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Top Companies and Former FTC Executive Honored at BBB International Torch Awards: Better Business Bureau recognizes outstanding ethical practices and contributions to building marketplace trust

4/8/2008

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Arlington, VA -April 8, 2008 – A Fortune 500 company, an Internet giant, an innovative retailer, a financial services firm and a former federal official were all honored this evening at the BBB International Torch Awards ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The Torch Awards are given by the Council of Better Business Bureaus to recognize businesses and executives exhibiting integrity in the marketplace and exemplary dedication to advancing trust between businesses and consumers.

Kraft Foods Inc. received the BBB Torch Award for Advancing Marketplace Trust, which recognizes an organization that sets high standards of excellence for trust through innovative voluntary actions, programs, or sustainment activities. “Kraft is one of the most  trusted brands in the world,” said Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) in presenting the award. “Kraft has listened to customers and taken action, adding more better-for-you product choices, taking leadership on environmental issues that has resulted in the company being named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, and setting an industry example for advertising responsibly to children, eliminating in-school advertising, and setting nutrition standards for Kraft products sold in schools.”

Two companies – CarMax, Inc. and Ritter Daniher Financial Advisory, LLC – received the BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Excellence, which recognizes superior commitment to exceptional standards that benefit customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and surrounding communities.

“CarMax’s commitment to integrity is exhibited both in how they serve their customers and how they treat their employees,” said Lucie Voves of Church Hill Classics, one of last year’s Torch Award winners, who presented the two awards. She specifically cited CarMax’s “non-negotiable” ethical practices and a multi-layered hiring practice that ensures only the most trustworthy employees become part of the CarMax team. CarMax has received numerous business awards, including being named by Fortune magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” for four years running, and numerous regional BBB Torch Awards for Business Ethics, including six in 2007.

“Ritter Daniher is a standout in their industry not only for their expertise in financial planning, but also for their exemplary service and dedication to improving the lives and financial well-being of their customers,” said Voves. She noted that the five-person Cincinnati-based company has been a significant change agent in the industry, especially related to issues of disclosure and transparency. The company has received numerous awards from peers and industry observers. In 2006, Ritter Daniher won the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award. 

eBay Inc. received the BBB President’s Award for sustained superior performance. “In just 13 years, eBay has truly changed the marketplace and shaped the definition and expectation of trust between buyers and sellers,” said Steven J. Cole, President and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “eBay has demonstrated clear leadership and fostered trust between members by keeping the marketplace safe for consumers around the globe.” He also mentioned that eBay is “a model for active, meaningful involvement in communities.”

The BBB Torch Award for Consumer Leadership went to Joan Z. (Jodie) Bernstein, who recently served for six years as director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission. “Jodie has been a faithful champion of consumer rights starting with her tenure with the FTC,” said Teresa Moran Schwartz, Vice President of the Consumers Union Board of Directors and Professor Emeritus of Public Interest Law at George Washington University School of Law, in presenting the award. “She has had a major impact on protecting children including over the Internet, their encounters with violence in games, movies and music, and their exposure to deceptive advertising.” Bernstein previously held government appointments with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services. A strong advocate of industry's responsibility to develop effective self-regulation programs, Ms. Bernstein chaired a working group of the nation's leading children’s marketers which developed a groundbreaking self-regulatory initiative on children's food advertising in 2006. She is now in private practice with the D.C. law firm Bryan Cave LLP.

The BBB International Torch Awards Gala was held this evening at the National Press Club in downtown Washington, D.C. Tim Russert, moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, delivered the keynote address, and National Public Radio legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg served as master of ceremonies. Entertainment was provided by the renowned political satire group, The Capitol Steps. Platinum sponsors of the event were the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, DLA Piper, The Carcannon Corporation and Verizon Wireless.

Presented annually since 1996, the BBB International Torch Awards recognize companies that maintain outstanding dedication to upholding ethical business standards and promoting trust in the marketplace. BBB Torch Awards are awarded locally by more than 80 BBBs across the U.S. and Canada and on the international stage by the Council of Better Business Bureaus – the national organization representing the BBB system.

Reporters and journalists may contact Alison Preszler CBBB’s Media Relations Specialist or call 703-247-9376 to request an interview or additional information

About BBB
BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 126 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring nearly four million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about BBB.

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