NEW YORK (WABC) -- What a year 2020 has been. When the pandemic crisis became clear, 7 On Your Side pivoted and turned attention to the countless problems which arose because of COVID-19.
But the mission remained the same: to fight for refunds, restitution and right wrongs for our viewers.
We started off the year with a bang: a bill in Trenton after our series of stories about trade-in rollover deals gone rogue. In New Jersey, legislation was passed protecting consumers and dealers. We also helped customers get $200,000 in unpaid loans and leases paid off.
By March, nervous shoppers swarmed for supplies to protect against the coronavirus leading to price-gouging on PPE. We obtained a receipt from a customer of an Upper East Side pharmacy charging $50 for 8 ounces of Purell and $400 a box for N95 masks and we wanted answers. The business owner told us on camera he felt he could charge more because he was paying more to stock the items.
But city inspectors disagreed, citing the store for massively up-charging customers during a public emergency. Even after being warned, the gouging didn't stop and the retailer was eventually fined.
In April, unemployment impacted millions of people. We helped navigate financial forgiveness and deferments on everything from mortgages to car leases and credit card bills for those who lost jobs or were hospitalized.
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May brought delayed payroll protection loans when Congress ran out of funds to keep small businesses afloat. We rescued a Tenafly boutique owner's denied application and got them $34,000.
In July we found out front-line hospital workers were hit with thousands in parking fines despite special permits So we helped the nurses stat -- by going straight to city hall. Not only were fines forgiven, but the permits were extended.
We also went to bat for a 100-year-old downtown landmark restaurant battling a bike rack for outdoor tables to survive and got some celebrity love from Sarah Jessica Parker, a Village regular, who reposted our story, then stepped up even more with a message to help the struggling restaurant. By the next month, the bikes were removed and their road to recovery was cleared.
Maria DaSilva went home after 138 days on a ventilator. Months before, we had pushed to get her convalescent plasma when her daughters pleaded for their mother's life back in April.
All year we helped hard-working teachers with everything from fraudulent pandemic puppy scams to pension payouts and assisted three families of deceased teachers get back more than a million dollars combined in benefits from the NYC Teacher's Retirement System beneficiaries.
In between the big payouts, there were many small victories -- some worth no money at all but priceless. But by mid-December, we have helped get back a grand total of $1,593,073 for viewers; a banner year.
We are all anxious to say goodbye too and welcome 2021!
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