BBBThe Better Business Bureau's slogan is "Start with Trust" -- but not so fast. It seems the BBB has inherent conflicts of interest, at least for an organization that has always positioned itself as a go-to source for consumers looking for unbiased ratings. The BBB is not a government agency and their vetting or verification process is largely unknown. On the flip side, its membership sales process has been known to be aggressive. And that's where allegedly blurred lines are raising questions about what it takes to "earn" an A from the BBB, and whether you can -- or worse yet, have to -- pay to improve your rating.



We asked the Better Business Bureau for an on-the-record comment. "There have been mistakes made," said a spokesperson. To their credit, the bureau confirmed it has revisited its 16-point evaluation process. Good move, and hopefully a sign of better objectivity in the future from the Better Business Bureau.



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rick

I strongly disagree with this news article.
Just last week I searched my company's name on BBBand found that I had an A rating. - I was not a member.
Just joined this week.
thanks CRB
Southern Wildlife Control, LLC
Macon, GA

July 14 2011 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bbbark

Not only is this old news, it is 2 decades old news. If anyone wants to take the time to go back to old microfiche, the BBB was scandalized for exactly the same thing. As I remember, there were resignations due to this. Might have even been on 20-20, 60 minutes, or Dateline.

July 07 2011 at 12:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
houstonbbb1

Dear Starranch,

It's unfortunate you have that perception of the Houston Better Business Bureau. We do not operate in the manner you just described. The Houston BBB has several “accreditation standards,” one being that we will not offer accreditation to any business that has not been in business for at least a year. Therefore, it is would be futile for a BBB associate to “almost immediately” offer accreditation to a business that just opened its doors. As for suggesting that we would set a special tolerance level for complaints for your company, that would be impossible. There are thousands of businesses in the Houston area. We could not set aside an associate to personally monitor your business report and wait until you received a specified number of complaints to begin posting them. However, we will revoke a membership for a pattern of complaints. Perhaps that was your concern?

The reality is, accredited businesses are held to a higher standard of conduct than non-accredited but any company has the opportunity to achieve the A+ rating. You will see on some blogs that there is the misperception that membership is only a revenue-generating tool and as long as you pay your dues you are immune from complaints etc. Logically, if that were the case, then we would never revoke an accredited business. Correct? In order to maintain transparency, the Houston BBB posts all recent revocations on our webpage http://houston.bbb.org/revocations

Now, which company are your associated with? What is your contact information? Did you ever answer any of the complaints we received? Which BBB representative gave you misleading information? Feel free to contact me at esanchez@bbbhou.org.

July 07 2011 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
houstonbbb1

Dear Starranch,

It's unfortunate you have that perception of the Houston Better Business Bureau. We do not operate in the manner you just described. The Houston BBB has several “accreditation standards,” one being that we will not offer accreditation to any business that has not been in business for at least a year. Therefore, it is would be futile for a BBB associate to “almost immediately” offer accreditation to a business that just opened its doors. As for suggesting that we would set a special tolerance level for complaints for your company, that would be impossible. There are thousands of businesses in the Houston area. We could not set aside an associate to personally monitor your business report and wait until you received a specified number of complaints to begin posting them. However, we will revoke a membership for a pattern of complaints. Perhaps that was your concern?

The reality is, accredited businesses are held to a higher standard of conduct than non-accredited but any company has the opportunity to achieve the A+ rating. You will see on some blogs that there is the misperception that membership is only a revenue-generating tool and as long as you pay your dues you are immune from complaints etc. Logically, if that were the case, then we would never revoke an accredited business. Correct? In order to maintain transparency, the Houston BBB posts all recent revocations on our webpage http://houston.bbb.org/revocations

Now, which company are your associated with? What is your contact information? Did you ever answer any of the complaints we received? Which BBB representative gave you misleading information? Feel free to contact me at esanchez@bbbhou.org.

July 07 2011 at 11:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Misty

If the BBB is selling A Ratings, this is a violation of the consumers trust. We look to this organization for guidance when dealing with certain businesses, so if they are giving fraudulent ratings they should be punished for it. This is an unlawful act by a company that alot of consumers trusted.

July 07 2011 at 8:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
yabbiyum

Duh. Where the heck have you been? Old news.

July 06 2011 at 10:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
starranch

Wow...this is the oldest news EVER! I started a business in Houston years ago and I was solicited almost immediately by the BBB. Their selling point?? They would take 7 complaints for my company before they would ever report to consumers. If you weren't a "member", they'd report anything and everything they heard. I, of course, did not join and have always assumed that anybody who DID was worried about getting complaints about their work. If I saw that BBB logo on their window or card, I'd avoid that company like the plague.

July 06 2011 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to starranch's comment
houstonbbb1

Dear Starranch,

It's unfortunate you have that perception of the Houston Better Business Bureau. We do not operate in the manner you just described. The Houston BBB has several “accreditation standards,” one being that we will not offer accreditation to any business that has not been in business for at least a year. Therefore, it is would be futile for a BBB associate to “almost immediately” offer accreditation to a business that just opened its doors. As for suggesting that we would set a special tolerance level for complaints for your company, that would be impossible. There are thousands of businesses in the Houston area. We could not set aside an associate to personally monitor your business report and wait until you received a specified number of complaints to begin posting them. However, we will revoke a membership for a pattern of complaints. Perhaps that was your concern?

The reality is, accredited businesses are held to a higher standard of conduct than non-accredited but any company has the opportunity to achieve the A+ rating. You will see on some blogs that there is the misperception that membership is only a revenue-generating tool and as long as you pay your dues you are immune from complaints etc. Logically, if that were the case, then we would never revoke an accredited business. Correct? In order to maintain transparency, the Houston BBB posts all recent revocations on our webpage http://houston.bbb.org/revocations

Now, which company are your associated with? What is your contact information? Did you ever answer any of the complaints we received? Which BBB representative gave you misleading information? Feel free to contact me at esanchez@bbbhou.org.

July 07 2011 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sp600

Here again is proof of a shake down. Our justice system has gone soft. Time to put these people in jail. Oh but wait maybe the people that is running our justice system has shake down the BBB for some extra green.

July 06 2011 at 6:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

When it comes to scams and crooked operations, the Better Business Bureau is at the top of the list. The public mostly believes that the BBB is a government agency; it is not. Everything they do is for sale to the higehst bidder. What better way for unethical people to get away shady dealings than to hide in plain sight?

July 06 2011 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mizdixie9

A few years ago I received an unsolicited credit card offer. Called the company sending - reply was they would remove my name from the list. 30 days later, I received the 2nd unsolicited offer. Called and once again received the same reply. You guessed it - another 30 days and the 3rd offer appeared. Third time was the charm. I filed a complaint through the BBB online. Received a letter from a mukitymuck in the company. Called & spoke with her.
It ended amicably. The deal? Stop the solicitations and I won't be forced to file any further complaints.

Tom - since you have a business, sounds like the BBB, or at least the sales representative was trying desperately to meet some type of quota. (Typical salesperson) I find I sometimes have limited patience even with phone solicitations. I'm in a rural area & find door-to-door salespeople show up very rarely. Whatever religion it is that distributes the WatchTower, I offered a deal the two nice young ladies that showed up at my door last year. First, they would attend my Church with me. Then..I would take into consideration attending their Church with them. They did leave in rather a hurry and have not returned.

July 06 2011 at 5:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply