An annual report released by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) yesterday revealed that consumers filed 1.1 million complaints against North American businesses in 2010, a 10 percent increase from the number of complaints filed in 2009. Additionally, consumers used the BBB’s website to research North American businesses more than 87 million times last year, up 37 percent from 2009.

“The complaints filed with BBB are not only a barometer of customer satisfaction, but the rise in complaints also shows that consumers are increasingly relying on BBB for assistance in resolving disputes with businesses,” said Stephen A. Cox, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, in a statement.

The BBB offers consumers 3 million Business Reviews, which report businesses’ accreditation status, letter grade and complaint history. Roofing contractors, general contractors and mortgage brokers were the most frequently researched industries in 2010. Out of 4,483 industries represented, the largest number of complaints were directed to the cable and satellite TV industry, with 30,985 complaints in 2010, down five percent from 2009. Complaints filed in this industry were resolved 98.6 percent of the time last year, a slight increase from the year before. The cable and satellite TV industry’s resolution rate is above the overall average resolution rate across all industries, which was 78 percent in 2010.

The second highest complained-about industry in 2010 was the cell phone industry with 27,293 complaints, a 29.6 percent decrease from 2009. Ranking third on the list are new car auto dealers with 24,698 complaints last year, an 8.1 percent decrease from the year before. These two industries, like the cable and satellite TV industry, also beat the average number of resolved complaints, with the cell phone industry resolving 92.1 percent of complaints and  new car auto dealers resolving 87.4 percent of complaints.

“Industries that do a large volume of business are naturally going to have a larger number of complaints,” said Cox. “This is why it’s important to look at how a company responded when BBB approached them with consumer complaints, and not just the sheer number of complaints.”

The free services and tools offered on the BBB website are especially valuable for consumers in this tough economy, said Cox, adding, “Given the current economic climate, consumers need to be more cautious on where and how they spend their money and a fast, easy way to do this is to ensure businesses are accredited by BBB and have a good BBB rating before doing business with them.”

About The Author

Shannon O'Neill is a senior editor at Bombshell.

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