The Better Business Bureau serving Mainland BC has released its list of the top 10 types of businesses that they received consumer complaints about in the province in 2017; and dating services, which did not even make the 2016 list, came out on top with 209 complaints.
The main dating service complained about was Plenty of Fish. “They’ve been on our radar for some time,” says Evan Kelly, senior communications advisor for the BBB serving Mainland BC. “They haven’t been active in responding to complaints, but we’re starting to see some movement.”
Parking facilities, which came in at number one in 2016, dropped to second place in 2017, with 165 complaints. “The typical complaint about these businesses is generally around some kind of questionable activity,” says Kelly. “It’s that type of business. Who likes getting a ticket? A lot of people complain about it.”
A typical complaint is that a customer says they left a ticket on the dashboard, then gets a ticket. When they complain, the company says they couldn’t see the dashboard ticket. “A lot of companies respond to these complaints, which is what we want to see.”
As in 2016, large or big box style companies—new car dealers, electronic equipment dealers, and telephone companies—all made the top 10 list, which Kelly says is not a surprise. “They move a lot of items and have a lot of customers. With these big organizations you would expect them to get more complaints. It doesn’t mean they’re bad businesses. And mom and pop shops get complaints as well.”
Online retailers made the list for the first time. “More people are shopping online than ever before. Most of the complaints are about slow delivery, lack of communication, and not getting what was ordered.”
Moving companies once again made the list, with 138 complaints (three fewer than in 2016). Again, this is no surprise to Kelly. “There’s a very low barrier for entry [to the moving business]; anyone with a truck can do it. And it’s not a well-regulated industry.” Many complaints, he says, come because of movers demanding a large up-front deposit. “You’re not supposed to pay up-front, and any deposit should be fairly low.” Delivery and timing issues with movers were another source of complaints.
Collection agencies had 119 complaints, often from people who do not understand what reach these agencies have. “They can call you at work, they can call your friends. They definitely have limits, but people can’t believe that agencies can do what they do.”
He says that often all it takes is for the person being contacted to say they only want communications in writing, or at a certain phone number. “What we want [after a complaint is lodged] is for the business to make a good faith effort to address the complaint.”
Loan companies—often payday loan businesses—did not make this year’s list, which Kelly says is good. Roofing contractors did make the list, and were the type of business that got the most inquiries on the BBB website in 2017. Home improvement businesses, plumbers, general contractors, heating contractors, and painting contractors also made the top 10 inquiries list in 2017.
“Consumers are looking for information on specific companies, looking for complaints about them. And news stories can spike the number of people looking at a certain company,” says Kelly, citing the case of Bestway Driving Academy in Richmond shutting down.
He urges people to do their due diligence and homework before hiring a contractor. “Millions of dollars are lost each year to shady contractors. The contractor will show up and take a deposit, and you’ll never see them again. Make sure you hire a trustworthy business.”