Almost everyone in the United States has heard of the Better Business Bureau. I’m not sure if they’re anywhere else other than the U.S. and Canada, so this may not apply anywhere else. What most of us know about them is that they’re there to evaluate complaints against businesses by consumers and put out a rating of those businesses based on those complaints and how they’re resolved.

There are some things most of us don’t know about them however. One, they have no real power. Two, if a business hasn’t gone to them first to request certification, then they probably have little information on a business otherwise. And three, anyone can pretty much get a certification with no problem because they pay for it, and you can get it for both offline and online businesses. As a matter of fact, the BBB, as they’re often known, does tons of sales calls trying to get businesses to pay upwards of around $500 a year for that certification. Does this sound like a company that’s willing to bite the hand that feeds them?

With that said, they do advertise a rating system that runs from A+ to F or no rating whatsoever, which means they don’t have any information on that business. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them rate a business that’s paid for a certification low, but I have seen other businesses where they’ve received so many complaints about them that they have been given the F rating.

I don’t come to asking this question without a reason. In my case, I had a situation that occurred over the course of a couple of weeks, which I wrote about on a different blog titled Energy Scammed & Robbed, so I don’t rehash that here. What I’ll add is that I ended up filing a BBB complaint online against that business, a very detailed complaint that mentioned most of what’s in the blog post I’ve just linked to.

One of the final questions you have to answer is if you’re looking for something along the lines of money or an apology. There was no money exchanged so I couldn’t pick that one. I didn’t want an apology because, if you read the post, what could they have apologized for since they wouldn’t acknowledge either what we accused them of or their own deception?

What did the BBB do? They wrote me after a week saying they had reviewed what I’d sent them and that they were closing the case. That’s pretty much it; nothing else to say. And the business? On the BBB website, the business is shown as having an A+ rating, and my complaint isn’t listed there at all. One would expect that at the very least, even if I said I didn’t want the business contacting me, that they’d put something up and reduce the rating. But I guess that’s not their policy, and it makes me wonder just how they actually decide what’s credible enough to take some kind of action, even if it’s just posting the issue. No real problem for me since I wrote about it, though I didn’t name the business.

Like most rating systems you see online, you have to judge what you’re seeing based on your own criteria. Like my post last week about Zillow; you can only trust so much.

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