For the last four months, NBC10's longtime senior investigative reporter Harry Hairston has been dogged in his pursuit of justice for those in the Philadelphia region who feel they've been wronged financially.
Since the last day of April, Hairston has led NBC10's new beat called NBC10 Responds. With the help of NBC10 producer Katie Suiters, Hairston has responded to four consumer complaints each week. No amount has been too small or too large.
And after dozens of segments, Responds reached a milestone this week, passing $100,000 in recovered funds for aggrieved consumers. The total is $102,007 after today's segment.
Hairston and Suiters said this week that their success has translated into more and more calls from consumers seeking their help.
"I feel a lot of gratitude to be able to directly help someone out, to be able to do something that translate into immediate results," Hairston said.
The pair's reputation has spread to all corners of the Philadelphia region, and Suiters has even picked up a nickname: Colleagues and consumers have come to know her as "The Hammer."
The segments, which run Monday through Friday, have proven so popular that more than 3,000 consumers have reached out to the Responds team. If that number sounds overwhelming for two journalists, NBC10 has provided a support staff of 20 to take and give initial vetting to those who call or submit in their information through NBC10.com. Here is a link to the Responds site, and a link to the consumer submission page.
Hairston said one of the highlights of the last four months have been a segment that involved a Delaware woman with a problem awning at her home. Responds was able to recoup $3,000 for the woman to make necessary repairs.
Suiters said "the awning story" was also noteworthy for starting the now-popular "Harry's Hug."
"The woman gave Harry a big hug and it all sort of started the Harry's Hug piece that now often comes after he helps someone," Suiters said.
Hairston remembers the moment when
"Out of the blue, she said, 'I just want to thank you.' Then she reached out and grabbed me," he said.
The success of Responds has led to the creation of Responde for Telemundo62. Reporter Ines Ferre is leading the effort.