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For Immediate Release
June 25, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

STATEíS CONSUMER PROTECTION DIVISION CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF USING VOLUNTEER MEDIATORS

Unsung Heroes Handle Thousands of Consumer Complaints a Year

The $20 rebate that didnít materialize, the wedding gown that didnít arrive on time, the new car thatís in the shop again, the health insurer that wouldnít pay for the life-saving operation ... the Maryland Attorney Generalís consumer complaint mediators tackle problems like these every day. On June 29, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. will honor a team of 53 dedicated Marylanders who volunteer their time to help solve other peopleís consumer problems, and will also celebrate 25 years of the volunteer program in his office.

Under the supervision of the stateís Consumer Protection Division staff, volunteers take on the challenging job of mediating disputes between consumers and businesses, or between patients and health care providers or insurers. Mediators review complaints filed by consumers, then discuss the complaint with both the consumer and the business and attempt to work out a mutually agreeable resolution to the dispute. In 2003, the Division handled more than 14,500 complaints and obtained over $4 million in restitution for consumers.

ďThe volunteers do an incredible job. Their work expands and enhances the service we are able to provide to Maryland consumers,Ē said Attorney General Curran.

The Division began using volunteers to mediate complaints in 1979 as a way to increase the services it provided to the public. The volunteers receive training in mediation skills and in consumer law. Many are retired, and bring to the work a wealth of experience from their former careers. Many find the job so rewarding that they volunteer for years; two have been with the Division for 23 years.

One thing hasnít changed since 1979: the top complaint category then, as now, is automotive - new car sales, used car sales and auto repair.

Persons who live in the Baltimore area and would like more information about volunteering as a consumer complaint mediator can call (410) 576-6355.

The Consumer Protection Divisionís volunteers will be honored at a luncheon June 29, at 12 noon, in Baltimoreís World Trade Center, Constellation Room. In addition to remarks by Attorney General Curran, the guest speaker will be Maryland State Senator Brian Frosh. Media who would like to attend, please call (410) 576-6357.

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