Monmouth County Division of Consumer Affairs
National Top Ten Complaints in 2021

Consumers across the nation cited the following issues as their top complaints in 2020:
  • Auto dealers – Both new & used, as well as auto repairs
  • Home Improvement Contractors – Always on the list, “HIC’s” cover the gambit from poor workmanship to not finishing jobs, not being licensed or insured, time delays, etc. It is vital that consumers do their homework and research HIC’s before hiring “the cheapest quote”.
  • Retail Sales – From false advertising to defective merchandise, problems with returns, gift cards or rebates, retailers make the list annually.
  • Landlord / Tenant – Unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs, deposit and rent disputes, and illegal eviction tactics are cited.
  • Credit / Debit – Billing and fees, credit repair and debt relief, illegal or abusive debt collection and predatory lending are typical complaints.
  • Communications – Whether it’s installation problems, service issues, billing disputes or misleading offers, communication companies are common complaints. Consumer are often frustrated at the lack of service and “finding a person to speak with” who can assist them with problems.
  • Health Products – From illegitimate cures for Covid-19, to bogus claims about various health products, this sector is a constant problem. Many of these companies have consumers ‘opt in” for deliveries, which can be difficult from which to “opt out”, resulting in additional shipments and billing.
  • Utilities – Gas, water; electric and cable companies are often cited for poor customer service.
  • Fraud – Bogus sweepstakes, lottery tickets, work-at-home schemes, fake check scams, imposter scams and common fraud cost the public $667 million in 2019.
  • Internet Sales – Failure to deliver, poor merchandise, return issues, and non-existent companies that take your money and personal information are part of the nightmare that can be “shopping online”. Once again, consumers are advised to do some research on any company you don’t know.
  • Robocalls – 54.6 Billion robocalls is a lot of call for a country with about 350 million people.
  • Price Gouging – The pandemic brought out both the best and worst in people, and for the first time, price gouging made the list of top complaints. 

The cases seen by the Monmouth County Division of Consumer Affairs mimic the national statistics, with auto dealers and home improvement contractors yielding the largest number of consumer complaints, followed by retail sales. With the quarantining due to Covid-19 restrictions, internet sales replaced a large volume of local retail sales. Unlike local retail issues, online sales issues are extremely difficult to remedy.

Avoiding scams before they happen is much easier than trying to fix problems afterwards. Consumers need to protect themselves by slowing down and examining offers with a little more diligence. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A few tips:

  • When dealing with Home Improvement Contractors, look to see if they’re registered with the state as required. They should also have liability insurance and supply the consumer with a detailed contract for any jobs over $500. A detailed contract protects both the consumer and business by clearing stating what is to be expected, including an estimated time of completion. Checking references and online ratings is another easy tool to get some background information on companies. The cheapest isn’t always the best – do your homework.
  • Auto dealers generate complaints related to both sales and service. Read your contract when leasing or purchasing a vehicle and ask questions. If it isn’t in writing, you will have a difficult time proving your case. Whether it’s sales or service, it’s always good to do online research and check reviews. Both new and used cars are protected under the NJ State Lemon Law.
  • Online purchasing is the world of “Buyer Beware”. The scams are infinite, and problems are difficult or impossible to resolve when vendors are fictitious, out of state or out of the country. Again, checking vendor ratings and doing your research before providing credit card information is vitally important. Sometimes, not only is the product fictitious, the entire purpose of the offer was to get your credit card information for fraudulent charges. Be sure to monitor your credit card bills regularly.
  • Phone scams are a daily annoyance. Seniors tend to be highly targeted by callers using scare tactics. Common scams include callers pretending to be the IRS or Social Security Agencies, grandchildren in distress or technical support. All of these callers use high pressure in an attempt to get money and personal information from victims. Real government agencies do not call you demanding money. EVER. The solution to these calls is simple: HANG UP.

Copyright © 2024 Monmouth County, NJ. All Rights Reserved.Privacy Policy and Disclaimer