From January 1 to December 31, 2015 the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) received a total of 3,3903 consumer complaints that resulted in $1,122,662 going back to consumers in the form of credits, refunds, and adjustments. The top complaint was those related to vehicles, according to a release sent by Juliana Harris of SCDCA. 16%(635) of the complaints came from vehicles, with utilities in a close second with 14% (542), debt collection at 10% (386), contractors at 6% (235) and rounding out the top five, finance at 5% (189)
The top five consumer refunds were related to: (1) a disputed debt and removal of delinquency on credit reports, $170,000; (2) payoff from the sale of a repossessed vehicle and removal of delinquency on credit reports, $64,500; (3) buy back of defective vehicle under lemon law, $51,689; (4) adjustment of mortgage contract, $39,060; (5) buy back of defective vehicle under lemon law, $38,653.
“As the economy continues to rebound, more consumers are becoming active in the marketplace, especially purchasing vehicles,” said SCDCA’s Administrator Carri Grube Lybarker. “As complaint data reflects, providing consumer guidance and ensuring industry compliance with applicable laws related to vehicles is as important as ever.” SCDCA has updated its “Auto Guide for Consumers” along with a brochure with tips for consumers to avoid buying food damaged cars. SCDCA was also apart of “Operation Ruse Control” in 2015, a crackdown nationwide adn cross-border that helps protect consumers when they buy cars. Due to this SCDCA issued 78 enforcement letters addressing 105 violations of state and federal motor vehicles advertising laws that resulted in four fines.
This year’s data closely resembles the trends seen last year. Contractors edged out Credit for inclusion in this year’s top 5 complaint categories. Top refunds garnered in 2015 represent a diverse cross section of the types of complaints SCDCA receives, while complaint refunds in 2014 were all related to vehicle complaints states Harris.
SCDCA processes and mediates consumer complaints against businesses regulated by the DCA, refers complaints that fall within another agency’s jurisdiction, and mediates those complaints against businesses that are unregulated. To file a complaint, visit www.consumer.sc.gov and click FILE A COMPLAINT. To see if a business has complaints against it, consumers should take advantage of the Search Complaints tool on the Consumer Information page of SCDCA’s website.