The Better Business Bureau, formerly known as the Chamber of Commerce, is an independent non-profit organization whose stated mission is to foster market trust, consisting of millions of independent businesses. While it does not have regulatory powers, it does help to inform consumers about any problems or unsatisfactory experiences that they may have had with a business. These complaints are then investigated by the bureau and, if meritorious, either resolved or dismissed.
Complaints may be filed by consumers, business owners, or government officials. Complaints may be about anything, from low-quality customer service to unsafe food preparation. There are generally three types of complaints that the Better Business Bureau receives: confirmed complaints and unresolved complaints, dissatisfied customers, and unresolved complaints. A complaint is confirmed if a business has actually addressed the complaint satisfactorily. An unresolved complaint is one in which the bureau is in the process of trying to resolve it, but has not yet done so.
Under the circumstances described above, the Better Business Bureau determines the status of the complaint. It then assigns a letter grade, A through L, to indicate the level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the business. Under the new rating system, the Better Business Bureau assigns a letter grade for each complaint. In addition to the letter grade, the Better Business Bureau also assigns a numerical value, ranging from negative to positive, to indicate the extent to which an issue is identified as a possible problem. The numbers are based on the experience of the average consumer, rather than the specific experience of each business.
If an unresolved complaint is considered to be unfounded, it will remain in the files until the situation comes under control. Once a complaint has been reported to the Better Business Bureau, it is referred to an agency in the field of consumer complaints. At this point, the bureau will consider the original complaint and all of the surrounding circumstances surrounding it. This involves looking at whether or not the complaint was filed in good faith, and if so, whether the party involved took any corrective action to make sure it didn’t happen again. From that point forward, the agency will try to find any evidence that would support the original complaint and use that evidence to conclude the validity of the complaint. (The fact that a particular business refused to take corrective action, even after being advised of a violation of anti-spam laws, for instance, would not help the case.)
When a dispute is submitted to the Better Business Bureau for investigation, the organization will consider several different factors before concluding the validity of a complaint. Because the Better Business Bureau uses an open-door policy for filing customer complaints, any complaint received by the organization will likely be made public. The results from these reviews are then published online, providing companies with an excellent opportunity to address any concerns they may have before agreeing to do business with a certain company. The Better Business Bureau’s primary function is to protect the rights of customers, and it does this through effective follow-up investigations. In cases where a bureau investigator determines that a business has not met standards of conduct or fair dealing, it is not in the business of giving businesses a bad rap; rather, it will work to ensure that these complaints are handled appropriately.
Some consumers are leery of the whole “complaint rating system” concept, which is common among many different types of customer service representatives. After all, who decides what a complaint should be rated? How can anyone accurately rate something that doesn’t conform to any kind of standard, such as the Better Business Bureaus? The fact that people are concerned about the “system” isn’t necessarily negative. In fact, many consumer advocates feel that a consumer rating system can be a beneficial way to help individuals determine whether or not to deal with a certain company.
While some feel that a rating system might limit a person’s ability to choose a business with certain characteristics, perhaps lack of follow-up or a shoddy attitude, the Better Business Bureau’s purpose is to eliminate unprofessional businesses. Agencies like these have accreditation, and if businesses are given only a “D” for overall performance, then they will be deemed accredited. This allows consumers to recognize businesses and individuals with better performances. On the other hand, businesses that receive an “A” are usually doing so because of the specific services or products they offer. They also make sure that companies have a formal complaint handling procedure in place.
Even though the Better Business Bureau’s primary goal is to provide consumers with accurate and comprehensive consumer complaints, there are instances when consumers are targeted for their demographic information. For instance, the bureau might obtain this information from a postcard or other form of advertisement. It is important to remember that the Better Business Bureau does not target consumers on a whim, but instead follows a strict process to ensure that it does not violate any laws or violate the rights of any person. Businesses that receive only a “C” are usually doing so because they have met all of the bureau’s basic requirements for being accredited. To increase a business’s chance of being accredited, consumers should always choose an organization that is not listed on the BBB’s website. This will give businesses a better chance of being reviewed by the BBB.