Consumers have a long list of gripes and woes — including telemarketing scams, shoddy home repairs and questionable sales tactics for alarm systems.
Scare tactics, for example, are increasingly being used to sell home alarms door-to-door and by mail, according to the Consumer Federation of America’s annual Top 10 List of Consumer Complaints.
One company, for example, sent a letter that looked like it came from an Ohio county government agency to new homeowners warning that their neighborhoods were getting hit by crime because of the opioid epidemic. The letter indicated that the alarms were free as part of a countywide program. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch or a free alarm. The company only ended the mailings after complaints from the county agency.
Other rogue alarm companies have made false claims that the police officers in your town bought the same sort of alarm for their homes.
And some telemarketers claimed the existing home alarm firm used at the home was no longer in business and the sales call was being made by the new company taking over, when no such thing was true.
“In some cases, consumers are being billed twice — once by the new company and once by the existing one,” said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America.
Consumer Federation of America conducts an annual survey of city, county and state consumer agencies across the country to ask about the complaints that they received in the previous year.
The agencies deal with complaints relating to auto sales and repairs, travel and timeshares. This year, 40 agencies from 23 states participated in the survey.
The top 10 complaints, according to news from the Consumer Federation of America are:
Misleading auto ads. Faulty auto repairs. Towing disputes. Bad deals on auto leases.
Consumers can be taken by friends or co-workers in some car deals, too. An Ohio restaurant owner who spoke little English accompanied an employee to an auto dealership to vouch for the employee’s income and the restaurant owner unwittingly ended up co-signing that car loan for the worker.
A woman in Louisiana had her car in the shop for about a year and then learned that the owner of the shop was selling parts off the car — not getting parts to fix it.
2. Home improving, building
Shoddy construction and bad home improvement deals. Failure to complete a home improvement job. A Massachusetts couple paid $68,000 to a contractor to have their home renovated but had nothing to show but a hole in the ground.
3. Retail sales
Troubles with gift cards, rebates, coupons and gift certificates. Defective merchandise bought at the store or online. Failure to deliver.
4. Credit and debt
Abusive debt collection practices. Billing disputes. Mortgage-related fraud. Bad offers for home mortgage modifications. Credit repair scams.
Bad experiences when renting a home or apartment. Unsafe conditions. Illegal eviction tactics. A Florida woman provided photos of rats eating the groceries she just brought home for her family.
6. Service complaints
Some failed to perform or complete a job. Failed to have required licenses.
7. Phone or internet services
Installation issues. Service troubles. Billing disputes.
8. Health care troubles
Medical billing issues. Unlicensed practitioners. Misleading claims.
9. Furniture and appliances
Failure to deliver. Faulty repairs. Defective merchandise.
10. Three-way tie
The No. 10 spot involved a three-way tie among home solicitations, Internet sales and travel complaints. Consumers voiced concerns about abusive calls, do-not-call violations. Failure to deliver online purchases. Cancellation and billing disputes involving travel.
Contact Susan Tompor: [email protected] or 313-222-8876. Follow Susan on Twitter @Tompor.
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