Doing life together

-Written by Erik Sargent

With the increasing landscape of the Internet and its capabilities, the opportunities for conducting business in any aspect are larger than ever. Unfortunately, with this type of access, the chance for running into scams is at an all-time high, and each day, people are losing out on money due to shady business tactics.

Gone are the days of picking up the phonebook and dialing up a number for a contractor, plumber, mover, or other labor service. Now you can search endless job sites and job boards, sifting through, while hoping to find the best price in your area. But how do you know if these are trustworthy services? While one business may offer a cheaper price, they might not be responsible or honest about your service or payment.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, “crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. They often combine new technology with old tricks to get people to send more or give out personal information.”

Websites like Facebook, Amazon, Yelp, and Angie’s List all provide a platform for people to do research on a business, everything from seeing what the service has to offer, to finding out what other people have said about their company.

The Better Business Bureau – one of the oldest sites to offer this type of information for consumers – has been around for over 100 years, and was founded on the idea of protecting consumers from misleading advertising.

“Our mission is to help promote a more ethical marketplace,” said Michelle Michels, VP of Operations for the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan. “One goal for us is that from a business perspective, we have millions of customers come to our website looking for a reputable business. For our members, that means that we’re trying to have business be directed toward them.”

The Better Business Bureau serves as the mediator between the business and the consumer, providing a platform for businesses to advertise their services, and a platform for potential customers to do their research on a company. Consumers can leave their reviews on the website from the experiences they’ve had, and business can retain their BBB Accreditation by sticking to the criteria provided.

“We have certain criteria and standards a business must meet, and they are pretty basic,” Michels said. “We ask for a business to be straight with the state they are in, that they are properly licensed, and that they remain responsive to their customers. It sounds like a simple task, but if you’re running a business, it’s hard to satisfy your customers. You’re only as good as your reputation.”

So how do consumers make sure they are getting the best deal while also avoiding a potential scam? Research, research, and more research.

According to the B.B.B., actions like reading contracts, reading terms, and asking questions can save you from falling victim to illegitimate business. It’s also important to make sure you are getting everything in writing, and not paying for a service until the job is completed.

“For consumers, this is the age of ‘If I’m going to buy something, I’m going to read reviews, and I’m going to do research’, because money is hard to come by,” Michels said. “Consumers are pretty savvy, and they go out and research things. We encourage this – not to just look at B.B.B. – but look at everything.”

One business that has built a reputation around putting the customer first and being transparent about their services is the international moving company, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®. The first and largest franchised moving company in the world, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® has been in operation for more than 30 years, and carries a 96 percent referral rating.

To match the variety of moving, packing, and storage solutions provided by the moving company, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® puts a heavy emphasis on being accessible to all customers in variety of ways, one being through their corporate customer care team which ensures an honest and beneficial relationship between the franchises and consumers.

“We seek to be transparent by sharing information we have about regulations, policies, and our core values, which directs how we interact with customers to provide the best possible moving experience,” said Rina Woodland, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® corporate customer care manager. “When customers are unhappy, we are empathetic and genuine as we work toward an acceptable solution.”

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® took a major step toward customer satisfaction when developing their own customer relationship center, allowing customers even more opportunities to call and have their questions answered, services explained, and moves booked. The mission of the customer care team is to provide support and uphold high standards of care as they continuously strive to exceed customers’ expectations while protecting the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® brand.

This kind of up-front mentality is crucial when running a moving company due to the intimate nature of the moving, and TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® has been able to develop a world-renowned brand name around this customer service.

“In a society that expects a quick response, we are very responsive, and customers get to speak with a live person when they call,” Woodland said. “So often, a customer just wants someone to listen to them and acknowledge things did not go well. As the “Movers Who Care®” we understand we are moving people’s lives and we take this seriously. We not only listen, but we work with the local franchise toward a resolution, or help the customer understand why a decision was made by the local office. When moving, we realize that not every move can be 100% perfect. If we are able to resolve a customer’s concern, it can be positive for everyone.”

Doing your research before paying for a service can be the difference between receiving a good service, and losing out on hard earned money from unethical business practices. Michels and the Better Business Bureau stressed making sure that you get multiple quotes and reading reviews before paying for a service.

At the end of the day, you have to use your best judgment when spending your money, and according to Michels, “trust” doesn’t go as far as it used to in the past.

“Somebody’s word or somebody’s honor unfortunately doesn’t always mean anything anymore,” Michels said. “Everything you do needs to be in writing.”

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