NY:Internet problems makes into top 10 list of consumer complaints

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Internet problems makes into top 10 list of consumer complaints By Anny Kuo, Associated Press, 11/1/2000 15:38 ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) Internet-related problems have for the first time made the list of the 10 most frequent complaints lodged by New York consumers, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said Wednesday.

Last year, consumer problems with Internet service providers, online purchases and Web auctions propelled the industry into the eighth spot on the annual top 10 consumer complaints list compiled by Spitzer's office.

Spitzer said increased penetration of the World Wide Web into New York households led to the spike in Internet-related problems brought to his office.

Common complaints include long distance charges for connections through Internet service providers, misunderstandings over Web sales and dissatisfaction with products bought online.

''Internet issues continues to grow exponentially,'' Spitzer said. ''The trend is that it'll continue to grow with some rapidity.''

Spitzer estimated that the number of Internet-related complaints at 1,794 in 1999 may rise to about 3,000 by the end of this year, and the industry might break into the top five.

Topping the annual consumer complaint list are car problems, with 7,315 complaints ranging from repair and warranty issues to misleading advertising. Health care problems, usually involving disputes with health maintenance organizations and insurance companies, came in second, followed by problems relating to credit and mail order businesses.

Rounding out last year's top five are complaints against the telecommunications industry, which was previously grouped with utility-related problems. Complaints in this area included dissatisfaction with cellular phones, long distance services and prepaid phone cards.

Spitzer attributed the rise in these complaints to ''aggressive'' marketing efforts by telecommunications firms.

Other areas receiving the most frequent complaints were: home repair businesses, landlord/tenant disputes, contests and sweepstakes and retail sales.

Overall, Spitzer's office received 50,463 complaints last year. It handled about half of these cases and 70 percent of those were resolved in the consumer's favor. About $6 million were recovered for consumers, he said.

Spitzer added that while some cases do end up in court, litigation counts for a ''distinct minority'' among the complaints handled by his office. Usually the complaints involve misunderstandings or a lack of clarity that are best resolved by mediation, he said.

New Yorkers who want to file complaints with the attorney general's office can call its consumer hotline at 1-800-771-7755.


-- Carl Jenkins (somewherepress@aol.com), November 01, 2000

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