If the calls coming into money expert Clark Howard's Consumer Action Center (CAC) are any indication, people are having a hard time right now and looking for answers.
The CAC received 20,944 calls between January 1 and November 30, 2021.
Here Are the Top 10 Consumer Complaints for 2021
Let’s take a look at areas with the top consumer complaints received by the CAC this year. After that, we’ll highlight some tips that can help you.
- Customer Service
- Insurance (Auto, Home and Life)
- Taxes and Estate Planning
- Collections and Debts
- Credit Bureaus
Here are some consumer tips from Clark and CAC director Lori Silverman.
“The number one call we get is related to customer service,” Lori says, adding that CAC volunteers use many options to assist people in getting the help they need from one company or another.
Companies are increasingly using automated services to handle consumer calls, but there are some ways you can reach a real live person.
Use Social Media
Reach out to the company’s account on Twitter or Facebook and explain your situation, Lori says. In many cases, companies are more responsive on their social media accounts than any other avenue.
If you do decide to reach out via social media, Lori says you should remember to stick to the facts about your situation and not embellish.
Use Live Chat
Many company websites have a live chat feature that allows you to correspond with a customer service representative in real time.
“The wonderful thing about the chat is that you’ve got written documentation rather than just verbal,” Loris says. “So you can print that out and have that as a resource if you need to continue on with your complaint.”
Loris says the CAC also gets quite a few calls about investing.
Please note that Team Clark doesn’t advise on specific investments. According to Clark, “There are certain guardrails you should know and certain things you should do to get going and get started and start accumulating money. What we answer are the basics.”
Here are some great resources you can read to get started:
“We are getting so many calls with respect to used cars and automobiles in general,” Lori says, “whether it’s repairing the car or having issues with the repairs.”
When it comes to used cars, "The #1 thing you need to do is get it checked out by an independent mechanic before you purchase the vehicle," Lori says. "If they will not let you take the car off the lot, you run away. You don't walk; you run."
"You run a vehicle title history first," Clark says, "because if it's got rotten stuff on the title history like it's been in a flood, which has been a big problem, you don't even need to get to the step of having it checked out by a mechanic."
“There’s always an uptick in fraud toward the end of the year,” Lori says, “But there’s been more of a recurrence now with the money apps, with people losing all of their money in their banks when somebody thinks they’re sending money to someone legitimate and it turns out to be fraudulent.”
Clark says payment apps like Zelle, CashApp and Venmo serve a useful purpose, but you have to use them with care.
“Payment apps can be a very useful tool to pay money to family and friends,” he adds. “They are poison when you pay to strangers,”
If the company from which you bought a product or service continues to give you the runaround, Clark’s Consumer Action Center may be able to point you toward some helpful resources. The CAC has been giving free one-on-one advice to people for nearly 30 years now.
The Consumer Action Center is a free community resource for advice on money and consumer issues. Got questions? Call 636-49C-LARK (636-492-5275).
More Resources From Clark.com:
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com