National Consumer Protection Week 2014: Choosing a Business

March 03, 2014

Your Better Business Bureau is celebrating National Consumer Protection Week by providing useful tips each day to avoid scams and be the smartest consumer on the block. Go to, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to check out our tips each day!

We have all heard the stories: your neighbor paid a contractor up front to repair the roof, but the roof isn’t finished and the money was never reimbursed. Or maybe a family member hired a landscaper who was soliciting door to door, but the trees looked more like shrubs after the landscaper was done; and now is nowhere to be found.

Our Better Business Bureau receives nearly 5,000 complaints each year, many similar to the stories you have heard. To be the smartest consumer on the block and avoid mishaps with an unethical company, BBB recommends these top three tips to success:

  1. Verify before you buy. If you are looking for any new product or service, from refrigerators to home builders, do your research before making a purchase. Check out the company’s reputation with BBB at to find ratings, complaint history and customer reviews. Also make sure the company is licensed to provide services. Request the company to provide license numbers, then independently check to make sure the license is current before signing a contract.

  2. Get three bids. Getting multiple bids for a job or service takes time, but it’s worth avoiding the headache if you choose the wrong business. BBB offers a quick, free service called Request-a-Quote where consumers can go to, choose a type of service they need, and request a quote from multiple BBB Accredited Businesses with just one form. Make sure all bids are based on the same set of specifications, then compare more than just price. Consider estimated time frames, communication and professionalism of the company, and quality of the business’ work. Sometimes the cheapest option isn’t the best!

  3. Read the fine print. Mishaps often occur because important details were missed in the fine print of a contract or policy. BBB encourages consumers to do their due diligence by reading all of a contract (yes, all!) or enlist legal help to review it for you. Ask for any negotiated terms in writing, and read return policies before making a purchase. If any terms make you uncomfortable, walk away from the purchase. You have the right to choose the companies you work with.

If a situation with a company should go awry, BBB offers free complaint resolution to help facilitate communication between businesses and consumers.

By following these tips, you are much more likely to avoid telling the horror story about a service gone wrong and instead sing the praises of a company who did the right thing. For more tips and resources on making better buying decisions, go to