Many consumers believe that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a government agency that is in place to protect consumers from being ripped off by less-than-reputable companies. Recent reports and news programs have uncovered what we at DGD have known for years regarding the BBB.
First, the BBB is not affiliated with ANY government agency. The name “Bureau” is misleading by using the same term as agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Census Bureau. The BBB is a privately ran organization that is listed as non-profit. As with many non-profit organizations, the individuals who own and work for the company have reported substantially large incomes, many far exceeding $100,000 per year. It’s easy to show a company is a non-profit when all the people running it are getting filthy rich.
Where does all this revenue come from? Taxes, grants, federal funding? How about from local businesses that HAVE to pay to be a member of the BBB! That is correct: businesses must pay to be a member of the BBB! In Florida alone there are five BBB branches, each one run independently from the others.
Businesses who operate statewide must join and pay membership fees in each branch in order to reap the benefits of being a member. BBB fees are based on the annual revenue and number of employees of a company. That means the larger and more profitable a company is, the more the BBB wants a share of it if they are going to recommend them to a potential customer!
Benefits to businesses that pay the BBB membership fees
The BBB will only recommend a company who is an accredited member of their organization. If a company chooses not to pay the membership fees set forth by the BBB, they are NOT recommended to consumers who are looking for a company to do business with. Even if a company has never had a legitimate complaint filed against them with the BBB, they will never be recommended over other businesses that have paid the BBB their required fees.
The BBB also assigns a trade specialist to members, who put forth additional effort to resolve disputes in favor of the business. If you are not a member, a random person will be assigned to each complaint a company receives.
The BBB rating system
As it is reported on ABC news, the BBB has been investigated and found to have given the lowest possible rating (F) to companies that have never had one complaint against them. The report also showed companies going from an “F” rating to an “A” rating after their membership fees were paid.
We at Discount Garage Doors can testify to this, as it happened to us in January of 2009. We were getting customers who would tell us that they weren’t using our services because of our “F” rating with the BBB. Upon paying our $850.00 annual fee and becoming a member, our rating soared to an “A” within 24 hours. We thought we were doing the right thing because we were losing far more revenue from the poor rating than the $850.00 membership fee. The BBB knows this, and that is the exact reason they have been so successful in their business.
What the BBB can do to help consumers
The BBB has absolutely no authority over businesses. They cannot force a company to give a refund, return to a job to make repairs, etc. They attempt to act as a mediator between a business and a consumer during times of disagreement. When a stalemate is reached between the two parties, the BBB recommends a third party mediator to attempt to resolve the dispute, which costs the business involved a minimum of $300.00, which is paid to the BBB.
How the BBB actually does more harm than good
Image Source: WikiMotive.com
Anyone who has ever been in business realizes there will always be someone you cannot make happy, no matter what. The BBB does not filter the legitimate complaints with the complaints from the people mentioned above. This gives good companies a black eye when a consumer views the amount of complaints that have been filed with the BBB against them.
The BBB also does not show the amount of customers a particular company services on a yearly basis. So when a consumer sees that a company has had 16 complaints in the past 36 months, they don’t see that those 16 complaints were out of over 100,000 customers serviced in those three years.
We recently had a customer complain that the garage door opener we sold him only came with one remote control, which is how it is packaged from the manufacturer. Even after we refunded the amount he paid for the second remote as a customer courtesy, he complained to the BBB. He asked for nothing, just wanted them to know that the garage door opener should have come with two remote controls. That is now a mark against our company, and consumers searching for a reputable company cannot distinguish this complaint from one where a company ripped off a consumer.
In truth, the BBB could care less about consumers getting an accurate referral for a truly reputable and legitimate company. If they did, they would filter out erroneous complaints that harm good companies. They would recommend companies based on their performance, not on whether they paid the BBB money or not. They would allow positive comments from consumers to be recorded as well as negative complaints. The BBB only cares about one thing, and that is $$$.
Next time you see the BBB Accredited Business logo on the front door of a store, on the van that is pulling into your driveway, or in an ad in the yellow pages, remember that the only reason they have that logo is because they gave $$$ to the BBB. We are happy that we chose to voluntarily cancel our membership with the BBB effective 12/8/2010. We are doing this even when we have a good rating with them, as we no longer want to be a part of their scam. Here are some videos and websites that confirms how we feel at Discount Garage Doors about the BBB: