How to be a Responsible Consumer

August 04, 2010

Have you had a complaint with a company recently? Could you have done more research up front to help you make a better decision before spending money? 

Too many consumers don’t take responsibility for their decisions and fail to do their homework before having work done. The BBB regularly hears complaints about people who have hired a company solely because they were the cheapest. By the time the project was done and three companies later, the job had become much more expensive. The first two companies failed to complete the work.

 “I’m a victim” mentality is pervasive throughout our society. Sociologist Irvin Horowitz says, “We are developing a culture of victimization in which everyone is a victim and no one accepts responsibility for anything.”

So, how can we more responsible consumers? Start by determining whether the company or professional is a BBB Accredited Business and their BBB grade. Find three strong businesses and ask for written estimates.

If there is a contract, read all of it before signing. Make sure the contract specifically states what work is to be done, using what materials, noting the start and finish date.

There will be times a BBB Accredited Business might cost you more because they have to be licensed, insured and strive to do the best job possible. That could save you money in the long run.

Also, it’s good to work with a BBB Accredited Business because if there is a dispute, you can ask for a free mediation with the accredited company through your BBB. Consumers and businesses like the mediation process because many times a win-win solution is found.

If you are a business you can help consumers take more responsibility by educating them about the importance of working with a company that has a license, insurance, and good track records. Encourage the person to read the entire contract before signing it.