DCA To Host Business Education Day
The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today joined representatives from the Union Square Partnership to kick off the agency's 5th annual Business Education Day - a comprehensive five borough event to help educate local businesses about the City's consumer protection and licensing laws.
Throughout the day, dozens of DCA staff were joined by the Department of Small Business Services, community and business organizations, and elected officials in visiting approximately 1,000 businesses in 13 high-traffic retail areas citywide. Teams met individually with managers and employees to answer questions and distribute copies of DCA's Ten Things Every Business Should Know pocket guide in English, Spanish, and Chinese. They also provided information on how employees can claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a federal, state and city tax credit that can return as much as $6,000 to families earning less than $39,000. The EITC is a critical anti-poverty initiative and key focus of DCA's Office of Financial Empowerment. "Most businesses want to do the right thing by consumers - and we want to make sure they have the tools to do so," said Commissioner Mintz. "By going business to-business and answering questions in person without issuing violations, we're sending a strong signal that the City is here to help them." The specific areas covered during the day include:
Refund Policy Rules / Receipts and Price Posting
How to use scales and Weighing Merchandise
How to Help Employees Claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
"With support from City agencies including the Department of Consumer Affairs, the 14th Street-Union Square neighborhood has become one of New York's most vibrant and successful business districts," said Jennifer Falk, Executive Director of the Union Square Partnership. "By offering best practice tips to our area merchants, we educate and empower them with the tools they need to help
their businesses to thrive and grow."
Routine inspections conducted citywide over the past year show business compliance with Consumer Protection Laws (specifically refunds and receipts) has increased to a high of 93%, and specific licensing requirements are now at an 87% compliance rate, up from 82% last year. In fiscal year 2007, while DCA helped New Yorkers with more than 160,000 requests for information, it also successfully resolved approximately 7,300 consumer complaints and secured more than $5.3 million in consumer restitution.
DCA's enforcement squads operate from borough offices located in each of the five boroughs and Long Island, allowing staff to work closely with Community Boards and other City agencies to coordinate efforts and respond to complaints quickly. DCA inspectors are cross-trained in a number of areas including routine testing of scales, consumer protection violations, license checks, and more. Crosstraining inspectors has allowed for more comprehensive inspections at each location, resulting in the elimination of multiple visits to businesses.
DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law and other related business laws throughout New York City. The DCA licenses more than 60,000 businesses in 55 different categories. Through targeted outreach, partnerships with community and trade organizations, and other informational materials, DCA educates consumers and businesses alike about their rights and responsibilities.