TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Most people love to complain. Now some people in Florida are realizing they can complain over the phone and actually get paid for it.

We’re talking about filing an official complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The Department just released the top 10 consumer complaints filed during the 2011 calendar year. The department received 41,961 complaints, a nine percent increase over the previous calendar year.

While complaints about telemarketing and from “Do Not Call” list subscribers topped the list for the third year in a row, the department takes each complaint seriously in an effort to protect all consumers.

“Protecting consumers is one of our top priorities,” said Commissioner Adam Putnam. “Because an informed consumer is the best defense against fraud and deception, I encourage Floridians to learn about products and businesses before making purchases or entering agreements.”

The top ten consumer complaints received by the department in 2011 were:

1.      Do Not Call, 11,769
2.      Telemarketing, 7,983
3.      Communications,  2,730
4.      Real Estate Broker/Salesperson, 1,792
5.      Motor Vehicle Repair, 1,773
6.      Credit/Banking, 1,726
7.      Landlord/Tenant, 1,416
8.      Travel/Vacation Plans, 1,682
9.      Motor Vehicle Sales/Accessories, 1,168
10.    Cable, 898

Of the 41,961 complaints received by the department, 25,187 were successfully closed. The department’s consumer services team recovered $5,597,163 on behalf of consumers during this time period. That’s the part consumers really look forward to; actually making money off their complaints or at least getting money back when they were wronged.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. The call center is staffed with trained analysts who answer more than 218,000 telephone calls and emails annually from consumers and businesses.

The staff is able to 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.

In addition, the Division of Consumer Services is responsible for regulating various business industries operating in Florida.

To check check the history of a business or file a complaint, consumers 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) or visit www.800HELPFLA.com.


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