How often do you check with the BBB about a company?

i don’t think that I ever have. I can’t even recall once doing so. I honestly don’t even know if they come out with a printed report for members or if I’d go onto a website and type in a business’s name or what I would do. When I want to find out about a company, I just Google it and see what comes up but, even then, the BBB’s never really come up.

And yet, every single time there’s a thread on here about a company, one of the first responses is always “contact the BBB!” as if that somehow magically solves the problem. But rather than rant about that, I wanted to get other people’s opinions.

Yeah, I’ve never heard of the BBB actually doing anything useful. I’d love to believe they are this magnanimous watchdog group valiantly fighting for my God-given rights as a consumer, but I’m just too cynical for that.

The BBB exists to deflect customers away from small claims court filings.

People feel they can contact the BBB and have things “taken care of” and in plenty of cases, it just does not matter. I am not a BBB member and had a complaint filed, the BBB found in my favor… doesent mean the customer has to be happy but it gives them someone they percieve as a neutral third party to bitch at and they feel like they have “done something about it”.

The reason why I have pretty much zero respect for the BBB

They claim to do vetting and licencing checks, they do not.

I fed one of their telemarketers a boatload of BS which he said jives with what their research found…yeah, sure it did… They didn’t even know that there is a state licensure requirement for computer shops and that 3 of their “members” lacked it.

They have no enforcement authority or do anything more than adjust their “rating” with the BBB.

They are primarily supported by the businesses they represent, if they made much of a habit of being an actual customer watchdog group, they would be dead in a few months as businesses stopped bothering becoming a member.

[qualifier]BBB member[/qualifier]

I think the BBB is useful the same way most home inspectors are; you get a view from 30,000 feet that is a cursory view.

For the same reasons then, I think consumers think the BBB can/does deliver more value then they really do. (just like home inspectors)

IME, the older the consumer, the more likely they consult the BBB. But…some do.

It irritates me no end that to get an A+ rating you have to pay; you have to be a member. If you’ve been in business 50 years and have had no complaints the best you’ll get is “A”. Pay up, and voila!, you’re A+. It feels like a shakedown.

Still, the BBB has some value. if a company has a lot of complaints, including ethical issues, it will end up on the BBB. And it’s free to consumers.

We pay, but we don’t like it. I think it’s a good idea to check BBB, and Google places etc.

(and, ftr, we get more business form our positive reviews on Google Places then the BBB)

You don’t even need cynicism to realize they’ve not done anything useful. All you need is to have actually reported a business to them to find out they don’t do jack shit. I don’t check the BBB until it’s too late. :frowning: When I checked I found the company that stole my money and lost a lot of my stuff has a failing grade. Wish I’d have checked earlier! That’s basically what they’re for: to give you an idea (maybe) if you’re dealing with crooks or not. Once you’ve been swindled, wave aloha to your money, because the BBB isn’t going to stick up for you.

BBB is totally useless.
I have had only horrible experiences with my local Midas dealer, and went on the BBB site.
It was chock full of “raves” about how wonderful Midas is…which I believe were all written by relatives of employees of Midas.
Plus, recent reports have mentioned how BBB takes kickbacks.
They have lost all credibility to me, and I would never use them when looking for a business.

While I agree with you, you’ve kind of uncovered what they are good for. (“Wish I’d have checked earlier!”)

I think they’re kind of impotent after you’ve been taken. However…if you check out a business before you enter into an agreement you can possibly avoid getting ripped off in the first place. There is often scads of complaints on these shifty companies.

IOW, I think their value is when you’re in a proactive position rather than reactive.

What benefit do you get from paying them? An A+ instead of an A by an organization that (based on early results) is rarely checked by a minority, and never checked by most people? Anything else?

Believe it or not no. It very much feels like a shakedown. I don’t know what percentage of the population checks BBB but it seems like a minority, but a significant minority. My only indication is that from time to time customers tell us they checked us out.

But you are exactly right. I am paying for the “+”, as silly as that sounds.

Does that sound right to you? It doesn’t to me. The consumer sees A+ and assumes we earned it, and that’s partially true. We earned the “A” (and to be fair to the BBB you can’t buy your grade), but the + part of A+ is bought and paid for.

The only other reason is that we will advertise from time to time (or craigslist, for example) that we rated A+ by the BBB and we know that that carries some weight.

IOW, people may not have thought to look for us, but we can go out to the marketplace and trumpet this rating and consumers do recognize it and-----right or wrong------place some trust in it.

As I told MOL, I think the BBB has value as a preemptive resource, and much less valuable to resolve disputes after the fact.


Come to think of it they did check for licenses and insurance and other stuff…so it wasn’t as simple as Wwe’ll give a + for $1000."

So theres that…

And yet that’s not how the BBB advertises itself to consumers. On their page for consumers here in San Diego, it says:

And here’s the first two sentences from the BBB page where you begin the complain-filing process:

Emphasis mine.

The BBB sells itself to consumers as not only a taker of complaints and rating service, but as an organization that can actually resolve disputes and pressure bad companies into playing fair with consumers. But the BBB is fucking hopeless at doing this.

Their website would be much more accurate if it said:

Been ripped off? To be honest, there’s fuck all we can do, but we’ll take your complaint if it will make you feel better.

I can’t disagree with you. I have known consumers who have had things resolved however. In those instances it is companies who care what information is out there, and seek to have a good reputation wherever it can be found. (Google Places, ebay, BBB and many others)

If a company doesn’t care (and there are many who simply don’t care) BBB is impotent to force them to make good.

IMO/IME as a rating service it gets a B (to use their own system) if used prior to purchase, and as a resolution service C-. YMMV.

I have to agree with this assessment.

It needs to be recognized that the BBB is there to enhance the image of businesses and thus help them to sell product. It certainly does not exist to help consumers overcome ripoffs.

I would never trust a positive BBB rating, and especially never have any expectation that they will help get a business to do the right thing if you experience problems.

If there are questions about a company (and a sizable monetary outlay is in the cards), I’d check first with the consumer protection division of your state’s Attorney General’s office, as well as getting references from customers who’ve recently bought the kinds of goods/services you want from the company. If the firm is reluctant to provide these, go elsewhere.

The BBB is a waste of time.


I don’t understand the sweeping, absolute proclamations like Jackmannii’s and Dmarks’s.

Look, MOL says the BBB was ineffective in resolving a dispute with a bad vendor. Yet, an after-the-fact BBB review reveals the company had many complaints. So the BBB was an effective early warning sign had she them consulted before making a purchasing decision.

Heres another example: There is a large HVAC company in Cincinnati that has over 100 positive reviews on Google places. Yet the BBB has a rating of “F” with many complaints.

Why the discrepancy? Digging around reveals that many Google reviewers for that HVAC company also reviewed other exact same businesses-----many of which were hundreds of miles away from Cincinnati. Even more unlikely they seemed to review every high end auto dealer near Akron, a couple hundred miles away. It’s clear that their webmaster, or marketing firm has put up dozens of fraudulent positive reviews all over the internet, which Google harvests and posts on Google places. It’s fraud, plain and simple.

You can’t game the BBB system like that. I wouldn’t trust any source completely, but in this case the BBB is more accurate.

Given that the BBB site is easy, free, and fast, I think you’d be well served to take a quick look before making any large purchase. Would it be my only source? No. But could it potentially save me some heartache? heck yea.

BBB may not be the cat’s meow but its far from useless. It takes less than 2 minutes to pull up a company. (which is free, and you don’t have to register or sign up) Is 2 minutes a waste of time?

I agree with you that it’s pretty useful as a ratings aggregator, especially since it’s not subject to the same sort of marketing/spamming campaigns as publicly-compiled ratings sites like Google and Yelp.

Complaining about a company to the BBB is like going to confession. It might make you feel better, but nothing will actually be accomplished.

About ten years ago, when I was running a restaurant, I received a letter from the BBB about some incident involving a customer. I don’t remember what it was over, but I did recall the incident when I got the letter, and it wasn’t something I felt I was in the wrong about. I chuckled and threw the letter away, and that was the end of it.

I suppose thirty or fifty years ago the BBB might have had more clout, but in recent times? Worthless.

I’ve never personally used it since I’ve heard so many stories from both sellers and buyers about it’s lack of utility.

The BBB is a boiler room shakedown operation. As someone who has worked peripherally in the phone sales business, I have known people who worked for BBB in telemarketing. There is a very good chance that the person contacting you to join is a drug addict.

I’ll see raindog’s sigh and raise it one.

Two things to re-emphasize: I noted that BBB positive ratings were in my opinion worthless, and that (unlike virtually any other source of ratings) the BBB exists to serve the interests of business, not you. Its members are all businesses, and if they get pissed off enough at it, its income and existence are threatened.

My few contacts with the BBB in the past have all been negative and/or useless, so these days I don’t bother with it. Checking adquate company references and using other sources like the AG’s consumer protection division are far more worthwhile.

And what positive ratings are you referring to?