BBB to Change its Business Ratings to Letter-Grade Scale

October 14, 2008
A+ to F Ratings Will Make it Easier for Consumers to Find Trustworthy Businesses

October 14, 2008 – Better Business Bureau (BBB) announced today that it will begin using an updated version of its BBB Reliability Reports™, which will feature a revised ratings scale, replacing the current scale of “satisfactory” and “unsatisfactory” with a more detailed A+ through F letter-grade scale in January.

BBB of Central New England, Inc., which serves central and western Massachusetts and northeastern Connecticut, maintains a database of information on more than 12,000 businesses and is providing these updated reports – online and free of charge – to help consumers more easily and quickly identify and compare businesses based on BBB’s unbiased evaluation.

“Consumers want information that is easy to use and on-demand, and they also want the ability to drill-down for details in some cases,” said Nancy Cahalen, BBB President/CEO. “These reports offer the best of both worlds by providing consumers with quick reference material for fast comparisons and detailed data based on feedback and research measured against BBB’s time-tested standards for marketplace conduct.” 

BBB’s letter-grade concept was first developed a few years ago by BBB|Colton (Los Angeles), and has been tested by Colton and several other BBBs (New Mexico, Santa Barbara, Asheville and West Palm Beach). That concept, with modifications recommended by a BBB committee, is the basis for the approach announced today, and is part of BBB’s ongoing commitment to make it easier for consumers to find trustworthy businesses. It is based on a computer-generated formula that takes into account more than a dozen factors, using objective information and actual incidences of a business’s behavior that have been verified and evaluated by BBB professionals. Issues affecting a business’s rating are described in detail in BBB Reliability Reports™.

Factors include:

** BBB experience with the industry in which the business operates
** The business’s length of time in operation
** Information on required competency licensing
** Government actions against the business related to marketplace activities
** Advertising issues evaluated by BBB
** The number of complaints to BBB from the business’s customers
** Complaints to BBB from the business’s customers that are serious in nature
** Whether the business has responded to complaints received by BBB
** Whether complaints have been resolved in a timely manner or the business has demonstrated a good faith effort to resolve them
** Whether the business has honored commitments to BBB to arbitrate disputes and comply with arbitrator decisions
** Whether the business has provided BBB with background/operational information
** Whether the business is a BBB Accredited Business

BBB assigns letter grades from A to F with pluses and minuses. A+ is the highest grade and F is the lowest. The grade represents BBB’s degree of confidence that the business is operating in a trustworthy manner and will make a good faith effort to resolve any customer concerns.

In October 2007, BBB also changed the way businesses affiliated with the organization were designated, from “BBB Member” to “BBB Accredited Business.” The “Accredited” designation highlights the fact that a business has been thoroughly reviewed by BBB, meets the organization’s high standards for integrity and reliability when dealing with consumers and contractually agrees to continue to abide by these standards.
Both BBB Accredited Businesses and non-accredited businesses in BBB’s database will be assigned a letter grade.

The combination of BBB Accreditation status and BBB Reliability Reports™ is a valuable resource consumers can start with when they are looking for trustworthy businesses.

About BBB

BBB of Central New England, Inc. serves central and western Massachusetts and northeastern Connecticut and is part of a network of BBBs in the United States and Canada. Through its accreditation of local businesses, BBB provides voluntary self-regulation and consumer and business education programs, dispute resolution, advertising review, consumer resource library and has on record over 12,000 records in our local database. BBB has grown to become the most recognized advocate for promoting ethical marketplace business and advertising practices. Contact your local BBB at or 866-566-9222.