By Quentin Fottrell
American consumers are either speaking up for themselves more, buying more goods and services or customer service in the U.S. is getting worse instead of better.
Or … it’s probably a little bit of all three.
The non-profit Better Business Bureau says complaints to businesses spiked 10% to 1.1 million last year with cable/satellite television companies topping the list.
Stephen A. Cox, President and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, takes at least part of the credit for the rise, if that isn’t a contradiction in terms.
“The complaints filed with the bureau are not only a barometer of customer satisfaction, but the rise in complaints also shows that consumers are increasingly relying on the bureau for assistance in resolving disputes with businesses,” he says.
The number of complaints to cable/satellite businesses actually declined by 5% to 30,985 in 2010 over the previous year, but the percentage of disgruntled companies who contacted cell phone companies (ranking No. 2 on the list) fell 30% to 27,293.
More reassuring news from the data: cable/satellite companies have nearly 99% of complaints resolved, while cell phone companies resolve over 92% of their complaints.
The Better Business Bureau says automobile dealers selling used cars, much maligned in popular culture, rated No. 6, behind their colleagues who sell new cars (No. 3).
“Industries that do a large volume of business are naturally going to have a larger number of complaints,” Cox says. “This is why it’s important to look at how a company responded when the Better Business Bureau approached them with consumer complaints, and not just the sheer number of complaints.”
So the number of complaints received by companies – in a weird way – is also an indication of how popular businesses are too.
Banks and collection agencies rank No. 4 and 5 respectively, while furniture retailers, Internet shopping and mortgage brokers took the last three spots in the top 10.
Does the list tally with your customer service experiences?