Consumer Affairs office investigates complaints against businesses

FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Department of Consumer Affairs recouped $633,488 on behalf of consumers last year, an increase of $132,430 over the previous year.

The figures are contained in the division’s year-end report, which also shows that the number of cases handled by the department rose slightly in 2010, from 856 in 2009 to 937. Director Patricia Watson attributed the upswing to consumers being more savvy about the money they spend on goods and services.

“People are spending less money, but they are more conscious of where their money goes and  making sure they get what they paid for,” Watson said.

The money breaks down this way: $139,529 was in cash refunds; $430,295 represents the value of services and items that the Department was able to recover for consumers who were unable to get them on their own; $89,243 was in voided contracts, and $4,422 was in exchanges, which means the seller substituted an item of equal value.

“In times like this when people need to watch every dollar they spend it’s comforting to know there is a place to turn to for help,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the county’s Division of Consumer Affairs. “The staff works not only for Monmouth County residents, but for any resident who is having difficulty dealing with a business located in Monmouth County.”

Consumer Affairs will help consumers resolve all types of consumer-related issues. Information about rescission, fraud and other consumer affairs programs can be found on the county Web site at www.visitmonmouth.com or by calling 732-431-7900. The office is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.