Criticize The Better Business Bureau... And They'll Pull Your Accreditation

from the credibility? dept

For many consumers, the Better Business Bureau is considered the authoritative, objective source on whether or not a small business is trustworthy. Most people think of the group as being quite trustworthy itself. But who's the Better Business Bureau for the Better Business Bureau? Josh King alerts us to the news of how an operation called FeeFighters wrote a rather scathing post, claiming that the BBB was a scam, based on the story of one company who -- the article claims -- was able to bump its rating from an "F" to an "A" basically by paying the Better Business Bureau. I have no idea how accurate the report is, but it certainly is damning.

So how does the BBB respond? Does it explain to the FeeFighters how they got something wrong in the story? No. Does it admit to a problem in the process and promise to correct it? No. As far as I can tell, those seem like the only two reasonable responses. But the BBB went in a different direction. It told FeeFighters to take down the post or it would lose its own accreditation. And when FeeFighters refused to do so, the BBB pulled the company's accreditation, and flat out admits that it's because they don't like such criticism.
This seems really quite incredible considering what the Better Business Bureau does: collecting complaints and seeking to get companies to resolve them. And when someone presents a complaint about the BBB itself, rather than trying to resolve the problem... it attacks the messenger and revokes his BBB accreditation. On this one, it seems like the BBB deserves a big fat F until it apologizes and takes back the revocation. Frankly, it's hard to trust BBB ratings at all after this experience.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 11:52am

    Actually, it sounds to me like the BBB is the one who is engaged in "activities that reflect unfavorably on, or adversely affect the public image of the BBB or its Accredited Businesses."

    The letter itself certainly reflects unfavorably on the BBB. They are dropping FeeFighter just because they don't like to be questioned about an activity that looks like it really, really needs to be questioned.

     

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  2.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    The BBB has long lost any credibility

    Anyone that has a small amount of intelligence has seen over the years the plain junk on the BBB.

    Do a search on their website for work at home and then search on Google or Bing for reviews of any company that shows up. The BBB lets any company that pays get special treatment that involves erasing bad comments if the company responds to any complaint. They don't have to fix the issue just respond.

    Additionally, those complaints don't reflect in the company's overall rating.

     

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  3.  
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    Richard (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:05pm

    quis custodiet custodiens?

    quis custodiet custodiens?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    Re: The BBB has long lost any credibility

    Look at these statistics if you think I am wrong about the available options to clear your business's name. Just look at the top 2 lines. Does anyone really believe that?

    http://www.bbb.org/us/storage/16/documents/stats%20pdf/2010/US%20Sorted%20by%20Complaint.pd f

    The two most complained about industries were able to resolve 98+% and 95+% of complaints?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    Part of the Club

    The BBB logo has The Illuminati Flame ,so we already know why they...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:13pm

    Re: quis custodiet custodiens?

    Is that Latin for "who cleans the janitor"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:16pm

    Personal Experience

    A gentleman solicited preferential treatment (violating privacy policy) for a personal problem on the (founded but irrelevant) grounds that he worked for BBB.

    That's colored my view of them ever since.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:25pm

    BBB a rip off

    I worked for a short while for a company that sold sewing machines. We had a competitor+






















    I worked for a while for a company that sold and repaired sewing machines. We had a much larger competitor who had an absolutely horrible reputation in the community. They were constantly buying smaller businesses, changing the names on their stores so that it looked like new management, using bait and switch tactics on their customers and offering to repair things that they didn't have a clue how to fix and then offering to trade in the "broken" machine after they couldn't fix it.
    However in spite of the fact that people would stop complete strangers from going into the stores and tell them to go elsewhere to shop they had an A+ rating with the BBB.
    The way they did this was to keep any disputes submitted to the BBB "in dispute". If you are a paid up member of BBB you can keep disputing any bad reviews till the person gives up. As long as a complaint is being disputed it doesn't show up as a bad review.
    I'm now in a different industry but still don't want to piss them off so I'll post anon.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    I wonder if the BBB should be allowed a .org tag? I realize that there are many a commercial entity that uses .org but does the BBB represent itself as a commercial entity.

     

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  10.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    So the Better Business Bureau isn't about bettering itself.

     

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  11.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    Re: The BBB has long lost any credibility

    yep. the "Bribe for great ratings" has been well known for probably 10-20 years now, if not only shown by how they handle complaints (in that they don't even affect a rating).

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:40pm

    Or It's Accredited Businesses?

    So, you can also lose accreditation by criticizing another "accredited business"? Sounds like the BBB has turned into a protection racket, to me. And I don't mean the good kind of "protection", either.

     

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  13.  
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    Tom The Toe, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    Pay To Play

    "Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck told ABC News that parts of his food and restaurant empire have received an F grade because he refused to pay to join the Better Business Bureau".
    See http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/business-bureau-best-ratings-money-buy/story?id=12123843

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/business-bureau-best, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:48pm

    Pay To Play

    Better off using Angies List.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    The eejit (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: quis custodiet custodiens?

    Qui Custodes custodient, er, qui custodient custodien?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    The eejit (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:52pm

    Re:

    Is it about bettering their bank balance?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    cc (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    Re: quis custodiet custodiens?

    Xzibit?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Peter Brett, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    Re: quis custodiet custodiens?

    I think the quotation is "quis custodiet ipsos custodes".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Rich, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re: quis custodiet custodiens?

    Question not the consumers of custard!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 1:12pm

    "who's the Better Business Bureau for the Better Business Bureau?"

    Ah yes, the basis of one of Alan Moore's lesser known comics...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Grae (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Part of the Club

    That's some honest to goodness conspiracy theorizin' right there.

    So if I understand the website at that link correctly: all imagery of lit torches belongs to and is the work of the Illuminati, and all entities/places that use variants of the word "columbus" (Columbine, Columbia... Columbo?!) in their name are puppets of the Illuminati?

    I... I think I'm gonna have to sit down.
    (Damn it, Columbo, I trusted you!)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Samuel Abram (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 1:25pm

    Re:

    "Quis custodiet ipsorum custodum custodes?"

    or "Who will guard the guards of the guards themselves?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Douglas Smith (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 1:29pm

    Re:

    Dun & Brad Street are the same way. Pay em', they will believe anything you tell em', without checking!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 1:39pm

    How else are they going to get the money for a PAC to pay off the politicians other than by some sort of scam.

    I've never worked for the BBB and always thought it had a good rep. This article has changed that viewpoint along with the comments following.

    Never again will I depend on the BBB for a recommendation and will instead look to what few competitors might be out there to replace them with.

    I can do without an organization that claims to help you decide what is or is not a problem business when they do business in this manner.

    To be honest the whole response provided by BBB stinks and reeks of payolla in it's worse form.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Mr. RcGuy, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    BBB is a Scam

    Anybody who has dealt with them knows they are a scam. If you are a member in good standing as long as you come to any type of agreement (positive or negative) in regard to a claim it will not count against you.

    My personal experience when having a dispute with a BBB accredited agency was comic. The guy was the local chapter president and basically said, "It doesn't matter what we did to your car, or didn't do. This complaint isn't going anywhere because I just don't give a 5hi!." Sure enough, even though we complained up to our attorney general nothing was ever lodged against that business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 2:23pm

    Didn't 60 Minutes or another news show recently (last year or 2) do an investigation after someone showed that they were often able to buy A's for any sort of business?
    And then they got the head to do his best deer in the headlights I dunno what your talking about, we need to look into this sort of crap?

    The BBB seems willing to provide all of the ammunition for their own demise.
    We made sure you can't appeal, and out terms clearly state you can never make us look bad - even if what we are doing is bad.
    I think Mr. Bernas needs to be fired, he has written a letter that clearly spells out the BBB is vindictive and seems only concerned about looking good rather than doing what they claim they do. That seems to cast them in a bad light.

    The BBB once upon a time was a good idea, and then I am willing to bet people with MBAs got hired. The MBAs just want to make more money and often have no interest in what the business is actually doing, just needs to make more revenue at it. Like the stories of some Yelp! employees taking money to hide bad reviews, or demanding gifts etc. You normally have to take these things with a grain of salt because they never give you written proof. This time they put it in writing. Rather than defend the company by showing the allegations to be misleading or false, they confirmed them by trying to crush someone who said something they disliked... but can't seem to prove is false.

    Hopefully at the next Board of Directors meeting they will be asking why this moron seems to have no grasp of the Streisand Effect and what would have been a forgettable post on the internet is now given much more credibility by their shortsighted and idiotic response.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    The BBB is useless. I once filed a complaint against a company. The outcome was this: the BBB said they sent the company a letter. When the company failed to respond, the BBB sent them another letter. When the company failed to respond to that, the BBB told me there was nothing more they could do. Totally useless!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    AnonCow, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 2:53pm

    Now I know where Jeremy Stoppelman got the idea for Yelp...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 3:01pm

    For more than a decade, many of my clients with websites have asked if they should sign up with the BBB to get their logo on their sites for added credibility.

    I always tell them that the BBB logo probably hurts more than it helps. The BBB "Pay to Play" business model is well known. Too often I see dodgy websites with a big BBB logo and only PayPal for checkout. When such companies can't even qualify for a merchant account - a prepaid BBB logo only points to their struggle for credibility, and I think most customers understand that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Phil Usher, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 3:49pm

    You will get a lot more mileage (and satisfaction) by posting your complaint on Ripoff Report. The postings are anonymous, the site NEVER takes them down, they don't hand over posters' identity to anyone, the posts are ranked well (and almost immediately) by search engines, and Ripoff Report is virtually immune to litigation.

    I don't get mad, I get even. And there is absolutely nothing that the crooked business can do about it. It's nice to level the playing field.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 4:30pm

    Re:

    So MBAs are inherently asshats, then?

    Businesses without MBAs can all be trusted? But when an MBA rolls in, it all goes to hell?

    I don't think a case has been made to prove that assertion, yet. Do you have any citations? Because I've seen douchebag MBAs, and I've seen non-douches. Seems to be a similar cut as the general population.

    I've certainly had plenty of folk try to rip me off, scam me, grift me, rob me etcetera who were not MBAs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 4:32pm

    What BBB Accreditation Means

    BBB accreditation almost always means this, but no more and sometimes less:

    The business in question has a fixed address and contact info.
    The business in question has paid its BBB bill.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    freak (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 5:22pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm not saying all conservatives are stupid, I'm saying all douchebags who are capable get MBA's.



    (Disclaimer: I don't have THAT negative a view of business students)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Re:

    MBAs as a whole are just like people. There are good ones and there are bad ones. More often than not when we see a business doing stupid things you can often find an MBA as the source.

    While I made a generalization I do stand by the concept I managed to not correctly illustrate.

    A prime example would be the article I am currently failing to find again, where the MBAs of Hasbro are making huge missteps with the WOTC side of the company. They do not understand what motivates those players and keep trying to "board game" D&D and MTG and when the head of the division compares a roleplaying game to chess... yeah there are some serious problems understanding the market.

    You have people with no clue of how it makes the money, and just think they can crank out more stuff and make more money, leaving the consumer out of the equation. They happen to be MBAs in many cases.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Sep 20th, 2011 @ 11:39pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    True enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    CJ (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 11:33am

    I have always said to anyone looking at BBB reports to "take them with a grain of salt because they are paid endorsements". Some of the review websites are the same also. They are laden with reports that if you visit other sites with reports they almost quote word for word. None of them unless they have over say like 30+ reviews, or reports you can't get good feedback on them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Havoc (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 11:49am

    Re:

    Long known about the BBB and AARP- they're most accurately referred to as 'marketing companies'.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:42am

    And then there is JD Powers . . .

    They can be bought also. As per a rep that gave an award to a large "media" company that had just be lambasted in the press for having the worst customer service. Next thing ya know they are a JDP Best. This was a while back when you could call people. And I was able to contact the person that approved the award and he told me that "anything can be bought".

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Aaron Reese, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 8:41am

    You Didn't Even ask for the BBB to comment?

    You should never have posted a hearsay article without asking Steve Bernas, CEO of the Chicago BBB, for comment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2011 @ 4:32pm

    Re: You Didn't Even ask for the BBB to comment?

    >You should never have posted a hearsay article without asking
    > Steve Bernas, CEO of the Chicago BBB, for comment.

    Pfui- He can comment here just like every other heretic. I actually think it shows how poorly considered the BBB is considering there were few to none comments endorsing the BBB.

     

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  41.  
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    Brian, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 7:42pm

    BBB

    I thought almost everyone in business knew the BBB is a scheister organization. You don't have to be in business very long to learn BBB ratings are worthless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 7:18pm

    Re: Re: Part of the Club

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    articles, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 5:42am

    bingo!

    I think bbb sales grades and might still doing it, I no longer trust bbb, check this site about bbb saling grades:
    http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/better-business-bureau-under-fire%3A -are-grades-for-sale

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Dan Ross, Feb 12th, 2014 @ 11:03am

    Steve J Bernes AKA Pond Scum Bully

    Why do so many people think that Chicagoan Steve J Bernes (MDC) of the Better Business Bureau is the biggest bottom feeder in the long list of scumbags to come out of the BBB?

    By now most people know that the Better Business Bureau’s history is loaded with some real scumbags. In fact, ABC and 20/20’s Brian Ross exposed these money-grabbers for who they are. That’s right, they are known to have raised businesses’ ratings just because the owners paid up. In one case that was featured on national TV the caller was told that if they pay their company’s rating would be raised from a “C” to an “A”. It was that simple! But is that alone enough to hate bottom feeders like Steve J Bernes? No it’s not, but keep reading.

    We also know that the pond scum at the BBB approved the “A” rating of a fake company named after the anti-American terrorism organization Hamas. This group is responsible for the death of many U.S. citizens and yet these scumbags at the BBB gave the bloggers setting up the account an “A” rating just because they forked over a credit card number. How much did the BBB profit from selling out our country? How anti-American can the Better Business be?

    So why is Chicago native Steve J Bernes (MDC) in the running as the biggest bottom feeder that lurks behind the Better Business Bureau name? Well, it’s because he is a bully and pond scum that thinks he can control U.S. citizens’ right to free speech. What amendment don’t scumbags like Steve J. Bernes (MDC) at the BBB break? Stop this arrogant pond scum in his tracks by writing and posting your own story as I did. I am retired and I am going to write about nothing else until I hear this scumbag is put out of business or struck by lightning. Let’s see if the latest of these scumbags, Better Business Bureau CEO Mary E. Power (CAE), follows this method of customer satisfaction. Steve J. Bernes: my review stands; you are the biggest scumbag in the long list of BBB scumbags.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Dan Ruiz, Feb 12th, 2014 @ 11:26am

    Name Correction Steve J Bernas AKA Pond Scum

    Why do so many people think that Chicagoan Steve J Bernas (MDC) of the Better Business Bureau is the biggest bottom feeder in the long list of scumbags coming out of the BBB?

    By now most people know that the Better Business Bureaus history is loaded with some real scumbags. In fact ABC’s 20/20 Brian Ross exposed these money grabbers raising business ratings just because owners paid. In one case on national TV the caller was told that if they pay they would be raised from an C rating to an A. It was that simple! But is that alone to hate bottom feeders like Steve J Barnas? No it’s not, but keep reading.

    We also know that pond scum at the BBB approved the A rating of the anti American terrorism organization Hamas. This group is responsible for the death of many US citizens and yet these scumbags at the BBB gave the bloggers setting up the account an A rating just by forking over their credit card. How much did the BBB profit from selling out our country? How anti American can the Better Business be?

    So why is Chicago native Steve J Bernas (MDC) in the running as the biggest bottom feeder that lurks behind the Better Business Bureau name? Well because he is a bully and pond scum that thinks he can control citizen right to free speech. What amendment wont these scumbags like Steve J. Bernas (MDC) at the BBB break? Stop this arrogant pond scum in his tracks by writing and posting your own story as I did. I am retired and I am going to write about nothing else until I here this scumbag is put out of business or struck by lightning. Let’s see if the latest of these scumbags, Better Business Bureau CEO Mary E. Power (CAE) follows this method of customer satisfaction. Steve J. Bernas my review stands; you are the biggest scumbag in the long list of BBB scumbags.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Joel Naar, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 5:14am

    Steve J. Bernas the BBB Scumbag

    Why is Chicagoan Steve J. Bernas of the Better Business Bureau getting so much hate mail?
    Maybe it has to do with the fact that the BBB was exposed by both ABC and a 20/20 investigative report as a for-profit corporation that rewards companies that pay the BBB with higher ratings. A woman with a tiny antique store only had one resolved complaint but the despicable human scum at the BBB refused to change her rating from a “C” to an “A” until she paid up. Once the check cleared the antique store was suddenly an “A+” rated company.

    Or maybe Steve J. Bernas of the BBB is so hated as pond scum because of the BBB’s willingness to award an “A” rating to Hamas, a fake company that shares a name with an anti-American terrorist cell. Do you think Steve J. Bernas or the BBB cares that Hamas has killed U.S. soldiers as well as thousands of innocent children?

    Why, exactly, is Chicago native and Illinois BBB President Steve J. Bernas at the top of the list when it comes to bottom-feeding pond scum? Could it be because he allows businesses of ill repute to hold A+ ratings? Could it be because millions of registered senior citizen voters are at risk of being taken advantage of thanks to the BBB’s lax policy of handing out “A+” ratings to companies just because they have $400 or a credit card?

    It could be all of the above. Thanks to scumbags like Steve J. Bernas and other BBB executives we are all at risk, and as long as he and other pieces of pond scum like him are in charge of the BBB offices around the United States we will never be able to trust any BBB-accredited business.

    You can call Steve J. Bernas at (312) 832-0500 and his email address is sbernas@chicago.bbb.org. Let him know that Chicago and the entire United States of America won’t stand for crooked policies that fill the BBB’s coffers while hard-working Americans get the short end of the stick.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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