The new BBB rating system relies on an A+ through F letter-grade scale. The grades represent 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.
TM to help consumers more easily and quickly identify and compare the reliability of businesses based on BBB’s unbiased evaluation. Previously, BBB awarded businesses either a "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" grade—which did not provide as much insight as a letter grade.
The ratings system relies on a proprietary formula that takes into account 16 factors based on objective information and actual incidences of a business’s behavior that have been verified and evaluated by BBB professionals.
Specific factors include:
Businesses are awarded points based on 16 factors, which are weighted according to BBB’s assessment of the importance of each factor. The points are calculated and a letter grade is awarded based on the point range the businesses fall into.
In most cases, complaint history drives a business’s letter-grade rating. Nearly 85 percent of the scoring is determined by consumer-reported complaints that have been verified and evaluated by BBB, such as the number of complaints, the severity of complaints and how a business resolves complaints. There are though, some overarching factors that will impact a business’s rating even if there have been no complaints to date, such as: how long the business has been operating, government actions, and advertising and competency license issues.
No. 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 all cases, users should also read and consider full BBB Reliability Reports
TM which includes more information and details.
Any time new information is reported to and/or collected by BBB and evaluated by our professionals, that information is loaded into our database, which automatically updates the business’s rating. For all businesses in our database, BBB reports on complaints received in the previous 36 months.
Ratings can and will change in a number of ways. Changes depend on the factors involved and how that factor is weighted. Generally speaking, a business’s grade is a function of the level of trust BBB has in the business as a result of its actions in the marketplace. Therefore, a business’s grade can rise or fall depending on how the business performs in regard to the 16 factors.
First and foremost, BBB will want to examine what the specific deficiencies are – i.e., the issues that contribute to the business’s rating. From that research, BBB can then offer specific, qualified guidance on how the business can improve its BBB rating. In general though, BBB can certainly recommend to any business that it consistently treat its customers in a fair and honest manner. And, if honest mistakes are made, take prompt and appropriate action to resolve issues in a timely manner.
Users will need to check BBB Reliability Reports
TM for updated ratings. We are considering other options for updating and notifying consumers in the future, but no decisions have been made at this time.
Individual business ratings are prominently displayed at the top of BBB Reliability Reports
TM. Consumers can research the reliability reports of more than four million businesses online, free of charge, at www.bbb.org.
Where can people find more information about BBB Ratings in general?
For more information about BBB Ratings, consumers and businesses can visit www.bbb.org. Information will be readily available, explaining BBB Ratings, through links and interactivity associated with our BBB Reliability Reports
TM. And of course, consumers and businesses are always welcome to contact their BBB via phone or e-mail with individual questions.
QUESTIONS THAT MAY ARISE ABOUT SPECIFIC FACTORS
For more information on the specific factors leading to a business’s rating, consumers should read the full BBB Reliability Report
TM, which includes more details about the business including complaint history.
Generally, BBB assigns a business an "NR" (No Rating) under the following circumstances:
The term specifically applies to types of businesses (industries) that are generally scams or fraudulent. It can also apply to an industry that relies on a business model that, in BBB’s experience, exhibits consistent or inherent problems or trade practice concerns.
Industries that fall into the category of Illegal/Scam are:
Businesses that charge advance fees for non-existent loans.
Online casinos that provide for winning/losing real money.
– Chain letters, including those with an "opportunity" that requires money be sent to others in the chain.
– Job listing and advisory services that charge an advance fee for referral to positions that don't exist or they are not authorized to promote.
– Telemarketers that sell office supplies using deceptive techniques.
Online pharmacies selling unapproved drugs and/or invalid subscriptions.
– Itinerant workers providing poor or no service.
– Investment schemes relying almost entirely on contributions from future investors to pay current investors.
– "Business" opportunities that focus primarily on monetary payments and recruitment of new payees rather than sale of a product or service.
Fraudulent prize promotions.
– Fraudulent offers to recoup money for previously scammed consumers.
– Sweepstakes that require advance payment to claim non-existent cash prize winnings.
– Work-at-home businesses that require initial advance fee and misrepresent earnings and/or nature of work.
Industries that fall into the category of "Inherent Problems" include:
– Businesses offering to repair/improve consumer credit history.
– Businesses using a model that has consumers start by not paying creditors for a period of time prior to negotiation with creditors.
Businesses that charge a fee for publicly available information about government auctions and jobs.
Businesses that engage in questionable advertising and charge a fee for resource lists for grants/scholarship/aid.
– Door-to-door and/or short-term businesses that engage in questionable advertising and sales practices in the sale of bulk meat.
– Businesses providing short term loans at extremely high interest rates.
– Businesses promising unrealistic results for building wealth with purchase of books, DVDs, etc.
A BBB committee determines which industries fall into categories of scams or having inherent problems. The list of industries is regularly reviewed and subject to change as determined by the committee.
No. BBB takes into account the size of a business, such as the number of customers, when evaluating the volume of complaints.
How long a company has been in business is one of the first things consumers consider when researching a company to hire. They want to have a degree of confidence that the business has experience and a track record, so our formula factors this key consideration in.
No. While BBB Accredited Businesses do receive additional points, other factors contribute to a company rating and non-accredited businesses can also have favorable ratings.
Grades represent 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 – and accreditation raises that level of confidence. To be accredited, a business has been thoroughly reviewed by BBB, meets the organization’s high standards for integrity and reliability when dealing with consumers, signs an agreement with BBB to continue to abide by these standards and supports BBB's efforts to educate and protect the public. In addition, under this agreement, the business must work with BBB to resolve complaints in a timely manner that is equitable for the consumer.
Like most standards-based organizations that provide accreditation, we charge a business for the time and costs associated with reviewing and monitoring their organization. As a result, we are able to provide many important and valuable services to all consumers free of charge, such as BBB Reliability Reports
The more information we can provide the public, the better informed they are to make a good choice when hiring or doing business with a company. Therefore, when we have sufficient information to evaluate a business based on our 16 factors, we will provide a report and subsequent letter grade.