Pandemic-related problems were among the top ten complaints made to state and local consumer agencies in 2020, according to an annual survey by Consumer Federation of America (CFA). They also topped the lists of worst, fastest-growing, and new complaints. “COVID-19 generated complaints about everything from appliance repairs to childcare, trash pick-up to towing,” said Susan Grant, CFA’s Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy. “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.” State and local consumer agencies also dealt with a deluge of complaints last year about price-gouging and pandemic-related scams.
Thirty-four city, county and state consumer agencies from 18 states participated in the survey, which asked about the complaints they received last year, their biggest achievements, and new consumer protection laws enacted in their jurisdictions.
Top Ten Complaints in 2020
- Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, deceptive financing practices, defective vehicles, faulty repairs, car leasing and rentals, towing disputes.
- Home Improvement/Construction: Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job, 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, illegal eviction tactics.
- Credit/Debt: Billing and fee disputes, mortgage problems, credit repair and debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics.
- Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licensing or registration, 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, failure to deliver.
- Travel: Misrepresentations about cost, amenities or other aspects of travel packages, failure to provide promised services, disputes about refunds.
- (Tie) Health Products/Services: Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, failure to deliver, billing issues; Internet Sales: Misrepresentations or other deceptive practices, failure to deliver online purchases.
- (Tie) 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, imposter scams and other common frauds; Household Goods: Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, repair issues in connection with furniture and major appliances.