In order to help consumers make better-informed decisions on where to spend their hard-earned dollars, Better Business Bureau today announced beginning Wednesday, it will assign letter grades to local businesses ranging from A+ to F. The letter grade system—which replaces a less-detailed scale of "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory"— represents BBB’s degree of confidence that the business is operating in a trustworthy manner and will make a good faith effort to resolve customer concerns.
Consumers can research the grades of more than 98,000 local businesses by reviewing BBB Reliability Reports™, which are available online and free of charge at www.southwestmissouri.bbb.org. In addition to noting the business’s letter grade, BBB Reliability Reports™ also include details about integrity and performance, such as the number of complaints a business has received, their response to complaints, and details on any government actions against the business.
"Given the current tough economic conditions, consumers literally can’t afford to make bad buying decisions," said Judy Mills, BBB of Southwest Missouri president and CEO. "These reports make it extremely easy and convenient for consumers to research and compare local businesses—before they buy."
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 BBB’s ongoing commitment to making it easier for consumers to find trustworthy businesses.
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’s rating are described in detail in BBB Reliability Reports™. Ratings factors include:
Rating factors also take into account 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, 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 that businesses have been evaluated by BBB and have contractually agreed to meet and uphold BBB’s high standards for integrity and reliability when dealing with consumers.
Both BBB Accredited Businesses and non-accredited businesses in BBB’s database will receive a letter grade as part of their report.
For more information on BBB ratings and to find out which local businesses made the grade, go to www.bbb.org.