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Revere office safeguards consumers

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  If you believe the car you bought was a lemon, you booked a trip you feel was unfairly canceled or have another consumer complaint, you have resources available through the city’s Consumer Affairs Office. The Office, which operates out of the Senior Center on Winthrop Avenue, has been up and running since the 1980s thanks to grants from the Attorney General’s Office. The Revere office actually serves 14 communities, including Lynn, Malden and Saugus in addition to Revere.

  “When someone files a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, we contact the person who made the complaint and explain the process,” said Allan Fitzmaurice, the consumer affairs director in Revere.

  The first step the Consumer Affairs Office takes is to send out a letter to the business the complaint was made against, offering voluntary mediation services. If the initial letter is not answered, the Consumer Affairs Office will send out additional letters before calling the business, Fitzmaurice said. “If there is room for mediation, we will try to resolve the issue,” Fitzmaurice said.

  Last year the Office handled 367 complaints and returned more than $257,000 to consumers, he said. During that time, there were a lot of travel-related cases, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of previously booked trips and vacations. During the pandemic, Fitzmaurice said, his office also handled a number of landlord/tenant issues and referred tenants facing eviction to the proper agencies. Home improvement and contractor-related issues are also a healthy percentage of the workload, Fitzmaurice said. Especially when choosing a contractor online, he said, it’s important to follow-up with a call to make sure the online business is legitimate and local.

  A big part of Fitzmaurice’s job is also providing education through traditional and social media and out in the communities about consumer issues.

  If anyone has a consumer complaint, Fitzmaurice said, they should file the complaint through the state Attorney General’s website, or they can call his office at 781-286-8114 if they need further assistance or help with the process.

  The Attorney General’s Office tracks the complaints, and besides forwarding them to the local offices for mediation, determines if there are particular businesses that are facing an unusual number of complaints.

  In addition to helping consumers, Fitzmaurice said, he speaks to a number of local businesses and Chambers of Commerce about the importance of working with consumers and the consumer agency. “If someone has a bad experience with a business, they will tell everyone,” said Fitzmaurice. “It is in their best interest to try to resolve it when there is a legitimate complaint.”

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