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Presidential Election Campaign Fund Pays for Medical Research Too

A funny thing happened when Ken E. was filing his taxes using H&R Block software. When he got to the screen asking if he would like to give $3 to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, he clicked the “learn more” link and got an unexpected explanation in the fine print.


Election finance

Say what?

Apparently in 2014, Congress decided to no longer allow political parties to use taxpayer money from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund to finance their party conventions. Instead, it redirected that money to the “10-Year Pediatric Research Initiative Fund” designed to fund projects related to childhood diseases. The law was named after Gabriella Miller, who, while battling a rare form of brain cancer herself, helped raise money to fund pediatric cancer research. She died at age 10.

Our consumer said, “Even in my wildest dreams I would not have connected giving to the campaign fund to mean that I am donating to pediatric medical research.”

For once, the fine print revealed a great positive surprise.

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When is a Price Lock Not a Price Lock?

There has been an unwritten rule applicable to some cell plans: Your monthly rate will not go up as long as you keep your current plan. Certainly, this is not true for all plans and all companies, but many people have benefited from this traditionally.

As some companies began raising rates, in May 2022, T-Mobile, the “uncarrier,” introduced Price Lock to formalize their policy.

In January 2023, here is how T-Mobile advertised “Price Lock.”

Price Lock

Even the fine print was pretty straight forward.


Price Lock fine print

If you were in most of their major plans, your monthly rate would stay put. Period.

Now, in 2024, T-Mobile decided to redefine what it means by “Price Lock” for new customers or people switching plans.


Price lock fine print 2024

The policy now says if they raise your price and you decide to switch carriers, they will pay your final bill, as reported here.

So to answer the question posed in the headline of this story, “When is a price lock not a price lock?” Answer: When T-Mobile offers it.

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FTC Says TurboTax’s Free, Free, Free Ads Were False, False, False

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission issued an Opinion and Final Order against Intuit Inc., the maker of TurboTax, the most popular brand of tax preparation software, saying it had engaged in deceptive advertising practices. It had accused the company of running ads for free tax prep services for years but it appears the majority of those who signed up were not eligible for those free services. [See complaint.]

In some ads, like the one below, the word “free” is mentioned perhaps 20 times in a 30-second commercial.


The virtually unreadable fine print says that the free version is for simple returns only.

Under the FTC’s final order, Intuit has to make disclosures abundantly clear in its advertising about the limitation of their free edition.


The Commission’s Final Order prohibits Intuit from advertising or marketing that any good or service is free unless it is free for all consumers or it discloses clearly and conspicuously and in close proximity to the “free” claim the percentage of taxpayers or consumers that qualify for the free product or service. Alternatively, if the good or service is not free for a majority of consumers, it could disclose that a majority of consumers do not qualify. [Emphasis added]

Sure enough, last week Intuit began running new TV ads for TurboTax Free that unambiguously say that only about 37-percent of people will qualify to use the program free.

Whether the new ad is satisfactory to the FTC is for them to say, but it is refreshing to literally hear a company’s disclaimer rather than having to catch it in a too-quick and too-small-to-read footnote.

Since this was an internal administrative proceeding where the FTC cannot assess financial penalties, Intuit got off easy. Nonetheless, they have appealed the decision to court.