Katherine M. Porter, The Complaint Conundrum: Thoughts on the CFPB's Complaint Mechanism, 7 Brook. J. Corp. Fin. & Com. L. 57 (2012).
The law requires the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to collect, monitor, and respond to consumer complaints regarding consumer financial products or services. This Article explores these duties. Its premise is that the CFPB's complaint mechanism, even if carefully designed and heavily resourced, is unlikely to improve the overall level of consumer protection. While taking complaints will aid the CFPB in some of its duties, it also could erode some aspects of consumer protection. Those counterintuitive possibilities bring into sharper relief the issue of whether it is appropriate to task administrative agencies with resolving consumer complaints. What is the purpose of making the government - other than the court system - address complaints with nongovernment actors? The Article considers this fundamental question in the context of the CFPB, identifying theoretical and practical issues raised by the CFPB's strategies to date for handling consumer complaints.