For the second consecutive year, the home improvements category ranked as the No. 1 complaint category to the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s Division of Consumer Affairs.
Home improvement issues received more than 400 consumer complaints, according to the department, which on Friday announced the top 10 complaint categories for 2017 by Tennessee consumers.
The Division of Consumer Affairs received a total of 3,599 complaints in 2017 and recovered both services and funds for Tennessee by working with consumers and businesses. Overall, the number of consumer complaints decreased in 2017 compared to 2016 when 4,432 complaints were reviewed by Consumer Affairs.
The Division of Consumer Affairs works alongside partnering agencies to foster a positive consumer-to-business relationship in Tennessee. The Division’s staff works to quickly route complaints so that appropriate action can be taken in cases where deceptive business practices, frauds or scams are found to be at play.
For 2017, here are the top 10 complaint categories, number of complaints per category, and descriptions of each category.
1. Home improvements: 412 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. Personal/Professional Services: 292 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.
3. Utilities: 289 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.
4. Timeshares/Vacation Clubs: 274 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.
5. Landlord/Tenant: 216 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. Motor Vehicle: 202 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.
7. Debtor/Creditor: 196 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.
8. Health Services and Products: 191 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.
9. Motor Vehicle Repair: 184 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.
10. Insurance: 172 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 at http://tn.gov/commerce/section/consumer-affairs or contact the division at 800-342-8385.
About the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance: TDCI protects the interests of consumers while providing fair, efficient oversight and a level field of competition for a broad array of industries and professionals doing business in Tennessee. Our divisions include the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Insurance, Securities, Consumer Affairs, Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy, Regulatory Boards, Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, Tennessee Corrections Institute, and TennCare Oversight.
To check a license of a professional regulated by the Department, go to http://verify.tn.gov/.