Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Consumer Services

What is the purpose of the division?

The Division of Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, information, and protection. The division regulates various businesses, such as motor vehicle repair shops, charitable organizations, pawnbrokers, health studios, sellers of travel, intrastate movers, professional surveyors and mappers, sweepstakes/game promotions, and telemarketers. In addition, the division protects consumers and businesses from unfair and unsafe business practices across a wide range of market sectors, including gasoline, brake fluid, antifreeze, liquefied petroleum gas, amusement rides, and weighing and measuring devices. Consumer education is the main focus of the division.

How is the division organized?

The Division of Consumer Services has four bureaus.
  • Bureau of Compliance has regulatory responsibility for the following business entities: motor vehicle repair shops, charitable organizations, pawnbrokers, health studios, sellers of travel, sellers of business opportunities, intrastate movers, sweepstakes/game promotions, and telemarketing. Additionally, the bureau issues agricultural dealer's permits, livestock markets permits, sale of thoroughbred horses permits, liquefied petroleum (LP) gas licenses, and weighing and measuring device permits.
  • Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection has statewide responsibility to inspect all amusement rides in the state, except for certain large parks that have more than 1,000 employees and have full-time inspectors on staff. Inspections also include go-kart tracks, water related amusement rides, and zip-line courses operating throughout the state. The bureau also investigates accidents involving amusement ride patrons and incidents involving amusement rides when those rides may be unsafe for use.
  • Bureau of Mediation and Enforcement is responsible for informally mediating consumer complaints about goods and services provided by businesses. Complaints that fall under the jurisdiction of another federal, state, or local government agency are referred to that office for processing. The bureau also processes administrative enforcement actions for violations by an entity that falls within one of the division's regulatory programs, including violations of the Do Not Call Program.
  • Bureau of Standards is responsible for conducting inspections of the petroleum distribution system and analyzing samples of petroleum products, including gasoline, alternative fuels (ethanol flex-fuel, biodiesel, and denatured fuel ethanol), kerosene, diesel, and fuel oil, as well as antifreeze and brake fluid products. The bureau also conducts routine tests of the accuracy of retail price scanners, the accuracy of labels and the net contents of packaged products purchased daily by consumers and businesses, and inspection and testing of all weighing and measuring devices that are used in commerce. The bureau also oversees liquefied petroleum (LP) gas related activities including training, examinations, and inspections of the LP gas distribution system throughout the state. The bureau inspects over 8,700 gas stations each year. Since 2015 the bureau has removed over 5,000 card skimmers, small electronic devices illegally installed inside gas pumps to collect credit card numbers.
  • Communications and Outreach aims to increase public awareness about consumer protection issues through publications and public presentations. In addition, the section facilitates a call center to assist individuals with consumer related issues, including the program areas regulated by the division, as well as a variety of other topics. The center may also direct callers to the appropriate governmental offices and maintains the A to Z Resource Guide, an online directory of government programs and consumer information.
  • Florida Board of Professional Surveyors and Mappers assists with the licensing process for professional surveyors or mappers, after approval by the board. In addition, this section recommends disciplinary actions to the board. Based on these recommendations, the board enforces compliance with Florida statutes and rules by disciplining licensees who violate the professional practice act.

What are some examples of the department's workload?

The department handles more than 400,000 consumer complaints and inquiries, oversees more than 500,000 regulated devices, entities, and products like gas pumps and grocery scales, performs over 61,000 lab analyses on products like gasoline and brake fluid, performs nearly 9,000 fair ride inspections, and returned over $2.8 million to consumers through mediations with businesses.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2021-22
Fund Salary Rate/ Position General Revenue Trust Funds
SALARY RATE
POSITIONS
SALARIES AND BENEFITS
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
OTHER PERSONAL SERVICES
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
EXPENSES
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
OPERATING CAPITAL OUTLAY
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
ACQUISITION OF MOTOR VEHICLES
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
CONTRACTED SERVICES
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
RISK MANAGEMENT INSURANCE
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
TRANSFER TO DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES - HUMAN RESOURCES SERVICES PURCHASED PER STATEWIDE CONTRACT
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
TOTAL
0
21,880,033

Updates

Coronavirus Scams. The division reports that scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding coronavirus. They are setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take users' money and get personal information. They are forging emails mentioning the outbreak that appear to be from business partners or public institutions to try to get users to open the messages, unleashing malware. The division has added material to their website discussing coronavirus scams and ways to avoid them.

Retail Petroleum Fuel Measuring Devices. The 2021 Florida Legislature enacted Chapter 2021-97, Laws of Florida, Retail Petroleum Fuel Measuring Devices. Among other provisions, the bill revises the types of certain security measures required to be affixed to or installed onto retail petroleum fuel measuring devices; requires owners or operators of retail petroleum fuel measuring devices to affix to or install onto the measuring devices certain security measures by a specified date; authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to take certain retail petroleum fuel measuring devices out of service until compliance is restored; and preempts the regulation of petroleum fuel measuring devices to the state.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

Websites of Interest
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
U.S. Federal Trade Commission
Better Business Bureau (Requires Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge browsers to view BBB.org)
Performance Information
Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Chapters 472, 496, 501, 507, 525, 526, 527, 531, 534, 535, 539, 559, 570, 604, 616, and 849, and s. 20.14, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Division of Consumer Services, 1-800-HELP-FLA, or 1-800-435-7352, and 1-800-FL-AYUDA, or 1-800-352-9832

Website