This post is from my personal experience regarding the Better Business Bureau, aka the BBB. I truly believe the BBB is just like the modern-day mafia, but for businesses. They provide protections (ratings), but only if you pay. I can make this statement because I had a relationship with them when I ran my e-commerce company some years ago and I still see this type of corruption today with other small businesses. There was a 20/20 investigation on their practices some years ago regarding this same “grade fixing” issue. They seemed to have cleaned it up, but many businesses I speak to still say it’s going on. While they seem to be there to help consumers with finding the good businesses, this is the farthest from the truth. Let me explain why I think the Better Business Bureau is like the mafia and how you truly do “get what you pay for”.
My Experience with the BBB Mafia
As many readers know, I owned an e-commerce company which focused on consumer electronics. I ran that puppy for four years before I shut it down. In my early days, I wanted to make sure consumers knew my site was trustworthy. I looked for badges to show my site was secure (it was) and that I provided a service they could trust. Over the course of a few months of researching, I realized many of my competitors big and small all had good Better Business Bureau ratings. Well, I didn’t. How could I? They didn’t know anything about me. I was the new kid on the block with a small business.
It didn’t take long before I was actually contacted by a person from the BBB. I never reached out to them, so this was definitely a cold sales call. The gentleman on the phone was telling me of all the benefits of being a BBB member. I could put the badge on my site and at my place of business. I didn’t care about the last part as my business was out of my house and people didn’t show up there.
The sales pitch was if I paid the membership fee, my business would become an accredited member of the BBB. What does that mean? Well, nothing really. Let me explain.
Going from No Grade to A+
After being reluctant of shelling out a couple hundred dollars a year to be a member, I needed people to know that I was trustworthy. Since my business was a one-man show, I paid the least amount allowed. I think it was around $425 per year. It was pretty much $425 for the accredited badge.
Now, the BBB grades the companies based on a number of factors. The size of their business, the length they have been in business, number of complaints, and a few other things. In my mind, I was a small (very) business, with no history, and no complaints. I shouldn’t have had a grade, but low and behold, three days after I made the payment to the BBB, I was showing an A+ next to my business. I was in the “accredited” class, which they say you have to be invited to. Haha, funny! Not only was I now accredited, but I had the highest of grades. Strange!
How did that happen? I didn’t do anything to earn that grade. I literally just bought it and they awarded it to me as a paying customer. Immediately, I knew this system was a scam. It was apparent, I was buying my company protection from the BBB ratings mafia. They would keep me safe as long as I paid them their dues. Don’t believe me, well listen to this and tell me what you think.
One Day C, Next Day A+
One of the stories as part of the 20/20 investigation was of a business owner who had a C rating due to a complaint which was resolved. They were working hard to improve the rating and get their score up. The spoke with a salesperson from their local BBB office about getting accredited. The best part was 20/20 was listening to the conversation.
The sales person from the BBB told the owner they could raise their score from a C to an A+ if they paid the membership fee of $395. Now, that sounds like buying a score to me. The business owner didn’t want to pay the membership fee, so the salesperson indicated their score would remain a C. After some time, the owner paid the membership fee. Remember, there is still one revolved complaint on the record. Well, low and behold, the next day after the payment, the score went from a C to an A+ and the complaint record was removed. Well, how does that happen? Sound fishy? It is!
While this story was from almost 5 years ago, it’s the same experience I noticed. It’s also still going on. You can easily check out rip off report and see all of the people complaining about the Better Business Bureau and their tactics. You can’t be objective when you make money from the very businesses you rate. It’s not possible. Sorry! Oh, and the best part is that the BBB gives Rip Off Report a F. Convenient!
Why the BBB is Like the Mafia!
If you’ve ever seen a mafia movie or even know little about the mafia, the Better Business Bureau is just a fancy version of it. If you ran a business in the mafia’s territory, you would be offered protections as long as you paid them off. Once you stopped paying them off, they wouldn’t protect you anymore and couldn’t guarantee your safety. See the resemblance to the BBB?
The Better Business Bureau does the same thing. You pay for your grade with them. They have denied it over the years after countless claims of their resembled racket. I have encountered it first hand. They gave my company an F when I cancelled with them, even though I had been around for four years and even had zero claims against me. I had nothing. It was like a spiteful reaction to me leaving their “protections.” What a joke! It took me months to even get off the BBB once my business closed down.
When I hear people say they will report companies to the BBB, I always laugh and explain to them how their system really works. How can you be fair in the process when your entire rating system is based on who pays and who doesn’t to be accredited? Conflict of interest much? While the BBB does show consumers scams and what not, their grading system is a joke. A useless joke. If you want to provide feedback on a company, just write a review on Yelp or Google. That has more impact than running to the BBB.
Anyway, I thought I would share my experience with the modern day mafia, oops, I mean the Better Business Bureau. I have seen first hand how their system works and I think its a crock of something nasty. The consumer has a lot of power these days, but the BBB is not one of them. They run just like the mafia and they should be exposed as such. If you’re a business, don’t waste your money with them, unless you just want an easy A. If only school was that easy…
PS. Since the Better Business Bureau is like the modern day mafia, I could be putting my life on the line with this post. If you don’t hear from me in a few days, start investigating. I could be locked up in their headquarters being interrogated with a large wooden cutout of the letter “F”!
What do you think of the BBB? Have you used them before to report a company?