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Complaint Trends in our Marketplace 2017 to 2018

By Rod Davis, CEO BBB serving Southeast Florida and the Caribbean

Our BBB receives over 40,000 complaints each year from consumers about businesses in Southeast Florida and the Caribbean. While it is good to be on some top 10 lists, being the top industry on the complaint list is not a good thing.

For 2018, online retailers topped the list with 3,019 complaints, a 220% increase over the complaint total for 2017. Prompting the kind of consumer complaints with online retailers include:

  1. Delays or failure to deliver orders
  2. Poor quality products
  3. Refund issues
  4. Customer service issues

The internet has made it easier and less costly to start online businesses and while many startups are good quality businesses, many are not and some just get overwhelmed by the volume of new sales. Since the businesses can be located in other states it also makes it more challenging to address issues if they do arise. Here is a sample complaint from a consumer against one of the online retailers generating significant complaints:

This company takes your money, but never sends you the order!

I purchased an item in Oct. After still not having a ship date weeks later, I decided to cancel the order. They charged my paypal account immediately and received payment. They have not answered their phone, answered my emails, or even responded to my open Paypal case. This company is a complete scam. They are getting away with robbing people and never shipping the items. How can this be allowed? And so far Paypal hasn’t done anything except open a case and allow them 2 weeks to respond!!! I am furious. I have read the reviews of this company (wish I did it before ordering) and they are ALL negative, they have done the same thing to many customers!

As this consumers points out, he should have checked out the business first! Here are a few tips to follow when buying online from a retailer:

  1. Go to www.BBB.org and review the history of the business. How long has the business been in operation? Do they appear to be stable and have a good marketplace history? What type of complaints are being filed and how is the business responding to the complaints? Does the business respond professionally and are the complaints sporadic or do they show a pattern that might extend to your transaction should you purchase from them? Look at other internet sites and see if they have similar information about the business. You can always find a good business to work with, so don’t spend your dollars on a business that does not do a good job of taking care of customers.
  2. Review the delivery schedule and return policy of the business before you purchase. Well run businesses will let you know approximate dates/times to deliver and will provide routine updates to keep you, as a valued customer, informed about the progress of your order. If this information is not outlined on the website and the complaints indicate the company does not communicate with their customers in a timely and professional manner, you may want to move on to another option.
  3. Product quality and warranty coverage are other issues to evaluate, especially if you are making a significant purchase. If you see complaints about the quality of the product and the business routinely challenges coverage of the product under the warranty terms, you are taking a big risk to purchase from the business. Look for another option where the product quality is good and the business demonstrates a commitment to stand behind their products and services.

omplaints Filed at BBB Southeast Florida and the Caribbean (2017 and 2018)

Type of Business

2018

 

Type of Business

2017

     

Online Retailer

3019

 

Cell Phone Supplies

1838

Cell Phone Supplies

1965

 

Online Retailer

1409

Home Warranty Plans

1498

 

Burglar Alarm Systems

1326

Burglar Alarm Systems

1394

 

Pre-Paid Phone Card

1171

Moving Companies

1160

 

Airlines

1103

Pre-Paid Phone Card

1086

 

New Car Dealers

1070

New Car Dealers

1070

 

Cruises

944

Airlines

903

 

Jewelry Stores

820

Cruises

902

 

Insurance Companies

761

Jewelry Stores

895

 

Used Car Dealers

712

Moving Brokers

878

 

Clothing – Online Sales

701

Financial Services

824

 

Moving Companies

681

Insurance Companies

804

 

Home Warranty Plans

666

Several other industries saw significant increases in complaints from 2017 to 2018. The moving industry (companies and brokers) experienced a large jump in complaints. Most complaints in this industry relate to:

  1. Increases in cost from estimates to final amounts due. When searching for a moving company it is essential to find a business that will conduct a thorough in house inspection to establish a solid price for your move. By checking the information online about a moving company you can also see any businesses that are routinely receiving complaints about price increases. Find a business that works closely enough with their customers to set solid prices that rarely need adjustment. The government provides good information to assist consumers at www.FMCSA.DOT.gov/Protect-Your-Move.
  2. Damage when household moves take place is another key complaint driver for this industry. It is always smart to pay a little extra to have full insurance to protect your goods since some damage is likely to happen with most moves. The basic coverage only provides consumers with 60 cents on the pound and that coverage will not even begin to cover the cost to replace a TV or other items.

Just as the customer indicated in the complaint earlier, the best thing to do to avoid problems is to do enough research in advance to find a good business before you make a purchase. Use www.BBB.org and other resources (family, friends, and other research sites) to find a trustworthy business with a good reputation. While no business is perfect, a good business will proactively work with customers with legitimate concerns to find a solution. Begin your search at www.BBB.org/Self.