PALM DESERT – To some consumers it’s simple: the more you spend, the more there is to complain about.
“The higher the prices you pay, the more you should expect,” consumer Eric Shute points out.
However, that’s easier said than done. Some say getting what you pay for is a novelty these days.
“People don’t understand their job is to provide valuable customer service,” says Shute.
Even a French tourist had a few grips when comparing the United States to Europe.
“In America, you have a lot of services, but everything cost like WiFi,” said visitor Raphael Veil. “You have to pay for everything separately.”
According to the newly released Top Ten Consumer Complaint List for 2008, consumers were less satisfied last year than the year before. In fact, of the 32 consumer agencies surveyed, 62 percent reported an increase in complaints. Some say the poor economy is partly to blame.
“The top fastest growing complaint was about aggressive debt collection tactics and the most frequently cited was about mortgage-related problems, especially mortgage foreclosure rescue scams,” Susan Grant withConsumer Federation of America said.
The top two on the list of complaints were misleading ads or sales of new and used cars and faulty home improvement or construction jobs. In all, agencies tackled more than a million complaints last year. They managed to obtain nearly $250 million in restitution or savings for the consumer. This proves that sometimes it pays to complain.
“It does work. State and local consumer protection agencies can’t promise to resolve everyone’s complaints. No one can. But they certainly will try to help you,” says Grant.
Consumers weren’t the only ones hit hard by the economy last year. Nearly half of the agencies surveyed said the tough times forced them to cut resources, which of course affects their ability to help customers.