TRENTON – The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, along with other agencies nationwide, released the Top 10 list of consumer complaints in 2022 ahead of National Consumer Protection Week, March 5-11.
In 2022, the division’s Office of Consumer Protection received a total of 18,084 complaints, with vehicle sales and repairs topping the list with 2,514 complaints. Home improvement complaints came in second with 2,310 complaints, followed by major appliances with 1,080. Internet sales, medical care, moving and storage, professional and occupational services, stores, credit and finally gasoline rounded out the top 10. The top three categories made up nearly one third of all complaints received and accounted for 65% of all complaints in the top ten categories.
“The Division of Consumer Affairs is a crucial part to the everyday lives of New Jersey residents by enforcing consumer protection laws and educating the public to avoid fraud,” Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said. “Consumer complaints alert DCA on who is violating those laws and what patterns of fraud are emerging in the marketplace.”
“The complaints we receive each year help the Division set its priorities and deploy its resources to best serve New Jersey’s consumers,” Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs Cari Fais said. “Our public outreach campaigns and enforcement initiatives are guided by the complaints we receive, and the information consumers provide to us.”
In 2022, the division initiated or resolved a variety of motor vehicle related investigations involving predatory towing, automotive repairs, car sales and auto parts pricing. Last year, DCA reached significant settlements with nine car dealerships totaling more than $650,000. Alleged violations include failing to list prior accidents, damage and repairs made to vehicles; failing to honor the advertised price of a used car; charging excessive vehicle preparation fees; failing to disclose the full sale price of a motor vehicle; and deceptive advertising.
Office of Consumer Protection typically receives more than 1,000 new complaints every month through its online portal. Staff review each complaint to determine whether it alleges a violation of consumer protection laws, and whether it should be referred to a unit within OCP or another agency. OCP may open a formal investigation that could lead to an administrative or civil court filing. OCP also may attempt to informally mediate a resolution between a consumer and a merchant without the need for a formal filing. Other matters may be handled by formal mediation or arbitration through the division’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Program.
Throughout the week, more information on each top-ten category will be posted to the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Twitter and Facebook pages, along with information on how consumers can protect themselves.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.