Auto problems top annual ranking of US consumer complaints

The CFA analyzed nearly one million complaints made in 2017.

July 30, 2018, 5:03 PM

For the sixth consecutive year, consumers complained about automotive issues more than anything else, according to an annual report released by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).

The CFA, a non-profit association of consumer organizations, analyzed nearly one million complaints, culling data from 40 consumer agencies in 23 states across the country, and found that car problems were the most likely to leave a consumer in despair in 2017.

According to Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy for CFA, when it comes to problems stemming from newly purchased used cars, faulty vehicle repairs, or towing disputes, it’s not just about the money.

“Consumers are more likely to complain about these issues because they may have more than just a financial impact on them,” Grant said. “If you don’t have transportation, you may not be able to live comfortably.”

Complaints about home improvement or construction, false or deceptive advertising and illegal or abusive debt collection practices – the latter of which have been the subject of several lawsuits brought by the Federal Trade Commission – were also featured prominently on the CFA’s list.

The report marked financial fraud as one of the fastest growing areas of consumer complaints and flagged misleading advertisements and scare tactics used by salesmen selling alarm systems – such as providing misleading crime statistics to consumers about their neighborhoods – as an “issue to watch.”

The complete list is copied below.

1. Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, auto leasing, and towing disputes.

2. Home Improvement/Construction: Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job.

3. Retail Sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver.

4. Credit/Debt: Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics.

5. Landlord/Tenant: Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics.

6. Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform.

7. Communications: Misleading offers, installation issues, service problems, billing disputes with phone and internet services.

8. Health Products/Services: Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, failure to deliver, medical billing issues.

9. Household Goods: Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, defective merchandise, faulty repairs, in connection with furniture or appliances.

10. (Tie) Home Solicitations: Misrepresentations, abusive sales practices, and failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations; Internet Sales: Misrepresentations or other deceptive practices, failure to deliver online purchases; Travel: Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, cancelation and billing disputes.