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Cars top the list of 2021 consumer complaints in a survey, again

Car Red Being Hauled on TruckEvery year, consumer agencies and groups report on the top consumer complaints of the previous year. Often, auto complaints top the lists.

That’s the result being reported by the Consumer Federation of America, an association of consumer organizations. Auto sales and repairs are the No. 1 category of complaints made to local and state consumer agencies in 2021, according to the federation’s annual survey.

“For the sixth year in a row, the number one consumer complaint to agencies involves deceptive conduct in the sale of new and used cars as well as complaints about auto repair shops,” said Erin Witte, director of consumer protection for the federation. “It is clear that auto sales and repairs are a longstanding problem and that consumers rely heavily on these agencies for assistance when they have suffered harm.”

Many agencies also reported an increase in landlord-tenant complaints in 2021, the year during which the federal eviction moratorium ended, and states and localities decided whether to enact extended tenant protections.

Twenty-three agencies from 15 states responded to a survey from the federation asking for their top 10 complaint categories, the worst and most common covid-related complaints, and their greatest achievements for the year.

Together, these agencies handled more than 208,000 complaints, secured more than $119 million in refunds, and provided non-monetary relief and assistance to consumers across the country.

The top 10 complaint categories made to agencies in 2021 are:

  • Auto sales and repair
  • Landlord tenant
  • Home improvement repairs and contractors
  • Retail purchase issues
  • Consumer debt and credit
  • Frauds and scams
  • Utilities
  • (TIE) Healthcare/wellness and robocalls/telemarketing
  • Professional services
  • Travel and recreation

Some survey highlights are:

San Francisco District Attorney’s Office – Enforcement action against gun manufacturers and sellers for deceptively selling “ghost gun kits” without disclosing legal requirements or prohibitions.

Ohio Attorney General’s Office – Enforcement action against an internet provider for excessively charging consumers for internet speeds it knew couldn’t be reached.

Virginia Attorney General’s Office – Settlement with ticket reseller “Tickets On Sale,” resulting in more than $180,000 in restitution for failing to honor its “100% buyer guarantee” or refund consumers for canceled events.

Maryland Attorney General’s Office – Successfully mediated with a major state university that refused to let students back out of their off-campus housing leases after the university made most classes remote.


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Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski

Lots of landlord/tenant complaints around here because of COVID.


Yes, landlord-tenant complaints are often at the top of annual consumer complaint lists, too.

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