Throughout the year, Better Business Bureau (BBB) processes thousands of complaints concerning marketplace issues. Last year, BBB Serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona (BBB) processed close to 20,000 complaints, more than 120 submitted in Spanish. To help Spanish speaking consumers avoid common issues targeting this segment, BBB shares the most complaint about industries of 2013 as reported by Arizona Hispanics.
Last year, Spanish complaints filed with BBB increased more than 50 percent compared to 2012. More than 65 percent of complaints involved problems with product or service and billing or collection issues.
“While the number of Spanish complaints is small compared to the total processed by BBB, it is a good indicator of marketplace issues affecting Spanish speakers,” said Myriam Cruz, BBB Community and Media Relations Strategist. “It is important to keep in mind that not all Spanish-speaking consumers submit complaints in Spanish, with some inquiring the help of family members to submit complaints in English.”
BBB shares the most complained about industries reported by Arizona Hispanics in 2013:
Auto Dealers – New & Used Cars
Most complaints allege misunderstandings concerning pricing and billing when it comes to the purchase of new cars. Consumers report being verbally quoted an initial price and signing a contract with an alleviated final price. For used car dealers, consumers report warranty issues that involve lack of response after auto purchase. Promises to repair vehicles within a specific time frame were not fulfilled and some were not provided in writing, leaving consumers with little to no recourse.
BBB Tip: When purchasing a new car, read and understand all terms and conditions outlined in the contract before signing. Ensure all verbal promises are in writing and pay attention to final price and warranty costs. Once a contract is signed, you are responsible for meeting all the terms and conditions, even if they differ from verbal promises.
Auto Repair & Service
Incomplete, delayed and unnecessary repairs were reported by consumers concerning the auto repair and service industry. Some consumers claim paying in advance for repair work that was not completed, while others state the repair shop held their vehicle hostage after they refused to pay extra for work that was not initially agreed upon.
BBB Tip: Always obtain a written estimate before authorizing any work. Make sure the estimate includes a description of your concerns, what the technician found to be the cause, and the correction or course of action for repair, including parts and the total cost. Also, ask about warranty for parts and labor. Ask as many questions as needed.
Complaints primarily involved the delivery of damaged goods and a delay concerning repairs. A few consumers claimed warranty issues and misunderstandings as to what is covered and for what period of time.
BBB Tip: To avoid misunderstandings, inspect furniture before the delivery staff leaves your home. Document any damages and include pictures, if possible. Contact the company that same day and document all interactions, including who you spoke to, the date of expected repair, and any additional costs involved. For warranties, make sure you understand the terms and conditions upon purchase to avoid future misunderstandings.
Most Spanish complaints about loan modifications involved local company Making All Homes Affordable (MAHA), sued last year by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Consumers claim paying up-front fees for loan modification services that were never completed. Complaints state MAHA promised consumers payment reductions based on government programs that in the end, consumers did not quality for.
BBB Tip: It is illegal to collect any advance, up-front or retainer fees for loan modification work or services. Research the company first with BBB at bbb.org or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at www.hud.gov to learn about local programs. Consumers who paid MAHA for services that were never rendered are encouraged to contact the Arizona Attorney General’s Office at www.azag.gov or call 602-542-5763.
About BBB of Central, Northern & Western Arizona
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews® on more than 4.7 million businesses and 11,000 charities, all available free at bbb.org. Incorporated locally in 1938, BBB Serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona is supported by over 11,400 BBB Accredited Businesses. 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 reviews and charity reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.