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Jay Lindsay GraphicThe Better Business Bureau, The Authority of Trust or a Ripoff?

By Jay Lindsay
Updated June, 2015
© 2015, National Business Reports

I think it would be fair to say that the average consumer in America thinks that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a sort of government watch dog. They oversee the business world and insure that companies treat their customers fairly, right?

Well, not exactly.

But certainly, most agree that if a company is not a member of the BBB, that company is unreliable and one shouldn't do business with them, right?

Well, not exactly.

Some people claim the BBB is a wonderful organization which protects the American consumer. Other people think it is a total farce.

Let me provide you some information and then you can make your own determination.

Example one: My company, National Business Reports has been in operation since 1980 and we've never had a single complaint filed against us with the BBB. The BBB rates our company as an A— on a scale that runs from A+ to F.

I'd like to think that with our good record, we should perhaps be rated a bit higher, perhaps an A or A+, but we are not.


Oh, it's because we are not a member of the BBB and haven't been accredited by them. Accreditation means that one must agree to follow a set of rules the BBB deems appropriate to operate in the business world. These rules have a lot to do with letting the BBB take control of how one chooses to run their company and the yearly fee one must pay to meet these requirements.


Yes, if you have paid the yearly dues for membership and accreditation, your rating can be higher. I believe the last time they phoned to try to coerce me to join they wanted me to pay them $300 a year. I told them to go away and never call me again.

And no, the BBB is not a government agency. It is a non-profit organization that sells memberships. That's how they stay in business and support their activities.

Let me give you one more example of how this works. I know of another national company, not terribly large, that did several million dollars worth of business last year. Their BBB rating is a C+ and the following reasons are given for that rating:

They had 12 complaints (all satisfactorily resolved) over the last 36 months.

"BBB does not have a clear understanding of this business."

You may wish to note that the company I'm speaking of — I chose not to mention their name — has not paid to be a member of the BBB.

One more: Google, Inc. had 683 complaints in the last 36 months according to the BBB and "more than one complaint is unresolved." Google is not accredited with the BBB and has an A rating.

The bottom line is that the BBB is a business, a non-profit corporation to be exact, that operates in the United States and Canada.

They sell memberships.

Most are surprised when they learn the BBB has had many valid complaints and even lawsuits filed against them over the years ... and I can't find the BBB listed as being a member of the BBB. Apparently they are not accredited nor are they required to follow their own rules.

ABC Television, on their 20/20 program, ran a report on the BBB. I think you will find the report rather revealing.  You will find the report on YouTube at:

It's your turn. You may wish to do a bit more Internet research about the BBB and then you can decide in what category you wish to place the BBB.

Good luck.

National Business Report Logo09/12/2012 Update to the story: A few days ago we received a letter from the BBB stating that we were NOT RATED (NR) and that we should update the information on file. Basically we provided the same information they have had for years. Remember we have been in business since 1980 without a single complaint having ever being filed with the BBB. Previously they had us rated A- without any reason given. This morning we are suddenly, without explanation, rated A+. How nice! Perhaps the BBB is changing their ways ... or maybe they now simply throw a dart at a target in their offices.

Disclaimer: National Business Reports may receive special consideration or compensation from sites, companies or products that are featured in our reports.

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