Inquiries Down & Complaints Up at BBB of Western Michigan

January 16, 2009



News Release #010209
Issued: 01-16-2009
Contact: Ken Vander Meeden
616-774-8236 or Email:

Inquiries Down & Complaints Up
at BBB of Western Michigan

The Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan reports that inquiries at the regional BBB which covers 38 counties are down 29% in 2008 vs. 2007 for reports issued. After having grown for many years, fewer of their 24,000 report database were reviewed in 2008 by consumers and businesses.

Ken Vander Meeden, local BBB President noted:

“We have had more rosters issued by type of business than ever before, but for some reason, consumers are not checking the specific company reports as often in 2008. We did change our web site to the required national format and this different look may not be as well received as its predecessor. However, consumers seem to have found the complaint button more often, as complaints are up over 14%.”

In addition, the BBB announced the use of “letter grade” ratings beginning in 2009, which should give inquiring minds a quick review of a companies overall trustworthiness. Grades are A to F for most of the 24,000 reports in the regional BBB’s database. In addition, the centralized web site of allows consumers, businesses and donors to access approximately four million national entities, which will now have letter grades or in the charily section, an accredited charity denotation if they meet all of the BBB’s Charity Standards..

Vander Meeden noted:

“The advent of letter grade ratings should, once again, paint a better picture for consumers. This was reviewed and debated for many years and I am pleased that an official, national change was made as it is our opinion that consumers frequently only skim the important details; most people will quickly realize what a D or F is on our reports and we have about 1,100 of those in our local regional database. The BBB’s stated goal is to deliver consumers to trustworthy business and charities.”

For more information on BBB services, programs, and specific reports, visit, which distributes over 97% of all BBB information. In addition, callers can contact the BBB of Western Michigan from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM most business days.

BBB-WMI Top Ten in 2008

Reports/Inquiries down 29%;
though overall “rosters” requested for
BBB Accredited Businesses are up substantially.

1) Multi-level sellingDown 38%, this is usually our #1 most inquired about industry with virtually few complaints.

2) Mail Order – CatalogDown 44% from economy, Internet, or postal hikes, probably all of the above.

3) Contractor – GeneralDown 11% which reflects that consumer still buy in this tough market and are researching contractors more than ever.

4) Roofing ContractorsUp 64% as people search more often for a trustworthy roof over their heads.

5) Work-At-Home CompaniesNew to our top 10 inquiries as layoffs and the economy cause people to search for some type of income opportunity. BBB advice: BE CAREFUL. as many offers are not good for your financial health.

6) Credit & Debt CounselingNew to our inquiry top ten list & up 92% from ’07 (again BBB warns:BE CAREFUL as some are not good for your financial health.

7) Mortgages & ServicesUp 9% in a crisis economy; BBB advice, BE EXTRA CAREFUL as bad deals abound for consumers caught in housing disasters.

8) Charity – LocalFormer #1 most inquired industry down 85% as consumers survive before they donate. We are a generous charitable region but “give wisely” to the charities as unfortunately the government doesn’t monitor. The BBB has reports, READ them and then decide.

9) Windows – Sales & ServiceUp 4% from ’07 and first time in our top 10; check our reports as drafty sales pitches may equal drafty windows.

10) Auto Dealers – UsedDown 32% and always a challenge; spend the time and money to inspect the used car and the reports on the used car dealers.

2008 BBB-WMI Top Ten “Complaints
(Up 14% in BBB-WMI 38 county service area.)

1) Major Appliance ManufacturersDown 16% as our BBB processes all “national” statistics for a major manufacturer; not a problem - in fact great performance considering the size of this company.

2) Mail OrderUp 132% over 2007 indicates more demanding consumers in a tight economy, and poor research by consumers

3) Wholesale DistributersNew category with 331 complaints for ‘08. We will watch this one.

4) Seeds and Bulbs RetailAnother new category 356 and a few sellers but not a problem based on volume.

5) Internet ShoppingUp 66% as a regional furniture online retailer suddenly went out of business leaving customers holding the bag and not the furniture.

6) Manufacturers & ProducersUp 19% as consumers demand more for their limited funds.

7) TV, Cable-Satellitedown 34% as these virtual monopolies become more flexible with increased competition.

8) Auto Dealers NewUp 18% as consumers demand more in this super competitive industry, for the most part we have good dealers in our region.

9) Internet Services – Local suppliers of internet services creep onto our top 10 list; not all providers created equal, find a good one.

10) Auto Dealers – Used - Returns to the top 10 as buyers remorse and guaranteed financing claims create problems.