Who’s Afraid of the BBB Accreditation?

BBB LogoOver the past several years, I’ve worked with small and midsize companies all over the country on BBB accreditation and resolving outstanding disputes to improve their Better Business Bureau rating.

In almost all instances, the BBB is eager to work with the company and its reputation management consultants to close outstanding customer service issues and complaints and work on policies and processes that will lead to BBB accreditation and an A+ rating.

The BBB is frequently misunderstood by many consumers and even business leaders as a government organization or regulatory agency — it is neither.

The Better Business Bureau (or BBB) is a private, non-profit organization, local to your business community with a goal to promote ethical business practices and assist consumers with complaints or issues with businesses in their community. According to the Council of Better Business Bureaus Annual Report, consumers contacted BBB more than 103 million times in 2011 and handled 927,256 complaints.

The umbrella organization, called The Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), is located in Arlington, VA and is supported by 230,000 local business members. The BBB was started in 1912 and was called the “Vigilance Committees” of Advertising Clubs, and established to ensure the accuracy of advertising.  Over the years they eventually branched out to monitoring business complaints and ensure ethical activity of community businesses.

What Does the BBB do?

The BBB performs the following tasks:

  1. Collects and reports information to help prospective buyers make informed decisions.
  2. Develops programs to encourage firms to regulate their own advertising and selling practices.
  3. Serves as a neutral third party to help settle marketplace disputes.

In addition, each BBB branch strives to provide consumers information about various local companies and businesses especially if there are complaints or issues.  They can also act as a mediator or recommend arbitration services for resolving buyer/seller complaints and disputes.

How do you file a complaint against a business with the BBB?

A complainant is usually asked to submit a complaint in writing to the BBB, so that an accurate record exists of the dispute. The complaint is then taken up with the company involved for resolution.

What is a BBB Accredited Business?

You might see signs or wording on a shop window for instance or a website that a business is accredited with the BBB.  Being accredited is a very positive recommendation for a business as it means the company meets high standards of product/service excellence and places a high value on customer service.

Is there anything the BBB does not do?

The BBB does not have policing powers so they cannot take any action to close down a business or force a business to settle a commercial dispute with a client or customer.  In addition, the BBB cannot provide credit information to consumers nor can they report the business in question to credit bureaus. 

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