(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 05--In years past, the Oregon Attorney General's list of areas garnering the most consumer complaints was dominated by telemarketers, debt collectors and telecommunications companies.
But the regular players were bumped in 2013 by Forever Young, a now-defunct chain in the "health spa" category that collected 753 complaints -- just 39 complaints shy of the total number lodged against all the businesses in the telecommunications category combined.
It's the first time most can remember a health-spa related business muscling its way to the top of the consumer-complaints list. Yet Forever Young's flameout last year was rather spectacular. The chain, which had locations in Beaverton, Hillsboro and Prineville, closed suddenly in July amidst investigations by multiple state agencies.
Consumer complaints alleged the company withdrew unauthorized payments from customer accounts or didn't comply with customer requests to cancel contracts. The Attorney General's investigation continues into the business.
Overall, the state fielded 36,642 calls from consumers in 2013 and lodged 10,938 complaints.
Forever Young wasn't alone at the top of the heap. The state received a total of 854 complaints in the category, including 30 against Oregon Athletic Club.
Consumers filed a total of 792 consumer complaints against telecommunications companies, citing issues with cellular phones (tops with 213), satellite TV (149), cable TV (111), long distance (106), internet service provider (80) and bundled services (74).
Motor vehicle retailers were third on the list with 651 complaints, more than half of those naming used-car retailers.
Financial services was fourth with 586 complaints, followed by collection agencies (527) and health-related business (354), which included physicians, hospitals, medical products, dentists, food supplements and medical discount cards.
So-called magazine sales agents came in at eighth place with 353 complaints, then international money transfer schemes and motor vehicle repair businesses.
The money transfer schemes are the ones senior citizens often got with a loved one -- typically a supposed grandchild -- called to say they were in trouble in foreign country and needed cash fast.
While the number of these complaints declined this year by 36 percent, the state reported that it still counted 172 victims of those scams who lost a reported $1.285 million. That number is likely low, however, as consumer experts say that many victims don't report the crimes.
On a more positive note, the state was made aware of 157 uncashed counterfeit items that totaled $1.129 million.
For more information or to file a consumer complaint, contact the Attorney General's office at 877-877-9392 or online.
-- Laura Gunderson
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