BBB Sends Businesses Back to School With New Letter-Grade Ratings System

January 05, 2009

DAYTON, OHIO, January 5, 2009 - To help people make better informed decisions on where to spend their hard-earned dollars, your Better Business Bureau will now assign letter grades to local businesses ranging from A+ to F. The letter grade system—which replaces a less-detailed scale of "Accredited," "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory"— represents your BBB’s degree of confidence businesses are operating in trustworthy manners and will make good faith efforts to resolve customer concerns.

People can research the grades of more than 3,200 local businesses by reviewing BBB Reliability Reports™, which are available online and free of charge at or by calling (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

In addition to noting businesses’ letter grades, BBB Reliability Reports™ also include details about integrity and performance, such as the number of complaints businesses have received, their responses to complaints and details on any government actions.

"Given the current tough economic conditions, people literally can’t afford to make bad buying decisions," said John North, BBB president and CEO. "These reports make it easy and convenient to research and compare local businesses before buying."

Your BBB’s new letter-grade concept was first developed by BBB Colton (Los Angeles) and has been test marketed effectively by Colton and several other BBBs (New Mexico, Santa Barbara, Asheville and West Palm Beach). That original concept, with modifications recommended by a national BBB committee, is the basis for the approach announced today and is part of your BBB’s ongoing commitment to making it easier for people to find trustworthy businesses.

Your BBB’s proprietary ratings formula takes into account 16 weighted factors, using objective information and actual incidences of a business’ behavior that have been verified and evaluated by BBB professionals. Specific issues affecting a business’ rating are described in detail in BBB Reliability Reports™. Ratings factors include:

  • The business’s overall complaint history with your BBB, including the number and severity of complaints to your BBB from customers.
  • Whether complaints have been resolved in a timely manner or the business has demonstrated a good faith effort to resolve them.
  • How long the business has been operating and whether it meets appropriate competency licensing.
  • Government actions against the business related to marketplace activities.
  • Advertising issues evaluated by your BBB.
  • Whether the business is a BBB Accredited Business and has committed to BBB standards.

Rating factors also take into account your BBB’s opinion as to whether business models and industries operate in violation of the law, misrepresent products and services and are likely to generate trade practice concerns and/or have high levels of customer dissatisfaction.

As part of its strategy to build trust in the marketplace, your BBB also recently changed the way businesses affiliated with the organization were designated, from "BBB Member" to "BBB Accredited Business." The "Accredited" designation highlights the fact businesses have been evaluated by your BBB and have contractually agreed to meet and uphold your BBB’s high standards for integrity and reliability when dealing with consumers.

Both BBB Accredited Businesses and non-Accredited Businesses in your BBB’s database will receive letter grades as part of their reports. For more information on BBB ratings and to find out which local businesses made the grade, visit or call (937) 222-5835 or (800) 776-5301.

About Your BBB Serving Dayton and the Miami Valley

Your BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses earning BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Your BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 126 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring nearly 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Your BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley serves Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Darke, Miami, Preble, Shelby and northern Warren counties. Please visit for more information about your BBB.