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Bentley's Student-Run "Consumer Action Line" Receives New Grant From MA Attorney General's Office
November 16, 2005
Waltham, MA - Bentley College students will continue to come to the aid of Massachusetts consumers thanks to a $29,000 grant from Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Riley's office. The Bentley College Consumer Action Line (BCAL) has been offering its one of a kind service for twelve years, mediating complaints between consumers and businesses. It is the only consumer protection office in the state staffed by undergraduate college students.
BCAL is one of the state's 20 local consumer offices and serves almost a dozen communities in southeastern Massachusetts. It is run by a staff of 22 students who volunteer their time and have a 75% success rate. "After mediating my first large settlement I was ecstatic. Rarely do we see free services succeeding in today's profit-driven society," says Stefanie Niedzwiecki, a BCAL project manager.
BCAL, which has handled more than 1,800 cases, is a service consumers can turn to when they can't afford an attorney or their case isn't considered significant enough for legal representation. BCAL students handle calls from consumers with complaints against a variety of companies from used car dealers and home improvement contractors, to jewelers and credit card companies.
In one case, an elderly woman had magazine subscription charges withdrawn directly from her bank account, even though she had never signed up for the service and had never given out her account information. Through BCAL's mediation she received the full amount, almost $1,000, credited back to her account. The program's creator, Bentley Professor of Law Stephen Lichtenstein, believes everyone benefits from the unique program, "BCAL is a win-win program - for the students, who gain real-world business experience while contributing to the community, and for the consumers whose complaints the students successfully mediate in the majority of cases."
New BCAL student volunteers follow guidelines established by the attorney general's office and Bentley. They receive training from experienced BCAL volunteers and have an academic advisor they can turn to when they need help with a case.
BCAL is part of Bentley's well established Service-Learning Center (BSLC). Created in 1990, BSLC helps students discover that community service and learning outside the classroom are vital to their professional and personal development.
BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit www.bentley.edu.
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