Top ten consumer complaints list published
At the start of the US National Consumer Protection Week, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox announced the top ten consumer complaint categories for 2005, with identity theft complaints spanning all top ten complaint categories.
The complaint categories were compiled from more than 18,600 written complaints and enquiries received by the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. In addition, the division handled more than 111,000 consumer telephone calls throughout 2005.
The top 10 complaint categories were as follows:
- Credit and financial concerns Includes disputes about credit reports, collections, billing and finance charges, misrepresenting the terms of credit, predatory lending, and identity theft complaints.
- Telecommunications and cable or satellite TV Includes telemarketing, do not call, cell phone, cramming (unauthorised charges), slamming (unauthorised switching of a service provider), and identity theft complaints.
- Retail Includes quality of merchandise, rebates, scanner or pricing errors, and identity theft complaints.
- Gasoline/Fuel/Energy Significant crude oil supply disruptions caused primarily by Hurricane Katrina resulted in a spike in complaints causing this category to move from number eight in 2004 to number four in 2005. This category includes allegations of businesses charging a price grossly in excess of competitors, complaints of high utility rates, billing errors, and contract misrepresentations.
- Internet Falling from its number three spot for the last several years, this category includes Internet purchases and auctions, failure to deliver or refund, fraudulent e-mail solicitations, internet service provider complaints, and identity theft complaints.
- Motor vehicle or automobile Includes lemon law, advertising, warranty, quality, and misrepresentation complaints.
- Small business providers Includes complaints by small business for unauthorised services or goods, including advertising and directory publications, unsolicited faxes, and leases for business equipment that cannot be cancelled.
- Mail order Includes failure to deliver merchandise, unsolicited merchandise, contest deceptions, and failure to refund complaints.
- Contractors/home improvement Includes quality of work, failure to deliver services or a refund, and warranty issues.
- Personal service providers Back into the top ten after falling out last year, this category includes failure to refund, failure to cancel a contract, and failure to deliver complaints.
In 2005, the division obtained more than US$4.5 million in consumer refunds and debts forgiven, and more than US$5.8 million was recovered for the state of Michigan. In 2005, the division published twenty consumer alerts, warning the public about scams (such as the dramatic increase in the use of counterfeit cashier's checks and the latest telemarketing tricks). These alerts are also used to encourage consumers to take proactive steps to protect themselves.