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2022 CFA Consumer Complaint Survey

Man reading the 2022 CFA Consumer Complaint Survey

2022 CFA Consumer Complaint SurveyOverview of the Consumer Complaint Survey Report

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) has published its annual Consumer Complaint Survey Report, revealing the Top 10 Consumer Complaints in the United States for 2022. The report compiled data from nearly 600,000 complaints filed with 36 agencies across 25 states. This analysis provides a unique window into consumer experiences and points to patterns of business misconduct based on the 2022 CFA Consumer Complaint Survey.

The Consumer Complaint Survey Report is an annual endeavor that informs public policy and promotes transparency within the marketplace. The data illuminates the pressing issues consumers face, arming them with the knowledge necessary to navigate a complex commercial landscape.

What is the Consumer Federation of America?

The Consumer Federation of America is a non-profit organization that seeks to advance the consumer interest through research, education, and advocacy. It was established in 1968 and is based in Washington, D.C.

Composed of more than 250 member organizations, the CFA conducts research and advocacy in areas related to consumer protection. These areas include food policy, product safety, financial services, energy, and housing, among others. It provides a platform for other consumer organizations to express their collective views and work on common issues.

Advocacy and Accountability: The Core Mission of the CFA for Consumer Rights

One of the primary aims of the CFA is to represent consumer interests before federal and state regulatory bodies, Congress, and the courts. They aim to hold corporations and government policies accountable for fair treatment of consumers.

In terms of research, the CFA conducts thorough studies on consumer issues to produce reports, white papers, and surveys. These resources are then used to inform policymakers, the media, and the public about the consumer perspective on pertinent issues.

The CFA also undertakes significant educational efforts, aiming to help consumers make more informed and responsible decisions. These efforts can include public service announcements, educational conferences, and the provision of informational resources for consumers and other stakeholders.

The Emergence of Timeshares in the CFA Top 10 Complaints

In 2022, the surge of timeshare-related grievances became increasingly evident, as they carved a notable position amongst the top 10 consumer complaints. These complaints weren’t just limited to one or two issues but spanned across multiple facets of the timeshare industry. Many consumers reported instances of deceptive sales techniques where they were promised benefits that never materialized. Additionally, a significant number found themselves entangled in contracts that had opaque or outright unfair terms, leaving them feeling trapped and exploited.

Another prominent concern was the daunting task of reselling a timeshare. For many, this process was riddled with complexities, unclear procedures, and a lack of transparent marketplaces. The rise of these complaints not only highlights the inherent challenges in the timeshare market but also signals an urgent need for more robust consumer protection measures and industry reforms. The entry of timeshares into the top 10 is a clear testament to the persisting and growing challenges consumers face when navigating this often-complicated and opaque market.

The Underlying Issues with Timeshares

Timeshares, a once-promising vacation option for many, have recently come under scrutiny due to various underlying issues reported by consumers. Central to these grievances is the feeling of being misled or outright deceived during the initial sales pitch. Prospective buyers often attend presentations expecting to be informed about the benefits and responsibilities of owning a timeshare. Instead, many find themselves cornered by high-pressure sales tactics.

These aggressive approaches tend to emphasize the attractive features of the timeshare, while conveniently downplaying or even neglecting to mention the significant long-term financial commitments involved. This selective presentation leaves many consumers feeling trapped once they realize the full extent of their obligations.

Misleading Sales Tactics

Timeshare companies’ sales tactics are at the forefront of consumer concerns. While some presentations may begin as informative sessions, they frequently deviate into pushing attendees towards making a purchase. Disturbingly, many of these sessions gloss over the nitty-gritty details, especially concerning the financial obligations and the binding nature of the contracts. High-pressure tactics, such as limited-time offers or aggressive persuasion methods, further contribute to hurried decision-making. This often results in buyers feeling rushed and not given ample time or clear information to make an informed choice, leading to regret and frustration in the long run.

Unfair Contract Terms

Many consumers reported issues with what they perceived to be unfair terms in their timeshare contracts. These could include inflexible usage rules that limited their ability to make use of the property, substantial annual maintenance fees that could increase without cap or warning, and onerous termination clauses that made it difficult for owners to exit their contracts without significant financial penalties.

Difficulty with Timeshare Resale

A prominent issue raised in the report was the difficulty consumers faced when trying to resell their timeshares. Some timeshare companies offer buy-back programs or resale services, but consumers found these to be overly complicated, lacking in transparency, or ultimately unsuccessful. There are also many third-party resale companies, but these come with their own risks, including scams and high upfront fees with no guarantee of a sale.

Lack of Timeshare Exit Options

Another significant problem reported was the lack of viable timeshare exit options from contracts. Some consumers reported that they felt they were trapped in their timeshare agreements with few or no feasible ways to exit. Even when timeshare companies offered exit solutions, they were often expensive, requiring owners to pay hefty fees to end their contracts.

These issues together highlight the pressing problems that consumers face in the timeshare sector. Both the CFA report and the recent BBB report underscores the need for improved transparency, better regulatory oversight, and increased consumer education to ensure that timeshare owners fully understand the commitments they are making when they sign their contracts.

Inadequate Customer Service

Yet another issue raised in these reports relate to inadequate customer service. Timeshare owners have reported difficulty in reaching customer service representatives, as well as encountering reps who were unable or unwilling to assist with their issues. This lack of support only amplified other problems, as owners often found they had no one to turn to for help with contract misunderstandings, booking issues, or other concerns.

Misrepresentation of Investment Value

Timeshares are often pitched as a form of investment with potential for value appreciation over time. However, many owners found that this is not the case. The secondary market for timeshares is often heavily saturated, which drives prices down, often far below the original purchase price. This misrepresentation of potential investment value can lead to financial distress for timeshare owners who may have been counting on their timeshares as a potential source of future income.

Discrepancies in Booking and Availability

Some timeshare owners reported discrepancies in booking and availability as a major issue. They have found that their desired dates or locations are often booked out far in advance, making it difficult to take full advantage of their timeshare. The issue is further exacerbated when these companies continue to sell more timeshares without providing adequate availability to accommodate the increased number of owners.

Lack of Transparency

Lack of transparency about the full cost of ownership was another issue reported by many consumers. This includes undisclosed fees, escalating maintenance costs, and unexpected assessments that increase the cost of owning a timeshare. Timeshare owners often feel they were not adequately informed of these costs during the sales process.

All these problems highlight a system that can leave timeshare consumers feeling trapped, burdened with financial obligations they were not fully aware of, and unable to get the value they expected from their investment. The findings in the 2022 Consumer Complaint Survey Report underline the need for better regulations in the timeshare industry, stricter oversight of timeshare sales practices, and more transparent and equitable contracts. This will protect consumers and ensure they fully understand the long-term implications of their timeshare agreements.

Broad view of findings in the CFA Consumer Complaint SurveyBroad Overview of Key Survey Findings

In addition to timeshares, the report includes other sectors that have historically drawn high numbers of complaints. The automotive industry, for instance, continues to be a significant source of grievances, with consumers expressing dissatisfaction with new and used car sales, misleading advertising, faulty repairs, and leasing disputes.

The home improvement and construction industry also featured prominently, with complaints about shoddy work, failure to start or complete jobs, and problems with contractors. Retail issues, particularly in relation to deceptive advertising and problems with goods sold online, made the list as well.

Financial services, such as predatory lending and deceptive practices, and telecommunications, particularly issues with internet services, were also areas of substantial consumer discontent.

According to Yahoo News, the 43-page report is a what’s what of consumer frustration — and replete with examples of little getting done to resolve problems until a consumer protection organization or government agency tackled the challenge.

Conclusion and Implications

The 2022 Consumer Complaint Survey Report by the Consumer Federation of America provides a crucial insight into the struggles of consumers across the country. It brings to light the pressing problems in various industries, including the timeshare sector. This data is an essential tool for policy-makers, advocates, and consumers to take action, enforce accountability, and ultimately foster a fair and transparent marketplace.

While the report paints a concerning picture of numerous sectors, it is crucial to remember that it also represents an opportunity. By shedding light on these issues, the CFA is giving consumers the knowledge they need to avoid potential pitfalls, and signaling to businesses and policymakers the areas where improvement is desperately needed.

The article provided is solely for informative purposes and is not to be taken as legal advice. It is recommended that you consult a legal professional for guidance on any specific matters or concerns.


Led by attorneys J. Andrew Meyer and Michael D. Finn, with over 75 years of combined legal experience. The Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm that specializes in Timeshare law. For a free consultation, please contact our office at 727-214-0700 or email us at [email protected]

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