NBC4 Responds Secures $1M for Community

Patti Petitte, Susan Hogan
Senior Producer Patti Petitte (right) and Consumer Reporter Susan Hogan, who lead the NBC4 Responds team

NBC4 Responds recently broke the $1 million threshold for the amount of money they have put back into the pockets of customers, according to the station’s news director. The investigative consumer franchise began in May and in just a few short months has made significant resolutions for unsatisfied consumers.

“A lot of people contact us when they feel like they’ve been wronged, so we created the franchise,” said NBC4 Assistant News Director Matt Glassman. “We wanted to empower consumers to stand up when they felt they’d been wronged or misunderstood something.”

The franchise officially became launched with the hire of the project’s lead reporter, Susan Hogan.

“It was a perfect match,” Hogan said of the hire who previously spent more than 12 years as a consumer investigative reporter in Rhode Island.

According to Hogan, the team receives about 150 complaints per week including emails, phone calls and online submissions. The most common: automobile repair and dealership issues, contractor issues and issues with utility service providers.

Hogan said she’s not surprised with the number of complaints the station continues to receive.

“There is a huge need for consumer advocacy,” she said.

The station has a full-time team of staff members including Hogan and several producers who are dedicated to resolving consumer-related complaints. The staff gets complaints ranging from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. The most compelling stories go on the air.

“It’s not about the money,” Hogan said. “It’s about the principle.”

She recalled her most memorable case being a Maryland couples in their 80s whose travel insurance provider refused a refund when a surprise cancer diagnosis prevented them from going on a long-planned cruise.

“What makes NBC4 Responds unique is that we answer every single phone call and email,” Hogan said. “We are overwhelmed with the complaints and we ask people to be patient. But we promise we’ll get to everyone.”

Hogan noted that while every complaint gets a response, they do not all result with a resolution. Sometimes the complaints end with a referral to a more helpful resource. And consumers remain encouraged to consider the best avenue of resolution before contacting the team.

“We won’t get to solve every single complaint unless you truly deserve some means of recourse,” Hogan said.

“Often, it appears companies just look at the bottom line, rather than the customer’s case,” Hogan said. “That’s what we’re fighting for.”

She said a case-by-case customer service approach could help reduce incidents of dissatisfied customers.

And rest assured, NBC4 Responds will continue its efforts.

“There are a lot of people we want to help and we are going to help going forward,” Glassman added.

About Tatyana Hopkins – Washington Informer Contributing Writer 76 Articles
Tatyana Hopkins has always wanted to make the world a better place. Growing up she knew she wanted to be a journalist. To her there were too many issues in the world to pick a career that would force her to just tackle one. The recent Howard University graduate is thankful to have a job and enjoys the thrill she gets from chasing the story, meeting new people and adding new bits of obscure information to her knowledge base. Dubbed with the nickname “Fun Fact” by her friends, Tatyana seems to be full of seemingly “random and useless” facts. Meanwhile, the rising rents in D.C. have driven her to wonder about the length of the adverse possession statute of limitations (15 years?). Despite disliking public speaking, she remembers being scolded for talking in class or for holding up strangers in drawn-out conversations. Her need to understand the world and its various inhabitants frequently lands her in conversations on topics often deemed taboo: politics, religion and money. Tatyana avoided sports in high school she because the thought of a crowd watching her play freaked her out, but found herself studying Arabic, traveling to Egypt and eating a pigeon. She uses social media to scope out meaningful and interesting stories and has been calling attention to fake news on the Internet for years.