Deceptive Practices among Top 10 Consumer Gripes

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Are you an unhappy consumer? If so, you're not alone.

The Consumer Federation Association released its annual top 10 list of consumer complaints for 2012 and, unfortunately, some industries listed are repeat offenders.

Most complaints center on deceptive practices and false promises -- whether it's household goods that just don't do the job they promised to do, or online businesses that promise free trial offers that aren't free at all and result in higher charges.

Other companies failed to deliver goods that were purchased, and there are department stores that offer items at one price, only to charge another.

"Actually, there was a purchase that I made last week where the tag, the price tag was marked at a certain price and when I came to cash it out they were like, 'Oh, it's not for this price.' And I said, 'It says this price. Don't you have to give it to me for that?' It was like $30 more," Brandon Davis, a disgruntled customer, recalled. 

The worst on the list were auto dealers. Buyers reported being suckered into buying lemons or lured to the lot believing they would get a deal, only to face high-pressure tactics.

"Within the last six months I received a promotion, a promo in the mail saying that if you come in, you'll get this kind of discount. But it was just a bait and switch. Just got you there and all the promises that they made they didn't keep. It was just a hard sale once I got there," one consumer said.

Another big problem consumers reported: shoddy quality and poor workmanship, such as household goods that break easily and are difficult to get repaired.

Home improvement and construction companies landed high on the list for doing bad work and even failing to start or finish jobs altogether.

And moving and transportation companies that aren't licensed were flagged for doing sub-par work.

"We used a moving company that had a high reputation in the D.C. area," another consumer recalled. "Problem is they say, 'Oh we have an excellent reputation' and they're well known. We get our items and we have a queen, four poster bed, solid wood that was broken by them and they do nothing to repair it."

"I get tired of vinyl siding companies coming around knocking on your door, soliciting business on a product that you haven't had time to research or don't want," disgruntled consumer Pam Harris said.

Here are the top 10 complaints in 2012:

  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. Utilities: Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service
  5. Retail Sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver
  6. Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform
  7. Home Solicitations: Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations
  8. Landlord/Tenant: Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics
  9. Internet Sales: Misrepresentations or other deceptive practice, failure to deliver online purchases
  10. Household Goods: Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances;

Experts say the key is research, research, research. Know everything you can about about a company "before" accepting their business.

Don't be pressured into making a decision. Get all of the details before you commit and be sure to check it out if you have any doubts.

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.