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10 Internet Retailers Rated on Complaint Resolution

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By Mitch Lipka, dealnews Consumer Advocate

Some of the biggest online sellers have embraced the Better Business Bureau to aid their credibility, which means — like it or not — you should, too, when you have a problem.

The BBB, a business organization that has been accused of giving high ratings to dues-paying members despite their track records, counts as members seven of 10 top retailers surveyed by dealnews. We reviewed the complaint data and found that all but one of the companies surveyed received an A rating or higher.

The only one without that lofty rating is Cabela’s, the outdoors retailer, whose rating is being reviewed after an uptick in complaints. Cabela’s logged 163 complaints in the past three years, more than 100 of which came in the past year, the BBB says. But the number of complaints against Cabela’s is small in comparison to some other retailers.

Amazon.com, the biggest of the bunch, tallied 2,580 complaints. It’s all relative, of course. Amazon had nearly $13 billion in sales in the last quarter of 2010. And about 1,800 of those complaints were resolved to the customers’ satisfaction.

Among the companies surveyed, only Cabela’s, Piperlime (Gap) and Apple did not pay for BBB accreditation. So, why does a company’s BBB rating matter to you? A company with a D or F rating is not likely to care very much if the BBB forwards a letter of complaint. Most likely, they’ve decided that they’re not interested in having the BBB mediate disputes with customers.

But, and it’s no guarantee, if the company has a higher rating (and/or is a member) a consumer will have a better chance of getting a complaint noticed when it’s filed through the BBB. Meritline and Overstock, for example, resolve most complaints filed through the BBB to the satisfaction of their customers. Others, such as TigerDirect, have a lower success rate.

If you have a dispute with an online seller, you should first try to resolve it with the company. If there’s a charge that shouldn’t be there, be sure to alert your credit card company so your objection is documented within 60 days of getting the credit card statement with the erroneous charge.

If your complaint goes beyond normal issues and is worthy of a larger complaint, still file with the BBB, but add to the mix your state attorney general or consumer affairs office.

With that perspective, here are the 10 retailers listed by the number of complaints, how many were resolved to the customer’s satisfaction and the company’s BBB rating.

Amazon (A+) 2,580 complaints/ 1,798 resolved Full Report

TigerDirect (A) 704 complaints/ 478 resolved Full Report

Meritline (A+) 82 complaints/ 79 resolved Full Report

Zappos (A+) 20 complaints/ 16 resolved Full Report

Piperlime/Gap (A+): 277/ 210 resolved Full Report

Cabela’s (NR): 163 complaints / 135 resolved Full Report

Apple (A+): 1,754 complaints / 1,008 resolved Full Report

New Egg (A+): 685 / 585 resolved Full Report

Overstock.com (A+): 483/ 474 resolved Full Report

Buy.com ( A+): 1,001/ 821 resolved Full Report

If you've got a complaint against a retailer that you want to file with the BBB, you can do it on the Web here. If you want to check on the rating of a particular company, you can use the BBB finder.


Mitch Lipka is an investigative journalist for consumer issues who formerly wrote for WalletPop.com, Consumer Reports, thePhiladelphia Inquirer and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel,among other places. Follow him on Twitter — @mitchlipka or on Facebook. You can also sign up for an e-mail alert for alldealnews features.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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5 comments
sporobolus
i had concluded an interaction with the Better Business Bureau yesterday that really turned me off:

a telemarketing complaint filed 14 months ago had finally reached the point where the company had been contacted for a response; the company replied with an apology and said they wouldn't call me any more, but they completely ignored my desired resolution: a promise to respect the Colorado and federal no-call lists

nonetheless BBB marked the problem as "resolved" -- BBB said it won't touch the do-not-call lists issue -- the foundation of my complaint -- but didn't tell me this until after 14 months of processing my complaint as if they'd actually do something; so beware that complaints that are "resolved" are clearly not always resolved "to the customer's satisfaction"
NOSFERATU
Did you read the Full report? They probably judged them on certain criteria. 636 of the complaints were not switched to the customers request because the request was not covered by the contract associated with the complaint.

Companies can't just bend to all of the whims of their customers... that's how you go out of business
doconnell864
mister m has it right from what ive seen...
Mister M
The BBB has been investigated in many locals as a Pay-For-Play organization, the latest being Conn. Atty Gen.
Our company had a problem of unresolved complaints which they claim to send to everyone with contact info, wether member or not. Once we paid our complaints got to us, we resolve everyone, maybe not to the liking of the consumer, but we deal with them and the BBB holds you hostage to their whims.
TheChit
How does Apple with a 57% resolution rate get a higher grade (A+) than say http://Overstock.com with a 98% resolution rate (A)? The grading scale looks more skewed than an exponential distribution.
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