Coinciding with the start of Consumer Protection Week, March 7-13, the state Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) released statistics regarding consumer complaints for 2009. Energy companies moved to the top of the inauspicious list, replacing telecommunications.
UTC’s Consumer Protection Hotline fielded more than 900 calls on issues ranging from billing disputes to customer service issues. Regulated natural gas and electric companies saw a disconcerting 35 percent increase in the number of consumer complaints from 2008. Conversely, complaints about telecommunications companies dropped 20 percent from more than 1,000 in 2008 to 800 last year.
Coming in a distant third was the solid waste industry with just over 130 complaints in 2009.
The UTC’s Consumer Protection Division staff saved Washington consumers more than $700,000 in total in 2009. They investigated nearly 2,000 complaints for customers of regulated companies and issued more than 130,000 citations for failure to comply with state laws.