The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is an organization that is recognized in name by many, but most people don't know a whole lot about how it works. The BBB was formed in 1912 by the very businesses that could potentially be targeted by consumer complaints. Although the title of the group might seem to indicate it has governmental affiliations, the BBB is a corporation. It is funded by dues paid by other businesses. In return, these businesses can use the logo of the BBB to promote their products, and also are given mediation services to resolve complaints with irate customers.
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Anyone can file Better Business Bureau complaints. Complaints to the Better Business Bureau usually have their roots in a negative customer experience. For example, a customer might have their oil changed at a well-known automotive company. If, during the routine oil change, a worker accidentally damaged the car (e.g. scratched the hood), and the company refused to provide the customer with restitution, the customer could make complaints to Better Business Bureau.
This process could begin simply by the customer visiting the BBB website, which provides an easy link to start a complaint. When someone files complaints Better Business Bureau, the BBB will often provide the company with an opportunity to make amends to the customer. This is considered part of the mediation process. At the Better Business Bureau BBB complaints will often be resolved in this manner, as companies would rather satisfy a customer who is irate enough to file a complaint.
The BBB has faced criticism, however, for its dispute resolution. Often a requirement of free mediation offered by the BBB is that the business involved be a member of the BBB. This requires the payment of dues, and thus in order to satisfy a complaint in many cases a business must be a member of the BBB. This has led many to suggest the BBB is not a neutral party in the mediation.
The BBB provides a letter grade rating for businesses on their web site, which can range from A+ to F. There are 62,500 companies on the site that are not members of the BBB, but have received an A+ rating; however, there are over 300,000 dues-paying companies who have been assigned an A+. This leads some to suggest that Better Business Bureau Complaints are handled more expediently for dues-paying members than non-members.
Complaints about medical or legal practices are not considered Better Business Bureau complaints. Instead these are directed to the organizations that specialize in complaints in those fields. The BBB also does not deal with complaints that have already been incorporated into litigation or gone to court. Thus, the most serious complaints tend to not become Better Business Bureau complaints.
The BBB has widespread name recognition, and people often associate a high rating with the BBB as indication of a quality business. There are some, however, who question the integrity of the BBB. The BBB, however, has responded to criticisms by improving their handling of Better Business Bureau complaints. They no longer give preference to companies who pay their dues, and hope this will return the organization to the level of integrity it once had.
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