The Consumer Federation of America just released its annual survey of the top complaints that consumers reported to state and local consumer protection agencies in the United States.  The survey covers complaints received by 31 agencies in 19 states in 2019.  

Here's the CFA's top complaint categories:  

  • Auto:  Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, deceptive financing practices, defective vehicles, faulty repairs, car leasing and rentals, and towing disputes; 
  • Home Improvement/Construction:  Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job, and failure to have required licensing or registration; 
  • Retail Sales:  False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, and failure to deliver; 
  • Landlord/Tenant:  Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, and illegal eviction tactics;
  • Credit/Debt:  Billing and fee disputes, mortgage problems, credit repair and debt relief services, predatory lending, and illegal or abusive debt collection tactics; 
  • Communications: Misleading offers, installation issues, service problems, and billing disputes with telephone and internet services; 
  • Services (tied with "Communications"):  Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licensing or registration, and nonperformance; 
  • Health Products/Services:  Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, failure to deliver, and billing issues; 
  • Utilities:  Complaints about gas, electric, and water and cable billing and service;
  • Fraud:  Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, imposter scams, and other common frauds; 
  • Household Goods (tied with "Fraud"): Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, and repair issues in connection with furniture and major appliances; and 
  • Internet Sales: Misrepresentations or other deceptive practices, and failure to deliver online purchases.

Since this survey covers consumer complaints in 2019, it doesn't address the impact of COVID-19.  (We recently blogged about a recent report from the FTC that showed record numbers of complaints related to online shopping.)

It's always important to keep in mind the big consumer complaint areas.  If you're trying to predict where your own problem areas may be -- or where regulators or class action plaintiffs may look next -- a good place to start is those areas where consumers consistently have problems.