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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Canton Region and Greater West Virginia
Complaints to Better Business Bureau Up Nearly 10 percent in 2009
March 08, 2010
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According to an annual report released today by Better Business Bureau, consumer complaints to the organization increased by 9.7 percent in 2009. Not only did BBB receive nearly 1 million complaints filed by disgruntled customers last year, consumers turned to the non-profit more than 65 million times for help researching businesses across North America.

“Amidst the housing crisis, high unemployment rate and the chaos on Wall Street, the last year has not been easy on consumers and the increase in complaints to BBB reflect this troubled economy,” said Stephen A. Cox, President and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Now more than ever, struggling families should rely on BBB to find businesses they can trust and to help their voice be heard in the marketplace.”

The cell phone industry received the largest number of complaints in 2009 with 37,477, a 2.1 percent increase over last year. The cable & satellite TV industry ranked second with 32,616 complaints, an 8.7 percent increase over the previous year. Rounding out the top three, banks received 29,920 complaints, a 42.3 percent increase over the previous year.

“For the second year in a row, banks experienced a significant increase in complaints coinciding with 140 bank failures in 2009,” said Cox. “Trust in the financial sector is already extremely low and the dramatic increase in BBB complaints against banks reflects the growing discord between consumers and the industry.”

While the cell phone industry, cable & satellite TV industry and banks received a high volume of complaints, two of the three industries saw improvements in their resolution rates over the previous year. Cell phone companies resolved 97.4 percent of complaints; the cable & satellite TV industry resolved 97.2 percent. The resolution rate by banks declined slightly to 95.2 percent.

The report also reveals that BBB Reliability Reports—which are available online for free and contain information on a business’s accreditation status, letter-grade rating and complaint history—are increasingly popular as a free tool for consumers to research the trustworthiness of businesses.  The nearly 4 million BBB Reliability Reports® on businesses across North America were viewed more than 65 million times in 2009. The most popular industries researched through BBB were roofing contractors, general contractors and mortgage brokers.

Following are the top 10 industries by volume of consumer complaints filed across North America with BBB in 2009:

Industry

 Total
Complaints

 Rank by
number of
complaints

 Percentage
change over
2008

 Percentage of
resolved
complaints

 Cellular phones
service &
equipment

37,477

1

2.1%

97.4%

 Television - Cable,
 CATV & Satellite

32,616

2

8.7%

97.2%

 Banks

29,920

3

42.3%

95.2%

 Auto Dealers -
New Cars

26,888

4

-2.4%

84.1%

Internet Shopping

21,494

5

9.4%

71.7%

Collection Agencies

15,797

6

-3.3%

86.6%

Auto Dealers -
Used Cars

13,686

7

2.5%

70.8%

Telephone Companies

13,470

8

11.2%

96.1%

Furniture - Retail

13,158

9

-2.9%

78.3%

Auto Repair
 & Service

12,736

10

9.5%

65.9%


For a complete industry breakdown of all complaints filed with the BBB in 2009, and previous years, go to www.bbb.org/us/statistics. To learn more about BBB dispute resolution services and BBB Reliability Reports®, contact Alison Southwick at 703-247-9376.

About BBB

BBB, the leader in advancing marketplace trust, is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability Reports® and charity BBB Wise Giving Reports®, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is a difference in viewpoints. The organization is also a recognized leader in developing and administering self-regulation programs for the business community, and, with respect to the advertising industry, does that through a joint venture in conjunction with National Advertising Review Council partners. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 123 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than four million local and national businesses and charities. Visit www.bbb.org for more information.