Overview

The Better Business Bureau System is made up of independent BBB offices across the United States and Canada, serving their local communities, but also sharing national standards and traditions through the cooperation of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The Cleveland BBB began in 1913, and continues to be supported by businesses interested in promoting an ethical marketplace.

Our mission today reflects the heritage and tradition of our past and is as relevant today as ever: to promote ethical conduct, provide consumer education, foster wise buying and giving decisions, and help resolve marketplace disputes. We are a non-profit corporation that serves the public, businesses, and consumers.

Who Supports the Better Business Bureau?

The BBB is one of the few consumer assistance organizations which is not funded by tax dollars. The financial support which allows the BBB to offer free services to consumers is provided by responsible area businesses with the goal of ethical business practices in the marketplace.

These businesses, through BBB accreditation fees, support all the no-cost BBB educational and complaint services provided to area consumers. Not all companies can be BBB Accredited Businesses. They must have a track record showing that they meet BBB Standards for Trust and continue to maintain those standards.

Our BBB Accredited Businesses represent “private enterprise in the public interest". Their desire now, as at the time of the BBB’s founding in 1913, is to maintain an organization to impartially monitor standards of business conduct and expose questionable, harmful business practices.

By funding our efforts to educate and inform consumers, BBB Accredited Businesses hope that you will “investigate before you invest", and do business with ethical, responsible merchants.

The financial and moral support of our BBB Accredited Businesses allows the BBB to work towards a healthy marketplace in the communi­ties where we work and live, so all of us can shop with confidence.

So, look for the BBB Accredited Business logo, ask companies with which you do business if they are BBB accredited, and call us to check on a company's record with the BBB.

How to Reach Better Business Bureau
Serving Greater Cleveland

We serve Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Lorain Counties in Northeast Ohio. You can reach us a variety of ways!

By Phone

24 Hour Anytime Line: (216) 241-7678
From Outlying Portions of the Service Area:  (800) 233-0361
Fax Line: (216) 861-6365
Speak with a telephone representative from: 8:30 - 11:30 AM and 12:30 - 4:00 PM

By Mail

Any of our reports, brochures, or other services can be requested in writing at 2800 Euclid Ave, 4th Fl, Cleveland Ohio 44115-2804

Guide to BBB Services

BBB Accredited Businesses and staff of your local BBB encourage you to take advantage of the BBB’s no-cost or low-cost services. It’s one way to make smarter buying and giving decisions.

BBB Anytime Line - By dialing (216) 241-7678, you can get reports on thousands of companies and charities, obtain information on BBB Dispute Resolution Services, obtain lists of BBB Accredited Businesses in various industries, and hear timely consumer alerts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Operator assistance is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

BBB Website - By visiting the BBB website at bbb.org, you can obtain reports about companies doing business nationwide and in Canada, file complaints online, be connected to the vast BBB consumer and business resource network, and learn about BBB Standards for Trust.

Company Reliability Reports - The Better Business Bureau reports on many BBB accredited and non-accredited businesses throughout the United States and Canada. Before buying a product or service from a firm with which you’ve had no previous experience, call the BBB Anytime Line or visit our website.

BBB Educational Tips and Fraud Alerts - The BBB’s website contains an extensive library of brochures on over 100 subjects, ranging from Appliance Service to Work-at-Home Schemes. Alerts concerning frauds that effect both consumers and businesses

Charities Rated - Charitable organizations and solicitations are rated on standards designed by the BBB and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. This assures that your generous donations go to worthy, responsible organizations. Reports on local and national charities are available online at www.ClevelandBBB.org and www.give.org.

BBB Accreditation Standards - While we report on many thousands of non-accredited business firms, we also tell you which companies in this area have pledged to uphold our ethical standards and resolve complaints through BBB accreditation. For a copy of the Cleveland BBB Standards for Trust or a list of BBB Accredited Businesses in specific business classifications call the BBB Anytime Line at (216) 241-7678 or visit our website.

BBB Arbitration - The BBB provides arbitration to consumers who have an unresolved disagreement over products or services supplied by a BBB Accredited Business.

AUTO LINE – Many U.S. and foreign automotive manufacturers have committed to use this mediation/arbitration program. BBB Auto Line program provides direct access to many U.S. and foreign auto manufacturers to help ensure customer satisfaction.

BBBOnLine - This special business program gives participants a special BBB seal for Online use, which gives the Internet browsers and customers greater confidence. The seal is evidence of BBB scrutiny of the background and business practices of the firm and a pledge by the firm to arbitrate

Company Reliability Reports

Perhaps the most important and unique service offered by the BBB is reliability reports on firms doing business in our area. We maintain files and issue reports on thousands of firms. We issue reports on BBB accredited and non- accredited businesses, so if we have a report on a company, this DOES NOT mean it is a BBB Accredited Business in good standing. We will identify those companies that are BBB Accredited Businesses in the firm's report. BBB reports are summaries of information contained in company files, and include:

  • Business start date and general background information. This tells you how long the firm has been around, its nature of business, and any available history on the principals’ previous business ownership. If a firm declines to provide basic background information, this is noted in the report;

  • summary of firm’s complaint history and responsiveness to complaints. BBB reports will list the number, type (e.g. repair, delivery, or product quality) and closure of complaints (e.g. resolved, unanswered by the company, or unresolved) within a 3-year period. Reports will also indicate if there are any patterns of serious complaints or failure to respond adequately to complaints filed. (See explanation below concerning “satisfactory” and “unsatisfactory” designations);

  • the existence of serious BBB concerns about a firm’s advertising practices;

  • any governmental action known to the BBB which involves the firm’s marketplace practices:

  • special business practices. If there are any important or unusual aspects of the firm's advertising or selling practices that may help you understand the company or its offer(s), these will be reported;

  • satisfactory/unsatisfactory designations. In many instances, BBB reports will state that a firm has a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” record with the BBB.


If a firm receives a “satisfactory” designation, this means it has been in business for at least one year, and has voluntarily provided the BBB with all requested information about the business and its product or service. If any complaints have been received involving the firm, they have been routine in number and nature for that industry, and responded to in a professional and responsible manner. In addition, the BBB has a clear understanding of the nature of the company’s business, and has no concerns about the firm’s offerings or its industry.

In addition, a firm receiving a “satisfactory” designation has not been the subject of major law enforcement actions which raise concerns about the firm's marketplace integrity. If the firm has been contacted by the BBB concerning its advertising or selling claims, it has modified or substantiated its practices to the BBB’s satisfaction.

An “unsatisfactory” designation is given to firms that fail to respond to two or more complaints, answer complaints inadequately in a large number of cases, have a pattern of complaints of a serious nature, fail to eliminate the underlying causes of complaints, or fail to substantiate or modify questionable advertising or selling claims. An “unsatisfactory” designation is also given to firms that fail to participate in BBB arbitration or to honor an arbitrator’s decision after promising to do so. If a firm does not clearly fall into the satisfactory or unsatisfactory categories, no designation will be given.

In appropriate cases, the BBB report may describe the nature of a firm’s product or services, or explain specific promotions which may be confusing to consumers. If a firm is a BBB Accredited Business, or participates in the BBB Online program, that is reported as well.

BBB reports are generally based on file contents over the previous three years, and are not intended to endorse or disapprove of any firm. Callers must draw their own conclusions from the information presented.

Reports on Charities

Each year, Americans donate hundreds of billions of dollars to charities. Smart donors want to make sure that their charitable gift dollars are used wisely and responsibly. They also want to avoid those scam artists and phony charities that prey on people's generosity.

The Council of Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) evaluates nationally-soliciting charities based on 20 standards designed in cooperation with charities and corporate donors. Locally, the Cleveland BBB’s 20 standards mirror those of WGA, and are used to evaluate locally-based organizations.

Important considerations examined involve Public Accountability, the organization’s Use of Funds, Solicitations and Informational Materials, Fund Raising Practices, and Governance.

Before you or your company donate to an organization, obtain and review its BBB Report. Call (216) 241-7678, Reports can also be obtained through the Internet at www.bbb.org.

We encourage you give, but give wisely.

BBB Dispute Resolution Programs

The Better Business Bureau receives thousands of customer complaints every year. This is an important function because it gives the BBB the opportunity to help resolve problems between businesses and their customers and brings customer concerns to the company’s attention. Each complaint also provides valuable data to strengthen the BBB’s reports on area firms.

We encourage consumers to attempt to resolve any complaint with the merchant or organization before seeking the BBB’s assistance. Complaints to the BBB generally must be in writing and should clearly articulate the problem and resolution sought. Copies of relevant documents should be enclosed. (Tips on how to complain effectively, including how to compose a letter of complaint, are found on page 21). The BBB will not process complaints which contain inappropriate language or are otherwise considered offensive.

To file a complaint, you can contact the BBB to send a letter of complaint to our offices, contact us to request a complaint form, or file online at www.ClevelandBBB.org. Once received at the BBB, your complaint will be submitted to the company for its response. Complaints involving companies located within the BBB’s 5-county service area, (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties), are handled by our local BBB. Complaints concerning companies located outside our service area are forwarded to the BBB that serves that city.

If the nature of your dispute involves issues that are outside the BBB’s range of authority, we can refer you to another source for assistance. Complaints that must be referred elsewhere include:

  • Those concerning the quality of professional services (e.g., medical or legal malpractice);

  • Employer/employee disputes;

  • Matters that are in litigation or have already be settled through the courts;

  • Those involving damages other than simple reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., punitive or consequential damages).


Most complaints are processed by forwarding them to the firm in question and requesting a response. The company's reply is then mailed to the complainant. Any consumer comment concerning the company's position is sent to the firm for its further input. BBB employees may personally intervene in cases where their involvement is considered helpful.

If a firm does not respond to a complaint filed with the BBB, or a firm's response is considered inadequate and does not satisfy the customer, the complainant is advised of other avenues to pursue if desired.

The BBB complaint handling process can take up to 4 weeks, especially if the company is unresponsive. Most complaints take far less time to handle.

The Better Business Bureau has a variety of dispute resolution programs to serve area consumers and businesses.

BBB Accredited Business Complaints - The BBB attempts to aid in resolution of all consumer complaints. Because BBB Accredited Businesses share our mission of promoting responsible, ethical practices in the marketplace, they are committed to working with us to fairly resolve disputes. That means that together the BBB and its accredited businesses will work for creative and equitable ways to resolve problems that may arise. Accredited businesses agree to participate in a special, meaningful dispute resolution process which includes binding arbitration, for any unresolved matters.

BBB AUTO LINE - The Better Business Bureau’s AUTO LINE Program is an impartial and informal forum designed to mediate, and if necessary, arbitrate disputes which may arise between auto manufacturers and their customers.

If attempts to resolve a dispute through the manufacturer have proven unsatisfactory, BBB AUTO LINE is an alternative. AUTO LINE has also been certified by the State of Ohio as a "lemon law" arbitration mechanism for several of the listed manufacturers or divisions (indicated by an asterisk*).

The following manufacturers/divisions participate in BBB AUTO LINE:

Acura, AM General, Audi, Buidk, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Honda, Hyundai, IMS, Infinigi, Isuzu, Kia, Lincoln, Lotus, Land, Mazda, Mercury, Nissan, Saab, Saturn, Volkswagen.

Decisions rendered by arbitrators are binding on the manufacturer, but not on the customer, who can pursue other available avenues if desired. The AUTO LINE process is fast, fair and free to customers. For more details or to file a claim, call the BBB Anytime Line, (216) 241-7678, or 1-800-955-5100 or visit.bbb.org.

BBB Mediation - The Better Business Bureau offers formal mediation services to resolve customer/merchant disagreements. In this process, a trained mediator helps the parties fashion their own solution to a dispute, and does not issue a decision of any sort.

BBB Arbitration - In many instances where formal or informal mediation efforts have not resolved differences, the BBB can, with the parties’ consent, convene an arbitration hearing. In an informal setting, a trained arbitrator chosen by the parties listens to evidence submitted or requested by the parties, and renders a decision.

Depending on the rules governing the particular hearing, an arbitrator’s decision is binding on one or both parties. All parties are familiarized with arbitration ground rules early in the process.