The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota is issuing an alert on Darn Toothy Sam, a Burnsville camera equipment and repair company that has racked up a long list of customer complaints.
Darn Toothy Sam has an F rating with the BBB due to its pattern of customer complaints. Customers allege that after paying upfront for merchandise or repairs, promised deadlines were not met.
"We have a very clear pattern of a problem with this company," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB. "Consumers pay the company in advance for repairs or equipment, and then wait – and wait. From there, their calls and emails to the company are not returned and people are left with no guidance and few options."
The owner of the shop doesn't deny that they've had customer complaints, but explained that he and his one employee handle orders from all over the world. As for requiring advance payment, he said that's not required, but that they never charge a penny for something they can't fix.
With such a small operation, they can't always stay on top of the phone calls and emails they receive.
The BBB says customers have filed more than 50 complaints against Darn Toothy in the last three years. The company has responded to most complaints brought to their attention and has generally resolved issues by trying to explain the reason for delays, offering refunds or offering to return equipment – often in the same condition as when it was shipped to the company for repairs.
Five complaints have been closed as unanswered and five more are currently pending.
Darn Toothy Sam was accredited by the BBB back in 2009, but had their accreditation revoked in November of 2010 due to an increase in complaint volume and for failing to address the underlying cause of these complaints.
The BBB said in recent weeks they have received reports the company is threatening to charge a $35 fee to customers who file complaints with the BBB, claiming that's what the BBB charges them per complaint. Darn Toothy says that's a complete lie, that they have never charged a customer for a complaint and have never said anything about the BBB passing charged on to their company.
The BBB handles complaints as a free service to the public and business community.