An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Published February 7, 2012


I nearly fell from my chair laughing last Friday when I read the "BOTTOM LINE" -- the weekly newsletter of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). In this newsletter Secretary Ken Lawson is again calling the folks "CUSTOMERS” just because they are forced to pay for the existence of the DBPR.  Lawson’s quote: "I am delighted that we have been able to meet our customers here in Tallahassee ."


(Please note:  The DBPR is a government agency that was created to license and regulate professionals and businesses and to protect consumers.) 


It's pretty obvious that Secretary Lawson doesn't know what the word "CUSTOMER" really means.  To refresh his and everybody else's memory, here is the definition of the word customer as quoted in the BUSINESS DICTIONARY:

“1. General: A party that receives or consumes products (goods or services) and has the ability to choose between different products and suppliers. See also buyer.” 

In other words, a customer is a person who voluntarily subscribes to the services of a business or chooses to buy a product. The magic word is "CHOOSE" -- which implies that there is a CHOICE.


Actually, the people using the services -- or disservices -- of the DBPR are forced to pay into the DBPR coffers. Nothing voluntary, no choice involved! Florida 's laws force these people to pay for so-called services that often do more harm than good! 


Since the DBPR employees seem to have made it their priority effort to protect licensees who violated laws and/or regulations against rightful complaints, the reputation of the honest license holders is quickly going down the drain. How good is a license if consumers know that the license is only a sham, because the regulatory agency fails to weed out the bad apples? Virtually everybody who keeps paying the license fees will keep his/her license. What does that tell you about the value of such a license? 


Let's not even start talking about the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes, the agency supposed to regulate condominiums, timeshares and mobile homes. Instead of enforcing the laws, the Division writes warning and/or educational letters that are useless, to say the least. The Division doesn’t use the enforcement powers given by the legislature and would rather write warning letters to folks who knowingly violate the laws. The violators laugh about these letters and continue to violate these laws, plainly ignoring these letters. Some board members and managers could use these warning letters as wallpaper for their offices, that's how many they already received. Regulation or consumer protection? Less than 50% of what it could be if the DBPR employees would follow the statutes and guidelines -- and wouldn't invent laws in order to supply excuses for their inactions. 


Calling all these people "customers" is in my opinion an insult to these folks whose money is wasted for the dismal services of the DBPR.


I honestly believe that if the DBPR would have to rely on voluntary customers only, the DBPR would have more employees than "CUSTOMERS."  So much for calling the folks "CUSTOMERS” just because they are forced to use the "SERVICES" of the DBPR.