Consumer troubles seen from the aspect of natural disasters - from troubles over repair work of devastated houses to piggybacking scams -
When a natural disaster occurs such as earthquake, typhoon, heavy snow, etc., inquiries and complaints related to the natural disaster are often sent to local consumer centers across Japan. The number of inquiries and complaints on consumer troubles related to natural disasters surged in FY2010 and FY2011 due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, then decreased in FY2012 and thereafter.
However, the number of inquiries and complaints related to natural disasters other than the Great East Japan Earthquake has not decreased even after FY2012.
The content of the inquiries are varied. Some of them are about troubles indirectly related to natural disasters, including those from disaster victims about repair work for their houses, and those about cancellation of trips and air tickets. In addition, there are many cases of suspicious solicitations triggered by natural disasters.
Therefore, NCAC has analyzed the content of troubles related to natural disasters other than the Great East Japan Earthquake to provide information with a view to preventing recurrence and spread of these consumer damages.
Sample cases of inquiries and complaints
- [Case 1]
- After a free check of roof, I was told that there will be a leak in the roof if left as it is, so I made a contract for expensive repair work.
- [Case 2]
- My furniture was heavily damaged by leaking of rain in the rented apartment.
- [Case 3]
- The roof was leaking during heavy rain. Then, I ordered repair service, but the leak has become even worse.
- [Case 4]
- The carport was broken by heavy snow. I wonder if the construction was defective from the beginning.
- [Case 5]
- My flight was cancelled due to typhoon, but I cannot get through to the agent.
- [Case 6]
- When I cancelled a campsite reservation because of typhoon, I was charged an expensive cancellation fee.
- [Case 7]
- I cannot trust the repairer telling that roof repair work will be done within the coverage of fire insurance.
- [Case 8]
- I was told that compensation will be paid if I answer a questionnaire.
- [Case 9]
- Theatrical sales schemes purporting like "Your personal information was leaked and your house has become an evacuation site".
- [Case 10]
- I had paid a nursing home residence right fee for another person, but I was told the action was illegal and was charged some money.
Characteristics highlighted by the sampling of inquiries and complaints
Characteristics of inquiries and complaints analyzed by category of natural disaster:
- Typhoon: In addition to direct damages by typhoon, many troubles occurred due to broad-scale disturbance of transportation.
- Heavy rain: Troubles like leaking of rain and flood tend to occur repeatedly.
- Heavy snow: People living in areas of less snowfall are not well prepared for heavy snow, so they are involved in unexpected troubles when they are hit by heavy snow.
- Earthquake: After the Great East Japan Earthquake, there have been fraud cases capitalizing on people's consciousness of earthquake.
Characteristics of inquiries and complaints analyzed by item/service
- Roofing work, repair work: This is the most common type of troubles associated with repair details and cost.
- Rented apartment, rented house: Troubles may happen with the owner over repair of damaged portions.
- Travel, air service: Troubles tend to occur when cancelling a trip due to disordered transportation.
- Fire insurance of building, repair service: In notable cases, consumers were encouraged to apply for insurance benefit and to contract repair service (combined solicitation).
- Suspicious solicitation: There are also theatrical sales schemes purporting "It is for disaster victims" and solicitations for investment.
Advice for Consumer
Be aware that there are various types of troubles related to natural disasters.
Be careful when contracting repair service. You should get competitive quotes from several repairers and consult with people around you. Do not decide on the spot.
Be careful about various fraudulent sales triggered by natural disasters.
- Be careful when solicited that repair work will be done at no cost using insurance benefit.
- Do not fall for suspicious talk preying on kindness to disaster victims.