Automotive issues remain the top complaint for American consumers, according to the findings of an annual survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI).
Thirty-seven consumer agencies from twenty-one states participated in the survey, which asked about the most common complaints they received in 2014. The survey also seeks information the fastest-growing complaints, new kinds of consumer problems, and if any new laws are needed to provide better protection for consumers.
Identity theft is one particular class of complaint that has been growing in frequency in recent years. "Considering the epidemic of data breaches that we've been experiencing in the last year, it's not surprising that more consumers are contacting state or local consumer agencies for help to resolve the problems that identity theft can cause," said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at CFA, in a written statement.
When asked about new laws, several agencies suggested regulation for the "sharing economy", regarding platforms such as Uber or Airbnb. Since consumer protection laws generally apply to business-to-consumer transactions, determining legal liability in individual-to-consumer can be tricky.
The top ten complaints of 2014 are:
1. Auto. Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes.
2. Home Improvement/Construction. Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job.
3. 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.
4. (Tie) Retail Sales. False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver;
4. (Tie) Utilities. Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service.
5. Services. Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform.
6. Landlord/Tenant. Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics.
7. Home Solicitations. Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations.
8. (Tie) Health Products/Services.Misleading claims; unlicensed practitioners; failure to deliver;
8. (Tie)Internet Sales.Misrepresentations or other deceptive practices, failure to deliver online purchases.
9. Fraud. Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, imposter scams and other common frauds.
10. Household Goods. Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances.