Photo (cc) by B Rosen
It seems American consumers have a lot to gripe about these days. From billing disputes with their cable company to issues with landlords, consumers have a long list of complaints about their dealings with businesses.
The Consumer Federation of America recently released its list of the biggest consumer complaints for 2014. Shady dealings with car dealers and shoddy home-repair work topped the list.
Americans’ biggest consumer frustrations fall into these categories:
- Auto: Consumers’ frustrations include false advertising, purchasing a lemon, shoddy repair work, and leasing and towing disputes.
- Home improvement and construction: Faulty repair work and a failure to start or complete the work were consumers’ main gripes.
- Credit/debt: Dealing with billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt-relief services, predatory lending, and illegal or abusive debt-collection tactics were among the top gripes.
- Retail sales and utilities (tie): Misleading ads, defective merchandise, issues with coupons and rebates, and failed deliveries were commonly reported issues in 2014. Complaints about utilities include service disruption and billing disputes with telecommunications companies, as well as electric and gas suppliers.
- Dealings with professionals, including lawyers and real estate brokers: Consumers reported struggling with improper licensing, shoddy work and a failure by these professionals to perform the agreed upon work.
- Landlord/tenant: Renters had big issues with their landlords (slumlords may be a more accurate term here) in 2014, because of unhealthy and unsafe living conditions, illegal eviction tactics and a failure by the landlord to complete necessary repair work.
- Home solicitations: Not surprisingly, consumers don’t like telemarketers calling them repeatedly, especially if they’re on the do-not-call list, nor were they happy with unwelcome, pushy door-to-door salesmen.
- Health services and Internet sales (tie): Top consumer complaints in health services highlighted the problems of misleading claims and unlicensed practitioners.
- Scams: Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, fake check scams and imposter scams got consumers’ blood boiling in 2014.
- Household goods: Failed deliveries and faulty repairs with furniture and home appliances topped consumers’ complaints.
Although it didn’t win the dubious honor of landing on the CFA’s top 10 list, identity theft was recognized as the fastest-growing gripe in the United States. Identity theft was the biggest complaint the Federal Trade Commission dealt with in 2014.
It’s not surprising, considering the sheer volume of data breaches experienced in 2014, as well as reports of stolen tax returns.
Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at CFA, said providing identity-theft insurance and credit monitoring after the fact is not nearly enough.
“The solution to the problem isn’t to provide consumers with identity-theft insurance, it’s to require better security to prevent their personal information from being stolen and fraudulently used,” Grant said.
What is your biggest gripe as a consumer? Share your frustrating experiences in the comments below or on our Facebook page.