In the wake of recent financial market turmoil, U.S. consumers say they have less trust in the business world than they did just 12 months ago and prefer dealing with smaller firms as a result, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Of more than 1,200 consumers surveyed nationwide, less than half said they fully trusted businesses they dealt with on an everyday basis. Only eight percent said their trust had increased over the past year, compared to 18 percent who said their trust had faded, the survey found.

Despite the declines, 73 percent of respondents said they trusted small businesses more than large corporations, while 67 percent said they preferred doing business with smaller firms.

The declines were blamed on recent toy recalls, the sub-prime mortgage crises, real estate foreclosures, and the credit crunch, among other factors.

"It's alarming that about 37 million American adults trust business less now than they did last year," Steven Cole, the head of the Better Business Bureau, said in a statement. He said earning consumers' trust required more than good ethics, integrity, or even low prices.

"Companies must keep their commitments and produce results. If they don't provide quality customer service and deliver on promises, they won't be trusted," Cole said.

Published on: Nov 8, 2007