Michigan details leading consumer complaints for 2018

Credit and financial concerns again lead the annual Top 10 list of consumer complaints in Michigan, released during Consumer Protection Week.

The 2018 list, based on nearly 9,000 complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team during the year, is aimed at helping the public make well-informed decisions about how to spend their money, state Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

The department was able to recoup more than $1.6 million in consumer refunds, forgiven debts and state recoveries.

“Michiganders work hard for their money and as the state’s chief consumer advocate, it is up to us to help them understand their consumer rights and protect them from bad actors,” Nessel said.

The Top 10 for the year are:

— Credit and financial concerns: This has remained the top consumer complaint category since 2006, with 911 complaints in 2018. Complaints cover a variety of areas, including debt collection and reporting, credit repair, payday lending and mortgage brokering.

— Telecommunications, cable, and satellite TV: Moves up from three to two this year. This category includes complaints involving issues such as robocalls, telemarketing, wireless communications, and cable and satellite TV services. Despite moving up to the second spot, complaints in these categories were down more than 10 percent in 2018.

— Motor vehicle and automobiles: Also moving up a spot from four to three, the total number of complaints in this category remained relatively steady. Complaints against used car dealers continue to top the category, with other frequent complaints involving motor vehicles and car bodies, new car dealers, and passenger car rentals.

— Internet: Moving up a slot from five to four, the total number of complaints in this computer-based category went down by 5 percent. Almost half of these complaints involved online purchases and a significant number of complaints were filed against computer communication and internet service providers.

— Retail: Up from the sixth spot last year, complaints included general merchandise, food and furniture stores, business services, and eating and drinking places.

— Contractors: The fifth category to move up a spot from last year’s list are complaints about residential building construction services, landscaping services, plumbing, heating and air conditioning services, along with special trade contractors. Consumers filed 20 percent more complaints in 2018 than the previous year.

— Personal service providers: Down five slots from last year’s No. 2 spot, complaints in this category went down by 43 percent; 2017’s jump was directly attributable to the large number of complaints against western Michigan-based gym chain Family Fitness. Complaints range from dating services and salons to home security and tax preparation services.

— Landlord and tenant: Holding steady at eight, this category had a 15 percent increase with almost 500 complaints. Most of the complaints involved apartment owners and managers.

— Health service providers: Staying at nine, this category’s total complaints decreased by 7 percent in 2018. The category includes doctors, dentists, hospitals and medical clinics.

— Gasoline, fuel and energy: This category remains steady at 10, with complaints against gasoline service stations and gas and electric services dominating this category.

Consumers can submit a complaint by going to mi.gov/agcomplaints or by calling 877-765-8388.