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The Better Business Burea is commending savvy consumers.
Consumers asked BBBs across the country and in Canada for help more than 103 million times in 2011, up from 87 million in 2010 and the highest rate in the organization’s 100-year history.
Conversely, filings of formal complaints against businesses were down across the U.S. and Canada; 927,000 in 2011 compared to just more than 1 million in 2010.
There are 116 BBBs across North America. BBB maintains reviews on more than 4 million businesses and grades them based on complaint histories, responsiveness to customers, licensing, legal and government action, and other factors. Of those businesses, 400,000 are accredited and meet the BBB Code of Business Practices and are permitted to display the BBB logo.
The top industry for inquiries was roofing contractors with 3,343,214, up 38.8 percent over 2010. Here is a list of the top 10 inquiries for 2011:
Complaints are formal procedures consumers file against a particular business when they have a problem they cannot resolve on their own. Every complaint is examined by an investigator at a local BBB and a company is given 30 days to respond. About 95 percent of complaints are resolved at this level; the rest go to mediation or arbitration. BBB has trained mediators and arbitrators in every state and province in North America.
Here are the top 10 industries with complaints in 2011:
Some industries saw big improvements over the past year.
Complaints about health and medical products fell 61 percent, vitamins and food supplements fell 49 percent, satellite equipment and supplies fell 46 percent, vacation certificates and vouchers fell 45 percent, complaints about small business loans were down 38 percent, extended warranty contract service companies down 38 percent, buying clubs down 35 percent, loans were down 35 percent, complaints about mortgage brokers fell 31 percent and banks fell 30 percent.
There were quite a few industries with increases in complaints, but one industry stood out more than any other: payday loan companies had 159 percent more complaints than in 2010.
Other industries with an increase in complaints: book publishers rose 72 percent; cellular telephone equipment/supplies up 64 percent, and telephone companies up 64 percent; electronic equipment repair and service rose 54 percent; florists complaints rose 52 percent; travel clubs were up 48 percent; general merchandise retail increased 46 percent; insurance services rose 43 percent; and skin care rose 41 percent.
Cathy Williamson is manager of the Lincoln Trail Area branch of the Better Business Bureau. Contact her at (270) 982-1289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.