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CHARLOTTE, N.C. Consumer reports and complaints by Charlotte area residents were up again in 2012, according to a new study released by the Better Business Bureau.

Inquiries to the BBB about local businesses jumped 21 percent to more than 1.8 million versus 2011 numbers, and the business types with the most complaints were common industries.

Auto dealers led the way with the most complaints of any local business. Cable and satellite TV distributors, auto repair services, collection agencies and used car dealerships rounded out the top five.

After two years of decline, the number of complaints filed against businesses increased this past year, said BBB Carolinas President Tom Bartholomy.

Consumers filed 13,142 complaints against area businesses, a two percent increase versus 2011.

We are seeing a relatively new trend with consumers filing complaints against businesses for smaller dollar amounts that are in dispute. In previous years, consumers wouldn t necessarily file a complaint with the BBB if they were owed $25 or $50. Now, consumers are filing complaints even when very small amounts are in dispute, $5 for example, Bartholomy added.

The settlement rate was pretty much unchanged in 2012, jumping to 88 percent from 87 percent a year earlier.

Consumers understand how important it is to make careful pre-purchase decisions and are checking out businesses now more than ever, noted Bartholomy. We hope this trend continues upward because it means that consumers are doing their homework and are less likely to be ripped off.

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