D+AS MAGAZINE

FEATURES — Complaints Against Garage Door Companies Rising

© 2006 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Summer 2006
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Pages 52-53


Complaints Against Garage Door Companies Rising
BBB Complaints Increase 125 Percent Since 2001

By Tom Wadsworth

A new nationwide study of consumer complaints to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) reveals that complaints against garage door companies have been rising rapidly over the last five years. Very rapidly.

From 2001 through 2005, garage door industry complaints jumped 125 percent, from 341 complaints in 2001 to 768 in 2005.

The study comes from national statistics provided to Door & Access Systems by the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Arlington, Va. BBB officials say that number is affected by the increasing availability of the Internet and the increasing ease of submitting complaints online.

However, complaints for all industries combined increased 52 percent from 2001 to 2005. Thus, the rate of increase in our industry is 2.5 times the average rate of increase for all business categories.

Complaints filed with the BBB are likely a fraction of the overall number of complaints submitted directly to companies. Angry customers usually don’t resort to a formal BBB complaint unless they have not received satisfaction directly from the company.

Most Complaints: We’re in the Top 10%

In 2005, BBB complaints for the “overhead garage doors” category ranked #197 out of more than 2,800 categories studied for “total complaints.” In other words, our industry ranks in the top 10 percent of the most-complained-about business categories in the nation.

The statistic is more striking because large businesses with many more customers and employees had fewer total complaints. For example, hospitals ranked #201 on the list, with 753 total BBB complaints. With millions of customers, “cellular telephone service and supplies” ranked #1 with 31,671 BBB complaints in 2005.

Most Report Requests: The Top 3%

The BBB also tracks the number of “report requests” for more than 3,600 different industry classifications. Consumers can request a report on a company before they do business with that company.

Of those 3,600 categories, “overhead garage doors” ranked #112 in the 2005 list for the number of “reports requested.” Mortgage companies and roofing contractors ranked #1 and #2 for the most report requests in 2005. Increased requests for reports may indicate that the public is growing more cautious of doing business with door companies.

From 2001 to 2005, requested reports for all business categories rose 124 percent, reflecting the increased use of the Internet. However, garage door industry report requests rose 305 percent in the same time span, or 2.5 times the rate for all industries combined.

A Few Bad Eggs …

A closer analysis of the data shows that most garage door companies actually have an excellent reputation and have no complaints at all. Our industry has a few dealers with an extremely high number of complaints; these dealers account for a large portion of overall complaints. And these dealers have been increasing in number in the last five years.

For example, three specific garage door service companies account for 7 percent of all complaints filed in the last three years. In other words, one out of every 14 garage door company complaints is filed against only three dealers who have an excessively poor reputation for handling complaints.

Those three dealers are located in San Diego, Calif., Jacksonville Beach, Fla., and Richland Hills (Dallas), Texas. All three operations are believed to be connected to the same owner. The BBB has given all three companies an “unsatisfactory” rating for their handling of complaints.

A New England Sampling

A sample BBB study of 272 garage door businesses in Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont revealed that 81 percent (221) had no complaints in the past 36 months, 16 percent (44) had 1-4 complaints, and only three percent (7) had 5-25 complaints. No garage door companies in this region had more than 26 complaints in three years.

The BBB notes that a company’s size, number of employees, volume of business, and number of transactions may have a bearing on the number of complaints received by the BBB.

How to Handle a Complaint

“Effective complaint handling should be a priority for every business,” says the BBB Web site (www.bbb.org). The BBB suggests taking the following steps.

Encourage your customers to communicate their concerns. Designate one employee to have the ultimate responsibility for complaints and customer relations. Make sure that all employees know your procedures.

Log all details of each complaint, investigate the facts, and let the customer know that you are working to resolve the issue. After you develop a solution, respond to the customer clearly and professionally, avoiding form letters and technical jargon.

Got a Complaint About a Competitor’s Ad?

Don’t think that the BBB is merely a tool for consumers to use against you. “Member companies and non-members can report advertising inaccuracies to their local BBB as a complaint,” says Tom Collier, president of the Tucson BBB. He adds that fraudulent and misleading advertising has been a focus of the BBB system since its founding in 1912.

After receiving an advertising complaint, Collier says his BBB will check the advertisement for violations of its “truth in advertising” policies. If verified, the BBB will issue a challenge to the offending company.

If the firm doesn’t substantiate or modify their ad, “We usually make a referral to the attorney general,” says Collier. “Those complaints also appear on their report.”


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