BBB’s Top Complaints and 2015 Stats: More Consumers Than Ever Checking BBB.org When Making Purchasing Decisions Customer Reviews, Scam Tracker, and other online services appeal to consumers
Southfield, MI – April, 2016— Better Business Bureau released its national 2015 statistics today, showing some interesting trends in the way consumers interact with BBB. The best known BBB services – complaints, investigations, ad review, and mediation – were stable, but BBB saw a big increase in consumers interacting with the organization online at bbb.org:
• Inquiries, when consumers look up individual businesses, were up 4.3% to an all-time high of 172.8 million views.
• Published Customer Reviews topped 214,000. BBB only publishes Customer Reviews when it can verify that the reviewer is an actual customer of the business; about a third go unpublished.
• Reports to BBB Scam Tracker, a new service introduced in late 2015, topped 13,000 in just a few months.
BBB’s free dispute resolutions services continue to be core to its mission to enhance marketplace trust. In 2015, the top ten industries that received complaints were the same as 2014, although the order shifted a bit.
Complaint Category (By Industry) 2015 Total 2014 Total 2014 Rank Increase/
#1 Cellular Telephone Service & Supplies 35,921 33,199 #1 + 8.2%
#2 Telephone Communications 28,315 29,659 #2 – 4.75%
#3 Auto Dealers – New Cars 26,567 25,568 #4 + 3.82%
#4 Television – Cable, CATV & Satellite 26,111 27,585 #3 -5.34%
#5 Collection Agencies 19,779 21,576 #5 -8.3%
#6 Auto Dealers – Used Cars 16,805 16,571 #6 +1.4%
#7 Furniture – Retail 14,433 12,779 #8 +12.9%
#8 Banks 10,982 11,265 #9 -2.5%
#9 Internet Shopping 10,476 12,936 #7 -19%
#10 Auto Repair & Service 9,653 10,474 #10 -7.8%
Total for all Industries 870,246 873,208 -0.34%
The total number of complaints fell by a small fraction (0.3%). As is usually the case, the top complaints are mostly things people have and use every day, such as cell phones, cable TV, cars, banks, and furniture. The biggest change was a 12.9% increase in complaints against furniture retailers.
“The furniture industry saw 5% growth in 2015, so that explains part of the increase,” said Melanie Duquesnel, president & CEO of BBB Serving Eastern Michigan. “More than half of the complaints to BBB had to do with the products themselves: the quality, delivery, guarantees, and refunds and exchanges. The good news is that the industry has a respectable rate of settling BBB complaints… 85%. That’s better than the overall average of 79% across all industries.”
The biggest decrease in complaints was about Internet shopping, which fell 19%, dropping from #7 to #9 on the list and accounting for nearly the total decrease in all complaints to BBB last year. “We hope this is because online retailers are focusing on good customer service and on-time delivery,” said Duquesnel. “Consumers notice that kind of improvement. This is a trend we would like to see continue in future years.”
The only category in the top ten that is not an everyday consumer purchase is collection agencies, which remained at #5 but saw an 8.3% drop in complaints. “No one who is dealing with a debt collector is happy about it, so it is not a surprise that we see so many complaints,” said Duquesnel. “We are pleased to see the significant drop and encourage the industry to keep moving in that direction.”
Although the top industries for complaints are common goods and services that consumers use every day, the top ten industries for inquiries (visits to bbb.org to look up businesses) tend to be infrequent and high-ticket items, particularly those related to home maintenance and automobiles. The full statistical report for both complaints and inquiries can be accessed online at go.bbb.org/2015complaintstats.
For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org/detroit, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
About Better Business Bureau Serving Detroit & Eastern Michigan
Better Business Bureau Serving Detroit & Eastern Michigan is a non-profit organization with the purpose of promoting trust in the marketplace by assisting in the protection of consumers and businesses from fraud and unethical business practices. In addition to its recognized dispute resolution services, the BBB maintains business reviews on the customer service history of more than 85,000 local businesses and provides consumer education materials on numerous topics. BBB provides its services free to the public and its service territory stretches across Eastern Michigan from Ann Arbor through Metropolitan Detroit, Lansing, Flint, upward to Alpena, and covers the entire Upper Peninsula of the state.
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