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Snow-clearing firm deluged

BBB will strip accreditation amid complaints, delays

A local snow-removal service is no longer accredited with the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana, an official said Wednesday.

Mike Coil, BBB president, said Fort Wayne Snow Removal dealt with upset customers from December through March. Most of the complaints stemmed from charging for services not performed and slow disbursement of refunds. As a result, the “A” ranking Fort Wayne Snow Removal had has been downgraded to a “C.”

“You have to have at least a ‘B’ to be accredited, so later this month the BBB will not be renewing the accreditation,” Coil said. “They were very slow in the refund process and there are still 12 complaints of 29” that haven’t been resolved.

He said more grievances could be forthcoming. Besides the number of complaints, he said the familiar “pattern” of them also led to the decision. Fort Wayne Snow Removal could regain its accreditation, but that would take time, Coil said. He did not have a timeframe for reinstatement, however.

The BBB has 3,300 member businesses in the region. Coil said about 10 annually lose their accreditation and an another 10 have their memberships revoked.

Coil said there are 95 snow-removal companies listed in the region. “There are probably more because many landscaping companies do snow removal as well,” he said.

Fort Wayne Snow Removal owner Brian Thornton said he is disappointed with the decision, but his three-year-old business will go on.

“We see it as a punch to the gut, but our (workers) will do better come next winter.”

Thornton said this past winter he branched out from Fort Wayne and opened accounts in 17 other cities, including Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Boston. The company now has 400 customers in 11 states.

“We did 10 times the volume this year,” so you can expect a few growing pains, he said.

“We see the value in being accredited, but we’ll just continue to do a good job,” Thornton said.