St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 11, 2010 –
More than 1,200 consumers across North America have filed Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaints against California-based Dealer Cost Car Audio
, many claiming they never received merchandise ordered through the company’s website. The complainants include dozens of customers throughout Missouri and Illinois.
Among them is a resident of Jennings, Mo., who was so upset about his dealings with Dealer Cost Car Audio of Santa Ana, Calif., that he sought out a personal meeting with Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. Koster promised the state would look into the company’s operations. “I was played,” said the man, who lost more than $600 earlier this year when he ordered a car TV from the firm that was never delivered. “I would like to see them closed down.”
The BBB suggests extreme caution when dealing with Dealer Cost Car Audio or its website, www.dealercostcaraudio.com
. The company has an “F” grade with the BBB in Los Angeles, Calif., the lowest grade possible.
The BBB warning comes as the holiday shopping season approaches and online purchases soar.
Of the 1,200 complaints filed with the BBB in the past 36 months, nearly 800 have been processed this year. The 2010 complaints have come from 48 states and several foreign countries. At least 10 complaints have come from each of 29 states. The most are from California (71 complaints), Texas (66), Florida (46), New York (43) and Illinois (35).
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said the number of complaints filed against Dealer Cost Car Audio is extraordinary.
“Even more shocking, the company has failed to respond to nearly half of the almost 800 complaints filed this year,” Corey said. “Few businesses in recent BBB history have been as unresponsive to the concerns of their customers.”
BBB records in Los Angeles show Robert Jones as manager of the company. The company’s address is listed as 3337 South Bristol Street, Suite 211, a mailbox at an AIM Mail Center in Santa Ana.
In a recent e-mail response to the BBB, a person identified only as sales manager of Dealer Cost Car Audio said, “Each complaint is being addressed at this time, and we will be solving all the cases. There is a change of ownership underway.”
The company’s website sells stereo receivers, amplifiers, speakers, TV sets, radar detectors, security equipment and other automobile-related merchandise.
“Why pay retail when you can pay dealer cost!” the site says. The site promises “trustworthy and secure ordering” and a “great buying experience. We guarantee to exceed your expectations, the way a great buying experience should be.”
A college student and restaurant worker from Moscow Mills, Mo., said he paid $358 for a car amplifier in April. Despite numerous promises from the company via e-mail, he has never received the amplifier or a refund. At one point, the customer became so exasperated that he threatened to sue the company and take his case to the media. Soon after, he said, the company stopped responding to him.
A man from Festus, Mo., said he ordered a car video player for a friend’s van for $150 in September 2009. The price was about the same as other online sites, but he decided to order from Dealer Cost Car Audio because it offered a three-year warranty. Despite a lengthy e-mail exchange with a company representative, the man never received the video player or a refund. He said he was so frustrated by the experience that he gave up the fight in January.
A mechanic from Florissant, Mo., said he paid Dealer Cost Car Audio $219 for an auto alarm system for his wife’s car several months ago. He never received the system and his money was never refunded. The payment was “the last of our tax return money” and he said he cannot afford to buy another system. “It’s a valuable life lesson,” he said. “I learned to do your research before you send any money.”
The BBB offers the following tips when considering buying from an online merchant:
- Do your homework. Check the BBB for a Reliability Report by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300. It also can sometimes be helpful to do an Internet search of the business.
- Be wary of businesses with no address other than an untraceable mailbox. While there are responsible businesses that do not have physical locations, many businesses with records of poor customer relations choose to post only a postal box address on their websites.
- Pay by credit card whenever possible. That way, you have a better chance of getting your money refunded if you do not receive your order.
- Be cautious of businesses that promise too much or that offer prices considerably lower than the competition. If a deal seems too good to be true, it may be.
For information on any company contact the BBB at www.bbb.org