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The Better Business Bureau - Are They Dependable?

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Posted by: from Niagara Falls
5/28/2012 at 4:19:49 PM

I was wondering what your opinion was on the BBB and if it really is a reliable source for doing background checks on contractors and other businesses?

I've read postings and news stories that the Better Business Bureau tends to favor their paid accredited members over a consumer when problem occurs.

What is the point of having a platform like the BBB for consumers when they ignore or toss aside complaints against their paid members?

I'd really like to get your feedback on this and your experiences with the BBB.

REPLIES (20)
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Date/Time5/28/2012 at 5:24:13 PM

To answer your first question...No, unless they have had a complaint from someone about a business they can't give any recommendations.

So a business that has operated let's say 30 years and gives bad service but never had a filing against them at BBB would be given a thumbs up neutral report. They want your money.

Ask the business that wants your business for references from existing customers that you can contact.

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Date/Time5/28/2012 at 5:24:39 PM

I feel that the BBB is a good source for information. I do not feel that they lean towrds helping there piad clients better. I have filed several complaints with them to resolve issues and I have not paid them a dime.

It is also tuff for a contractor to become part of the BBB bureu. If you read the complaints they list everything under them. It is a good way for a homeoewner as myself to see if I wan to chance it or not.

As for conducting a back ground check the only source I feel you can really trust is the police department or city hall and court systems. Back grounds are a tuff source to get honestly with out paying for them.

In Florida you can contact the city tax buildings and they offer you for free if that contractor is licensed.

It is always better to check license information so if there is something wrong you have a way to go about your complaint.

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Date/Time5/28/2012 at 5:26:42 PM

I have read and did some research of my own after watching a 60 Min about BBB. Some of the things I heard and saw were unbelivable, It left me with the question of trust., and how easy monay can change things.

The question is who moniter BBB?

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Date/Time5/28/2012 at 5:34:55 PM

My opinion is that if a contractor has had complaints filed against them then it will be posted for everyone to see.

When I am interested in doing business with someone, I check them out to cover myself. Most businesses with a good reputation will have no complaints against them. Even if they have complaints that have been resolved, it still shows.

The best way to find a good contractor is to get one refereed to you from a friend that you trust. If the firm has done a good job for them, then you have a good likelihood they will do the same for you.

I do not pay to be a member to the BBB. I rely on word of mouth and good work to vouch for us. But the BBB is a great tool to find complaints about a contractor.

Wish you luck and I hope I answered your question.

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Anthony in Milford
Date/Time5/28/2012 at 5:58:38 PM

I have been solicited by the BBB several times over the past 29 yrs and each time it's the same pitch. Some one inquired about my business but I'm not a BBB member and then the sales pitch. $700 somerhing for membership and what card will you be paying with !!

My responces is to hang up!

People can do an internet search, Angie's list on and on if they need to know about your company.

They are just another bunch of solicitors so stay clear.

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Henry from Classe Designs in Saint Louis
Date/Time5/28/2012 at 6:07:48 PM

I have used the BBB twice in the past two years:

1. My complaint was resolved regarding a advertising scheme with a $2700 cancelled contract in my favor after I submitted the details of a complaint.

2. I answered a radio advertisement that again said "FREE" and then got a bill for $450. Again I filed

a complaint with the BBB and it was resolved in my favor.

If the BBB does not receive any data, positive or negative they have no information and let it be know.

Here is your answer to purchasing anything after checking with the BBB:

1. Get it in writing, read the "BOILER PLATE" pay attention to the details.

2. Take accurate notes with date, time and names.

3. Ask for references

4. Get three bids.

5. Look at the work and talk to the people that did business with your pick.

6. Get building permits, review licenses.

7. Watch haow the work is done.

Depending on what you purchase all may not apply. I take things back to Home Depot with no problem.

If you want the BBB to work for you you have to work with them. ie facts, data, dates, names.

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Date/Time5/28/2012 at 6:15:52 PM

The BBB is not a very reliable source, good sources would be customer referells, company referells, or ask contractor to provide letters of reference, and photos of work.

Some contractors when they recieve to many BBB complaints close down and open under a new name.

Good Luck.

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Date/Time5/28/2012 at 7:13:01 PM

The better business bureau is just that ... A business. They hounded me for 6 years to join. They said that I had no complaints filed against my business, but I did have 2 great reviews. Some how with that they told me I had a B rating. I joined a week later and a month after that my business was rated A+.

Well I could not afford to pay my monthly fee anymore so I left the BBB. You guessed it, a week later I had a B rating again.

The BBB is not a good way to find out about a company. I will NEVER join the BBB again.

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Date/Time5/28/2012 at 8:05:45 PM

The best thing to do is ask for references and pictures of past work. I believe past workmanship and customer experience is the best way to hire a contractor. I was with the BBB for 1 year and have never been asked by a customer why I was no longer a paying member. Always check past work and customers, anyone can pay the $600 to be a member.

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Robert from AuntieGen, Inc. in Blackwood
Date/Time5/28/2012 at 10:01:18 PM

If you research the BBB, here's what you will find: "The Better Business Bureau, through local chapters, invites businesses to become dues-paying Accredited members. In return, the BBBs allow their member businesses the use of their logo, and mediation and arbitration services.

Although it has "Bureau" in its title, the Better Business Bureau is not affiliated with federal, state, or local government, and has no direct affiliation with any consumer protection government authority. The BBB, as a privately held corporation, has no governmental authority over businesses.

In 2010, 20/20, an ABC network news magazine, reported in a segment titled 'The Best Ratings Money Can Buy' about the irregularities in BBB ratings.[19] They reported that a man created two dummy companies which received A+ ratings as soon as he had paid the membership fee. They also reported that business owners were told that the only way to improve their rating was by paying the fee.

In one case a C was turned to an A immediately after a payment and in another case a C- became an A+. Chef Wolfgang Puck said that some of his businesses receive Fs because he refuses to pay a fee. Ritz Carlton, which does not belong either, also receives Fs for not responding to its complaints.

It has been reported that the BBB encourages and solicits money from the very businesses they monitor, which again, raises the question of neutrality.[25] The BBB states that they hold their Accredited businesses to a higher standard, as outlined in their Accreditation standards."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Better_Business_Bureau.

I would agree with the other comments posted here. Talk to your friends, neighbors, family, etc. Always ask for references, and get a minimum of three (3) quotes before hiring a contractor.

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Date/Time5/28/2012 at 11:01:46 PM

I agree with Don, the BBB does not have reviews you can count on at least not the good ones as they are not checked. If the company has a bad rateing you can trust that.

You want reviews you can count on go to Angie's List.

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Bruce from Bath 2 Day in Baltimore
Date/Time5/28/2012 at 11:13:00 PM

I have been solicited by the BBB to join a few years ago. They told me they had about 10 inquiries about me but had no information (because i hadn't yet had the "honor" to be invited to pay their their hefty fee to join).

I asked a fellow contractor what he thought and he asked me "Oh, did they they tell you that they had about 10 inquiries about you?" ...yeah, right!

About 2 or 3 tears ago i was doing an estimate for a bathroom, and the client said that he used be the regional manager for the BBB (in our area). So i asked him his opinion; to which he replied: "it's a scam". However, if your business is the type where many people check with the BBB, it might be worth paying the mafia fee.....

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Jim in New Richmond
Date/Time5/29/2012 at 12:46:26 AM

First of all I can only speak for the Cincinnati chapter. I pay for acredidation that I no way effects my rank/grade. The fee is for the bbb to monitor my business status and update to the database when they find changes. If I have a legal filing against me, it is posted. If I change my dba or business address it is posted. The fee I Pay is for them to investigate me constantly. They don't update just because you notify them.

I bought my partner out and within two weeks they contacted me without effort from myself or the other partner. Of course every contractor will go through a cycle and drop the ball.

And please don't forget that some customers are hellish and will smear you at a whim. The bbb knows the questions to ask to get to the facts of complaints and do so whether you're accredited or not. The accreditation only verifies information that the company provides and is worth it in my opinion for $35/month to show that I'm consistent and I pay someone to tell my customers when I'm not.

It was a detailed and lengthy process to be acknowledged by the bbb before I paid them a cent and my rating did not change after I started paying the fee. Remember that they can only verify certain information regarding a company and could be sued if they misposted so they are very thorough.

After all that being said, I've battled with the bbb with how stringent the advertising guidelines are pertaining to website content. As a business owner I would love to have an 'ace in the hole' but the bbb is really for the consumer and more business owners would post if requests like this didn't look so much like spam.

For those of you looking for references, how would you like strange people calling out of the blue asking questions about a contractor that you may hardly remember? Pictures can be pirated off the Internet so make sure they look like they were taken from a camera phone. Ask for a copy of insurance. It's a serious hassle for us but it proves coverage. Get everything in writing with due dates. Last but most important, be nice to the person you're asking to give you a free quote.

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Date/Time5/29/2012 at 7:38:27 AM

What I tell people to use the BBB for is just as a possible INDICATOR of a problem, but to take even that with a grain of salt precisely for the reasons already mentioned.

Also, even though BBB does put a disclaimer that the number of complaints doesn't take into account the number of transactions a company is doing, the average consumer has no clue how to get any sense at all of the volume of transactions a company does (i.e. by using tools like QuantCast if the company is purely processing orders online), the cost of the products, and MANY other factors that have to be taken into account.

So ultimately the BBB on it's own is useless. It CERTAINLY is NOT the "authority" that many consumers believe it to be.

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Date/Time5/29/2012 at 7:47:16 AM

I am an acredited BBB member. My point of view is that they are a resource to help promote businesses and give customers a platform to be heard. I have found no favoritism in being a member. I get email alerts when someone has checked out my company on the BBB website but, they don't provide any other information as to who was inquiring. It only shows my A+ rating and that my company has had no complaints filed.

Does that mean anything? Of course not.

Any successful business will have complaints.. Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart..... they all have complaints. What the BBB does is to provide a forum for businesses to address those complaints. The BBB does not resolve disputes, they only leverage a members credibility against complaints. It's up to the customer and business to find resolution.

What a company gets out of it is good PR.

When someone registers with the BBB, it lets a potential customer see what kind of track record they've had, how they deal with complaints and lets them know that they are serious about their business. Membership also creates one of the best SERP backlinks for those of you who understand SEO.

It costs my company $450 a year to be a full member. I consider it just another cost of doing business in today's marketplace.

-Daniel

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Paul in Vienna
Date/Time5/29/2012 at 11:18:20 AM

The BBB is a for profit organization not a non profit as they try to portray themselves as. They are one of the worst organizations that a consumer can refer to when checking up on a company.

For example :I checked out the local Wal-Mart: they are a "member" of the BBB. They have had one complaint against them, but it apparently was resolved. So, they have an "AA" rating. I checked out the local Lowe's. They have 14 unresolved complaints against them and have an "F" rating. They are not members of the BBB

What makes this case curious, is the number of lodged complaints. These stores are no more than a couple of miles from each other and so have basically the same customer base. I find it impossible to believe that the BBB has only received one complaint against Wal-Mart and 14 against Lowe's. This makes me suspect that a) the BBB is not recording complaints against their members; b) the BBB is not recording responses from non-members; c) the BBB might be "creating" complaints against non-members. Or some combination of these or others.

If you really want to find out what the bbb if all about go to these websites:

http://www.betterethicsbureau.org/

http://bbbscam.net/

One final irony: if you have a complaint against the Better Business Bureau, you can't file it with the Better Business Bureau. And just as Groucho Marx once quipped that he would never join a club that would have him as a member, the Better Business Bureau is not a member of its own organization.

Maybe it's all a big joke?

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Date/Time5/29/2012 at 12:57:20 PM

BBB is a pay for play business. They make money from giving out A ratings. How many people have "F's" on BBB? A company's lack of presence on BBB is not necessarily indicative of poor quality either.

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Brad from Goodman's Handyman Service in Henry
Date/Time5/30/2012 at 5:58:30 PM

I have read quit a bit of posting by others on here. I am a business owner of Goodman's Handyman Service out of Henry, Tn. I have to agree that the BBB are only going to be dependable if complaints have been filed with them about a company. I would say the best thing you could do is ask for references or look up a company to see if it has any reviews that are positive/negatives toward the company you are seeking. I have asked customers to leave reviews for my company after completing a job which has been very successful and helpful to others. The best thing anyone can do is rely on yourself, ask around about the company and do your homework.

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Date/Time6/1/2012 at 8:13:43 PM

The BBB is not to great $500 to join does nothing for you customer makes a claim and you pay to have it removed.

Do i need say more?

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Date/Time6/3/2012 at 8:53:24 PM

No, No, No. Do not rely on the BBB for anything. I have a Garage Door Business for 32yrs near Philadelphia, PA & all the "Bad Bobs" the overcharge you in our area are members of the BBB.

Check with your state Dept of State & see if the business is listed & licensed & check with your state AG office to see if there are any serious complaints. Check with Angie's list, Check your church bulliten, Check with your neighbors & friends but do not check with the BBB.

ALWAYS ask for references of other jobs BUT any contractor job can look good for a few years, Ask for a reference at least 5 to 10 years old & see how the work looks over the long haul.

Most of all, when hiring a contractor, look them in the eye, talk to them the way you would talk to your doctor, dentist, clergy, auto mechanic, braber or hair stylist.

If they are unreliable or unshure then they wont be able meet your eyes & talk professionally.

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