What are consumers complaining about now?

July 28, 2011: 5:31 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Popular new technologies and services -- like daily group deals and wireless TV services -- also come with new frustrations. And consumer agencies are hearing all about them.

While these new complaints didn't make the Consumer Federation of America's top ten list for 2010, the 31 consumer agencies that the CFA surveyed to compile its report singled out nine new categories that have started to spark frustration in our lives.

Here are some of the issues consumers are complaining about now:

Group deals: Daily group deals from companies like Groupon -- which you can only purchase when a certain number of people sign up -- may look amazing when that e-mail pops up in your inbox. But many consumers have been surprised by unexpected limitations or expiration dates on the offers. Also among the new gripes: confusing or inadequate disclosures on group deals, the CFA found.

Best couponing sites and apps

One agency received a complaint from a consumer who bought a coupon for a 90-day gym pass. The fine print on the coupon wasn't clear, so she thought she could begin using the pass any day before the expiration date and still get to go for the full 90 days.

But that wasn't the case, and the company said she couldn't use it after the coupon had expired. She complained to the Cambridge Consumers' Council in Massachusetts, which was able to get her $119 back.

Data breaches: From the Sony (SNE) hack that stole credit card information from 77 million customers and the Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) cyber attack that stole $2.7 million from more than 3,000 accounts, concerns about privacy are rampant. As a result of recent data breaches, the CFA received "barrages" of complaints from consumers worried about identity theft.

Last year, a series of data breaches at banks and credit unions in Montana incited a large number of consumers to call the Montana Department of Justice for help. Many states require companies to notify customers if personal data has been lost or accessed illegally, the CFA said.

Wireless TV contracts: With all the different wireless TV options cropping up, such as Apple TV and Google TV, consumers are complaining that the companies aren't yet accountable enough for their services. For the first time last year, the CFA received complaints about a lack of wireless television service contracts.

A consumer recently complained to a New Jersey consumer agency that he never received a contract with his wireless TV service. Instead, he said the salesperson got his signature on a handheld computer. Since the state law requires companies to present the return and cancellation policy of a product at the point of purchase and provide a sales receipt or contract to every customer, the consumer agency is working to ensure customers receive the proper information.

Phantom pharmacy - A growing health care fraud

Confusing medical bills: Health care insurance has always been confusing, but consumers are apparently having an even harder time figuring out how much money to pay for medical procedures, and to whom. The CFA received complaints from consumers frustrated because their health service providers and insurance companies were disputing whether claims should be covered or were properly submitted -- leaving the consumer in the lurch.

A consumer agency in Virginia recently helped a consumer resolve a complaint where a medical practice had failed to properly submit bills to the patient's insurance agency, so it looked like the patient was the one who hadn't paid.

Timeshare recovery scheme: New to the complaint bin this year were "recovery services" that promised to recoup funds for consumers who lost money to timeshare resale companies.

A consumer agency in Florida, a timeshare hotspot, had always received plenty of complaints about companies promising to resell a consumer's timeshare that then failed to do so. But new complaints started surfacing regarding companies that promised to file disputes with the customer's credit card issuer to try to recoup the money charged by the timeshare resale company. Meanwhile, these so-called "recovery" services, would charge hefty fees to that same credit card for its services

Low-tech Internet scams harvest billions of dollars

"Grandparent scams": The CFA noticed new complaints last year about what it calls the "grandparent scam," where consumers receive calls or e-mails from someone claiming to be a friend or family member who is in trouble and needs help. That help, as you might guess, is needed in the form of a wire transfer and goes to someone they have never met.

The scam was so prevalent in Ohio last year that the Ohio Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section issued alerts warning Ohioans about the scheme, the CFA said.

Car-buying companies: Consumers have begun complaining about companies that offer to buy their cars but never pay off the liens on the vehicles or write checks to consumers that then bounce.

One Maryland car-buying company advertised that it would pay more for a consumer's car than the car dealer across the street would. But consumers said the checks this company gave them for their cars bounced and the loans they sold to the company were never paid off.

Tax "help": The CFA received a new crop of complaints last year about tax-related scams where companies send consumers letters offering to help them with tax-related issues that they could get elsewhere for a much lower price -- or for free.

In California last year, one scam offered to help homeowners reduce their property taxes. Other complaints involved official-looking notices that charged hefty fees for tax assistance when the government could have helped them for free.  To top of page

Help! We need a makeover
Young dad, $15,000 in credit card debt
Readers' Choice

Carlos Rodriguez is trying to rid himself of $15,000 in credit card debt, while paying his mortgage and saving for his son's college education.

$400,000 portfolio, too many holdings
Readers' Choice

Susan Carson and Laura DeLallo make $225,000 and have half a million in retirement savings, but their sprawling portfolios is proving hard to manage.

Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.80%3.88%
15 yr fixed3.20%3.23%
5/1 ARM3.84%3.88%
30 yr refi3.82%3.93%
15 yr refi3.20%3.23%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:
  • -->

    Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.