(August 11, 2011, Arlington VA) – The Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) is integrating operations in the United States and Canada, marking the way for an improved customer experience for those who purchase goods and services across the border. The CBBB Board of Directors voted last week on the integration plan, which becomes effective August 16, 2011. The CBBB is the international headquarters of the BBB system and the governing body that licenses local BBBs and provides support services to increase their effectiveness.
“Given the advances in technology and the globalization of services, it no longer makes sense to maintain two separate systems,” said M. Jean Lemyre of Via Rail Canada, chair of the Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus (CCBBB). “The vast majority of consumers initially contact BBB through the internet. Aligning BBB services into one integrated system will be more efficient for businesses in Canada, and will ensure that consumers continue to receive the high quality of services they’ve come to expect from BBB.”
“The U.S. and Canada remain each other’s largest trading partners,” noted Stephen A. Cox, President and CEO of CBBB. “We share the world’s longest undefended border, and our citizens cross the border 200 million times a year. Every day more than $1 billion in goods, services and investments are exchanged between our two nations. We are really one North American marketplace, and the BBB system will reflect that. Not only will it be easier for consumers to check out businesses in either country, it will be simpler for them to file a complaint or resolve a dispute.”
For nearly 100 years, BBB has helped consumers make smarter buying decisions. More than 400,000 businesses meet the organization’s rigorous standards and are BBB Accredited. In addition, BBB maintains information on more than 4 million businesses, and every year helps millions of consumers through free business reviews, consumer tips, fraud alerts, dispute resolution, and consumer advocacy. 1.1 million complaints to BBB were resolved in 2010.
There are 23 standards that local organizations must meet in order to use the BBB name and logo, and to receive services from CBBB. Currently, there are 122 local, independent BBBs across the U.S. and Canada.
Four of those in Canada have not met the high standards required to be licensed as a BBB (Hamilton, Windsor, St. John’s and Montreal). After careful analysis and consideration, the CBBB board voted yesterday to close the operations of these bureaus. The boundaries will be realigned so that other local BBBs can serve those areas, and the local and national offices are working hard to prevent interruption of service to BBB Accredited Businesses and consumers in those jurisdictions.
In the province of Ontario, the territory currently covered by BBB Hamilton will be reassigned to BBB Kitchener, and the territory currently covered by BBB Windsor will be reassigned to BBB London. The territory currently covered by BBB St. John’s (Newfoundland) will be reassigned to BBB Halifax (Nova Scotia).
BBB Montreal, which comprises almost all of Quebec Province, will unfortunately be unserved for the immediate future, although efforts are underway to find a solution. As part of the integration process, the CCBBB will serve in an advisory capacity to advise the CBBB board on issues of importance to businesses and consumers in the Canadian provinces. The advisory council will be reviewing possible solutions to the BBB Montreal issue and will make a recommendation to the CBBB board as soon as possible.
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As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Reliability Reports® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit www.bbb.org for more information.