Some things never change. With all the new digital scams and social media annoyances, old-fashioned car sales and services still top the list of complaints to local and state consumer agencies, according to an annual survey conducted by Consumer Federation of America (CFA).
“For the sixth year in a row, the number one consumer complaint to agencies involves deceptive conduct in the sale of new and used cars as well as complaints about auto repair shops,” said Erin Witte, Director of Consumer Protection. “It is clear that auto sales and repairs are a longstanding problem and that consumers rely heavily on these agencies for assistance when they have suffered harm.”
Many agencies also reported an increase in landlord-tenant complaints in 2021, the year during which the federal eviction moratorium ended, and states and localities decided whether to enact extended tenant protections.
Twenty-three agencies from fifteen states responded to a survey from CFA asking for their top ten complaint categories.
Top ten consumer complaints
Here are the results:
- Auto Sales & Repair
- Landlord Tenant
- Home Improvement Repairs and Contractors
- Retail Purchase Issues
- Consumer Debt & Credit
- Frauds and Scams
- (TIE) Healthcare/Wellness & Robocalls/Telemarketing
- Professional Services
- Travel & Recreation
“Each year, we are delighted to work with the dedicated public servants at each participating agency and learn about their efforts,” Witte said. “Their responses give us insight about what is happening in the marketplace and which strategies have been particularly successful.”
The report highlights the agencies’ achievements in the year 2021, including enforcement actions by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office against gun manufacturers and sellers for deceptively selling “ghost gun kits” without disclosing legal requirements or prohibitions, and by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office against an internet provider for excessively charging consumers for internet speeds it knew could not be reached.
Agencies successfully resolved large-scale matters, including the Virginia Attorney General’s Office settlement with ticket reseller “Tickets On Sale,” resulting in over $180,000 in restitution for failing to honor its “100% buyer guarantee” or refund consumers for cancelled events. The Maryland Attorney General’s Office successfully mediated with a major state university that refused to let students back out of their off-campus housing leases after the university made most classes remote. Through mediation, the Attorney General obtained a reduced fee for the tenant students.