The Better Business Bureau is an organization that focuses on helping consumers find reliable businesses. They do this by providing a system of checks and balances to ensure that both the consumer’s personal and business’ interests are met.
The BBB has been around for more than 100 years, but what exactly does it offer? How can you file a complaint with them? And how do their ratings work? We will answer these questions and more in this article from IBuyIReview.
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What is the Mission of the Better Business Bureau?
- Protecting consumers from bad business practices.
- Working with businesses of all sizes to ensure truth in advertising.
- Educating and inspiring trust among people who do business together, both locally and globally.
How Did the BBB Get Started?
The BBB is a nonprofit organization run by volunteers. Headquartered in Chicago, it has helped to resolve more than 2 million complaints since it was founded in 1912 as the Chicago-based “Chicago Association of Retailers.” Originally, the organization began as a way to combat mail fraud, and has since expanded into helping resolve customer complaints and rating businesses of any kind, from in-person establishments to online businesses alike.
At first, they were just one among many groups or associations that did not have any official government backing; but eventually their work translated into federal law and regulations.
How Is BBB Funded?
The BBB’s operating expenses are funded by its dues, contributions and service fees from member businesses. The organization is a not-for-profit 501(c)(C) corporation that does not solicit or accept funds from the government on behalf of any program.
Membership with the Better Business Bureau is not free of charge. It costs $165 annually for an accredited business to become a member; however, small businesses, considered those with a revenue under $500,000, will pay a much lower fee to make it more accessible.
The Better Business Bureau’s board of directors is elected by the membership and must adhere to the qualifications that are defined in its bylaws.
How Does the BBB Resolve Consumer Complaints?
Consumer complaints filed with the BBB are forwarded to the business for a response within two weeks. The responses from businesses are then posted on their website and made available in an automated phone system, which is updated daily.
If the complaint cannot be resolved between both parties, it goes before one of three hearing boards that have varying degrees of expertise: Advertising and Sales Practice, Financial Services and Products, or the National Board for Better Business.
The three hearing boards have a maximum of one month to hold the hearing and issue a report with their decision. If no agreement is reached after that time, they can refer it back through arbitration and mediation until an amicable resolution has been found or decide not to make any recommendations at all. Fortunately, cases with no decision are exceedingly rare; the company attempts to bring all consumer complaints to some sort of resolution.
The Better Business Bureau’s dispute resolution services are free for consumers and can be accessed through their website or by calling the local chapter office, which is listed on the site.
The BBB also provides a variety of additional information about businesses in their free directory. Consumers can view details about complaints that have been filed against them, what to do if you need your money back, what to do if you’ve been scammed, or how to file a complaint with a company who you’ve done business with.
What Is a BBB Rating?
A Better Business Bureau rating is a measurement that attempts to balance a variety of factors, primarily over the customer experience and how well the business performs in terms of preventing issues in the first place through honest advertising and genuine effort to resolve complaints.
Any company who is a part of the Better Business Bureau can have a rating between NR (Not Rated) and A+. (1) Grades may range between A and F, with plus and minuses attached to them similar to school grading.
“The grade represents BBB’s degree of confidence that the business is operating in a trustworthy manner and will make a good faith effort to resolve any customer concerns
A rating is awarded based on how well a company meets standards set forth in the “Standards for Trust,” which are divided into four categories: Ethics Standards, Financial Standards, Sales Practices Standards and Customer Service Standard.
Previously, companies were rated with any number between zero stars, which means that they have no complaints filed against them, up to five stars, which means that there are numerous complaints lodged against them with unresolved matters.
One thing to note is that the BBB gives business an opportunity to resolve customer issues and amend their rating. Just because a company has A+ doesn’t mean that it is impeccable and has never had any complaints, but it does mean that they make an active effort to come to an amicable resolution.
BBB ratings help consumers to get a better understanding of what kind of business they are working with and whether or not this would be an appropriate place for them to do their shopping. It also allows people who have had previous issues with that particular company know how likely it will happen again in the future, and provide a way for customers to do some extent of due diligence on a company before doing business with them.
The BBB is a great resource because it offers the consumer an opportunity to lodge complaints with their organization and that information will be forwarded along to the company in question so they can resolve any issues without having to contact them directly. It is also an excellent way to get in contact with a company if the customer has been unable to get in contact with the company directly.
This provides consumers with some measure of protection, as well as giving businesses insight into what might need improvement from their customers’ perspective.
Benefits of BBB Ratings
The benefits of BBB ratings are that when you see a business with an A rating, it’s likely to be one that has upheld the standards of customer satisfaction. This means they have shown transparency in their dealings and made efforts to keep customers happy. With this information at your fingertips, you can give more weight to businesses who have proven themselves trustworthy.
How Do You File a Complaint with the BBB?
Complaints can be filed online, by mail or over the phone. The BBB takes complaints seriously and will work with businesses to make sure that their customers are satisfied.
The BBB has a strict process that they follow for each complaint:
The complaint resolution process starts with the contacting the business and giving them a chance to respond, which means having the opportunity to make things right before any further action is taken.
The next step includes conducting an onsite evaluation of the company if necessary, followed by either mediation or arbitration between the customer and business.
The final step in the process is to determine if there was a violation of the BBB Code of Conduct, which means that the complaint has gone unresolved or no amends have been made for it. The company will be assigned an “F” rating on their profile or they might even lose membership with the Better Business Bureau entirely if enough complaints are filed against them.
The company will also be placed on the consumer alert list, which means that if this business is doing anything shady then it should appear red and bold in search engines like Google. This notifies consumers so they can avoid potential problems before they start.
Examples of Complaints the BBB Works to Resolve
Complaints that the BBB works to resolve can have many different causes. There are complaints about a product not being delivered, there are complaints of products or services that do not live up to expectations set by promises made before purchase and then finally there are cases where it is vague as to what part of the complaint has been filed with the Better Business Bureau.
The Better Business Bureau is free to file and will work with the consumer in order to reach a resolution, which means that they may either refund all or part of the money spent on an item, provide time for someone who has been promised something by way of their purchase but not received it yet, or even completely cancel out a contract so that it is as if the purchase never happened at all.
How Do I Look Up a Business On BBB?
The Better Business Bureau operates on both a website and mobile app. It is a great resource if you’re looking for a reliable business to work with.
It is easy to find the company you are looking for by simply entering their name, or if it’s more complicated, like when they have tons of variations in spelling or different ways that they operate under a few names. It will help narrow down your search by narrowing down the kinds of industry they are in.
If you’re looking for a specific company; say Acme Company, then type “Acme” into the search bar at the top and it will bring up all companies with that name.
BBB also has specialty tools to help find businesses like movers or restaurants.
The BBB’s free online resources help consumers learn more about businesses they are considering working with like their scam alerts or an explanation of how business names are registered at different levels (federal, state/province).
When you search for a company on the BBB website, you’ll see their current rating and how many reviews they currently have.
In addition to these benefits of using the Better Business Bureau’s ratings, it also offers an explanation of what kind of complaints are accepted by the bureau in order to help resolve them.
When Should I Contact the Better Business Bureau?
You should contact the BBB if you have a complaint about a company’s product or service and it can’t be resolved with the business directly.
If you want to file a complaint with the BBB, it is important to know what kind of complaints they work on. The Better Business Bureau deals primarily in customer service and dispute resolutions between customers and businesses. They primarily handle complaints that come in as “no response/ no action.”
What Happens When a Business Doesn't Respond to a BBB Complaint?
If a business does not respond to the BBB for an issue, the BBB will investigate that company and contact them again. If there is no response after three attempts in 18 months or another company takes over the entity of that non-responding business, the BBB will change the company’s rating to “F.”
How to Report Work-At-Home Scams to BBB
The Better Business Bureau offers an online form where consumers can report what they believe is a scam. The BBB will look into the complaint and, if necessary, contact law enforcement agencies or other appropriate authorities for more information about the business in your claim.
If you are contacted by someone representing themselves as from the Better Business Bureau that has not been in touch with you before, be careful. If you have a question about the Better Business Bureau, you can contact them at bbb.org through their live chat, or by phone at (312) 332-2100
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