After taking a call from the BBB and listening to a long, rambling sales pitch, I decided to reprint this article.
“The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a scam, and hundreds of thousands of unfairly targeted small business owners have known it for years. Now, new publicly available evidence confirms that suspicion for the rest of the world, too.
The original “complaint forum”, the BBB has long represented itself as the impartial moderator of business disputes. Consumers with complaints about businesses would lodge their complaints with the BBB, and the BBB would send a letter to the business. If the targeted business responded to BBB’s satisfaction, then no damaging report would be made. But if the BBB was dissatisfied with the targeted business’s response, BBB would gladly provide that information to anyone who asked for it, and attach a rating of “A” through “F” depending on BBB’s own biases.
Many businesses live or die on their BBB rating. This is ridiculous, since the BBB has no actual authority whatsoever. Yet, for some reason, the public has long considered the BBB to be a reliable indicator of the experiences of the public with particular companies.
Now, the truth – long suspected by so many small businesses – is out. According to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the BBB’s rating system (“A” through “F”, like a report card) can be manipulated by offering financial incentives directly to the BBB.
Example: One small company – Bayless Custom Homes – had an “F” rating with the BBB. Owner Gary Bayless had never been informed of the one complaint that led to the rating. Bayless says he contacted the BBB about the issue, and they agreed to change the grade to B+, or to an “A” if Bayless would join the BBB organization, which includes the requirement that Bayless pay the BBB.
Example #2: Deciding to test the theory of BBB irrelevancy, some L.A. business owners created a fake business name – Hamas, after the terrorist organization – and submitted a membership application to BBB. This fake business doesn’t exist and has never done business. Yet the BBB saw fit to give it a rating of “A-” with no more justification than the $425 application fee.
Note that the problem is not ONLY that the BBB is exchanging “good” grades for money. The bigger issue is that anyone trusts this utterly irrelevant organization to begin with. Bayless’ example is instructional there as well: The BBB targeted Bayless’ company and exerted undue and unwarranted negative influence over him without so much as a notification that they’d chosen to accept some random complaint against him. They then offered to accept what I believe is a tantamount to a bribe to remove their bogus negative rating that never should have existed to begin with.
The Better Business Bureau is an irrelevant, antiquated and probably fraudulent organization. “