LANSING — Personal service companies and robocalls topped the list of most complained-about scams and business practices in Michigan.
Attorney General Dana Nessel last week recognized National Consumer Protection Week by releasing her office’s Top 10 Consumer Complaints for 2019 to help consumers make well-informed decisions about where to spend their money. In 2019, the Michigan Department of Attorney General received more than 9,200 consumer complaints.
“By taking a proactive approach and educating residents about the top threats we’ve noticed, we hope to stop as many scammers and deceptive business practices as we can from causing further harm to Michigan consumers,‘ Nessel said. “I would like to thank the thousands of Michigan consumers who have taken the time to file formal complaints with my office. Those files are valuable pieces of information that may help us build a case against bad actors and allow us to hold accountable those who attempt to break the law.‘
The department recovered more than $680,000 in consumer refunds, forgiven debts and state recoveries in 2019.
Consumers can submit a complaint online by visiting mi.gov/agcomplaints or by calling 877-765-8388.
While the Top 10 complaint categories remained mostly the same from 2018, several of their rankings did change. Five of the 10 complaint categories kept their places, but the most drastic change was the rise in complaints against personal service providers, which jumped from seventh to the No. 1 spot due to action by the Attorney General’s office in 2019. Travel complaints also make an appearance on the list in the No. 10 spot, replacing a category of complaints related to gasoline fuel prices and energy providers.
Top 10 Consumer Complaint Categories of 2019
• Personal Service Providers: Moving up from the seventh spot last year. This jump was directly attributable to the large number of complaints against Western Michigan-based gym chain Family Fitness, Go Workout, Crown Jewel Spa and Salon and Light RX. Complaints in this category additionally range from dating services and beauty shops to home security and tax preparation services.
• Telecommunications, Cable and Satellite TV: Holding steady at No. 2 this year. This category includes complaints involving issues like robocalls, telemarketing, wireless communications, and cable and satellite TV services. Despite staying in the second spot, the department received more than 20% more complaints in this category. Many of those complaints were the result of the robocall initiative announced by the Attorney General’s office in November.
• Motor Vehicle and Automobiles: Also holding steady in the No. 3 spot. The total number of complaints in this category was up by 10%. Complaints against used car dealers continue to top this category, with other top complaints involving motor vehicles, new car dealers and passenger car rentals. The department took a step in protecting consumers’ interests when it reached a settlement with Executive Car Rental, securing nearly $40,000 in reimbursements for customers.
• Credit and Financial Concerns: Moving from first to fourth this year, there were 769 complaints. Complaints in this category cover a variety of areas including debt collection and reporting, credit repair, payday lending and mortgage brokering. In October, the Attorney General’s office filed suit to stop the predatory lending practices of online tribal lender Sierra Financial.
• Retail: Again, holding steady in the fifth spot from last year, retail complaints included concerns about general merchandise, food and furniture stores, business services, and eating and drinking places.
• Internet: Moving down two slots this year from four to six, the total number of complaints in this computer-based category stayed virtually the same. The majority of these complaints involved online purchases, and a significant number of complaints were filed against computer communication and internet service providers. In 2019, the department opened an investigation into Blvck Pods LLC and Blvcked Pods LLC for running a drop-shipping operation that relied on a Chinese company to supply wireless earphones to consumers who believed they were buying customized products.
• Landlord and Tenant: Moving up a spot from eight to seven, this category held steady with almost 500 complaints. Most of the complaints in this category involved apartment owners and managers; complaints against mobile home site operators and condominium associations accounted for the majority of the total complaints in this category.
• Contractors: Moving down two spots from last year’s list are complaints about residential building construction services, landscaping services, plumbing, heating and air condition services, and special trade contractors. In 2019, consumers filed 176 fewer complaints in this area than 2018.
• Health Service Providers: Staying in ninth place, this category’s total complaints increased by more than 17% compared to 2018. The category includes health service providers like doctors, dentists, hospitals and medical clinics.
• Travel: New to the Top 10 this year is the category of travel, which bumped out the category of complaints for gasoline fuel and energy providers from the 2018 list. This category includes complaints about companies like Outdoor Adventures, travel agents, travel companies and time-share companies.