Renting College Textbooks | Consumer Law in NY

In this article on the HuffPost, attorney Brian Bromberg discusses the troubling practice of renting college textbooks, how the policies put in place regarding the renting of textbooks may be illegal, and what can consumers can do about it.

“George Washington University graduate Alison Oksner learned her lesson. After she failed to return a rented textbook on time to Amazon, Oksner said she was fined $87.61.

That was more than she earned in a week as a resident dormitory adviser. All told, she spent $118.24 in rental and late fees — more than if she had bought the book new.

In theory, that might have been fair: When Oksner rented the book, she agreed to pay an additional fee if she returned it late. But in practice, consumer advocates argue, what happened to her — and to thousands of other students on college campuses across the country — could be against the law….. The legal system has an answer to this problem: class action lawsuits, in which consumers with small individual claims can band together in court. To prevent such suits, the rental contracts from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Follett have clauses mandating that customer disputes be handled through arbitration. ‘Given a chance, a court might decide that these practices are illegal,” said Bromberg, the consumer protection lawyer, “but without a class action mechanism, no one is going to test the issue.'” continue reading here