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Published January 21 2010

North Dakota AG’s office lists Top 10 complaints by consumers

Transient merchants were the chief gripe of North Dakota consumers in 2009, state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced Wednesday.

The Consumer Protection Division received 175 complaints about transient merchants, followed by 138 complaints about Internet consignment stores and 115 for telemarketing, Stenehjem said in releasing his office’s annual Top 10 complaints list.

Stenehjem’s office processed 1,028 complaints in 2009 and took legal action against 63 entities for violating the state’s consumer fraud laws.

The Consumer Protection Division recovered more than $1.1 million for the state and returned $587,600 to consumers, Stenehjem said.

Rounding out the Top 10 complaint categories: mail order, 91; magazines, 84; automobile warranty or repair, 56; and cellular termination and premium fees, 56 (tied); home improvement, 55; debt adjustment and credit counseling, 34; and satellite provider billing issues, 25.

The agency also received 264 complaints of violations of the “Do Not Call” law. Of those, 143 were for calls made to residents on the do-not-call list, 119 were for use of prerecorded messages, and two were for text messages.

Stenehjem’s office initiated 26 investigations. Fines, settlements and judgments against the firms topped $33,000.

Transient merchant complaints were made against 22 companies, knocking telemarketing out of first place for 2009.

Most of the transient merchant complaints were against three firms, Stenehjem’s office reported:

The firms agreed to pay $205,600 to the state.