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Top Five DCA Complaints

 The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) enforces the Consumer Protection, Licensing, and Weights and Measures laws.  Below are the top five categories of consumer complaints in 2008 and tips on how to avoid them.





 

COMPLAINT CATEGORY TIPS

Debt collection agencies
Consumer complaints against debt collection agencies are generally split into two categories:

  1. Consumers who do not owe the debt and receive false notices.
  2. Consumers who are being harassed by debt collectors, such as being contacted in the middle of the night.

Home Improvement Contractors
Consumer complaints against home improvement contractors are generally about contractors who take consumers' money without completing the home improvement job.

  • Check if a contractor is licensed
    NOTE: You will be redirected to a new web page. Scroll to the blue Consumers box to select Search for a DCA Licensee.
  • Never pay in cash.
  • Set up a progress payment schedule in your contract so that payments are tied to specific work progress with final payment due when all the work is completed to your satisfaction.
  • Learn more about home improvement contractors

Used Car Dealers
Consumer complaints against used car dealers include high pressure sales tactics, sweepstakes scams and unclear contract terms.

  • Check if a used card dealer is licensed
    NOTE: You will be redirected to a new web page. Scroll to the blue Consumers box to select Search for a DCA Licensee. 
  • Read the terms and conditions of "claiming" a prize or offer before signing any documents.
  • Don't sign blank contracts or forms, even if you are in a hurry. Take time to understand all terms and conditions before agreeing to anything.
  • Read DCA's Used Car Sales Consumer Guide

Electronics Store
Consumer complaints against electronics stores include improper pricing of items, damaged goods and "bait and switch."

  • Check if an electronics store is licensed
    NOTE: You will be redirected to a new web page. Scroll to the blue Consumers box to select Search for a DCA Licensee.
  • Look at the item's packaging. Many times an electronics store might advertise a low price but take out parts of the item and try to resell them to you at a higher price, making the total package an expensive purchase.
  • Inspect the item before purchasing. An item may look new, but it could be used or rebuilt. Any product that has been used must be marked "used," "floor model," "rebuilt" or "refurbished."
  • Avoid bait and switch. When shopping for a sales item, remember a store must supply what they advertise, at the advertised price. Be careful if a salesperson tries to talk you into buying another item that is not what you came for. Stick to your guns!
  • Read DCA's Consumer Guide to Buying Electronics

Furniture Stores
Although DCA does not license furniture stores, like all businesses in NYC, furniture stores must comply with City laws, including the NYC Consumer Protection Law. Top consumer complaints against furniture stores include defective or damaged items, items that were never delivered and billing issues.

  • Get a receipt that lists all details, including exact delivery date and price details. Never pay the full amount before delivery.
  • If you're signing up for the furniture store's financing program in which you make monthly payments to pay for your purchase, make sure you read and understand all terms and conditions before signing.
  • Inspect the furniture delivered before signing for it.
  • Learn more about DCA's Consumer Protection Law