With the pandemic changing many people’s lives and habits, complaints and inquiries to the Better Business Bureau increased in 2020. (Photo credit: Nick Youngson/Alpha Stock Images)

With the pandemic changing many people’s lives and habits, complaints and inquiries to the Better Business Bureau increased in 2020. (Photo credit: Nick Youngson/Alpha Stock Images)

Increase in consumer complaints, inquiries connected to COVID-19

More people working from home and shopping online fueled nature and number of inquiries

The many changes in British Columbians’ lives due to COVID-19 is reflected in a major increase to the number of consumer complaints and inquiries the Better Business Bureau serving Mainland BC (BBB) saw in 2020.

The number of complaints and inquiries jumped by 30 per cent over 2019, and many of them appear to be directly connected to the pandemic. The BBB notes that health and safety concerns and significant lifestyle adjustments like cancelling all travel plans and working from home, as well as the challenges businesses faced with staying open, keeping staff employed, operating safely, and meeting consumer demand all had an impact on the issues and interests of businesses and consumers.

Complaints about credit repair services were number one in 2019, but in 2020 electronic equipment dealers took top spot. There was no change when it comes to consumer inquiries, with plumbers, roofing contractors, and general contractors once more at the top of the list.

“The numbers show us a vivid picture of how British Columbians were particularly impacted by the pandemic,” explains Karla Laird, Manager for Community and Public Relations at BBB. “Our analysis found that most local complaints about businesses were directly connected to issues ultimately stemming from the pandemic.

“This included concerns like lengthy service times, delayed deliveries, poor customer service and communication, as well as issues processing refunds. At the same time, with most of the consumer inquiries falling under home improvement, it is clear that there was a growing interest in projects focused on developing the space where [people] would be spending more time working, studying, and enjoying leisure activities.”

The top 10 complaints by industry in B.C. in 2020 were: electronic equipment dealers (359 complaints); parking facilities (310); credit repair services (233); online retailers (159); telephones (152); clothing (148); collection agencies (131); new car dealers (115) fitness centres (105); auto financing (70); and dating services (67).

The top 10 inquiries by industry in B.C. in 2020 were: plumbers (70,498 inquiries); roofing contractors (63,756); general contractors (54,700); moving companies (48,552); loans (46,475); home improvement (42,361); home builders (35,723); landscape contractors (30,134); electricians (29,715); and collection agencies (28,619).


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