WCAU’s consumer unit responds to every complaint and gets them resolved. It adds credibility to their positioning statement, Count On It.
You expect family and friends to get back to you when you text, email or call them. But they don’t always.
WCAU (NBC10), the NBC O&O in Philadelphia, pledges, promises and guarantees that it will respond to every inquiry to its consumer complaint franchise, NBC10 Responds. Its positioning statement is Count On It.
It doesn’t matter if the issue is $40 or $40,000, each case is pursued with equal vigor.
“They don’t care about the amount,” says Kristen Hunt, a consumer who called NBC10 Responds about a $40 charge on her EZ pass. “It was the impact that it was having. If it could happen to me, it could happen to just about anybody.”
Hunt was amazed that the NBC10 Responds team came to her house.
“It’s awesome because they care enough even if it’s only a matter of $40,” Hunt says.
“There really is no number amount that we have to have in order to help someone,” says Leigh Lesniak, WCAU’s consumer investigative producer. “We are here to help everyone despite what that number may be. People always seem surprised that we are calling them back and trying to help them because they think their problem is too insignificant. Everyone is important.”
The idea that the average Joe or Jane can reach inside a local TV station and get a response is a marketing gold mine.
“NBC10 Responds is a key component of our brand promise, Count On It,” says Carol Dooling, WCAU’s VP of brand and marketing. “This is one of the focal points of our brand promise to help and advocate.”
The NBC10 Responds segments air in the 5 p.m. newscasts every weekday except Wednesday, Lesniak says.
Lesniak says there’s a rigorous vetting process in making sure every complaint is legitimate. “One of our benchmarks is they have to have tried every other option to resolve it on their own, left no stone unturned before we get involved.”
And the need is great. “I would say we hear from people every day,” she says.
Every person who reaches out gets a response and gets their issue resolved, even though their story might not be seen on TV.
Sometimes “we refer them to another organization that can better help them,” says Tracy Davidson, WCAU anchor and consumer reporter, a 28-year WCAU veteran.
The NBC10 Responds team will get lots of people calling about the same issue, like stolen mail.
“Not only do we respond individually, but we also do the bigger issues,” Davidson says. “Stolen mail grew from a complaint of a scam and then we just kept seeing how broad it was.”
Lesniak says their investigation into stolen mail uncovered the fact that Philadelphia is a hotspot for stolen mail.
Davidson says a cybersecurity expert was actually able to email her pictures of checks that had been stolen from the mail, washed and were for sale on the dark web.
“We went around and knocked on people’s doors and said, is this your check to Philadelphia Gas Works, because it didn’t make it to PGW,” Davidson says.
“That story is probably one of the most impactful things that we have done,” Lesniak says.
It led to a WCAU half-hour special report, Checks in the Mail.
In addition, the NBC10 Responds team hears from viewers who have been victims of scams.
“They want to share their stories so that other people don’t have the same experience as them,” Lesniak says. “When we air one warning story, we will get a handful of people reaching out saying, ‘oh my gosh, the same thing happened to me.’”
Those consumer warning stories go under the franchise NBC10 Responds: Don’t Be A Victim.
In late December 2023, WCAU aired a half-hour special, Managing Your Money, an idea from the NBC10 Responds team.
“We just knew that people were going to be facing a holiday debt hangover going into 2024,” Davidson says. “People are really, really struggling right now, so we said what if we do an all-encompassing half-hour special that covers everything?”
Lesniak says every NBC and Telemundo O&O has a response team. NBC10 Responds started in 2016.
Davidson says she’s “proud we help people, able to make a difference for them, have that connection with them, that they know we are here for them. That’s why we do it and that is what makes our jobs rewarding.”
As for Kristen Hunt, that consumer who called NBC10 Responds about a $40 charge on her EZ pass? Turns out the toll charge came from Ohio, a state the New Jersey woman says she’s never visited.
Her advice to consumers “would be to call NBC10 and get a hold of Tracy Davidson and her team because you can’t go wrong. They took the time. They did what needed to be done. They knew who to call and how to handle it and they got results. I mean that they would take the time and help somebody like me. I can’t say enough about them.”
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