Sunday, June 11, 2006

When Someone Rips You Off - Take Action!

Consumers are ripped off daily, especially when hiring independent specialists from the "service industry."

Eric Larsen (Ashbury Press) wrote an interesting article on what to do before you buy - and maybe more importantly - how to effectively file a consumer complaint. Here is a quote from the article:

"New Jersey has one of the strongest consumer protection agencies in the nation, said Kimberly S. Ricketts, who was appointed director of the state division by former Gov. Richard J. Codey one year ago."

"The division has full enforcement authority over New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act and can levy fines up to $10,000 for first offenses and $20,000 for subsequent offenses by businesses. "While dealing with consumer complaints is certainly at the core of our mission, we want to educate consumers before they have a complaint," Ricketts said."

Ricketts said the top five complaints the division receives are, in order: 1. home improvement contractors; 2. autos; 3. banking, financial and investment complaints; 4. home furnishings and appliances; 5. hometown businesses such as health clubs, movers, travel agencies and employment agencies.

Here is how to effectively practice the art of "Caveat Emptor," or let the buyer beware:

How To: File a Consumer Complaint

The biggest problem out there is too many people don't report this type of activity. Although this article is specific to New Jersey - most States have an agency that is responsible for this. Not reporting these frauds only means that you will never have a chance of getting satisfaction and that someone else will probably get "ripped-off."

I recently had a relative ripped-off for a considerable amount of money in a home improvement scam. Although, we were both novices in the "consumer fraud world" - the two of us put our heads together and filed with some local agencies. Even though the "contractor" had disappeared (3,000 miles away), he was arrested - transported cross-country in a prison bus - and charged criminally. In the end, my relative, was made financially "whole" and got a lot of satisfaction out of knowing he had prevailed and put this gentleman "out-of-business."

Interestingly enough, this fine fellow ripped off a lot of people and amazingly enough - most of them gave up and wrote it off as a "loss." In this case, many of the people concerned - were upper middle-class and well educated. The sad fact is that most of them didn't know where to begin and gave up.

In case you need a resource, here is a good one. It lists resources within the United States and all over the world, where one can seek help and take action:

Consumer World: Consumer Agencies


Emerld said...

I love your blog! What a public service. I got robbed on a 'free trial' of a tooth whitener and went to the Better Business Bureau. They were so responsive! And I got my money back.

Anonymous said...

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