According to year-end statistics, Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona provided almost 330,000 instances of service to local consumers in 2009, up 20 percent from 2008.
The increase in service was driven in part by a 154 percent increase in consumer requests for industry specific lists – or rosters - of BBB Accredited Businesses. Consumers usually request the business “rosters” when deciding on a company to do business with.
Complaints filed with BBB were down 15 percent compared with 2008, despite the overall upsurge in instances of service.
“While we have no real way of determining why we saw a decrease in complaints, we like to think it’s because consumers were doing their pre-purchase research, which is reflected in the number of rosters we provided,” says Kim States, BBB president. “This coupled with a decrease in big-ticket spending are likely causes.”
Of the 2,100 complaints filed with BBB in 2009, 63 percent were addressed by the business and closed as resolved as compared to 73 percent in 2008. That entire drop can be attributed to one company- Nature’s Best Acai Berry- a mail-order diet pill company that accumulated almost 300 unanswered complaints. Nature’s Best has since been the subject of government action and is no longer in business.
Among other top complaint-receiving industries of 2009 was Government Job Listing Services, which accounted for 44 total complaints in the second half of the year, all from one Tucson company- Government Careers Inc (GCI). Nine additional complaints against the company are currently pending.
Complainants told BBB they were unaware they were signing up for GCI’s services when they responded to what they thought were job postings for government positions with the U.S. Postal Service, Border Patrol, and National Park Service at CareerBuilder.com and other job listing sites. Those complainants who did knowingly sign up for the service, which cost from $100 and $900, said they never received the assistance promised and were, in some cases, unable to get a refund of their money.
Finally, in a clear sign of the tough economic climate facing southern Arizona in 2009, consumer inquires into Career and Outplacement Councilors - companies that provide job search and placement services to consumers- jumped 130 percent from 2008. The number of consumer inquiries into credit and debt counseling services saw a 45 percent increase, with consumers logging more than 1,700 inquiries in 2009.