The Mediation Services Unit is responsible for processing all complaints which are received by the Consumer Protection Unit. It also provides information about consumer transactions by answering questions from the public and by educating consumers and businesses as to their rights and responsibilities. The mediation staff, which includes volunteers, is available to assist consumers in resolving their disputes with business entities, by offering to mediate those disputes. Our online consumer protection complaint form can be printed, filled out, and mailed to us. Otherwise you may call (408) 792-2880 or e-mail us and we will mail you a complaint form.
The mediation process begins when a consumer completes and files a signed complaint with the Consumer Protection Unit. This process provides the consumer and the business with the opportunity to present and review both sides of the dispute. The mediation process ends when an agreement is reached, or when the consumer or the business chooses not to participate in the mediation. Mediation Services does not act as an advocate for either party and cannot force either party take any particular action.
In 1998, Mediation Services assisted more than 28,000 consumers, and recovered more than $227,000 in restitution for consumers.
Examples of Common Consumer Questions
- Do I have three days to cancel the purchase of a new or used car?
- Must a store take back a purchase and refund my money?
- What do I do when a mechanic wants more money for a car repair than shown on the estimate?
- I received a card in the mail telling me that I won a prize and to claim it I must send $19.95. Is this OK?
- My credit report contains inaccurate information. What can I do?
- A merchant charged me an extra fee for the use of my credit card. Is this wrong?
- My landlord kept my security deposit and will not refund it to me nor account for its use. How do I get my deposit back?
- A local store advertises a product at a given price without disclosing that there are additional hidden costs. Can I get the advertised price? To whom do I report this?
The Enforcement Division reviews and evaluates complaints referred by Mediation Services, or other agencies, to determine whether to prosecute a business for unlawful business practices. The Enforcement Division prosecutes actions on behalf of the general public in the name of The People of the State of California. The District Attorney does not represent individual parties.
The District Attorney's Office may file a lawsuit against a business engaged in illegal or fraudulent business practices. Enforcement actions typically seek a public remedy, such as a court order to stop the business practice and to pay penalties. In some cases, consumers who were harmed by the practice may receive some form of restitution.
The Unit also drafts and sponsors consumer legislation and is involved in community education through our speaker program. Call (408) 792-2880 to request a speaker.
Contact us at (408) 792-2880 or e-mail us for a free landlord-tenant handbook. Our Consumer Protection Unit pamphlet is available for online viewing and printing with the Adobe Acrobat Reader.