Is the Better Business Bureau a consumer advocate or a consumer nightmare?

Is the Better Business Bureau really there to help protect consumers or just there to make money?  Can you really count on the BBB ratings system to select your next service provider or business?

I grew up with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and early on found that it did provide some amount of protection and assistance to consumers.  Somewhere along the way though my perception became less and less convinced as to the real purpose and effectiveness of the BBB.  I certainly did not need this latest ABC 20/20 news story (http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/video/investigating-better-business-bureau-12188208) to tell me that the BBB had significant issues.  It was easy to see this when checking into companies that I myself knew were not of the caliber that the BBB made them out to be.  Even with their faults I still advised consumers to use them as a source just to see if there were complaints filed against a company and how they might have been handled.  With the advent of this story, its follow-up stories, and other sources of information I now have to wonder if using the BBB for any reason is worthwhile?

As an educated, cautious and very astute consumer it is not hard to understand how paying for recurring membership dues in any organization, association, or other concern that hands out ratings or certifications can potentially lead to inappropriate actions by that organization, association or other concern.  After all you must keep in mind that these concerns survive off of the dues paying members and any advertising revenue they can generate.  If their members drop out they lose money from membership fees.  If they lose members they lose advertising sponsors as well because those businesses do not want to spend money advertising to small membership bases.

The issue of “Pay To Play” in the BBB is not unique to one location but is occurring across the country.  Additionally a new member can easily be provided an “A” rating nearly from the beginning of their membership even without any reviews either good or bad.  That can easily allow a bad company to operate for years with the BBB “Stamp of Approval” until enough consumers are ripped off and complain to the BBB.  That is certainly no protection to the consumer and is actually a fraud against them!

Each of us must form our own opinions and our own comfort zones as to who we feel is trustworthy in our search for information on service providers and businesses.  So it is left up to you to decide if the Better Business Bureau really is looking out for your best interest or theirs?  At the vary least you should take a moment to watch this ABC 20/20 news story and check out the additional references provided here.  The more information you have the better the decisions you can make!

Additional Sources

The BBB Roundup WEB Site – Carries a variety of stories and information sources regarding the deteriorated state of the BBB.

Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!

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