Angie Wieck, Published January 31 2013
Better Business Bureau fields all types of complaints in North Dakota, MinnesotaFARGO – Auto dealers, auto service and repair stations and contractors were among the top 10 industries for consumer complaints made to the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota in 2012.
“It’s never really a surprise that these categories are near the top of the list, just because cars and homes are bigger purchases,” said Dan Hendrickson, communications coordinator for the bureau, based in Burnsville, Minn., with offices in Fargo and St. Cloud, Minn.
Hendrickson said the larger the dollar amount involved, the more likely a complaint will be lodged if a customer is unhappy.
In addition to helping resolve disputes, employees at the bureau provide customers with free business ratings based on several factors, including a business’s willingness and ability to resolve customer complaints. They also track the number of complaints received and if they have been resolved.
Grievances filed after October 2011 also include details such as the customer’s complaint, the company’s response, and how the complaint was closed by bureau staff.
The bureau handled just more than 24,200 complaints during 2012 and resolved an estimated 90 percent of them.
Hendrickson stressed the importance of customers doing their homework before making buying decisions.
Hendrickson offered the following additional tips on buying a car:
- Take the time to do research. Comparison shop at several dealers.
- Ask friends and family for referrals. Find out the kind of experience they had with a dealer.
- When buying used, look up the Kelley Blue Book value. Also considering purchasing a Carfax report. While it does not guarantee a clean bill of health, it will include reported accidents and if a vehicle has been salvaged.
- Probably most important is to determine if a warranty is involved. Be sure to get all warranties and promises of repair in writing. Many used cars are sold “as is,” Hendrickson said. This means the seller is not obligated to fix any problems that may arise after the purchase.
The Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead offers up the following tips for hiring a contractor:
- Always check to see if the contractor is licensed in the state in which work will be performed. In North Dakota, call (701) 328-3665 or visit nd.gov/sos/licensing. In Minnesota, call (651) 284-5069 or visit www.doli.
- Get more than one estimate and be wary of any contractor that requires full payment up front, uses high-pressure sales tactics or asks you to sign authorization paperwork or a contract you don’t understand.
- Get a detailed contract including a summary of the work to be done, a description of materials, the total contract price or how the price will be calculated and specific timelines.
- Request references and check with former customers to see if they were satisfied with the work.
- Ask about warranty work and the company’s service policies.
Other industries in the bureau’s top 10 included banks, window companies and property management firms.
Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the bureau, points out the top 10 is based on statistics taken from the volume of complaints.
“It’s certainly not to single companies in these industries out or label them as problematic,” Badgerow said. “It’s simply a snapshot of trends we noted in our marketplace over the past year.”
Name: Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota
Phone: (800) 646-6222. Operators are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501
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