UPDATE: State still hasn't followed up on consumer complaints - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

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UPDATE: State still hasn't followed up on consumer complaints

MADISON (WKOW) -- Several weeks after our investigation showed the state's consumer protection agency sometimes ignores or hands off complaints about fraud or wrongdoing, agency staff still have not contacted some victims who filed complaints.
 
Many of those victims received no response from the Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) after they filed their original complaints up to one year ago.
 
"I have not heard a thing," said Evelyn Dorn of Oshkosh, when reached by telephone on March 10.  Dorn filed a complaint in 2009 about a driving school that owes her $335.  She told WKOW she was angry in February when she learned the state had closed her case without trying to track down the driving school's owner or recover her money.
 
"I wish more people would come forward," said Dorn, who also offered this message to DATCP: "Please help us. You're there to help us. Obviously you're not."
 
DATCP told us in February that Dorn's case -- along with 25 other victims who filed identical complaints about the driving school -- was referred to the Dept. of Transportation.  The school was closed, but nobody has made any effort to locate the school's owner or help victims recover money.
 
DATCP's public information officer, Lee Sensenbrenner, called WKOW today to voice his displeasure with our reporting.
 
"This is obviously a crusade for you," said Sensenbrenner.  "This story won't die. This is your style of journalism and I guess we'll just have to work with it."
 
When asked if DATCP had reached out to the unhappy victims featured in our report, Sensenbrenner declined to answer.  When WKOW indicated it would submit an open records request, Sensenbrenner agreed to find the answer and get back to us.
 
He added, "This is going from journalism to borderline harassment," said Sensenbrenner.

In emails obtained through the Wisconsin Open Records Law, Sensenbrenner discussed ways with his supervisors to avoid handing over public records.  Janet Jenkins, the administrator of the Division of Trade and Consumer Protection, also mocked the investigation and conveyed inaccurate information to her supervisors about what the agency had provided to WKOW. (See link below to separate story.)

DATCP's secretary, Rod Nilsestuen, has declined repeated requests for an on-camera interview.
DATCP's deputy secretary Randy Romanski told WKOW he believes most consumers are happy with the service provided to them.  He also says consumers determine the priorities for investigation and follow-up based on what people complain about.
 

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Online reporting by Dan Cassuto

Dan's Email: dcassuto@wkowtv.com

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Dan's Consumer Blog: Call for Action

For help solving a consumer problem, call (608) 661 2727.

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