Consumers are most interested in knowing the good and bad about mortgage and escrow companies and complain the most about automobile dealers, cell phones and credit card companies, according to data compiled by Better Business Bureaus in the United States and Canada.
The bureaus logged 56 million instances of service in 2003, the first year that data for both countries was collected and compiled into one report.
In Southern Colorado, business opportunities edged mortgage companies to top the list of inquiries, but auto dealers also led the list of local complaints.
Carol Odell, president and CEO of the BBB of Southern Colorado, noted that BBB reports contain complaint data that can help consumers avoid becoming victims of fraud, whether it is cross-county or cross-country. “The BBB is well aware of the scam artists who take advantage of consumers,” she said. “Calling the BBB can save you time, money and heartbreak, especially when you check with us before you make a commitment to buy a product or sign up for a service. You can even check with BBB’s in another state for free by using the Internet to do your search. ”
By visiting www.bbb.org, consumers can search for business reliability reports from BBB’s in the United States and Canada, as well as U.S. charity reports from the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. The BBBOnLine Web site (www.bbbonline.org) has a safe shopping database of businesses in the United States, Canada and elsewhere that participate in BBB seal programs to promote safe E-commerce. The local BBB Web site, www.bbbsc.org, offers over 20,000 reports on businesses and charities throughout our 25 county service area.
In total, BBB’s responded to 51.8 million requests from consumers and businesses for pre-purchase information in 2003. These requests included 32.5 million BBB reliability reports on businesses (members and non-members).
The BBB of Southern Colorado provided more than 178,000 reports about businesses in 2003, up more than 25 percent from the previous year.
Other pre-purchase inquiries to the BBB system included 14.7 million requests for general information about shopping wisely and avoiding questionable promotions, and 4.6 million instances of shoppers checking for confirmation that a business participated in BBBOnLine Reliability and Privacy programs. The BBBOnLine seal confirmations had increased 28 percent over the 3.6 million instances of shoppers checking for confirmation in 2002.
BBB’s across the United States and Canada assisted consumers and businesses with more than 1.9 million complaints in 2003. That figure includes 930,121 complaints that were handled by local BBB’s. Of these, approximately 63 percent were filed online.
The BBB’s online complaint form, which is accessible through the www.bbb.org Web site, makes it easy for consumers to seek assistance in resolving disputes with businesses located in the U.S. or Canada.
The BBB of Southern Colorado typically tracks the top five complaint categories. Those categories differ from the national statistics because they are specific to business being done right here in our area. The BBB processed over 2,900 complaints in 2003. The top five categories to receive complaints in our area this year were: Auto Dealers – Franchised, Auto Repair – General, Heating and Air Conditioning, Mortgage Companies and Check Printing (which is a category that services customers from all over the nation.)