Celock said. “It’s sad that while lawmakers were busy finding problems for the solutions that they wrote, they ignored solving problems that actually do exist.”
21st Century Consumers endorsed several bills this year in New York including legislation that would outlaw fees for online and debit card payments and a bill that would require arbitrators in consumer cases to provide full disclosure of conflicts.
“This is important legislation that would have saved money for New Yorkers and provided increased transparency for consumers,” Celock said. “Now that they have tackled issues like the state snack, the state amphibian and the tiger selfie ‘crisis’, hopefully next year lawmakers can tackle important consumer issues.”

  • Jun 17 / 2014
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New Jersey Lawmakers Take Steps to Expand Consumer Options

For Immediate Release
John Celock
(703) 232-1514

Arlington, Va. – 21st Century Consumers, a national consumer advocacy group, supports action Monday by New Jersey lawmakers to advance legislation that would allow Tesla to sell directly to the consumers in the state.
Members of the New Jersey General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to approve legislation that would allow the electric car company to sell directly to consumers rather than through dealerships. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has stopped Tesla’s direct sales, ending choice for consumers in the Garden State. The legislation still needs approval from the state Senate.
21st Century Consumers has joined other consumer groups in supporting passage of this important pro-consumer legislation.
“Members of the New Jersey Assembly have taken steps to enhance consumer options in New Jersey and to expand how you can purchase a car,” 21st Century executive director John Celock said. “The current system has for too long limited consumer choice options for new car purchases. With consumers opting for 21st Century vehicles like Tesla, they should have 21st purchasing options. The continued interest of Tesla showrooms in New Jersey, shows that Garden State consumers want this option. Today’s vote is a step towards making sure they have the options they are looking for.”

  • Jun 02 / 2014
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21st Century Consumers Polls New Yorkers, Finds Overwhelming Support for Online Wine Sales

21st Century Consumers conducted a survey of likely voters in the 2014 General Election regarding Internet wine sales and how the New York State Liquor Authority should approach the issue. The survey found that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support online wine sales, that the State Liquor Authority should maintain one set of fair rules regarding online sales, and that the State Liquor Authority should work to expand consumer options, not restrict them.

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  • May 19 / 2014
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The Case for Online Wine Sales in NY

tompkins_weekly

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Ten years ago, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU law school famously proclaimed that New York State’s government was the most dysfunctional in America. Against this backdrop, Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to transform Albany upon taking office. And, to his credit, under his leadership the state has made tremendous strides in restoring the basic competence of government—most notably the passage off our consecutive on-time budgets for the first time since the Rockefeller administration.

But some unfortunate vestiges of Albany’s dysfunctional past remain, and these impediments to smart government are hurting consumers,
small businesses and taxpayers alike. According to the New York State Wine and Grape Foundation, eachyear the industry‘s 1,631 family
vineyards and 353 wineries produce 175 million bottles of wine and help generate $4.8 billion in economic benefits and $408 million in state
and local taxes. To put it simply, from the eastern end of Long Island to the banks of the Niagara River, producing and selling wine is a major business for many rural parts of New York. Making it easier for New Yorkers to access these wines expands consumer selection, creates jobs and generates new tax revenues for cash-strapped local governments. It’s a no-brainer.
 
That’s where the New York State Liquor Authority comes in. A small agency that embodies the remnants of Albany’s dysfunctional past, the agency is the principal regulator of wine sales in the state. Common sense dictates that as emerging technologies have revolutionized retailing, smart regulators should embrace the new paradigm. After all, 70 percent of consumers prefer to shop online. As long as the purchasers are over 21, why should wine be an exception? But, while California and Texas have supported their local wine industries by issuing clear Internet sales guidelines that guarantee consumer choice in the marketplace, the New York State Liquor Authority has failed to act. And that hurts New York’s wine industry and the New Yorkers who work in it.
 
One way that New York State can help its wines expand their online presence is by encouraging online wine clubs. These websites help emerging vineyards and regions—such as New York—showcase their products to consumers throughout the state and throughout the nation.
 
In Tompkins and surrounding counties alone, more than 1,000 consumers already order wine online from wine clubs, as do more than 150,000 consumers statewide. Yet rather than help these wine clubs promote New York wines, the Liquor Authority seems trapped in a prohibition-era mentality that shuns new technology.
 
Instead, they seem intent on pursuing a regulatory power grab to expand their authority over marketing and logistics companies that do not sell wine. What’s next? Will they try to license FedEx? The Authority should recognize that wine clubs benefit the public by using technology to give consumers in rural communities lower prices, wider selection and greater ease of purchasing.
 
John R.D. Celock is the executive
director of 21st Century Consumers
(www.21stcenturyconsumers.com)
  • May 12 / 2014
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21st Century Consumers Supports NY Legislation Requiring Greater Disclosure Requirements for Arbitrators

21st Century Consumers supports New York State bill A. 4789, sponsored by Assemblyman Matthew Titone, which would amend the civil practice law and rules to require the disclosure of an arbitrator’s possible conflicts and to provide remedies for such conflicts.

Businesses are increasingly turning to arbitrations to settle disputes with consumers as opposed to the more transparent court system, as it is at times a quicker and cheaper method of resolution. Under current law, unlike judges, arbitrators do not have to disclose whether or not they have a conflict of interest related to the case they are deciding. This bill would impose those transparency requirements and would greatly improve the standing of consumers in the arbitration process.

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  • Apr 28 / 2014
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21st Century Consumers advocates for NY legislation protecting consumers from unfair commercial arbitrations

21st Century Consumers issued a memorandum of support for New York State Assembly bill A.604, sponsored by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, which would level the playing field between consumers and businesses that seek arbitration for settling conflicts instead of the more open and transparent court system. Businesses win 90% of arbitrations against consumers, a proportion that is not found in the more neutral court system.

This legislation requires that arbitration organizations collect, publish and make available as a searchable database information regarding the nature and outcome of consumer arbitrations. This would help to level the playing field for consumers so they have access to more information and a greater chance of success in arbitration proceedings.

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  • Apr 23 / 2014
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21st Century Consumers Issues Letter to NYS Liquor Authority, Urges Support for Online Wine Sales

21st Century Consumer’s Executive Director, John Celock, sent a letter to the New York State Liquor Authority on behalf of the 70% of consumers who shop online and to express the organization’s support for online wine sales. Such sales provide consumers with lower prices, greater convenience, and a wider selection of products. The letter specifically urges the Chairman of the NYS Liquor Authority to approve pending licenses for online wine sales for Lot18, a company which operates the Forbes Wine Club, among others.

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  • Apr 22 / 2014
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Valley Viewpoints: Internet Wine Sales

vna

Apr 12, 2014
Debbie Groom

At a time when online shopping continues to grow nationally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is smart to launch bold initiatives to promote New York’s growing technology sector.

Already the state ranks third in the nation for technology jobs, according to the trade group TechAmerica. That is why it is so surprising that the state’s policy on one important element of e-commerce is anything but clear.

Across the nation, the vast majority of states have embraced Internet wine sales — seeing the benefits they have for consumers, businesses, and government revenue.

These states have issued guidance to Internet wine sellers, and have interpreted existing laws to match the realities of the modern economy. In New York, however, regulators have issued no rules for online sales, and might even curtail Internet sales — a policy better suited to 1934 than to 2014.

Access to e-commerce is a vital issue for rural New Yorkers. Online sales enable growth of local businesses by giving them access to a larger distribution channel and, consequently, the ability to penetrate new markets.

For consumers, online sales promote competition, lowering prices on everything from food to books to clothing. E-commerce forces companies to offer higher quality products and better customer service.

And, most critically for rural New Yorkers, buying online brings products from the far reaches of the world straight to their doorsteps, all with a few keystrokes and a click of a mouse.

Buying wine online is no different. As recently as a decade ago, New Yorkers were limited to the few wines they could find in local wine shops.

The Internet changed that, with wines of all varietals and regions available instantly. This is especially important to New Yorkers in rural areas and small towns who otherwise have few choices.

Consumers can compare prices on their favorite wines. Efficiencies of scale bring lower prices across the board. Ordering wine for home delivery is easy and convenient (with appropriate safeguards to ensure only adults can buy it).

But the state Liquor Authority — which regulates wine sales — seems to suffer from Internet-phobia. It seems more focused on protecting 80 years of status quo than embracing the realities of the 21st century.

E-commerce moves at a much faster pace, and on a much larger scale, than what regulators are accustomed to. It takes a lot of businesses to run a large-scale e-commerce site, from inventory managers and payment processers to website designers.

These businesses support the retailers who actually sell the wine, but do not sell it themselves. Yet the State Liquor Authority is considering vastly expanding its regulatory framework to capture these businesses.

The state needs sensible guidance that reflects the 21st century economy, not sweeping new regulation that will prevent hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from shopping online.

The reality is with 70 percent of consumers shopping online, and 80 percent of those using mobile devices, online shopping has opened up more retail avenues for consumers across the country.

A consumer in Herkimer County can purchase antiques from Virginia or lobster from Maine or barbecue sauce from Kansas City with simply a few clicks on their laptop. The same consumers should enjoy their flexibility and convenience when it comes to a Napa red or Finger Lakes Riesling.

At 21st Century Consumers, we support efforts to increase consumer selection and enhance the e-commerce experience. Visit our website at www.21centuryconsumers.org/ny for more information.

John R.D. Celock
Executive Director
21st Century Consumers

  • Apr 22 / 2014
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Ithaca Journal column on online wine clubs

ithica

Apr 20, 2014
John R.D. Celock

At a time when online shopping continues to grow nationally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is smart to launch bold new initiatives to promote New York’s growing technology sector. Already, the state ranks third in the nation for technology jobs, according to the trade group TechAmerica. That is why it is so surprising that the state’s policy on one important element of e-commerce is anything but clear.

Across the nation, the vast majority of states have embraced Internet wine sales — seeing the benefits they have for consumers, businesses and government revenue. These states have issued guidance to Internet wine sellers and have interpreted existing laws to match the realities of the modern economy. In New York, however, regulators have issued no rules for online sales and might even curtail Internet sales — a policy better suited to 1934 than to 2014.

Access to e-commerce is a vital issue for rural New Yorkers. Online sales enable growth of local businesses by giving them access to a larger distribution channel and, consequently, the ability to penetrate new markets. For consumers, online sales promote competition, lowering prices on everything from food to books to clothing. E-commerce forces companies to offer higher-quality products and better customer service. And, most critically for rural New Yorkers, buying online brings products from the far reaches of the world straight to their doorsteps, all with a few keystrokes and a click of a mouse.

Buying wine online is no different. As recently as a decade ago, New Yorkers were limited to the few wines they could find in local wine shops. The Internet changed that, with wines of all varietals and regions available instantly. This is especially important to New Yorkers in rural areas and small towns who otherwise have few choices. Consumers can compare prices on their favorite wines. Efficiencies of scale bring lower prices across the board. Ordering wine for home delivery is easy and convenient (with appropriate safeguards to ensure only adults can buy it).

But the State Liquor Authority — which regulates wine sales — seems to suffer from Internet-phobia. It seems more focused on protecting 80 years of status quo than on embracing the realities of the 21st century.

E-commerce moves at a much faster pace, and on a much larger scale, than what regulators are accustomed to. It takes a lot of businesses to run a large-scale e-commerce site, from inventory managers and payment processors to website designers. These businesses support the retailers who actually sell the wine but do not sell it themselves.

Yet the State Liquor Authority is considering vastly expanding its regulatory framework to capture these businesses. The state needs sensible guidance that reflects the 21st century economy, not sweeping new regulation that will prevent hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from shopping online.

The reality is that with 70 percent of consumers shopping online and 80 percent of those shoppers using mobile devices, online shopping has opened up more retail avenues for consumers across the country. A consumer in Herkimer County can purchase antiques from Virginia or lobster from Maine or barbeque sauce from Kansas City with simply a few clicks on their laptop. The same consumers should enjoy their flexibility and convenience when it comes to a Napa red or Finger Lakes Riesling.

[READ FULL STORY HERE]

  • Apr 14 / 2014
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Guest Viewpoint: Buying wine from the Internet? Yes, please

sunbulletin

N.Y. should encourage online sales, not make them more difficult

Apr 11, 2014
John R.D. Celock

At a time when online shopping continues to grow nationally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is smart to launch bold new initiatives to promote New York’s growing technology sector. Already, the state ranks third in the nation for technology jobs, according to the trade group TechAmerica. That is why it is so surprising that the state’s policy on one important element of e-commerce is anything but clear.

Across the nation, the vast majority of states have embraced Internet wine sales — seeing the benefits they have for consumers, businesses and government revenue. These states have issued guidance to Internet wine sellers and have interpreted existing laws to match the realities of the modern economy. In New York, however, regulators have issued no rules for online sales and might even curtail Internet sales — a policy better suited to 1934 than to 2014.

Access to e-commerce is a vital issue for rural New Yorkers. Online sales enable growth of local businesses by giving them access to a larger distribution channel and, consequently, the ability to penetrate new markets. For consumers, online sales promote competition, lowering prices on everything from food to books to clothing. E-commerce forces companies to offer higher-quality products and better customer service. And, most critically for rural New Yorkers, buying online brings products from the far reaches of the world straight to their doorsteps, all with a few keystrokes and a click of a mouse.

Buying wine online is no different. As recently as a decade ago, New Yorkers were limited to the few wines they could find in local wine shops. The Internet changed that, with wines of all varietals and regions available instantly. This is especially important to New Yorkers in rural areas and small towns who otherwise have few choices. Consumers can compare prices on their favorite wines. Efficiencies of scale bring lower prices across the board. Ordering wine for home delivery is easy and convenient (with appropriate safeguards to ensure only adults can buy it).

But the State Liquor Authority — which regulates wine sales — seems to suffer from Internet-phobia. It seems more focused on protecting 80 years of status quo than on embracing the realities of the 21st century.

E-commerce moves at a much faster pace, and on a much larger scale, than what regulators are accustomed to. It takes a lot of businesses to run a large-scale e-commerce site, from inventory managers and payment processors to website designers. These businesses support the retailers who actually sell the wine but do not sell it themselves.

Yet the State Liquor Authority is considering vastly expanding its regulatory framework to capture these businesses. The state needs sensible guidance that reflects the 21st century economy, not sweeping new regulation that will prevent hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from shopping online.

The reality is that with 70 percent of consumers shopping online and 80 percent of those shoppers using mobile devices, online shopping has opened up more retail avenues for consumers across the country. A consumer in Herkimer County can purchase antiques from Virginia or lobster from Maine or barbeque sauce from Kansas City with simply a few clicks on their laptop. The same consumers should enjoy their flexibility and convenience when it comes to a Napa red or Finger Lakes Riesling.

[READ FULL STORY HERE]

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