What to Do With a Bad BBB Review

This post will feature a real review on a BBB accredited business that was unwarranted. It was not a formal complaint, but the BBB now provides the opportunity for general reviews, so honest businesses do need to monitor and manage their reputations on their local BBB sites, even if they are not accredited with the BBB.

We’ll look at the review then critique the response. Was it a response you would have posted were it your business? How would you have responded differently? Let’s take a look. Please comment with your own suggestions and observations.

(While the BBB reviews and complaints, in some localities, are published on their internet sites for public viewing, we will not publish company or customer names on this blog. Rather, we will provide links to the pages with the complaint or review.)

The Review

See the review here

The Response

“Yes, it did take 10 weeks to start the roof build, and our customer was already aware that it could take several weeks before we could start due to the fact that Colorado Springs suffered 2 major hail storms this spring and summer. Our contract has a paragraph stating that all start times are tentative, and our customer had been apprised at the time of the sale that we were already estimated to be 6 to 8 weeks out on starting new jobs. Due to delays on other jobs, snow and severe cold weather, his job was pushed back another 2 weeks.

We would have loved to have built his roof a lot sooner, had it been possible; however, roofing is major outdoor construction fully dependent on crew availability, material availability and weather. After major hail storms, all of the A+ roofing companies in town get booked out quickly. Maybe companies of lesser quality could have built his roof in less than 10 weeks, but then our customer may not have a great roof now and certainly would not have a genuine, non-pro-rated 15-year workmanship warranty including interior repair.

When we spoke on the phone today, our customer suggested that since we were booked several weeks out, we should not have accepted his contract. But the reverse is equally true that knowing we were booked several weeks out, perhaps he should not have signed with us if he was anxious to get the roof done immediately. But all of that presupposes foreknowledge of how long it would actually take to start his job; foreknowledge of weather delays and difficulties on jobs already in production. In any event, our customer must have seen the real value in [WRS] because he did go ahead and sign with us.

When our Senior Job Supervisor was at the customer’s house verifying measurements in order to place the material order, he spoke to the customer and apologized for the delay. The customer responded as though it were not important and that he seemed to be fine with it. But when it came time to pay the bill, the customer inquired about a discount because it took a couple of weeks longer than originally anticipated to start his job. We believe a discount is unreasonable since his old roof was still functional while he waited, he suffered no loss for the length of time it took and was completely aware that his job may take that amount of time to start.

The materials left on the property were 2 extra bundles of shingles for him to keep in case there is a future need to replace some shingles. If we have left over shingles, we always give the customer the option to keep some. If the customer is not home when the job is completed and the crew cannot readily ask if they want the shingles, we will default to leaving a bundle or two just in case. When the Senior Job Supervisor told the customer today that if he did not want to keep the shingles, we would happily pick them up today. The customer chose to keep them, so the complaint about them is unwarranted, we believe.

As for the clean-up, it appeared to have been done well at first inspection by the Senior Job Supervisor, and because the customer had not alerted us to his dissatisfaction over the clean-up, we were not aware it needed to be addressed. But since the customer alerted us today, two weeks after the job was inspected, the crew was sent back out today to do it again and address another minor issue the customer brought up today.

As for it taking only 2 days to get the final invoice, we feel as though our customer is stating a non sequitur. The roof work was complete and, per the contract he signed, payment was due within 15 days. Yes, we do value our customers, even those who look for ways to angle for an unwarranted discount. That is why we have, and continue to do what is right and necessary to maintain, an A+ rating. “

The Letterista’s Take

At first blush, the complaint looks like it could be legitimate. It’s not hard to imagine a roofing company with a few blemishes, right? But wait! The company, rated A+, seems to have a pretty good response that fills in a lot of blanks left by the customer.

It would seem that maybe the customer did know the project could take a while to get started. Because the customer’s apparent dissatisfaction appears to be more along the lines of “If you made me wait so long to start, you should wait a long time to get paid,” the clean-up and left-over shingles seem to be thrown in as little more than an attempt to make his umbrage seem more logical. That, anyway, is how it appears to us. How do you see it?

The response by the company seems detailed and offers explanations from their point of view. In the absence of a rebuttal from the customer, one can probably believe the customer had no substantive reply and so the company response was probably not a spin, but the truth. Although, it is also possible that the BBB review (not complaint) system provides no mechanism for a rebuttal from the reviewer. If that is the case, we’ll never know if the customer had a meaningful reply of his/her own or had to concede the company’s points.

Overall, we think the company’s response was pretty good, but could have been better from a reputation management stance. It appears they laid out the facts showing the customer’s expectations for a fast build were either unreasonable from the beginning, or maybe changed at some point during the wait. Also, the company realized it left material at the property and for good reasons, especially since the customer ultimately did want to keep possession of the extra shingles. And one cannot expect a company to address a problem they know nothing about, so the customer’s claim of an incomplete clean-up could better have been addressed simply by calling the company about it before he made a bad review.

What we would have suggested to the company for a better response would have been threefold. First, the tone of the response seems a bit snooty. Whereas if everything the company says was true, then the tone might be considered justified; however, if it feels snooty to The Letterista, it will probably feel snooty to a potential customer checking out the company on the BBB, too.

Second, we would have liked to see a bit more of a face-saving offer than we do here. With the very first admission that it did take longer than anticipated to start the job, we think an additional note of understanding that the customer had a right (unjustified though it may have been) to feel frustration would have been a nice touch. Feeling the customer’s pain should already be natural to a good company, and expressing it will assure future customers that because you can relate with them, you’ll do everything possible to avoid causing them pain. The not having foreknowledge comment seems as much an attempt at face-saving for the company as it was intended to be for the customer. So it was not particularly effective.

Third, we think the little dig about valuing customers even if they’re angling for a discount was a little gratuitous. A better way to phrase that may have been something like this: “We understand the customer’s desire for a discount for having to wait a little longer than anticipated for his job to start, but our company derived absolutely no economic benefit from the delay. In fact, the ability to start jobs right away after the signing of the contract is far better for the bottom line, but after major hail storms, the scheduling becomes unavoidably backed up.” Then say no more about it.

Other than those 3 points, we think this business did a pretty good job of protecting their reputation. We give them a B.

How about you? How would you grade this company response? How would you have handled this review?

As always, The Letterista would love to hear from you with your own stories in dealing with unwarranted attacks on your business reputation.  How did you respond to complaints that you didn’t earn?  Were you successful?  Could things have gone better?  Please leave your comments below or visit the Contact page and write to us about your situation.






Published by

The Letterista

Throughout The Letterista's adult life, she has been an employee for several employers in both retail and contract fulfillment (private contract companies); she's been a private contractor and a small business owner, as well. A great many years were spent managing the offices of a construction trade where the competition was thick and the stakes were high, so the proper, professional handling of complaints and bad reviews was more than just a little important. The skills of good documentation and letter-writing were finely honed in that environment. Now, she writes for fun and profit.

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