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Car sales and servicing top US consumer complaints

New data confirms confirms the consumer problems with dealers and garages identified by the OFT apply equally in the US.

The National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators, which represents US government agencies that protect US shoppers, and the Consumer Federation of America, a citizens' advocacy group, compiled the top 10 list for 2002 from complaints reported to state and local consumer-protection agencies. Those agencies said they were able to get $130 million returned to wronged consumers last year, an 18% increase over 2001, after handling 300,000 complaints in 2002.

The top 10 categories of consumer complaints nationally were auto sales; home repairs; automotive repairs; credit; advertising/telemarketing; bill collecting/practices; household goods; Internet/e-commerce; telecommunications/cable and satellite TV; real estate/landlord-tenant relationships. The final four categories all tied for seventh place on the list.

Complaints about vehicle purchases moved up from the No. 2 spot in 2001 to top the current list. It replaced home repairs, which fell to second place.

Among the most frequent complaints about buying cars were false sales promotions, misleading advertising, financing problems, undisclosed damage and title and registration problems.

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