BBB® Resources 101 – What’s in a Rating

I have used the BBB for years to get information concerning companies about which I received complaints. It’s a great resource. However, sometimes I get asked what do the ratings really mean? Why is being Accredited so important and what is the difference between a Customer Complaint and a Customer Review? Here are some answers.

Companies seeking to join Better Business Bureau must have a rating of no less than a B minus, have been in business at least one year and have worked with BBB to resolve any complaints received. The bigger the company the more complaints it will receive—but how it handles the complaints determines whether it will get a high rating. The rating is determine by a mathematical formula using a specific point system assigned to open complaints, closed complaints, accuracy of information, completeness of company information and other factors captured by BBB. Bottom line, the rating is genuinely driven by the company’s actions not randomly assigned by BBB.

A big advantage for consumers selecting a BBB Accredited company is knowing the firm has been in business for at least a year and abides by BBB code of business practices. In addition, if consumers have a problem they can turn to BBB for help. Accredited companies have agreed to work to resolve major conflicts through mediation or arbitration. This is very helpful because it means a consumer doesn’t have to file a lawsuit to try to resolve a problem. It also reflects how the business proactively reacts to complaints or negative feedback it receives from consumers. These are stated in the Complaint section of the Business Directory.

The Complaint section is visible to everyone and displays customer complaints that have been filed with BBB—as well as the company’s response to those complaints. I found these customer complaints and the company responses to be very helpful when deciding whether or not to hire a company. These complaints and how they are handled are also the largest factor in deciding a company’s BBB rating, again based on an algorithm, and should not be overlooked by anyone considering using a firm.

Finally, there’s the “Customer Review” section in which customers write about their experience with a particular company. Customers can choose to write a positive, neutral or negative review about their dealings with a company or file a complaint and seek BBB help getting it resolved– but they can’t do both. Therefore, the reviews are a consumer’s perception of their interaction with the company without any intervention from BBB. Consumer reviews have no impact on a company’s rating, but BBB is careful to only post reviews that have been verified.

There are a lot of phony reviews about companies posted on the internet these days and BBB is especially careful to make sure that doesn’t happen on its website. So if you’re looking to do business with someone locally or are researching a service, start with someone you can Trust,

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About Howard Ain

Howard Ain has been reporting consumer news on Cincinnati television for the past 38 years. He also writes a newspaper column alerting readers to consumer scams. He now joins BBB|Cincinnati as a correspondent.