Annual Consumer Complaints Survey Says Car Problems Really Grind Our Gears

There are plenty of things out there to complain about — after all, fighting back against the companies and industries that let down consumers is why we’re here in the first place. And according to a new survey from the Consumer Federation of America, the area we’re most cranky about is (drumroll, please)… car shopping! Of course, there are plenty of other consumer woes as well.

The top consumer complaints ranged from auto dealers selling customers lemons, to complaints over credit cards and problems with buying products on the Internet.

This year’s CFA list is a result of surveying 38 consumer agencies to see what kind of complaints were levied against companies in 2011. Last year those agencies tallied a total of almost 290,000 complaints, and ended up recovering or saving consumers almost $147 million. And if customers are lucky, some companies actually take those complaints to heart and try to change things for the better.

Without further ado, here are your top five most complained about areas. Check out CNN for the rest of the list:

1. Autos: Whether you got duped into buying a lemon, fell victim to false advertising or had your car towed, consumers grumbled the most about problems with cars. One major problem area, said the report, was customers in Florida getting tricked by a Craigslist seller into buying non-working cars or ending up with vehicles without titles.

2. Credit/Debt: No shocker here — credit card billing and fee complaints are in the same spot on the list for the third year in a row. This area also includes mortgage and predatory lending disputes, as well as abusive debt collection tactics. Basically anything where you’re involved with getting credit and owing an financial institution money.

3. Home Improvement/Construction: Plenty of people complained that they paid for work that wasn’t finished, was done poorly or was otherwise unsatisfactory.

4. Retail Sales: Complaints abounded in this area, from problems with false advertising, fraud, defective merchandise, gift cards and basically anything and everything connected to buying a product from a retailer. A big problem area this year included merchants not honoring promotional gift certificates or having unclear terms on when shoppers could use such vouchers.

5. Utilities: Billing disputes and service problems connected to phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas services had a big chunk of complaints. Fees going up, outrageous bills or just shoddy service contributed to problems consumers complained about.

Top 10 consumer complaints [CNN]