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Formed early in the fall to investigate dishonest and illegal practices by various Harvard Square business men, the Student Council committee for consumers' benefit begins a campaign to publicize their work today by a general issue of posters which will be distributed in the Houses and in the Union.
Composed of nine undergraduates, the committee has also made a first draft of a letter which will be sent out to Cambridge firms as they are reported from time to time by indignant students. Over the signature of F. Barton Harvey '43, out of House representative on the Council, the letter states the reasons why an investigation is desired, and requests the cooperation of the store. Harvey emphasized last night, however, that the draft is not final since it still has to receive the final approval of the Council.
The letter explains the general setup of the committee, and that the original intention had been to publish and compare prices along the idea of "Consumer's Research." But the natural difficulties presented plus the arbitrary comparison of quantity, quality, etc., without the benefit of highly specialized laboratories made this method both unfeasible and impracticable," Harvey writes.
The new plan as outlined by the members of the committee, is to hear the complaints as they are registered by the students and to investigate them accordingly. "Unfair business practices" include high prices on goods and extravagant charges for such services as automobile repairs, radio repairs, and tailoring.
In these examinations, general economic conditions, including high rents, high taxes, costs of non-durable goods, unstable prices, and high overhead would be all taken into consideration.
"Coercive Means" Indefinite
Plans are not yet definite regarding action which will be taken if the firm refuse to open themselves for inspection. The present draft of the proposed letter merely states that "In case any establishment should be found violating fundamental business practice warning would be given, followed by more coercive means if this were disregarded."
Pending definite approval from a lawyer, "coercive means" are taken to mean the publication in pamphlet form of those firms which do not prove tractable and cooperative.
Members of the Council sub-committee are Harvey, Thomas Matters '42 and John A. Holabird, Jr. '42, from Lowell House; Eugene Wulsin '43, of Eliot; William McN. Rand, Jr. '43, Adams; Joseph C. Scott '43, Leverett Donald H. Shaw '43, Kirkland; Walter F. Rogers, Jr. '43, Dunster; and John R. Abbot '43, Winthrop.
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