The long-running “Troubleshooter” consumer fraud series on KGTV Channel 10 regularly gets more requests for help than the station can handle on-air, said reporter Marti Emerald.
As a result, the station and the San Diego Mediation Center launched a program in which trained volunteer conflict coaches help local residents with consumer disputes.
So far, the issues have included car repairs, rental agreements, bill collections and environmental problems.
The coaches offer information, including publications from the state’s Department of Consumer Fraud Division. They can mediate problems, even if only one party is willing to come in and talk.
The coaches also can explain how to pursue various resolution options. These include mediation, contact with appropriate government agencies or filing a claim in small claims court.
Since its start in November, the “Community TroubleShooter” has assisted more than 300 people, said Bridget Lambert, a specialist at the mediation center.
Half of the program’s $50,000 start-up funding was donated by the San Diego Foundation and the foundation’s Community Endowment Fund and the Myron Feinberg Fund, Lambert said. The center is matching those funds by providing employee hours, she said.