BBB changes complaint system to benefit patrons

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The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado has modified its complaint handling procedures to comply with those of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The changes are designed to make the complaint reporting system more concise and consistent.

Carol Odell, executive director and chief executive officer of the Better Business of Southern Colorado, said complaints will only be accepted by fax or e-mail and a record of every complaint will appear on bureau members’ reliability report. Previously, if a complaint was resolved within 72 hours, the complaint wasn’t recorded. Consumers will have to try to resolve any problems with the manager of the business before a complaint is accepted.

“This system resolves the problem in a positive way,” Odell said. “We now have to count all complaints on record. The report will show how the company resolved the complaint. If the company has done everything they can to resolve a complaint, it (the report) will show they’ve responded to the customer.”

Members also can contact the bureau if they are having problems with a consumer. “We will attempt to conciliate the complaint before the consumer submits the complaint in writing,” Odell said. “It’s a good resource for our member businesses and the consumer because our representatives are neutral, and will work for both parties.”

Under the new system, all bureau members and nonmembers will be treated the same regarding complaints, Odell said. “It’s not a bad thing to have reports on a company’s record,” she said. “It’s just a fair process.”

Greg Bunch, owner of Aspen Coachworks, an automotive service and repair business, said his company has never had a complaint. Although he worries about having complaints in his bureau file, he said the changes are good.

“It forces the person making a complaint to be certain that their complaint is legitimate before they put it in writing,” Bunch said. “For the consumer, it’s good for them to see that any complaints were quickly resolved. I prefer to have a clean record obviously,” he said, “but showing a resolved complaint is second best.”

Mike Edgar, retail banking president for Wells Fargo bank’s Colorado Springs market, said he thinks it’s good that all of the Better Business Bureaus are using the same reporting system.

“I realize that complaints can’t be prevented, but consumers must remember the number of complaints in relation to the number of customers a company deals with,” he said. “The good thing is that we can contact the Better Business Bureau and have them act as an intermediary before a complaint does end up in our file,” Edgar said. “It’s also good that consumers have to take the time to put a complaint in writing, and it’s not just a knee-jerk reaction where a person can call up and vent. Since consumers have to put a complaint in writing, I think some of the complaints will drop off.”

Odell said the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado received 180,000 company report requests last year. “Consumers are more apt to go with a company they can trust,” Odell said. “In general, about 85 percent of local consumers prefer to do business with a Better Business Bureau member.

“Consumers are reminded when evaluating complaint information to please consider the company’s size and volume of complaints,” she said. “The number of complaints filed against a company may not be as important as the type of complaints and how the company handled them.”