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BBB to post full consumer complaints in detail, starting Jan. 1

Starting Jan. 1, the Spokane-area Better Business Bureau will publish full consumer complaints against companies in the region instead of short descriptions. 

A number of other regional BBBs have also published complaints as a way of adding informationfor consumers to judge for themselves the performance of businesses, said Chelsea Dannen, public relations and media specialist for the Spokane BBB.

The Spokane-based business group covers Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana.

Up until now the BBB has listed the number of complaints a company receives and whether the complaint has been “closed” — either answered by the company or not answered after two attempts for a reply.

Through January, the Spokane BBB will continue to list business complaints in general terms such as billing or collection.

But after that the full text of written complaints will be posted on the organization’s website. When companies send replies, those will be added too, Dannen said. Only revealing and private information will be excluded.

A group of complaints collected since mid-December are being batched together and will be the first placed online, Dannen said.

The name of the consumer lodging the complaint will be shortened to first name and last initial.

In August, the Spokane-area BBB began posting business reviews by consumers. Those are categorized as positive, negative or neutral. They  will continue as a way of adding positive comments to the discussion and balancing company profiles, said Dannen.

During the first 11 months of 2011 the Spokane-area BBB received more than 3,000 complaints. Those do not include employer-employee disputes or matters valued at less than $25.

The BBB rates companies based on several criteria, including responses to consumer complaints.

Companies that respond to a BBB consumer complaint usually have high ratings, Dannen noted. For instance, Kellogg’s Dave Smith Motors was listed among the 10 area companies in 2011 with the most complaints, but since it answered all those complaints, it has an A+ rating, Dannen said.

Once a valid consumer complaint comes in, the BBB will send a company or merchant a request for a reply. After 10 days, if no response is provided, the BBB will send a second request. 

If no reply comes, the complaint will remain uncontested.

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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.