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Consumer Updates

BBB commends savvy consumers: reports show complaints down, inquiries up

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March 5, 2012 | 2,442 views | Post a comment

Nationwide statistic show shoppers are doing their homework

AUSTIN, Texas -- Consumer savvy, smart shopping and common sense all had a great year, according to Better Business Bureau. Consumers asked BBB for help more than 103 million times in 2011, up from 87 million in 2010 and the highest rate in the organization’s 100-year history. Conversely, filings of formal complaints against businesses were down across the U.S. and Canada; 927,000 in 2011 compared to just over one million in 2010.

“Consumers are less likely to need BBB dispute resolution services when they come to us first,” said Carrie A. Hurt, president and CEO of BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin. “We are very happy to see that more consumers are doing their research before handing over their hard-earned money.”

BBB maintains Business Reviews on more than 4 million businesses and grades them based on complaint histories, responsiveness to customers, licensing, legal and government action, and other factors. 400,000 are Accredited Businesses that meet the BBB Code of Business Practices and are permitted to display the BBB logo in their advertising and place of business.

Industry 2011 Total Inquires, Rank by number of inquiries*, Percentage Change over 2010

Roofing Contractors 3,343,214 1 38.8%

Contractors - General 2,232,022 2 71.4%

Auto Dealers - Used Cars 1,606,226 3 40.6%

Auto Repair & Service 1,581,440 4 63.8%

Plumbers 1,524,559 5 49.9%

Auto Dealers - New Cars 1,517,950 6 26.0%

Mortgage Brokers 1,471,565 7 14.5%

Construction & Remodeling Services 1,293,423 8 36.4%

Heating & Air Conditioning 1,227,787 9 19.4%

Movers 1,205,158 10 3.3%

* Inquiry rank is out of 4,790 industry categories

Complaints are formal procedures that consumers file against a particular business when they have a problem they cannot resolve on their own. Every complaint is examined by an investigator at the local BBB where the business is located, and the company is given 30 days to respond. About 95% of complaints to BBBs are resolved at this level; the rest go to mediation or arbitration. BBB has trained mediators and arbitrators in every state and province in North America.

Industry 2011 Total Complaints, Rank by number of complaints*, Percentage change over 2010, Percentage of resolved complaints**

Cellular Telephone Service & Equipment 38,420 1 40.8% 96.1%

Auto Dealers -- New Cars 25,983 2 5.2% 87.8%

Television -- Cable, CATV & Satellite 25,518 3 -17.6% 97.8%

Collection Agencies 18,090 4 13.9% 83.1%

Auto Dealers -- Used Cars 16,264 5 12.0% 72.9%

Banks 15,989 6 -29.4% 97.5%

Telephone Companies 15,691 7 65.2% 96.3%

Furniture -- Retail 14,521 8 11.5% 75.3%

Auto Repair & Service 14,490 9 10% 66.7%

Internet Shopping12,877 10 -.6% 71.9%

*Complaint rank is out of 4,790 industry categories>/i>

**Average resolution rate across all industries for 2011 was 76.3 percent

Some industries saw big improvements over the past year. Complaints about health and medical products fell 61%, vitamins and food supplements fell 49%, satellite equipment and supplies fell 46%, vacation certificates and vouchers fell 45%, complaints about small business loans were down 38%, extended warranty contract service companies down 38%, buying clubs down 35%, loans were down 35%, complaints about mortgage brokers fell 31%, and banks fell 30%.*

There were quite a few industries with big increases in complaints, but one industry stood out more than any other: payday loan companies had 159% more complaints than in 2010. Other industries with an increase in complaints: book publishers rose 72%; cellular telephone equipment/supplies up 64%, and telephone companies up 64%; electronic equipment repair and service rose 54%; florists complaints rose 52%; travel clubs were up 48%; general merchandise retail increased 46%; insurance services rose 43%; and skin care rose 41%.*

* The most improved/declined industries were those with the highest percentage changes in complaints from 2010 to 2011 for those industries with at least 1,000 complaints in 2011. All of those noted are in the top 200 industry categories that BBB tracks.

To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit

About Better Business Bureau:

BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.

Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is the preeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses and charities.

Contact BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin at (512) 445-4748.
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