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Telemarketing tops consumer complaints for 2013

By Bill Gephardt | Posted - Mar. 7, 2014 at 9:37 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — Telemarketers with high-pressure tactics top the list of complaints to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

Every year, the division puts out a top 10 list of consumer complaints. This year, telemarketers top the list. Utahns complain that some telemarkerters cook up an exaggerated or bogus product or service, sweeten the pot with a bonus prize, and throw in a dash of high-pressure tactics.

“When you have a high-pressure scenario, that’s really where it needs to be a red flag for you,” warned Daniel O’Bannion, director of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

He said there is never a legitimate reason to be hurried by a telemarketer.

“Always hang up the phone. You have no obligation to take those phone calls,” he said.

In fact, it's illegal for telemarketers to call residents who don't have a previous business relationship and are on the Do Not Call list. But catching offenders is difficult.

Business coaching services

Some people’s ads offer to show you how to make a million dollars like they did, and do it from home. All you need is an Internet connection.

O'Bannion warns be very careful about buying into a business coaching service, No. 2 on the top 10 list of complaints.

“In my experience with those kinds of complaints, we just aren’t seeing people making back the money, if any money at all,” O’Bannion said.

Top 10 complaints
  1. Telemarketing
  2. Coaching services
  3. Alarm systems
  4. E-commerce/Internet offers
  5. Retail sales
  6. Home improvement/repair
  7. Deposits/refunds
  8. Travel/vacation/timeshares
  9. Auto repairs/sales
  10. Debt collection

ContractorsThe list also includes complaints about contractors who don't show up after the deposit check clears, or who'll hold up home improvement work until the homeowner agrees to a higher price.

“Make sure they’re licensed. Call to see if there’s an action at the Department of Commerce. Then do a simple Google search or talk to your friends and see what contractors they used, what companies they used,” O’Bannion said.

Whether dealing with an unscrupulous contractor, someone trying to con you into buying a second home alarm system, or a car dealer pulling a bait-and-switch, O'Bannion said in many cases a little research ahead of time might save a lot of money and heartache.

“A con artist’s worst nightmare is an educated consumer,” he said. “Call the division. We can help you find the resources you need.”

To file a consumer complaint with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection, go to www.consumerprotection.utah.gov or call 801-530-6601.

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Bill Gephardt

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