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The year 2020 was monumental in many ways. The Covid-19 pandemic brought business closures, high unemployment, overall general fear and a proliferation of scams.
The past year was also unprecedented for the BBB Serving Wisconsin in many ways related to statistics. All in all, we saw a large increase in many areas. Our numbers increased for complaint filing, “Get a Quote” submissions, investigations conducted, advertising review challenges, press releases sent, and media coverage. BBB Wisconsin particularly saw increases from March to April, when the Covid-19 pandemic was commencing, in areas such as unique website visitors (nearly 30% increase), free business profile visits (23% increase in inquiries), customer review visits (76% increase), media spots (127% in March and 188% in April) and Scam Tracker visits (80% increase).
The Wisconsin BBB was quick to reach out to its customers (both businesses and consumers) to help navigate the murky waters and help direct a return to normalcy or “a new normal.” Media outlets were happy to help; bringing awareness to BBB Accredited businesses through public service announcements, fraud warnings, and timely topics through partnered stories.
In 2020, BBB Wisconsin processed a total of 18,523 complaints, an 81% increase. Of those, 87% were responded to by the company.
In addition, we served more than 23,000 consumers via the telephone and live chat function on our website.
In 2020 BBB Wisconsin saw a large increase (38%) in customer review postings (nearly double the increase of 2019, a record year, at 21%) with 11,994 submitted, verified, and posted reviews.
BBB customer reviews allow consumers to post positive, negative, or neutral reviews on a company’s BBB profile. Once submitted, the writer is verified by the BBB to be an actual customer of the business. BBB customer reviews differ from BBB complaints, in which the customer is seeking the BBB’s assistance in resolving a problem.
“To say that the past year was extraordinary and unparalleled would be an understatement, but BBB Serving Wisconsin continued to build trust in trying times, helping people shop, save and plan for the future,” said Jim Temmer, BBB Serving Wisconsin president/CEO. “As the world faces many unknowns and continues to weather the impact of Covid-19, BBB remains strong and steadfast in its committed and established mission and vision, serving more Wisconsinites than ever.”
Since 2015, a total of 34,669 reports have been submitted to BBB Scam Tracker – BBB’s portal for consumers to self-report scams. Of those, Wisconsinites have contributed by submitting more than 5,050 reports to date, a 20% increase, affirming that bbb.org remains a popular, trusted option for consumers to check out companies and report scams. Scam Tracker also allows the BBB to collect, track, and share the information with media, law enforcement and the public.
Public speaking and presentations to groups is an essential means for BBB staff members to reach people personally with our messages. We look forward to educating and engaging people about current scams, fraud, and timely topics. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all in-person presentations were cut short early in 2020. Due to the circumstances, BBB Wisconsin switched its communication method and was able to provide 40 online/virtual webinars to 1,750 registrants. These events were provided free to the public.
The BBB offers free “Get A Quote” opportunities for consumers through its website. Choosing to “Get a Quote” allows a person to obtain free quotes, estimates, information or proposals from BBB Accredited Businesses. In 2020, the Wisconsin BBB forwarded 4,773 requests for quotes (52% increase) to 23,210 accredited businesses (66% increase).
The BBB Serving Wisconsin continued its social media presence reaching more than 6,950 followers on Twitter and nearly 26,400 “likes” on Facebook.
In 2020, despite having to cancel our prestigious award event and luncheon due to the pandemic, BBB awarded six Torch Awards for Ethics to the following businesses/organizations: Forte Investigations, LLC, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Wisconsin, and WeatherPro Exteriors.
For more information on the Torch and Spark Awards, click here
The BBB Serving Wisconsin proudly awarded 10 scholarships to Wisconsin High School seniors who demonstrated character, leadership, and ethical values. Each of the ten students received a $2,500 scholarship to attend an accredited college or university of their choice. The 2020 “Student of Integrity” scholarship was sponsored by the BBB of Wisconsin Foundation and made possible thanks to the support of our corporate sponsors; We Energies Foundation, Catholic Financial Life, Dave Jones, Inc., Roger & Shirley Schroeder, SVA Certified Public Accountants S.C., Baird, Harley-Davidson, O’Leary & Anick, Kelmann Restoration, Town Bank, BMO Harris Bank, Associated Bank, Ellenbecker Investment Group, Make-A-Wish Wisconsin, Johnson Financial Group, and Paul & Jane Sara.
The BBB of Wisconsin Foundation has given scholarship gifts to students totaling $202,500 since 2010. For more information on the BBB Students of Integrity scholarships, click here.
In 2020, BBB Serving Wisconsin conducted 153 investigations (19.5% increase) and sent a record 187 press releases to the public including informational pieces, business alerts, and scam notifications (149% increase).
Of particular interest this year was information related to and scams concerning Covid-19. This resulted in more than 5,282 – a record – TV, radio, and newspaper stories (18% increase). BBB even created website pages intended solely for quick access to Covid-19 information for both consumers and business-related resources.
BBB Serving Wisconsin challenged 246 ads for questionable claims (14% increase). The BBB requested immediate cease and desist from unauthorized users of its logo, requested substantiation of certain advertising claims, and in some cases, asked companies to modify their advertising to eliminate false or misleading information.
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.