The North American BBB has released its 2009 compilation of which industries drew the most complaints and how well they resolved them. Of course, “resolved” is a relative term for BBB complaints. It can mean “customer gave up,” but the majority of resolutions indicate at least partial satisfaction of customer claims. While you have to discount some high “resolution” numbers, you can reasonably use them to differentiate addressing complaints among industries.
Here’s the list – from “least worst” (10) to “worst.” The number sequence represents: # of complaints / % “resolved”
10. Retail furniture: 12,313 / 76%
Having worked with clients in this sector, my educated guess is that going out of business without returning deposits triggered lots of these.
9. Auto repair: 12,410 / 65%
Hey, these blokes finish lower than used car dealer. Again, based on with a client providing technical back-up not knowing what they’re going and ginning up problems Click & Clack have never heard of are the primary culprits.
8. Wireline telcos: 13,166 / 96%
They answer to state regulators, so they can’t afford to just stick it to customers outside of what they’re allowed to do.
7. Used auto dealers: 13,235 / 69%
Most (but not all) new car dealerships have cleaned up their act here, so likely a high % of “used only” sellers.
6. Collection agencies: 15,628 / 85%
There is no more predatory and less ethical industry out there, but state regulators are final;ly clamping down.
5. Internet merchants: 21,154 / 69%
I cannot believe the ads some consumers take seriously. Want to inherit a fortune from a dying Nigerian? Hong Kong’s really getting in the act now, too. Most legitimate web merchants are actually very responsible, but far from all are legit. A little trick. If you don’t see an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the ad, get the hell out of there.
4. New car dealers: 26,019 / 83%
Thank you, Toyota. A number of dealer networks have really cleaned up their act. But obviously lots haven’t.
3. Banks: 29,824 / 95%
BBB acknowledges the “resolution” rate is inflated, probably because the FDIC satisfied lots of claims. If left to the banks own devices, and especially to credit card departments, the 95% would probably drop lots.
2. Cable & Satellite Television: 32,158 / 98%
Comcast for one is trying to straighten up a little, but basically we’re talking about two packs of liars caught in a life or death competitive struggle. A whole lotta these folks would qualify as politicians. But, they’re regulated, at least in part, which forces lots of make-goods.
1. Cellular providers: 36,086 / 95%
Verizon wireless is a pretty straight shooter, but watching AT&T defend its “Swiss cheese” coverage and lack of bandwidth to handle iPhones tells us just how low the industry can go. Sprint used to a service nightmare. Now they’re just a bad dream. Viral attacks have hit some so hard that all of them tend to roll over and make good rather than risk bad PR. Yeah, angry customers!
Two lessons here: 1.) If a company screws you, consider going to the BBB. No half-way sane (and legitimate) company wants to be on the black list; 2.) All those BBB window stickers you see at used car dealers and repair shops come from auto-supply distributors.