Better Business BureauIn March, 2011, Better Business Bureau released its annual complaint statistics: 1.1 Million complaints  in 2010, up 10% from 2009.

The top 3 categories, Cable and Satellite TV, Cell Phone Industry and New Car Auto Dealers all had a lower number of complaints than last year. They also had a higher rate of resolution.

The only industries in the top 10 ranked by number of complaints that had increased complaints are: Mortgage Brokers, Auto Dealers – Used Cars, Auto Repair and Service,  and Collection Agencies.

The category with the largest number of complaints (Television, Cable, CATV and Satellite) had 30, 985 complaints which represents 2.8% of all complaints. That means there are many more categories but they are small numbers (less than 10,000 complaints a year)  and many of them must have increased complaints for the overall average to rise 10%.

Auto Dealers – Used Cars and Auto Repair and Service categories have the dubious distinction of having both increased complaints and lower rates of resolution. The poorest resolution rate for the top 10 was Internet Shopping.

According to Stephen A. Cox, President and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, “The services and tools that BBB supplies free of charge at are now of more value than ever before to consumers,” added Cox. “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.”

Following are the top 10 industries by volume of consumer complaints filed across North America with BBB in 2010:

Industry Total Complaints Rank by number of complaints1
Percentage increase over 2009 Percentage of Resolved Complaints2
Television – Cable, CATV & Satellite 30,985 1 -5.0% 98.6%
Cellular Phone Services & Equipment 27,293 2 -29.6% 92.1%
Auto Dealers – New Cars 24,698 3 -8.1% 87.4%
Banks 22,648 4 -24.3% 98.5%
Collection Agencies 15,876 5 .5% 80.2%
Auto Dealers – Used Cars 14,520 6 6.1% 70.6%
Auto Repair & Service 13,178 7 3.5% 65.6%
Furniture – Retail 13,018 8 -1.1% 79.1%
Internet Shopping 12,950 9 -39.8% 61.4%
Mortgage Brokers 9,545 10 17.8% 81.0%

What is interesting is that despite the many complaint sites such as Yelp,, Ripoff report and so on, Better Business Bureau is still holding its own amongst the complaint aggregators.

The detailed report for Canada,  the US and combined Canada and US for 2010 can be found at this site.


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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

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