Resolving Marketplace Disputes


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Are you having trouble getting a manufacturer to honor a "money back" guarantee? Have you reached an impasse with a company over its misleading advertising or having problems with a product or service failing to perform as promised? Chances are, the Better Business Bureau can help you resolve your dispute quickly and at minimal or no cost.

For more than 80 years, the BBB has offered dispute resolution services that are informal, customer friendly , and can help both consumers and businesses overcome a variety of common marketplace conflicts. As non-profit, business member organizations, BBBs promote ethical business and advertising practices.

If you have a dispute with a company the BBB suggests that you first contact the company and try to resolve the issue. If the dispute is not resolved, you should file a written and signed complaint with the BBB. After the complaint is reviewed and accepted, a copy is sent to the management of the company. When the BBB receives a response from the company, it is reviewed and mailed to the complainant. If the business does not respond within a specified number of days, the BBB will suggest alternative courses that can be taken to resolve the problem.

If the dispute remains unsettled, the BBB offers conciliation, mediation and arbitration to help solve the problem. In conciliation, your views are presented and discussed with the business, and in turn, the business's viewpoint is presented to you. This usually takes place by telephone or mail, and frequently settles the matter simply and quickly. Most disputes are settled through conciliation.

The next step may be mediation, in which a professionally trained mediator meets with you and the business to guide you in working out your own mutually agreeable solutions. Like conciliators, mediators don't decide who is "right" or "wrong." Instead, they help the parties involved reach a solution on their own - one that works best for them.

The final step that may be available to you is arbitration. In an arbitration hearing, an arbitrator listens to both sides and weighs the evidence presented. He or she then makes a decision about the dispute after the hearing is over. BBB arbitration is binding on both parties in most cases. However, in some cases, particularly those involving disputes with automobile manufacturers, you are free to go to court if you are not satisfied with the arbitrator's decision.If you need help resolving a marketplace dispute, or contact your local Better Business Bureau.

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