Consumer Misconceptions about the BBB

flyswat1 297x300 Consumer Misconceptions about the BBBFor those who have never used the BBB’s services, there is generally some misconception about what it is that we do.  It is not uncommon for someone to call who has a dispute with a landlord, an employer or even a legal or civil matter to settle.  Admit it.  How many times have you had the urge to call, when you’ve heard from one too many telemarketers or received an exorbitant amount of junk mail?  Or perhaps, you aren’t one who falls into this category, but there are plenty of callers who do.  “So, what exactly is it that the Better Business Bureau does?” you might say.  Ah, we handle complaints.  Confused yet? icon smile Consumer Misconceptions about the BBB  Of course, there is more to it than just handling complaints.  If that was the case, then we would solve all problems and could declare world peace for all eternity.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

For starters, we handle disputes between businesses and consumers that generally fall into the following categories:

  • Advertising Concerns
  • Billing or Collection Issues
  • Contract Concerns
  • Poor Customer Service
  • Delivery Issues
  • Guarantee or Warranty Problems
  • Logo Violation
  • Product Issues
  • Refund or Exchange Concerns
  • Repair Issues
  • Sales Practice Concerns
  • Service-Related Problems

Apart from that, a big part of what we do is to provide tips on how to make more informed and conscientious decisions regarding purchases, identity theft, and online safety.  Whether you are buying a car, need a repair, shopping for a home, making an online purchase or donating to a charity, we have suggestions that can minimize your chances of being swindled.  Further, we report on scams and use information on any new ones obtained to continually educate the public.  So, please report new scams or any suspicious dealings to your local BBB.  One phone call could really make a difference and can thwart a scammer or an untrustworthy business’s efforts from ripping off the public.  We encourage you to use http://northernindiana.bbb.org/scam-source/.

If you are considering donating to a charity and want to know how reputable the organization is or where your money will be going to, check out its Charity Review.  Our reviews provide a thorough analysis, based on 20 criteria.  See http://www.bbb.org/us/standards-for-charity-accountability for more information.  Likewise, Business Reviews, also found at bbb.org, use 16 different criteria, in assessing letter grade ratings of companies, with other pertinent information provided.  You also can request a quote online from companies, accredited through the BBB. Simply, access their report, click on the “Request a Quote” feature, and fill in the information from there.

As far as legal action taken, this doesn’t take place as often as one might think.  When a consumer reports a grievance to the Better Business Bureau, they are asked to fill out a complaint form.  From there, a BBB representative works between the consumer and the business to hopefully mediate a resolution.  Not always is an agreement come to, and in that case, a complaint is closed “Administratively,” which means that the business made a good faith effort to address the complaint but did not respond to the consumer’s satisfaction.  (At this point, a consumer has the option to hire an attorney or to contact small claims court, for the matter to be further addressed.  This process is separate from ours, and out-of-pocket expense is required. ) Also, the complaint goes on public record for 3 years and can impact the company’s letter-grade rating with us.  Other alternative dispute resolution services, such as arbitration, may be offered, but check with your local BBB for details.

Shutting down businesses, commonly thought of as a BBB function, actually requires a lot of action from outside agencies, such as the Attorney General, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, and others.  Class action lawsuits take time to build and many consumers must be involved, in order for the government to take action.  Callers, often, get agitated, when told the BBB cannot shut a business down. There is an expectation that a representative will pay a company a visit and slap them with a violation, especially if a health code is broken, a business is guilty of embezzlement or of not paying its employees.  This simply is not the case.  Moreover, these problems should be referred to outside agencies.  We can help you determine which one that might be.

Let’s add one more thing:  We will do presentations for you.  We will begin a series of presentations, beginning with one in March, on “Investment Fraud.”  No, you don’t have to be a financial genius to attend, but we will give you some very helpful tips on how to avoid it.  More information will follow!

Should you have any questions or concerns about what it is that we do, how we can help or have a problem/concern you’d like to report, please don’t hesitate in giving us a call or visit our website, today!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/fengschwing/4931950933/”>fengschwing</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

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About Kristal Heffley

Ad Review and Social Media Specialist of BBB serving Northern Indiana. Kristal spends a great deal of time learning, writing about, and educating the public on scams of the day. She also is quite the social-media enthusiast and community partner. You can follow her posts, i.e. BBB serving Northern Indiana on Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and of course, our blog.