In its 100th year, BBB breaks records for consumer services

Consumer inquiries up 20 percent, instances of service top 180 million


ALL MARKETS – March 14, 2013 – Better Business Bureau celebrated its Centennial year by ringing the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery, and helping a record-breaking number of consumers across the United States and Canada. The organization set new records in virtually all categories of service:

  • Total instances of service (online and in person) topped 180 million, up from 142.5 million in 2011, a 27 percent increase.
  • Inquiries jumped more than 20 percent, from 103 million in 2011 to 124.5 million in 2012.
  • The number of complaints against businesses in 2012 was 984,721, up more than six percent from 927,256 in 2011.
  • National charity reports viewed on Give.org were up from 3 million in 2011 to 5 million in 2012.
  • Visitors to the organization’s website averaged 9 million a month.

“These numbers confirm BBB’s leadership in helping consumers make smarter buying decisions,” said Carrie A. Hurt, president and CEO of BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin. “They demonstrate the trust that consumers place in us to give them good information, to steer them toward good businesses and away from bad ones, and to help them resolve problems when they arise. It’s gratifying as we enter our second century to know that our brand is more relevant than ever.”

BBB maintains Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million businesses and rates them based on complaint history, responsiveness to customers, licensing, legal and government action, and other factors. Nearly 400,000 of those businesses are Accredited Businesses that meet the BBB Code of Business Practices and are permitted to display the BBB logo in their marketing and place of business.

Every year, BBB shares which industries were inquired about the most and which received the most complaints. They are as follows:

Inquiries:                                                                                                                            

Industry

2012 Total Inquiries

Rank by number of Inquiries

Percentage Change over 2011

Roofing Contractors

3,502,493

1

5 %

Contractors – General

2,488,480

2

11.5 %

Auto Dealers – Used Cars

2,149,417

3

34 %

Auto Repair & Service

1,915,473

4

21 %

Mortgage Brokers

1,805,244

5

22.5 %

Plumbers

1,773,853

6

16 %

Auto Dealers – New Cars

1,649,661

7

9 %

Collection Agencies

1,543,234

8

40.5 %

Heating & Air Conditioning

1,540,500

9

25.5 %

Construction and Remodeling Services

1,538,574

10

19 %

The number of inquiries received per industry is not surprising, as consumers tend to do more research on large purchases such as cars and home remodeling. The top four categories for inquiries remained the same from 2011, and most of the rest changed only slightly.

Complaints:

Industry

2012 Total Complaints

Rank by number of Complaints

Percentage Change over 2011

Percentage of Resolved Complaints

Cellular Telephone Service & Equipment

41,809

1

9 %

96.2%

Auto Dealers – New Cars

27,025

2

4 %

87.7%

Television – Cable, CATV & Satellite

25,714

3

3 %

97.7%

Collection Agencies

25,068

4

38.5 %

85.9%

Telephone Communications

17,508

5

265 %

95.6%

Auto Dealers – Used Cars

17,506

6

7.5 %

73.4%

Telephone Companies

16,010

7

2 %

97.2%

Internet Shopping

14,744

8

14.5 %

67.3%

Auto Repair & Service

14,380

9

-.75 %

66.5%

Furniture – Retail

14,003

10

-3.5 %

78.7%

The complaint numbers are also not surprising. The industries that received the most complaints are goods and services almost all consumer use. Telephone communications as a category saw the largest increase in the number of complaints, up 265 percent, which was due primarily to mergers and acquisitions within the industry.

Three industries increased in complaints by more than 35 percent: internet marketing, credit cards and collection agencies. Financial services had the biggest decrease in complaints, about 38 percent.