WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Better Business Bureau investigated our local carport industry after tracking a large number of complaints nationwide to Piedmont manufacturers.
Over the past three years, the BBB received 502 complaints and 30,300 inquiries related to carport companies. It became the second most complained about business in the region.
After determining carport companies were contributing to an excessive complaint volume, BBB of Northwest North Carolina President and CEO Brian Wright says they started analyzing data and meeting in person with the various carport companies involved.
Wright explained there are several of these particular manufacturers in our area. “I think the story is there was one carport company that began and people split from there and decided to do it their way.”
He added, “There are sometimes disconnects between when the carport is ordered through a dealer, when it's manufactured by the company and when it's installed through an independent contractor. It seems like the process from start to finish was disconnected when it comes down to communication.”
Customers complained about waiting, sometimes for months, for their carports to be installed.
Richard Childers, of Salisbury, placed an order with one of these carport companies last October. “The four weeks I was supposed to wait came and went. I called and called. My $13,000 pontoon boat had to sit outside all winter.”
Childers’ carport was finally installed after three months and a lot of frustration. “At one point I even took a vacation day to meet them, and they did not show up.”
Wright says that was one of the most common types of complaints they received.
BBB investigated five carport companies total in our area; some still have low BBB ratings and alerts listed online.
It didn’t seem as though companies were purposely trying to deceive customers, Wright added, but rather they were overwhelmed with orders, slowed down by weather problems and often failing to keep customers updated.
Wright said all but one of the companies were very receptive to working with the BBB to improve complaint response time and customer service.
They emphasized to all the companies that responding and resolving BBB complaints will help increase their rating and overall customer satisfaction.
“I think we've been getting better when it comes to getting the repairs out as soon as possible and reducing the number of defects in our products to begin with,” said Fidel Martinez with TNT carports in Mount Airy.
Martinez says they handle thousands of orders a year and more than 99 percent of their customers are happy. “We try to get to the repairs as soon as possible but sometimes because we have a certain number of installers... there's no one available until they go through a full rotation. That's the biggest thing -- how do we organize our routes and our scheduling to get to those repairs as soon as possible.”
FOX8 also talked to Gabe Torres with Eagle Carports in Mount Airy, which he said is the single largest carport company in the U.S. “We have been fortunate enough to increase our sales 30 percent each year for the last two years. We have done this by lowering our lead times by hiring more subcontractors and personnel here in our corporate office. We work in about 30 states from New York to Colorado.”
Torres says they are making it easier for employees to see notes on customer calls and communicate with customers about delays.
BBB offers the following tips for folks looking to buy a carport:
- Research multiple carport companies before committing. Be sure to learn how they respond to complaints and what other consumers have to say via reviews on bbb.org.
- Before you pay anything, read the contract in full to understand all conditions.
- Once committed, contact the carport manufacturer to
- Confirm the specifications of your carport.
- Get a realistic time for delivery based on your location and the time of year (season). Understand that delays are common.