As 2009 draws to a close, it's valuable to remember that amid the raw deals, broken promises, balky products, sleazy businesses and heartless bureaucracies that Whistleblower hears about every day are stories of professionals, civil servants and just plain folks who go beyond the call of duty. While our mission remains investigating and shedding light on your complaints, I did want to share this tidbit from Jean Mitchell, an assistant Dakota County attorney. Her son Nick - a third-year student at Gustavus Adolphus College - had the following experience after buying a Samsung television last year: 

The TV worked great until he returned to college in early September the following year. Then, just a few weeks after the one year warranty ran out, the TV screen was obscured by huge horizontal red lines which had developed. A repairman came out to the dorm and diagnosed the problem as needing a new part. The part was not expensive, however, he said Samsung did not sell the individual part; they only sold the entire panel at a cost of $1800.00. I called and emailed Samsung customer service informing them of the situation. I asked if they could sell the individual part or stand by their product and replace the TV. Within one week, I received a phone call from Samsung, on a Saturday no less, telling me they would extend the warranty and send a repairman out to fix the set. True to their word, the TV was fixed within the next week. Unbelievable! Not only did Samsung gain us as loyal customers, the whole dorm of college kids were very impressed. Isn’t this what good companies should do?

This anecdote is about more than a company that did right by its customer. It's about the importance of speaking up and demanding that institutions live up to their rhetoric. In that spirit, more than 1,400 of you have contacted Whistleblower over the past year to ask us to investigate your concern - and live up to our own promise to advocate for the little guy. The Whistleblower team is deeply grateful to you, not only for blowing the whistle on how life can be better in Minnesota, but for making the Star Tribune more aware of the concerns of ordinary citizens, consumers and taxpayers. Keep those emails, calls and letters coming in 2010.

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