Complaints to Better Business Bureau Up Ten Percent Nationwide

April 01, 2011
According to an annual report released today by Better Business Bureau, consumers filed 1.1 million complaints against North American businesses in 2010, reflecting a ten percent increase over the previous year. Consumers also turned to the non-profit more than 87 million times for help researching businesses across North America, a whopping 37 percent more than in 2009.  

“The complaints filed with BBB are not only a barometer of customer satisfaction, but the rise in complaints also shows that consumers are increasingly relying on BBB for assistance in resolving disputes with businesses,” said Stephen A. Cox, President and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The cable and satellite TV industry received the largest number of complaints with 30,985, a 5 percent decrease over last year. The cell phone industry ranked second with 27,293 complaints, but saw a 29.6 percent decrease over 2009. Rounding out the top three, new car auto dealers received 24,698 complaints, an 8.1 percent decrease over the previous year.

While the cable and satellite TV industry, cell phone industry and new car dealers received a high volume of complaints, the BBB report shows that they also have a higher rate of resolution with consumers than the average rate (78 percent) across all industries in 2010. Cable and satellite TV resolved 98.6 percent of complaints, a slight increase from 2009; the cell phone industry resolved 92.1 percent; while new car dealer companies resolved 87.4 percent of all complaints.

“Industries that do a large volume of business are naturally going to have a larger number of complaints. This is why it’s important to look at how a company responded when BBB approached them with consumer complaints, and not just the sheer number of complaints,” added Cox.

The report also reveals that the 3 million BBB Business Reviews are increasingly popular as a free tool for consumers to research the trustworthiness of businesses.  BBB Business Reviews—which contain information on a businesses’ accreditation status, letter-grade rating and complaint history—were accessed more than 87 million times in 2010. The most popular industries researched with BBB are roofing contractors, general contractors and mortgage brokers.

“The services and tools that BBB supplies free of charge at are now of more value than ever before to consumers,” added Cox. “Given the current economic climate, consumers need to be more cautious on where and how they spend their money and a fast, easy way to do this is to ensure businesses are accredited by BBB and have a good BBB rating before doing business with them.”

Following are the top 10 industries by volume of consumer complaints filed across North America with BBB in 2010:

 Industry Total Complaints
Rank by number of complaints1
Percentage increase over 2009
 Percentage of Resolved Complaints2
 Television - Cable, CATV & Satellite
 30,985  1  -5.0%  98.6%
 Cellular Phone Services & Equipment
 27,293  2  -29.6%  92.1%
Auto Dealers - New Cars
 24,698  3  -8.1%  87.4%
 Banks  22,648  4  -24.3%  98.5%
Collection Agencies
 15,876  5  .5%  80.2%
Auto Dealers - Used Cars
 14,520  6  6.1%  70.6%
Auto Repair & Service
 13,178  7  3.5%  65.6%
Furniture - Retail
 13,018  8  -1.1%  79.1%
Internet Shopping
 12,950  9  -39.8%  61.4%
Mortgage Brokers
 9,545  10  17.8%  81.0%
1 Complaint rank is out 4,483 industries categories
2 Average resolution rate across all industries for 2010 was 78 percent

For a complete industry breakdown of all complaints filed with the BBB in 2010 go to To learn more about BBB dispute resolution services and BBB Business Reviews, contact Kelsey Owen at 703-247-9376.

About BBB
BBB 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 Business Reviews and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 122 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than three million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit for more information about BBB.