Phone Sales Calls, Auto Parts Among ComplaintS This Year
LABELLE, FL. -- Unwanted telephone sales calls continue to be the top gripe for Florida residents, with more than 6,500 complaints filed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2009. Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has released the top 10 list of complaints and the state's "Do Not Call law continues to generate the most activity. In fact, there were 1,500 more written complaints filed by people on the "Do Not Call" list than in 2008.
The department's Division of Consumer Services is the clearinghouse for consumer complaints in Florida. The division regulates 11 industries but also attempts to mediate problems consumers have with unregulated businesses. Complaints about industries that fall under the regulatory authority of another agency are referred to that agency. There were about 38,000 written complaints filed in 2009, slightly more than the 37,227 filed in 2008.
Telemarketing complaints not involving the "Do Not Call" law ranked second this year with 3,609 complaints. Travel/vacation plans dropped to third place with 2,781 complaints, a decrease of more than 800 from 2008. Fourth on the list was credit/banking with 2,774 complaints and rounding out the top five was communications with 2,302 complaints.
"People can save themselves a lot of trouble and probably money if they check out companies before they do business with them by calling our consumer helpline," Bronson said. "Consumers can find out if a regulated business is properly registered and check the complaint history of any company."
Problems with motor vehicle sales and accessories (such as truck tool boxes, bedliners and other items sold in auto parts stories) generated 1,644 complaints putting motor vehicle sales sixth on the list. There were slightly fewer complaints, 1,625, against motor vehicle repair shops which took the number seven spot. The eighth category on the list was medical issues, prompting 1,543 complaints.
Landlord/tenant disputes continue to be in the top 10, this year at number nine with 1,523 complaints. The final category in the top ten was complaints against real estate brokers/salespersons with 1,197 complaints.
Bronson encourages consumers to file a complaint if they feel they have been wronged by a business by calling the department's helpline at 1-800 HELPFLA (1-800-435-7352) or 1-800-FLAYUDA (1-800-352-9832) for Spanish-speaking operators.
The department was able to obtain nearly $5.9 million in goods, services or cash refunds for consumers in 2009. People can use those same helpline numbers to find out the complaint history of a business. Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the Division of Consumer Services website at http://www.800helpfla.com.