According to an annual report released today by Better Business Bureau, consumer complaints to the organization increased by 9.7 percent in 2009. Not only did BBB receive nearly 1 million complaints filed by disgruntled customers last year, consumers turned to the non-profit more than 65 million times for help researching businesses across North America.
“Amidst the housing crisis, high unemployment rate and the chaos on Wall Street, the last year has not been easy on consumers and the increase in complaints to BBB reflect this troubled economy,” said Kim States, BBB President. “Now more than ever, struggling families should rely on BBB to find businesses they can trust and to help their voice be heard in the marketplace.”
The cell phone industry received the largest number of complaints in 2009 with 37,477, a 2.1 percent increase over last year. The cable & satellite TV industry ranked second with 32,616 complaints, an 8.7 percent increase over the previous year. Rounding out the top three, banks received 29,920 complaints, a 42.3 percent increase over the previous year.
“For the second year in a row, banks experienced a significant increase in complaints coinciding with 140 bank failures in 2009,” said States. “Trust in the financial sector is already extremely low and the dramatic increase in BBB complaints against banks reflects the growing discord between consumers and the industry.”
While the cell phone industry, cable & satellite TV industry and banks received a high volume of complaints, two of the three industries saw improvements in their resolution rates over the previous year. Cell phone companies resolved 97.4 percent of complaints; the cable & satellite TV industry resolved 97.2 percent. The resolution rate by banks declined slightly to 95.2 percent.
The report also reveals that BBB Reliability Reports—which are available online for free and contain information on a business’s accreditation status, letter-grade rating and complaint history—are increasingly popular as a free tool for consumers to research the trustworthiness of businesses. The nearly 4 million BBB Reliability Reports® on businesses across North America were viewed more than 65 million times in 2009. The most popular industries researched through BBB were roofing contractors, general contractors and mortgage brokers.
Complete rankings are after the jump.. (more…)