National Consumer Protection Week has started, and the New York State Division of Consumer Protection has reported the top five categories of consumer complaints received in 2022. They have also provided excellent examples of related complaints and useful consumer tips.
The top five categories of consumer complaints received by the NYS Division of Consumer Protection for 2022 were:
- Refunds/Store Policy
- Home Improvement
- Credit Cards
On March 3, 2023, Governor Hochul shared a press release with valuable information on how to be an informed consumer and know your rights. We will be highlighting these throughout the week, starting with the topic of Orders and Deliveries, which was the top complaint reported in 2022.
Orders/Deliveries: Complaints related to the order and delivery of goods purchased, including missing items, incorrect items received, late or delayed delivery or items never shipped.
For example, a consumer from Westchester County ordered bedroom furniture from a large retailer in Brooklyn. At the time of sale, the shipping date was scheduled for February 3rd, but it was later moved to April 3rd. Upon learning of the new date, the consumer contacted the furniture store to cancel the order, however, they were told they would incur a 15% restocking fee. The consumer filed a complaint with DCP, and DCP was able to arrange for a full refund to the consumer.
- Remember to always shop on trusted sites when online shopping. Consumers should shop from sites known to them and exercise caution when shopping from unfamiliar sites or those that host items for third-party sellers.
- Learn about the Federal Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule of 1975, which generally requires retailers to deliver products ordered by mail, phone, or online within 30 days unless otherwise stated at the time of purchase. If there is a delay, you must be notified. If the company cannot reach you to obtain your consent to the delay, they must, without being asked, promptly refund all the money you paid for the unshipped merchandise.
- Be careful when shopping through social media. Social media commerce is gaining ground among shoppers, and according to experts it's growing three times faster than more traditional ecommerce economies. As more consumers browse and shop directly or through links found on social media platforms, we urge consumers to pay attention to brand imposters and fake retailers with fake consumer reviews. Research and verify vendors to avoid placing orders on copycat sites for products that will never arrive.
- Keep track of your packages. Review the tracking information for your package and report any issues to the retailer and shipping company immediately.
- Consumers should be aware that an unsolicited text message or email about an unfamiliar shipment or delivery may be a sign of a package tracking and delivery scam, and they should exercise caution if one is received.
Please contact our office if you have questions or need assistance with a consumer protection related issue. Consumer Protection complaints can also be submitted through our website. The Erie County Office of Consumer Protection can be reached by phone at 716-858-1987 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.