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Auto Sales is Number One in Consumer Complaint

According to a survey of complaints made to consumer agencies last year, consumers' top on the list were about car sales, and credit and debt grievances. Bogus offers to save consumers from foreclosure was the fastest-growing gripe according to survey.

According to the latest survey made by the Consumer Federation of America, the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators, and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators; in 2009 grievances to state and local consumer agencies rose at the same time that those agencies discovered their staffing levels and resources fall.

In a conference call, Susan Grant, CFA's consumer protection director, said: "It's clear from the nation's economic woes that consumers and consumer agencies were hit hard last year,"

Over a one-year period which ended in December, consumer agencies polled 33 city, county, and state agencies in 18 states. Complaints numbering more than 300,000 were logged, and the agencies brought back nearly $110 million in restitution and savings for consumers.

Most agencies agreed that they received more complaints in 2009 than 2008.

Those numbers, on the other hand, do not include the calls, letters, and emails those agencies receive from consumers seeking advice on how to resolve issues on their own. The Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs, for example, booked six times more contacts--35,000--than actual complaints.

The 2009 results echo the alarming economic crisis many consumers faced. Credit and debt issues and phony foreclosure-aid offers went up to the No. 2 spot from third place last year as more consumers confront troubles with debt-relief services, mortgage-related fraud, predatory lending and illegal or abusive debt-collection tactics.

Dwayne Green, chief executive of Maximus Investment Group, was charged with racketeering and theft after 34 residents complained at the governor's office of consumer affairs, in Georgia, that for a sum $250 to $500 in fees, he promised to save their homes out of foreclosure. According to the report, Green did nothing, whatsoever, for the homeowners. Thirty-three of the homes went into foreclosure.

The top 10 consumer complaints for 2009:

1. Auto

Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, and towing and leasing disputes are the main complaint of consumers.

2. Credit and debt

Consumers are complaining about rising of mortgage-related fraud. Consumers also aired complaints of billing and fee disputes, credit-repair and debt-relief services, predatory lending and illegal or abusive debt-collection tactics.

3. Home improvement and construction

Used to be 2008s second-biggest source of complaints slipped to no 3 since problems decreased as new-home construction and overall home sales dipped. But consumers are still complaining about second-rate jobs and unable to start or complete a job.

4. Utilities

Cited for service concerns or billing disputes were phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric, and gas services.

5. Retail sales

Consumers are not happy and heavily objected to false advertising and other deceptive practices. Consumers also complained about rebate problems, coupons, defective merchandise, certificates and gift cards, and failures in product delivery.

6. Services

According to the consumers, they noticed that companies and individuals misrepresented themselves, did a poor job or failed to perform at all, and lack the required licenses.

7. Internet sales

Deceptive practices and misrepresentations are the things consumers have encountered. Online purchases, according to consumers, was never delivered.

8. Household goods

Consumers complained about misrepresented products, undelivered purchases or having faulty repairs on furniture or appliances.

9. Landlord/tenant disputes; complaints about home solicitations

Tenants were complaining about unhealthy or unsafe conditions, and that landlords didn't make repairs or keep their promises. Disputes for deposit and rent were big, as were illegal eviction tactics.

With regards to home solicitations, consumers frowned at problems with misrepresentations or failure-to-deliver, resulting from door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations. Many do-not-call violations were also reported by the consumers.

10. Health products and services

Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, or delivery failures are the things consumers were griping about.