The Consumer Federation of America just released its annual survey of the top consumer complaints received by state and local agencies in the prior year. Susan Grant, CFA’s Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy, said, "COVID-19 generated complaints about everything from appliance repairs to childcare, trash pick-up to towing. Business closings, job lay-offs, supply chain disruptions, social-distancing requirements and travel restrictions put huge strains on consumers and businesses, as the survey shows."
So, what did consumers complain about in 2020?
- 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.
- 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.
- Services -- Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licensing or registration, and nonperformance.
- Utilities -- Complaints about gas, electric, water and cable billing and service.
- Retail Sales -- False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, and failure to deliver.
- Travel -- Misrepresentations about cost, amenities or other aspects of travel packages, failure to provide promised services, and disputes about refunds.
- Health Products/Services -- Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, failure to deliver, and billing issues.
- Internet Sales -- Misrepresentations or other deceptive practices and failure to deliver online purchases.
- Pandemic -- Price gouging, refunds for canceled events and travel, financial issues, problems getting repairs and other services, “self-help” evictions, scams, and other complaints stemming from the pandemic.
- Fraud -- Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, impostor scams, and other common frauds.
- Household Goods -- Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, and repair issues in connection with furniture and major appliances.
Paying close attention to consumer complaints -- both the ones you receive directly and the types of complaints that are prevalent in the industry -- is a great way to identify issues early, before they become a bigger problem.
"Business closings, job lay-offs, supply chain disruptions, social-distancing requirements and travel restrictions put huge strains on consumers and businesses" -- Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy, Consumer Federation of America