Ethics Grab-Bag: Bad Credit Card Decisions, Biased Product Reviews, & the Politics of Professional Licensing

Here are a handful of items that have come to my attention recently:

From CBC: Consumer watchdog wants tougher rules for credit cards

Quebec’s consumer watchdog is calling on the province to make it illegal for credit card companies to solicit new customers.
Options Consommateurs said credit card companies often target young people who don’t fully understand the concept of credit, and get into financial trouble.
Credit card companies need to assume some responsibility for the troubling trend of growing consumer debt, said Options Consommateurs spokesperson Isabelle Mailloux.

(Bad choices are the proximal cause of consumers’ debt woes, but credit card companies do seem to foster bad decision-making.)
—–
From NYT: Amazon.com Tries User-Generated Public Relations

The company has announced what it calls its “Holiday Customer Review Team.” These are six Amazon customers who are particularly active in writing product reviews that it has offered to reporters to discuss gift picks. ….
Some team members have been flown to Seattle to conduct broadcast interviews on behalf of the company. Moreover, they have been given free products to review and keep.

(There’s no indication they’re being encouraged to tilt their reviews in any particular way, but pretty clearly Amazon benefits from positive reviews, generally.)
—–
Splitting Hairs
Also from CBC: Court cuts barbers’ legal fight to work in hair salons

The New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench is trimming the ability of barbers and hair stylists to work in the province.
The court has ruled that barbers and hair stylists can’t hold a licence in both disciplines. That means barbers can no longer work in hair salons and hair stylists can’t work in barbershops. ….
Barbers have been fighting to separate themselves from hairstylists for years. That happened this year, but the separation led to the loss of licences and a court case.

(Many critics have claimed that licenses in the professions and trades are just a kind of legislated monopoly. Defenders of licensing say it’s about maintaining standards. Critics say it’s about maintaining power.)

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