How “Top” Are the Top Ten?

gold ribbon 150x150 How Top Are the Top Ten?Recently a local journal published a list of “Top Companies” in our area. “Wait a minute,” I said, spotting a familiar name. “Don’t they have an F with the BBB?”

Further research turned up the fact that this rating was earned in part due to a BBB Accredited Business revocation. We had revoked the company for not responding to a complaint after having had numerous chances to do so. Ironically, the complaint was about lack of response to the business’s paying customer.

So who is right? The magazine, or the BBB? That’s not really the point. If you’re trying to decide if the business is trustworthy, you should consider both statements. It is possible for one person to have a wonderful experience with a store while a second person is not so fortunate. Personally, when I see that some customers have had problems, even if others haven’t, it raises my red flags.

Why the disparity in rankings? It is possible that our former AB is a good company which went downhill in the six-to-nine months of lead time between when the article was written and when the magazine was published. One phenomenon I have seen in my years at the BBB is that a company which is reliable today can go to the dogs tomorrow if the owner develops a drug habit. This often leaves repeat customers bewildered. “But I used them to build my garage and I never had any trouble!”

It is also possible that the criteria used by the magazine in selecting the “best businesses” in each industry was simply a selection of readers voting by writing in. This sample could be as small as one or two people. It is even possible that the business was included as a vendor or a large advertiser of the magazine or that what I took to be an article was actually an advertisement. The phrase “sacred cows in the newsroom” became a cliché for a reason.

Business lists and awards and honors are published every day. But sometimes due diligence falls through the cracks: My BBB office once discovered that a scam company in Montana, which had been in operation for a few years and was still generating dozens of complaints, was listed by our local employment office as having jobs available!

So unless you know for sure that the “Top 10 Businesses” have been diligently researched, you’d be wise to not rest on laurels handed out by someone else. Do your own homework and always investigate personally before you invest.

Remember, you can always Start With Trust by researching a business’s track record at You can also contact your Secretary of State’s office or your State Department of Labor & Industries to be sure a company is properly licensed.

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.