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Better Business Bureau - A useless institution ?

September 21st, 2009

For the last many years I had very high regards for Better Business Bureau. When I used the word "Better Business Bureau", it sounded to me like a quasi judicial institution that safeguarded consumer interests and helped resolve their grievances against erring companies.

If you look at the BBB logo - it says - "Start With Trust". And this trust is what is there in persons mind. They think that if they are not properly treated by companies they can trust on BBB and have their grievances addressed from Better Business Bureau. I was one of those persons.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) was founded in 1912. It is a corporation consisting of several private business franchises of local BBB organizations based in the United States and Canada, which work together through the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB). As per wiki - "The BBB goal is to foster a fair and effective marketplace, so that buyers and sellers can trust each other."

How does BBB work

According to wiki - "BBBs gather and report information on business reliability, alert the public to frauds against consumers and businesses, provide information on ethical business practices, and act as mutually trusted intermediaries between consumers and businesses to resolve disputes. News media frequently turn to the CBBB and local BBBs as expert sources of news about scams and consumer issues."

What if a consumer has an issue

The BBB does have a dispute resolution system. The procedures for dispute resolution are established by the Council of the Better Business Bureaus. This in turn is implemented by local BBBs. According to the wiki -"disputes can be resolved through mediation; when appropriate, low or no-cost arbitration may also be offered and provided through the BBB. The BBB acts as a neutral party when providing dispute resolution services."

What happens in practice

In practice there is nothing like "mediation or low or no-cost arbitration". If you have a grievance, you complain to BBB. What does BBB do ? The Better Business Bureau forwards it to the local BBB unit. And local BBB starts investigations ? It starts mediation ? Absolutely no. All the loca BBB does it forwards your complain to the concerned company. It gives two weeks of time to the company to respond. The company can respond anything it wishes. The company may even respond just one liner -"This is according to our terms and conditions". Better Business Bureau, does not even read you or the companies reply. All it does is that it checks if your reply is with 700 characters. Note 700 characters - not 700 word. You can not write anything more than 700 characters. Their online system does this check. And it will not tell you automatically.

So the company replies back with a curt reply. And then what does BBB does. Nothing. It just forward you the reply. You are dissatisfied. You thought you made a very good case against the company. And you wanted BBB's support or at least BBB's acknowledgement that the case deserves merit and attention. No. BBB is not at all concerned about it.  BBB just forwards the reply to you. You can then again make a reply. And BBB then again forwards it to the company against which you have grievance. And then again 2 weeks of waiting time. The company may or may not reply. If it does reply, you get the reply from the company which may be a curt reply for half a line. And then the case is closed. BBB is not at all concerned what the reply is about.

In other words BBB is a useless institution. Worst, you have trust on BBB and that trust is shattered.

Why Does BBB exist

Well BBB is not a place to address your complaints. Never waste your time on BBB for you complaint addressal. BBB sells the BBB Certifications to companies. And this is where is makes money from. That money brings the bread and butter for its employees. If we rely upon the report http://www.ripoffreport.com/Better-Business-Bureau/Better-Business-Bure/better-business-bureau-or-buye-eq4fb.htm as reported by consumers then BBB encourages and solicits money from the very businesses they monitor! How could this be beneficial to the consumer ?

Read from that report -  "What the BBB does, is give the business that is being reported the opportunity to respond. If the business responds many times this is enough to give the business a satisfactory rating, no matter what their response is!".

What is ridiculous is that the if the business responds just once, the story ends. BBB does not care if they responded subsequently. The businesses still get satisfactory rating.  The above article in ripoff report says that -  "The BBB does provide a mediation service, but the BBB cannot force the business to do anything for you to resolve your consumer rip-off. They can only make suggestions. And if the business does not comply, this will not insure an unsatisfactory rating for the business that ripped you off.". In my case however, BBB did not tell that they are ready to mediate.

You may also like to check http://bbbroundup.com/. According to the report - "of two similar businesses, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle--both major market, reputable newspapers from February 2009.  There are two differences between them:  1) They are graded by two different regional BBB offices (Los Angeles and San Francisco) and 2) the San Francisco Chronicle is a BBB member, the Los Angeles Times is not.  This suggests either members are favored over non-members or different regions grade differently."

If you have trusted BBB so far, it is because you have not gone to them to have any of your concern as consumer addressed.

Also read the comments below and another article Executive pays in BBB


  1. Steve
    August 7th, 2014 at 14:26 | #1
  2. Jaime Perez
    August 19th, 2014 at 07:09 | #2

    I don't really understand the purpose of the BBB, they don't really do anything but sit in their chair or high horses and do nothing. It seems as if they are more for the buisness one is complaining about than the person complaining. Its no wonder lots of companies keep abusing clients because they already are aware that the BBB will sit back and do nothing. In my case I had to file a fraud claim against a roofing company because the BBB did nothing and I knew the roofing company had defrauted me out of my money. Shame on the BBB, geeze. They have such an easy job just sitting there doing nothing. Amazing!

  3. kitty
    August 27th, 2014 at 11:53 | #3

    @sarah duke
    yes BBB says they are neutral, however that is not the case. I complained about a business, the business replied and I submitted a rebuttal which if they read it correctly could prove the business owner was lying. The business owner never replied. I questioned was was my complaint not on line. They put it on line and put the business owners lies on line also. They eliminated by rebuttal and Final resolution was: BBB determined that despite companys reasonable effort to address complaint issue the customer remained dissatisfied.
    While it is true that I was dissatisfied with this business work-the business did NOT offer any reasonable or any effort to address the problem. Oh unless addressing the problem means writing a letter that is full of lies. BBB takes no sides, huh???

  4. kitty
    August 27th, 2014 at 11:57 | #4

    sarah duke :
    Again the BBB does not side with business or consumers! The BBB is neutral! And you don’t pay a fee to stay Accredited, you have to maintain sound business practices, that is how a company becomes accredited. My word ignorance must be bliss.

    yeah right-are you an employee? I just had an experience with them

  5. kitty
    August 27th, 2014 at 12:01 | #5

    sarah duke :
    Again the BBB does not side with business or consumers! The BBB is neutral! And you don’t pay a fee to stay Accredited, you have to maintain sound business practices, that is how a company becomes accredited. My word ignorance must be bliss.

    sound practices-rating a business THATS RIPPING PEOPLE OFF AS a+, WHAT ROCK DID YOU CRAWL OUT FROM UNDER?

  6. August 28th, 2014 at 11:38 | #6

    @sarah duke
    I have to agree, they are worthless to the common consumer, I'm very glad you had some luck , but three times, with the Chicago BBB, Atlanta BBB, and the Knoxvile Tn. BBB they did absolutely nothing except exchange information. The larger companies are exempt from any unresolved disputes;ie Suntrust and the credit bureaus.

  7. Cindy Chaltas
    November 4th, 2014 at 12:37 | #7

    Sara Duke, Thank you for including that most insightful 20/20 clip on the BBB's business practices! What irony! The BBB's founders would undoubtedly be disturbed by what has become of their legacy. Greed snakes its way into every possible crevice...another unfortunate fact of life.

  8. Ralph
    November 14th, 2014 at 10:01 | #8

    This is correct as they charge companies to be part of the BBB. If the company can't afford to be a part of the BBB then they are treated differently when they have a complaint filed against them.

  9. Julie Michel
    December 24th, 2014 at 11:03 | #9

    I to wish I would have read this before going to the BBB. The company refused to meet with me and laughed at me when I said I was going to the BBB. I went to the BBB and like the article said, nothing happened. I then went to the Consumer Protection Agency and that seemed to get their attention. After over two months, the company finally met with me. After the meeting the BBB closed the case and told me that it would say that I was unsatisfied. I then noticed that on their website they had my closing date and it said that the BBB felt that the company made a reasonable offer but the consumer was unsatisfied. So that is another tactic that they use. The company was accredited and then not accredited after the complaint. About a month later they were accredited again. When I ask how they can be non accredited for a month and then be accredited again. All I get is that they meet accreditation requirements.
    I would recommend going to the consumer protection agency if you have a problem with a company. I had good results when I did.

  10. R Rice
    December 30th, 2014 at 06:37 | #10

    I know this first hand as we thought the Cincinnati BBB was a good ref and hired an A+ rated contractor. Turned out they scammed us out of a 30% deposit. Did no work and refused to return the deposit even though they have no stated policy to retain it. We complained to the BBB and they sided with the Pay to Play contractor and he kept the A+ rating even though he has several complaints. The BBB is not for the consumer.

  11. Sam
    January 1st, 2015 at 04:02 | #11

    I found out too late that the Cincinnati BBB was pay to play and it cost me because we paid one of the BBB so called A+ contractors "Premier Landscape & Irrigation Service" 30% down on landscaping to be done. They never did any work at my home and refuse to return the deposit even though they have no policy to keep it. We filed a complaint with the BBB and they sided with the contractor and he kept his A+ rating. Pay to Play Scam.

  12. SBCheek
    February 7th, 2015 at 06:08 | #12

    My complaint to the BBB was on a nationwide Company advertising on TV, who disregarded the laws, ignored a Judge's decision that denied them access to our disabled family with dependent child's only income, and forged a signature, took fake power of attorney and changed the will of a dying father. That Dad died, his family removed from the income. Their reply to the BBB was "He could have always changed things back". Case closed. The man was too ill and later dead. Others complained of harassment from the same Get Cash Now company but the BBB never changed their rating of that company. All they said was "you need to hire A LAWYER". No lawyer would specialize in that case. Many tricks come in the mail and all they need is a call or signature to take all you have, the reason the laws were made. The large investment and insurance companies are aware but have tied hands in these matters. I have no respect for the BBB or it's ratings any longer.

  13. Cathie Stemper
    February 26th, 2015 at 19:31 | #13

    BBB of Santa Barbara is as neglectful as the lie of law enforcement! I sent all verifiable documentation to them. The BBB allegedly attempted to contact the business/attorney and received no response! Compliant was closed without response from the business! IT'S A JOKE and on their website my compliant is listed as closed without reason! They are no different than any other crooked corrupt p.i.g.s. (people in gangs sinning)

  14. Paul
    March 19th, 2015 at 20:05 | #14

    Filing a complaint with the BBB is a complete waste of time. You state your complaint, the business states whatever they want in response, and the BBB closes the case on the grounds that the business responded in good faith. What's the point? Just go straight to the website of your State Attorney General's office.

  15. Mr. V. A. Karlski
    April 8th, 2015 at 06:14 | #15

    Contacted the BBB auto help line and they are as useless as the auto manufacturer. I agree with the consumer who stated the BBB sells their 'ratings'. Just another scam and this is one of the many reasons our judicial system is overloaded and staffed by officers of the court aka LAWYERS and pinhead judges who don't know their ass from a hole in the ground.

  16. Adam v wilson
    April 10th, 2015 at 02:32 | #16

    hi I wish all u ungratfull basterads stop picking on the B.B.B I need their help right now I neeed to sue ford credit motors any one from the bbb please help me

  17. April 14th, 2015 at 14:26 | #17

    You own a service business, ABC, Inc. I call your company and ask you to provide your services to my company, XYZ, Inc. We agree on fees, terms and work details and you send me a very detailed and clear contract that says you will do whatever work we agree to at the fee/minimum charges and terms we agree to, at the date, place and time we agree to and that my allowing you to do and complete said work acknowledges my acceptance of the contract. The contract is in plain English, there are no “lawyer words” or fine print, and it is the same contract under which you have performed work for my company for many years and for thousands of others for over 35 years.

    You come out and do the work for me to my complete satisfaction. In fact, I tell you that I’d like to use you again in future. You send me an invoice that adheres completely and precisely to the contracted parameters.

    Being a miscreant deadbeat, I ignore the invoice. After thirty days, the invoice is past due and so you call me. I ignore you. You invoice me again by email. I ignore you. You mail me a copy of the invoice in case I did not get the original. I ignore you. Finally, after six months of attempted collection, all of which I ignore, you tell me by email that if the invoice is not paid by a certain date, you’ll file a claim against me in county circuit court, small claims division, to get the invoice paid and will include any court filing costs, service of summons fees, etc. in the claim.

    I stop ignoring you. I am scared and angry. I know from your website that you are a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). I tell you that if you do not forgive the debt in its entirety, I will submit a derogatory review of your business to the BBB for all to see in an attempt to destroy your business. You ignore my threat and have me served with a summons. When the summons is served, knowing that the contract and, therefore, the debt, are valid and that I will lose in court, I pay the invoice in full and the court date is cancelled.

    I send a blistering review of your business in to BBB. I accuse you of the crime of fraud by claiming that you cheated one of my employees. I accuse you of poor work practices; claim that your contract was full of fine print, was invalid and that my staff and I were intentionally misled by you. Further, I claim that you are an angry and unreasonable person, a bully, condescending and arrogant and suggest that no one should do business with you. You send in a rebuttal, but it is an afterthought read by some and probably ignored by many because unlike my very fun, colorful, dramatic and vitriolic review, yours is a dull, business-like summation of facts and figures. The original accusation that I made against you is prominently displayed on the BBB website and, in compliance with BBB’s current policy, will remain where it is, killing your business, for three years. In fact, this one negative review is made even more prominent by BBB (to whom, remember, you pay hundreds of dollars annually to help your business) via a clever, colorful, animated chart that emphasizes your one negative review over your many positive reviews, just in case a potential client might otherwise miss it.

    BBB (to whom, remember, you pay hundreds of dollars every year to help your business) prints my review. BBB does not ask you if you have documentation of the validity of the exchange-though much documentation exists and is readily available, they do not ask me for proof of unethical behavior on your part-though I have none. They do not even ask me if have proof that you committed the crime of fraud against my company-a good thing for me because no such proof exists. In fact, they don’t do any investigation or due diligence at all. They simply help me to destroy you by publishing my review, no questions asked. As I am slandering you by accusing you of a crime-fraud-and BBB helps disseminate the accusation by refusing to delete the provably untrue accusation, they willingly abet me in the act of committing slander.

    After they enthusiastically help me in my attempt to ruin you, BBB contacts you and asks you to pay more hundreds of dollars to affiliate with more BBB offices in towns in which you do business and to buy advertising from them, because, after all, they exist to help small businesses like yours.

    And thus we have an excellent definition of the word, Chutzpah.

  18. Jace Malcom
    May 16th, 2015 at 13:32 | #18

    BBB is a black mail for business. If you don't pay up they will get down and dirty about your business. BBB is really a anti-customer playground they play nice to you thinking that they will solve their issues.

    For example, if I have a company X I pay a membership fee to the BBB to be on their list and keep up my rating. Which means if someone like yourself goes to the BBB website and see how I handle my complaints and keep up my rating; it tells the customer "Oh he is on top of things" Even though I have other complaints such as taking people credit cards, or running credit card on fraud events. However I "solved" those issues. Again, in quotes. In the mean time company X get an A+ rating. If I didn't pay my membership fee you see my rating will go down to F and be public displayed about my company.

    So matter how much you complain about the company it can be like they stole my baby from my shopping cart. If they solved it and say no it wasn't us. Its solved pretty much they can get away with murder as long as BBB gets the money to pay their bills and people.

    Former BBB employee

  19. Dp
    June 10th, 2015 at 23:05 | #19

    @sarah duke
    I can't wait until they screw you over. They will. They are absolutly useless. Its very nice that you have had a good experience with them so far. Good for you. You happen to be on a website that is complaining about the BBB. If you don't like that we think they suck, leave.

  20. DP
    June 10th, 2015 at 23:30 | #20

    OMG Sara Duke did you know you happen to be on a website that is specifically here because we all think the BBB sucks? If you don't like the fact we know the BBB, and since you work for them, you're included, is a useless institution that is a bigger scam than the businesses people go there to complain about. If you don't like our complaints, leave. Go find some website that likes the BBB, which I'm sure is impossible, and blow sunshine up their ass. We don't want to hear your lies. Its not our fault you work for such a crappy company. That's on you. I can't believe you admit you work for a company like that.

  21. Shaun
    June 17th, 2015 at 10:47 | #21

    Couldn't agree more with this. I just had an experience where I complained about a company, the company responded back that they were going to look into it but needed more time. BBB closed the cased saying "Answered - the business addressed the issues within the complaint, but the consumer remains dissatisfied.". I had no issue with the business taking more time to look into things. The business was working with me to resolve the problem. BBB just wanted the case closed as quickly as possible.

  22. Bob McCumbers
    July 21st, 2015 at 09:55 | #22

    BBB will do NOTHING for you. They are biggest lying scam going. EVERYONE thinks they are a government agency.....nope. ALL they want is for companies to PAY for a listing on their website. They do NOTHING to help people with a complaint other than to make the company that had a complaint against them aware that someone had a complaint against them.

    The BBB does absolutely nothing and IS NOT a government agency.

    ALL they do is shakedown unsuspecting companies and try get them to pay for a listing.

    ONCE you pay for a listing your company will NEVER get a negitive listing. Don't pay? god forbid you get a complaint.

    No government agency would charge you for a listing. SCAM.

    AND...as you can see, there are ENDLESS complaints on the internet about the BBB. just google "complaints against the Better Business Bureau"

  23. Claudia Sierra
    August 12th, 2015 at 22:32 | #23

    BBB of North Carolina doesn't have the aim of serve the community, this is very noticeable in their web page when you see they erase the complains so, people can not rate the good or the bad practice of a business. BBB is an umbrella that protect just the interest of their associates that pay for a seal for hidden burglars.

  24. Aresha
    April 1st, 2016 at 05:44 | #24

    The BBB of Louisville, KY ID useless. They never even opened my case and gave me a sorry excuse as to why they could not assist me. All in all they are not around to help the consumer.

  25. Aresha
    April 1st, 2016 at 05:48 | #25

    The BBB of Louisville, KY proves to be useless. They never even opened my case and gave me a sorry excuse as to why they could not assist me. All in all they are not around to help the consumer. They only care about money and they lie about why they can not assist you. I will not get my hopes up nor waste my time again. They probably take money from the companies you complain against to get a good rating. Completely worthless services are provided. Mainly I just give up all together on getting any assistance with my issue because BBB is not a helpful service. They don't care about anyone but their jobs and and they do not help with important things. I am very upset about this and I hate this company.

  26. Edward Teach
    May 2nd, 2016 at 19:25 | #26

    The BBB is a legal RACKET! You pay you get a good rating... you don't pay they give you a bad rating. Simple as that! A legal racket. No different than Al Capone. You pay no trouble... you don't they try and ruin your business. You can buy your way to the top. Same with Angie's list and any other internet rating system. This is well documented.

  27. Mister Grammar
    September 14th, 2016 at 00:33 | #27

    Yes, the BBB is a sham, but please people, try to spell a little better. And maybe try to learn a little bit of grammar. Geez! You all sound like dipshits.

  28. Linda
    November 30th, 2016 at 06:39 | #28

    They did absolutely nothing in my case involving fraudulent software that was sold with a lap top . And they are supposed to be a consumer advocate acting on the consumers behalf. Big joke shame on you BBB

  29. Ms_MLG
    February 5th, 2017 at 13:18 | #29

    The BBB has outlived it's usefulness. When it was the only game in town, it seemed to have some teeth. Now, it has no credibility whatsoever. I was going to file a complaint against AT&T's billing practices. AT&T has a 91% negative customer reviews on the BBB website. Despite all of those unhappy customers, it is still worthy of an A+ rating, according to the BBB! All of these ratings sites have reviews that are manipulated anyway. For instance, there are companies that do nothing, but have negative reviews removed from Yelp for their clients. There are others, that pay people to write reviews of products on Amazon.

  30. Jessica
    April 4th, 2017 at 17:42 | #30

    This information is completely incorrect. File your complaints with the BBB and so they can assist you. If a claim goes unresolved you can use the BBB info for a suit or mediation. Does the BBB file mediation cases and law suits for you? Of course not, but they provide the information gathered from the complaint claim you need to assist you in your law suit or mediation suit.

  31. dean bullinger
    September 10th, 2018 at 15:21 | #31

    BBB is a big joke. filed a complaint about a motor i purchased 5 yr. 50,000 mile warranty 200 miles starts squeaking. company I purchased it from sent me new timing gear and chain to resolve issue. installed threw a rod bearing. sent motor back for repairs , received it back same thing 100 miles later. co. won't return calls or emails BBB closed my complaint what a joke. who needs a BBB rating just treat your customers like you would like to be treated. fairly back up your warranty. word of mouth is every thing in business I've been in business for 22 yrs. with out any complaints and stay very busy.

  32. Don
    November 28th, 2018 at 11:23 | #32

    I interviewed BBB in MD in the mid-70s prior to the existence of "accreditation". They were
    great and helpful for decades. With the advent of being an accredited business, somewhere in
    my old braincells I learned businesses paid for that. There's a "process" a business must go
    through but to me, it's worthless.

    About five years ago, I used BBB lodge a complaint against an auto
    dealership. There was something odd about BBB's position during this and that's probably
    when I thought it had to do with the shady dealership being accredited.

    I JUST sent them
    an email and BBB responded. Accredited businesses must pay for that "rating". It confirms
    what I knew, since money is exchanged (and I noted a difference in the handling of my issue),
    I lost all faith in BBB. I've been using reviews on yelp, had been with angieslist but I cut
    them out of my loop for their often ridiculous reviews, and other user reviewer websites. I
    also check out complaints on BBB. If the business isn't accredited, it's some value add as
    much as yelp, and whatever sites I see.

  33. Sally Magundi
    September 11th, 2019 at 12:36 | #33

    Better Business Bureau is the most useless organization on the planet. Worst that any "non-profit" I've ever engaged. Especially the lazy, UNETHICAL people that staff the Peoria Illinois office. They should be fired for unethical exposure of CONFIDENTIAL CORRESPONDENCE because they were too lazy to read it and distill it themselves. They had one job to do, and they earned a big fat FAIL by all measures and professional standards.

    I can't find any legal department on the equally USELESS Better Business Bureau website. Nor can I find any information of Illinois chapters that oversea the Peoria office, specially the office of Jessica Tharp who claims to be the CEO. After she compromised person, legal information, had the never to wonder why I was angry.

    I hope you loose your non-profit tax status because you don't do jack for the taxpayers who pick up your tab by way of you deductions which you don't deserve. Hopefully I can find a local rep who will investigate this SHAM of an organization.

  34. maria
    September 20th, 2019 at 22:06 | #34

    this response that the BBB is a helpful institution is not helpful at all...I had a legitimate complaint about a business that signed a document without my permission and charged me 700 dollars in unused personal training...I even explained that I tried to talk in person that they were charging me twice for monthly membership fees....the company did nothing when I talked to them and responded nothing when I used the Better Business Bureau...clearly what happened to me is not my fault but I have to just take it...this institution must be paid off by businesses.

  35. Vaughn Turner
    January 8th, 2020 at 17:37 | #35

    @Jaime Perez

    My thoughts exactly. I submitted a complaint about CAA who took almost $900 from me and then sold me medical insurance in the event that I couldn't make the trip and then when my doctor said I couldn't travel they refused to honor the insurance. The BBB did absolutely NOTHING about it even though they said the complaint was lodged against CAA and that it was now up to them to respond. Later they wrote me back and just said, sorry there's nothing we can do for you. The BBB is completely useless and so is CAA!!!

  36. EAngeles
    June 9th, 2020 at 13:28 | #36

    I agree that BBB is useless. They don't do anything to protect the consumers. They just close the cases even when resolutions were not met.

  1. February 22nd, 2011 at 11:10 | #1