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Exposing the Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau has had a reputation of being less than ethical. A group of business owners decided to set a trap for the BBB. ABC News reports:

The Better Business Bureau, one of the country's best known consumer watchdog groups, is being accused by business owners of running a "pay for play" scheme in which A plus ratings are awarded to those who pay membership fees, and F ratings used to punish those who don't.

To prove the point, a group of Los Angeles business owners paid $425 to the Better Business Bureau and were able to obtain an A minus grade for a non-existent company called Hamas, named after the Middle Eastern terror group.

"The BBB accreditation and the BBB ratings systems is not about generating money," said BBB national president and CEO Steve Cox. He said the A minus grade for Hamas was given in error. "Plain and simple, we made a mistake," Cox told ABC News.

Errors seem to abound at the Better Business Bureau. As reported by an anonymous blogger the BBB also awarded an A minus rating to a non-existent sushi restaurant in Santa Ana, California and an A plus to a skinhead, neo-Nazi web site called Stormfront.

It is not about the money? It seems pretty clear it is completely about the money. I'd ask how Cox can offer forth such a weak response but making outrageous statements and then standing by them seems to be the norm in society today.
Yet, as part of the ABC News investigation, an ABC News producer with a camera was present as two small business owners in Los Angeles were told by Better Business Bureau tele-marketers that their grades of C could be raised to A plus if they paid $395 membership fees.

Terri Hartman, the manager of a Los Angeles antique fixtures store, Liz's Antique Hardware, was told only a payment could change her grade, based on one old complaint that had already been resolved.

"So, if I don't pay, even though the complaint has been resolved, I still have a C rating?"

Hartman then read off her credit card number and the next business day the C grade was replaced with an A plus, and the one complaint was wiped off the record.

Good thing it isn't about the money. I was getting worried there for a second.

As damning as this evidence seems, perhaps I am being to hard on the Better Business Bureau. Maybe in the case of the Hamas "mistake" they were simply channeling their inner Jimmy Carter and couldn't make the connection between Hamas and terrorism.


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Comments (14)

How silly of them. <p... (Below threshold)

How silly of them.

Hamas and terrorism go together like Barry and unemployment. Cant have one without the other.

It may seem like pedantry, ... (Below threshold)

It may seem like pedantry, but when people talk about a regime made up of Twelver Shi'ites wanting to re-establish a Caliphate

What took ABC so long? Why... (Below threshold)

What took ABC so long? Why do they think places like Craig's List got started in the first place.

So, what organization can w... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

So, what organization can we trust to rate organizations like the Better Business Bureau?

That's interesting. They be... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

That's interesting. They better be careful. The BBB brand has been very trusted by consumers. I have been a paying member since 1994 with an A+ rating. They just started that system 2-3 years ago IIRC. Quite a few people "check out" my company through them. I always assumed my rating was due to never having had a single complaint since '94. Maybe not.

This expose is the kind of ... (Below threshold)

This expose is the kind of stuff the MSM should be doing, not slobbering on Obama's crotch.

Jeff, I worked for the BBB ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jeff, I worked for the BBB for about a month in the 80`s selling ads for their annual directory , strictly on commission- no salary. They were only concerned about one thing getting revunue from firms advertising, even if they were going bankrupt...they would even laugh about that. They had maybe two people dealing with consumer complaints out of big city wide organization of about 60. It was obvious where their priorities were: signing up firms and getting them to advertise.

What? This is news? It on... (Below threshold)
jim m:

What? This is news? It only makes sense that ABC is just catching on to what the public has known for at least 20 years. Tomorrow we'll get the breaking story : Science says "The Earth is round!"

My experience was that if you wanted to lodge a consumer complaint you had to pay the BBB money. They didn't give a rip about good business or consumer rights.

Well, if your practice befo... (Below threshold)
Caesar Augustus:

Well, if your practice before this news came out wasn't to take with a huge grain of salt the messages of businesses that "rate" other businesses then you're amazingly naive.

In the Good Old days we use... (Below threshold)

In the Good Old days we used to call that sort of thing stand-over and shakedown - stuff like that.

Nowadays, often as not, we call it standard "Democratic" potty political practice.

Ah- Hahhh!!! My experience... (Below threshold)
jim crane:

Ah- Hahhh!!! My experience is confirmed!

I was a former BBB member w... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

I was a former BBB member with a record shop I owned in 78-79, but despite a clean reputation the organization didn't like the fact that I sold "head shop" goods along with my records like most record stores did. But it was the 70's, and a different time. And I'm sure porn shops or adult entertainment businesses aren't welcome to join either despite some clean reputations. On the other hand, some pretty awful mainstream businesses are allowed to join with terrible reputations like Servpro who trashed my home's antiques, stole items including my mail. For some old reason mail thieves are allowed to join the BBB, just not head shops or adult entertainment businesses.

My friend, Lee Lacy, founder of the Oregon Consumer League never considered the BBB a consumer organization, but a business organization more like the Chamber Of Commerce for smaller businesses. He told of cases where the BBB actually worked to defend some swarmy businesses that hurt consumers.

Nice to see you Paul. The B... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Nice to see you Paul. The BBB was among the most irreponsible, hypocritical orgainizations I ever worked for. They were racketeers when I worked for them, 25 years age, and they seemed to have gone downhill since then. Heard from Mr Ward?

Hello, Steve. I sure apprec... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Hello, Steve. I sure appreciated your service over at the short-lived Wizbang Blue. You ran some great posts. You're always welcome to comment on my entertainment stories over at Wizbang Pop. I love that new gig, writing about music, movies and celeb news.

I not sure if Lee has my current Email, as my home was sort of lost in a house fire back in June due to a defective LCD TV. I'm having to use my business Email and computer now.






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