Letter from the Editor – February

Dear Readers,
Consumers throughout the country have realized that now, more than ever, they need to be their own advocates. In the last few months, government agencies have failed to protect citizens from a number of health threats, and corporations have attempted overcharge customers by means of unfair hidden fees.

These threats to consumers have motivated daring individuals to single-handedly take on some of America’s most powerful corporations and to demand better protection from our leaders. Their stories embody the idea that one person can bring about widespread, lasting change. The majority of these unexpected leaders are neither powerful nor wealthy, but they are passionate and fearless advocates for the general public.

Last month, Verizon Wireless planned to charge a $2 convenience fee to customers who paid bills online or by phone. Infuriated by the idea that she would be penalized for paying what she owed, 22-year-old Molly Katchpole took action. In the comfort of her tiny one-bedroom apartment in Washington D.C., Katchpole created a petition online at Change.org. Within a mere few hours, she secured over 165,000 signatures, convincing Verizon to drop the fee. Katchpole, who recently graduated from Roger Williams University, was also behind the petition that persuaded Bank of America to drop its $5 monthly usage fee for debit cards.

Stories like Molly Katchpole’s have intrigued the Fourth Estate Staff. Last issue, we explored the discovery of unsafe levels of arsenic in fruit juice. This health concern empowered consumers to demand that the FDA have higher standards (if you missed the article, read it online at www.thefourthestate.net). This issue, Olivia Berci further investigated the power of consumer activism (read the article on page 7). We hope that you find the stories surrounding this new trend of consumer self-advocacy as inspiring as we do.

-Jess Davis

Editor in Chief