Tallahassee, FL – As 2013 comes to a close, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released today the top 10 consumer complaints filed this year.
"We're here to help consumers," said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. "Floridians can call our 1-800-HELP-FLA consumer hotline to file a complaint, as well as find information about registered businesses and professionals and learn how to protect themselves from fraud and scams."
Consumers filed 47,226 complaints with the department's consumer assistance center in 2013. The top 10 most common complaints from January 1 through December 20, 2013, were:
10. Travel/Vacation Plans - 1436
Complaints about violators of Do Not Call has topped the list for four consecutive years. This year saw an increase of more 1,000 complaints growing from 17,772 in 2012 to 18,862 in 2013. The increase in complaints is consistent with the increase in subscribers to the Florida Do Not Call List.
For complaints filed against businesses regulated by the department, trained staff work to resolve the dispute through mediation and evaluate the business for compliance with statutory provisions. As a result of the department's efforts, more than $3,477,000 was recovered on behalf of Florida consumers this year.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state's clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. The consumer assistance center is staffed with trained analysts who are able to file complaints on behalf of the consumer, respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department's purview, provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency.
The department's consumer assistance center answered nearly 200,000 calls and more than 7,300 emails in 2013. In addition, the consumer assistance center analysts responded to nearly 7,000 online chats through the department's online chat option available at www.freshfromflorida.com.
Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact the department's consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com
The above was released Monday by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.