Industry Research : Telemarketing Leads State's Annual Consumer Complaint List
A land line was a landmine for Wisconsin consumers in 2013, as telemarketing topped the list of categories in the state's annual tally of complaints for the 11th year in a row.
In the top 10 consumer complaints of 2013 list released by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the automatic dialing, or robo-calls, targeting the elderly was the focus of many of those category-leading complaints.
"Wisconsin seniors faced a number of phone-based scams in 2013, and many of the calls they received offered well-crafted, attractive pitches – particularly for seniors with medical needs," division administrator Sandy Chalmers said in a statement.
Those calls pitched phony medical alert devices and "assistance" programs for the elderly, and those complaints were channeled to state and federal partners resulting in legal actions, she said.
Telemarketing brought nearly twice as many complaints (2,014) as the second-ranked category, landlord/tenant (1,052).
Telecommunications stayed in third place with 573 total complaints, mostly about billing disputes, channel availability and disclosure or service and contract issues.
More than half of the 398 complaints in the identity theft category were tax-related, and most of those came from consumers who filed their taxes and discovered from the IRS that someone had already filed using their names and Social Security numbers.
The annual anomaly is one new category that breaks into the top 10 because of specific cases that accumulate a bunch of complaints, and that was the case in 2013 with 318 airline complaints, which pushed major appliances out of the top 10. Those complaints were mostly related to the closure of De Pere-based carrier MetJet and a tangled frequent flier promotion involving Frontier Airlines and Delta Air Lines.
DATCP recorded 10,454 new formal written complaints in 2013. The department uses the complaint system not only to help individual consumers with complaints, but to plan strategy for consumer investigations and follow trends.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, December 2, 2013