On Your Side: Getting Help

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News 12 at 6, March 24, 2008

COLUMBIA -- The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs is an agency that is here to help you. Whether it's cars, credit cards, scams or anything else, this agency wants to help find you answers and solutions.

And it's a busy place. The phones don't stop ringing. The printers are always running. And someone is always getting help.

Donna DeMichael is one of the folks providing that help.

"I like the one on one being able to see what we've done." she said.

Donna is one of many who provides assistance to consumers who can't seem to find help anywhere else.

"People call in, some complain through the internet and we also get complaints by mail." she said.

If it has to do with a consumer good or service, the staff tries to provide help. And that starts with hearing both sides of the situation.

"We contact the business, find out the business's side of it and try to work out a solution so both sides are happy." she said.

And if you don't believe that they get a lot of complaints, there are rows of filing cabinets to prove otherwise. They are filled with cases and that's just for the last 2 years.

"The main areas are credit cards, credit repair and automobiles." Donna said.

Another key department objective is education. That's why they have more pamphlets than you can shake a stick at on just about any consumer issue you can think of. The idea is that if you can educate the consumer, you might help them keep from getting into trouble the next time around.

"We are a listening department. We keep the ball rolling. We keep the communication lines open, but we will confront and challenge when necessary." Department Administrator Brandolyn Thomas Pinkston said.

Of course, there is also a Georgia Office of Consumer Affairs.

Here are the numbers if you want to file a complaint.
In South Carolina, dial 1-800-922-1594.
And in Georgia, the number is 1-800-869-1123.

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