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Someone rip you off? Whom you gonna call?

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Dear Action Line: We really need a Better Business Bureau here. We have everything from plumbers who want $750 to remove a toilet to clock repair shops that charge $165 for no fix. We have restaurants with “surcharges” not mentioned on the menus. I paid a plumber $150 just to come to my house (not far away), and he didn’t do much. Was here for 15 minutes. Isn’t that a ripoff? – B.B.B. King

Dear B.B.B.: That is sad to hear. Action Line has always underpromised and overdelivered, as anyone who reads this knows so well. Such quality stuff for the mere quarter you push into the slot for your Sunday newspaper.

Wait, what?! It’s a dollar-fifty now? Six quarters?

Well, gee willikers. Action Line is now going to have to work much, much harder in order to keep from making the Better Business Bureau complaint list. However, you complainers will have to cross a state line to place your petty peeves.

“The BBB’s closest office is in Farmington,” said Jack Llewellyn, head honcho at the Durango Chamber of Commerce. He pointed out with wry humor that Durango seems to be within a similar territorial boundary for the BBB that the Federal Communications Commission uses for its television market boundary. In the same vein he added: “It’s a conspiracy to lure Durangatangs south to shop.”

Llewellyn also said, “The chamber does receive complaints on occasion and, fortunately, compliments on businesses more often.”

Action Line tried out the BBB’s website, and searched for BBB-approved plumbers “near” Durango. Two plumbers in La Plata County made the list. Both are rated A-plus, as are all 86 plumbers who popped up on the search. “Near” Durango, incidentally, is apparently everything from Rifle, Colorado, to Corrales, New Mexico.

So that’s really not much help, is it.

Tim Walsworth, head honcho at the Durango Business Improvement District, said that with Trip Advisor, Yelp, and other online forums, “the BBB seems like a bit of a relic of the past.” But there are many Durango businesses listed on it.

And he somewhat jokingly added, “I thought the number one place for complaints about anything and everything in our town is on the comments on DurangoHerald.com articles and Facebook posts. Ha!”

It’s always a bit risky believing online reviewers, some of whom have an ax to grind that might have nothing to do with an actual business dealing.

“I encourage anyone using an online site to investigate a business to look for the trends in responses, not the outliers,” Walsworth said. “Look at the most recent 20 reviews to see how the business has been reviewed as of late by many different people.”

As with any interpersonal communication, it’s not good to assume that a business knows that there was a problem unless you tell them. Just ask any decent couples therapist.

“If there is a complaint about a specific business, the best thing to do is to let the business know directly,” Walsworth said. “Call and ask to speak to a manager. Or even better, address it with a manager on-site when something happens. I suppose if the complaint is about a sole proprietor business, then perhaps the online forums are the best place to go.”

If you’re at a loss on where to turn, you could try either the chamber or BID.

“BID works for businesses in the Central Business District and in the North Main District, so if there are any concerns about businesses in those two areas people can certainly call me at (970) 375-5068,” Walsworth offered. “They should know that there is not a lot I can do, other than to forward the concern to the business owner if it seems legit.”

Bleacher heroes

Action Line made the trip to see Bayfield’s entertaining, ooh- and ahh-inspiring fireworks show Tuesday. As we left, we thought we noticed something burning in the far distance – apparently some bleachers – in the area where fireworks were being launched.

By coincidence, a reader informed Action Line the next day that two spectators, Robert and Dani Coronado of Coronado Consulting & Fire Mitigation of Bayfield, were on scene and rushed to help. They grabbed chain saws from their truck, and started cutting a fire line to prevent the blaze from spreading to the nearby senior center.

The fire department quickly showed up, and the blaze was soon under control.

Meanwhile, Action Line and Co. were busy loading camp chairs back into the car and blissfully heading back home. How’s that for action?

Anyway, thanks to those who responded, and to those who put on the show.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. That column was worth six quarters, right? And the crossword is worth another four. Still such a deal.

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