NASHVILLE – According to the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs, home improvements category ranked as the No. 1 complaint category with more than 400 consumer complaints in 2016.
The Division of Consumer Affairs received a total of 4,432 complaints in 2016 and recovered both services and funds for Tennessee by working with consumers and businesses. Overall, the number of consumer complaints rose slightly in 2016 compared to 2015 when 4,259 complaints were reviewed by Consumer Affairs.
“The Division of Consumer Affairs works alongside our partnering agencies to foster a positive consumer-to-business relationship in Tennessee,” said TDCI Consumer Protection Director Cynthia Wiel. “Our staff is committed to quickly routing complaints so that appropriate action can be taken in cases where deceptive business practices, frauds or scams are found to be at play.”
For 2016, here are the top 10 complaint categories, number of complaints per category, and descriptions of each category:
1. Home improvements: 413 complaints
This category includes home warranties, as well as hiring a contractor for services to repair or improve the quality of your home. The most common complaints related to quality of work, incomplete work after receiving payment, and structural damage caused by employed individuals or businesses. Many of these complaints are referred to the Board for Licensing Contractors, Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) as well as the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA).
2. Utilities: 298 complaints
This category includes gas service, water service, sewer, electricity, landline phone service, mobile phone service, Internet service, and cable. Problems with billing and maintenance were the most common complaints. Often, these complaints will be referred to the TRA or the investor-owned utility.
3. Motor Vehicle: 265 complaints
This category often includes consumer dissatisfaction with the sale of the used vehicle they purchased. Problems with used vehicle sales and advertising were the most common complaints. Consumer Affairs often works closely with the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission when handling these types of complaints. In addition, these complaints may be referred to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
4. Personal/Professional Services: 253 complaints
This category relates to services offered by licensed professionals working in the State of Tennessee, including hair stylists, massage therapists, nail technicians, and others. Common complaints include the quality of service, charges for service not received, and problems redeeming gift certificates for services offered. Some agencies these complaints could be referred to include TDCI’s Division of Regulatory Boards and Board of Professional Responsibility.
5. Landlord/Tenant: 250 complaints
This category relates to consumers leasing rental property in the State of Tennessee. The most common complaints related to security deposits and the conditions of the rental property. These complaints are most often referred to the THDA, city and county building codes enforcement, and TDCI’s Fire Prevention/State Fire Marshal’s Office.
6. Timeshares/Vacation Clubs: 235 complaints
This category relates to consumers purchasing property under a timesharing agreement and the sale of these agreements. The most common complaints reported high-pressure sales tactics, misrepresentation of the contract, and resale scams. The Division will often refer these complaints to the Tennessee Real Estate Commission and the Board of Professional Responsibility.
7. Health Services and Products: 219 complaints
Consumers’ most common complaints include being misquoted for services and inaccurate billing. The Division will refer appropriate complaints to the Tennessee Department of Health.
8. Motor Vehicle Repair: 210 complaints
This category refers to companies offering services to repair vehicles. Most consumers report auto repair companies that return vehicles not fully repaired. The Division will refer to and work with the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission, the NHTSA, and the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
9. Debtor/Creditor: 192 complaints
This category includes matters related to debt collection companies, payday loans, credit
repair companies, and check-cashing services. Consumer complaints often related to
harassing phone calls or billing issues. These complaints are often referred to the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions.
10. Insurance: 177 complaints
This category relates to pet insurance, consumer health insurance, and unlicensed insurance companies. Most consumers complained about policy coverage and claims. These complaints are often referred to TDCI’s Insurance Division.
A consumer may have a private right of action under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act of 1977. The Division of Consumer Affairs is prohibited from giving legal advice or representing private individuals. If you feel that you need legal assistance, consider contacting a private attorney, the Tennessee Legal Aid Services website, or other organizations that may offer legal guidance. For more consumer resources, or to file a complaint, visit the TDCI Division of Consumer Affairs website or contact us at 800-342-8385.