Dave Hockaday is defending his motorcycle service and parts manufacturing company after it was listed by a business accreditation service as having the most unanswered complaints in eastern North Carolina in 2014.
He’s also turning the spotlight on the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina, saying he does not trust the service after shady dealings with its representatives and after reading articles red-flagging the BBB’s operation.
The BBB, however, denies Hockaday’s claim, saying its protocol for contacting businesses disproves instances of foul play Hockaday described as extortion.
The list released Jan. 22 by the BBB showed Zebulon-based Scootworks as having 21 unanswered complaints for the year and a rating of F with the bureau.
The complaints mostly stemmed from delivery issues, “including consumers not receiving the items they ordered or receiving partial orders, as well as refund issues,” the report stated.
Hockaday says the report was a misrepresentation of Scootworks’ business practices, since it did not reference the complaints in proportion to the overall volume of business his company took on in 2014.
“We ship all over the world and it’s tremendous – 15,000 or so shipments per year,” Hockaday said. “This is just three (total employees). It’s a small shop. If you look at the number of complaints, it is a minuscule fraction and some of them are bogus.
“Three or four bad answers out of that many (orders) is not an F. But they give you an F if you have three or more unanswered complaints. It doesn’t matter if you have a billion customers per year or one customer per year.”
Unattributed phone calls
Hockaday, whose company is not a member of the BBB said the agency contacted him by phone twice, in 2007 and in 2008. In both cases, he said a BBB representative offered to mend the listed status of his company on the BBB website if he would pay about $600 to become accredited.
“They said, ‘You have an F (rating).’ At the time, I think we had three or four complaints and we were shipping 35,000-40,000 orders to customers a year,” Hockaday said. “They said for $600 we can fix this. I said get off my telephone and don’t call me back – this is extortion. The thing that stood out about it was how they tried to sell it to me.”
BBB President Toby Barfield says if Hockaday received a phone call with such offerings, it did not come from his organization. He said the only time the BBB places phone calls to businesses is to extend invitations to those that qualify to become accredited, which Scootworks did not.
“From the look of his report, he would not have ever qualified for a call,” Barfield said. “We don’t fix complaints no matter what. The business has to respond to the complaints. We have a complaint team here that might have been in contact with him (by email) about a complaint, but not accreditation.”
Hockaday is still not convinced it was someone other than a BBB representative he spoke to on the phone.
“I’m sure that’s an easy response,” Hockaday said of Barfield’s explanation. “(The conversation) was on the telephone – I didn’t tell them to send me any more information. They seemed genuine and that’s all I can say.
“I had no reason to think it wasn’t the BBB. They told me all about the benefits of being a member.”
Hockaday said he initially responded to the BBB off and on regarding complaints against Scootworks after the 2008 phone call, but that over the past six-to-eight months he stopped replying to notifications by the bureau altogether.
“We responded to a bunch of them, but I was just tired of it,” he said. “It’s ridiculous when we work long hours and long weeks, and there’s three of us working here making 700 different products. After I spent weeks weeding through there replying to where stuff was closed in our books, and the customer never mentioned to the BBB we had fixed their issue, I was done with it.”
He said some complaints have been valid while plenty of others have been ridiculous, but that he takes care of them anyway and refunds payments when requested.
“A lot of those (complaints), by the time we read them (online) they’d already been settled. People are impatient,” Hockaday said. “You don’t want complaints, but you have to be realistic. When you deal with as many people as we deal with, you’re going to have complaints. And just because people complained on there doesn’t mean they warranted a refund.”
Working out complaints
Barfield said it is in Hockaday’s best interest to begin responding to the BBB’s complaint notifications again.
“He should be concerned and want to contact us and clear up any misunderstandings because we have 2.5 million inquiries from the public every year and those people are coming to our website to look at businesses to determine whether or not they want to do business with them,” Barfield said.
He said if Hockaday has concerns about the validity of a complaint against Scootworks, he should also bring those to the BBB’s attention.
“All he’s got to do is pick up the phone and call or email us and give us a two-sentence explanation of his side of the story about the complaint,” Barfield said. “Our objective is to get the consumer talking to the business and the business talking to the consumer and to get them to work out complaints together.
“The best thing any business can do when they receive a complaint is call us and respond to it. The worst thing they can do is ignore it.”