DATCP: Erb’s expertise is key to resolving consumer issues
Contact: Jerad Albracht, 608-224-5007
Jim Dick, Communications Director, 608-224-5020
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of feature stories highlighting DATCP programs and the people who work with them.
MADISON – It is easier to fight for your consumer rights when Bobbi Erb is on your side.
Bobbi has been a Consumer Specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) for more than six years and has helped thousands of consumers resolve their complaints.
“No two complaints are identical, so we have to take a fresh look at each consumer’s issue,” said Erb. “It is my job to make sure that all consumers receive the full protections available to them under state and federal law.”
DATCP’s Consumer Protection Bureau receives more than 150,000 consumer complaints and inquiries each year. When a formal complaint is received by the Complaint Administration unit, a specialist must assess the nature of the issue involved and establish the legitimacy of the complaint before starting the mediation process.
This is where Erb’s experience comes in handy. Erb has developed a strong knowledge of Wisconsin’s consumer laws that helps her analyze a complaint for examples of possible fraudulent, deceptive or unfair business practices. Next, she determines the best way to handle each individual complaint. Depending on the severity of the violations, she can request that an issue be investigated further.
“Tracking companies with questionable business practices and providing information and educational services to the public is a big part of the Complaint Administration unit’s responsibilities,” said Erb. “If we can educate the consumers during the complaint mediation process, we can keep a consumer from facing the same situation again in the future.”
Due to her experience and expertise, Erb takes the lead in the Complaint Administration unit. In this role, she guides her teammates in the technical aspects of receiving, analyzing and responding to consumer complaints. She also trains and mentors new employees, reviews their work and offers them assistance in communicating with the public.
Erb does double duty as the administrator of the Consumer Securities program, so if you have recently joined a gym or signed up for a dating service, she is looking out for you there as well. She ensures that all fitness and weight loss centers, dating services, buyers clubs and future service plans are following the law and maintaining proof of financial responsibility by filing their required financial security with the state.
Erb is proud of the work she does to protect the people of Wisconsin and to maintain a fair business climate.
“Our work at Consumer Protection helps protect people from unfair and deceptive business practices and returns as much as ten million dollars back to consumers each year,” notes Erb. “We work with the Department of Justice and district attorneys to prosecute serious law violators, and complaint mediation allows consumers to receive help without having to consult an attorney. The most rewarding part of the job is knowing that we are providing the same high level of service to others that we would want if we were in their shoes.”
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