The Utah Department of Commerce prints thousands of pamphlets each year on issues ranging from the state's lemon law to tips on starting a business. But the information doesn't benefit anyone if it's sitting on shelves in the department's offices.
"They're only useful if they're in consumers' hands," said executive director David Buhler in a Thursday press conference.To meet that need, the state and First Interstate Bank have launched the "Consumer Connection" campaign. The state and bank will place 50 free-standing information centers in libraries, city halls, chambers of commerce and First Interstate Bank branches statewide, each stocked with pamphlets and booklets useful to consumers and business owners.
The state and the bank will share the program costs, estimated to be $50,000 initially. Buhler said the information centers will established statewide within three months. The first was placed in the Salt Lake City Library Thursday.
"The best way to fight fraud, unprofessional conduct and deceptive business practices is to arm our citizens with information to help them become wise consumers," said Gov. Norm Bangerter."In the same fashion, the best way to ensure our business people are able to meet state requirements and operate their businesses efficiently is to provide them with information on what they need to do."
Bangerter assured residents of rural Utah that "Consumer Connection" will not be limited to people living along the Wasatch Front since half of the information centers will be placed in rural locations.
Richard Kieffer, First Interstate Bank president, said the bank is committed to providing quality customer service to all Utahns. "By helping to sponsor this program we are furthering the voice and power of consumers by providing them with information they need to make wise business decisions," Kieffer said.
Buhler said Utahns are hungry for information. Last year, the department received more than 5,000 formal complaints from the public including unprofessional conduct by professionals, utility shut-offs, "lemon" cars, deceptive business practices and consumer fraud.