Top Ten Consumer Complaints

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New technology and government deregulation has been bringing more competition and more consumer services to the computer, telephone, and cable TV industries. The competition is good for consumers because it keeps prices low and services high.

But along with the good things on the information superhighway are new ways to mislead consumers.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection's telecommunications rule heads off emerging problems by requiring cable TV and telecommunications companies to make clear disclosures before billing consumers.

For example, the rule prohibits a marketing tactic called slamming, having your long distance telephone company switched without your permission. Consumer protection has investigated a significant number of complaints and has referred them for prosecution.

The rule also prohibits negative options. A negative option billing occurred when a cable TV company charged its customers for a movie channel they had not ordered. Customers were told to cancel the service if they did not want it.

The rule also makes it illegal to charge a cancellation or disconnection fee for telecommunications or cable subscriptions unless the fee is disclosed in the subscription.

To report violations of the telecommunications rule or for more information contact the Division of Consumer Protection at 800-422-7128 or file a complaint.