My Sunday column touched on a little-known but nagging category of consumer gripes: RV park membership contracts.
But what are typically the biggest sources of consumer complaints nationally? Last year, it was deceptive auto sales, mortgage-related fraud and debt collection practices. And among the fastest-growing categories: Bedbug infestations in apartments, timeshare sales, "Do Not Call violations" and fraudulent rentals of foreclosed properties.
Those stats are according to a recent survey by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI). Their list is based on 2011 reports from 38 consumer agencies in 22 states, including three in California: the state Dept. of Consumer Affairs, the Los Angeles County Dept. of Consumer Affairs and the San Francisco district attorney's office.
Here's the complete list of Top Ten consumer complaint categories:
1. Auto: Advertising/sales of new/used cars, "lemon" vehicles, faulty repairs, leasing/towing disputes
2. Credit/Debt: Billing/fee disputes, mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, abusive debt collection tactics
3. Home Improvement/Construction: Shoddy work, failure to start/complete projects
4. Retail Sales: False advertising, defective merchandise, problems with rebates/coupons/gift cards; failure to deliver
5. Utilities: Service/billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric/gas service
6. Services: Shoddy work, unlicensed workers, failure to perform
7. (Tie) Internet Sales and Landlord/Tenant: Deceptive practices; failure to deliver online purchases; unsafe conditions; failure to make repairs or promised amenities, deposit/rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics
8. Fraud: Sweepstakes/lottery scams, work-at-home schemes, fake check and grandparent scams
9. Real Estate: Timeshare sales/resales, retirement communities and real estate fraud
10. (Tie) Household Goods and Home Solicitations: Failure to deliver; faulty furniture/appliance repairs; door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations; do-not-call violations