Better Business Bureau (BBB) launched an investigation into the local carport industry due to large numbers of consumer complaints and inquiries. In the past three years, BBB received 502 complaints and more than 30,300 inquiries regarding carport companies, making it the second most complained about type of business in northwest NC.
BBB, whose mission is to advance marketplace trust, led an effort to understand and potentially resolve the internal issues resulting in consumer dissatisfaction. The organization took the following steps to investigate:
- Determined carport companies contributing to excessive complaint volumes.
- Analyzed complaint data to determine patterns of complaints in each company.
- Contacted companies to request in-person meeting; received responses from four of five manufacturers contacted.
- Met with responding companies individually at their work locations. Discussed high number of complaints, current business processes, best practices and potential fixes.
- Sent follow-up letter to all five companies with steps to take to reduce complaints.
- Contacted local complainants; confirmed willingness to share their carport-buying experience with the public.
The following carport companies were investigated due to high complaint volume:
– Elephant Structures, Boone, NC C- Rating as of 3/29/2016
– Carolina Carports, Dobson, NC F Rating as of 3/29/2016
– Tri-State Carports, Dobson, NC F Rating as of 3/29/2016
– Eagle Carports, Mount Airy, NC F Rating as of 3/29/2016
– T-N-T Carports , Mount Airy, NC F Rating as of 3/29/2016
According to consumer complaints, most problems stem from one or more of the following: concerns regarding delivery time, customer service/communication and the quality of the installation/product. Consumers may read all complaint details, and company responses, on BBB’s Business Reviews (bbb.org).
Conversations between BBB and the carport manufacturers regarding complaints revealed the following root issues: inability to deliver and/or install due to inclement weather and mechanical issues, communication between the company and customers when delays occur, lack of communication between the company and nationwide dealers who sell carports, and dependence on a network of independent building contractors.
“Communication is key, and these specific carport companies do not have the necessary processes in place for effective communication,” said BBB President Brian Wright. “This is evident in their interaction with dealers, contractors, customers and BBB.”
Despite the influx of complaints against this industry, consumers in Northwest NC and beyond will continue to need carports. BBB offers the following tips for those in the market:
– Research multiple carport companies before committing. Be sure to learn how they respond to complaints and what other consumers have to say via reviews on bbb.org.
– Before you pay anything, read the contract in full to understand all conditions.
– Once committed, contact the carport manufacturer to
- Confirm the specifications of your carport.
- Get a realistic time for delivery based on your location and the time of year (season). Understand that delays are common.
– Be sure that the site of your future carport is professionally leveled and ready for installation (easy access to site and free of obstructions).
BBB’s effort to create a more trustworthy marketplace extends beyond consumer awareness and into business education, according to Wright. BBB provided the following tips to the manufacturers so future consumers may have a positive experience investing in this North Carolina industry.
– Train dealers on best practices when selling a carport, including proper lead time estimates, reviewing the contract and confirming order details.
– Communicate with the customer to
- Confirm the order details
- Provide a realistic estimate of the delivery time
- Confirm site preparation and schedule installation
- Update consumer on any delays or order changes
– Offer an online order-tracking website, or collect consumer email addresses for automatic, electronic status updates.
– Put a process in place to qualify independent building contractors for installation and to improve communication through the delivery/installation process.
– Communicate openly with BBB about customer complaints.
Northwest North Carolina is home to multiple BBB-Accredited Businesses who provide carport building services. Accredited companies are Bunce Buildings, CarportCentral.com, Inc., Conrad & Conrad, Inc., Forest Hill Associates of Winston Salem, Inc., and United Structures and Buildings. For a current listing, please visit bbb.org.
About Better Business Bureau: BBB, the leader in advancing marketplace trust, is an unbiased, nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, complaint/dispute resolution services, free business BBB Reliability Reports™ and charity BBB Wise Giving Reports™. As one of the 113 BBBs across North America, Better Business Bureau of Northwest North Carolina proudly serves a 14-county region. Please visit bbb.org for more information.