Nearly everyone who has been in the consumer marketplace has at least heard of the Better Business Bureau, more commonly known as the BBB. It’s usually in the context of complaints against a company to the organization, or you might note that a company is registered with the BBB. But what is the BBB, what does it do and what does BBB accreditation really mean? Here is a brief rundown of this mysterious consumer protection entity.
The BBB is a non-profit company that provides services to consumers and businesses in order to facilitate a more ethical marketplace. It was created in 1912 as an organization that helped crack down on exaggerated or false advertising claims, and has since grown to provide a number of other services. Currently, there are 114 bureaus across North America.
The BBB works with companies and their customers to resolve disputes that can range from general dissatisfaction with product performance to false advertising claims. The organization collects information about companies to help keep the public informed, develops programs to help companies self-regulate and provides neutral mediation between customers and businesses to help resolve disputes.
The BBB has a program called CARE that allows companies to register to undergo the dispute resolution process offered by the organization. Typically, a dispute will go through several stages to reach resolution. First, the BBB may receive a complaint about a company. The step after that is called conciliation, where a BBB staff member will act as an intermediary between the consumer and the business to work toward an informal resolution. Failing that, the next level is mediation, in which a professional mediator will meet with both parties to help reach a satisfactory conclusion. If that process doesn’t achieve results, the parties will go into Arbitration, which is similar to a hearing. It’s a formal process where each side gets to present evidence and speak on their own behalf. A certified BBB arbitrator will then make a decision based on the evidence.
The Miracle-ear BBB report is an example of how you can find out where a business rates according to several criteria. Miracle-ear is a well-known, national brand that is an example of truthful advertising practices and quick dispute resolution; it has the non-profit’s highest rating, which is an A+.
The Better Business Bureau accredits companies based on:
- How long they’ve been in business
- The volume of complaints in relation to the size of the company
- Response to the complaints filed against the business
- The resolution of the complaints filed against them
- The level of information the BBB has about the business
When a company is listed with the Better Business Bureau, it mean that they’ve meet the standards set by the BBB for a business of that size and type. It’s not an endorsement of the company, per se, it simply means that according to their information, the business acts in good faith to provide a service or product that is beneficial or that it performs as stated, and that the business acts quickly to resolve problems in a satisfactory manner. BBB reports also instruct consumers to check on any licensing requirements for companies and provides corporate and contact information about the company to aid the consumer in their research.
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