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Under the microscope: In tough economy, Charlotte businesses facing more scrutiny (access required)

By Caitlin Coakley Typically, during a recession a company can go one of two ways to try to keep its revenue the same as during an economic boom: It could put extra focus on making customers happy and try to avoid contract clauses or policies that may upset them, or it could become less scrupulous in an attempt to get as much money it can out of customers. This time around, Tom Bartholomy, president of the Southern Piedmont/Charlotte chapter of the Better Business Bureau, said businesses are being more respectful of their prospective customers’ awareness. And that might not be a bad idea, as BBB data suggests consumers are doing more digging up on businesses. According to a Charlotte BBB midyear report published July 9, there has been a 76 percent increase in consumer inquiries over the same period last year. From 2005 to 2009, customer inquiries increased 291 percent, from 260,169 to more than 1 million. Inquiries rose 72 percent from 2006 to 2007 — the biggest increase from one full year to the next since 2005 — and 71 percent from 2007 to 2008.

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