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Wisconsin
BBB Sends Businesses Back to School with New Letter-Grade Ratings System
January 06, 2009

In order to help consumers make better-informed decisions on where to spend their hard-earned dollars, the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau today announced it will now 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 millions of businesses throughout the United States and Canada, including almost 68,000 Wisconsin businesses, by reviewing BBB Reliability Reports™. These reports are available online and free of charge at www.wisconsin.bbb.org. The majority of these Wisconsin companies (27,750) are rated at a B-, although more than 3,500 rate at an A+ and almost as many rate at an F. See chart below for a breakdown.

# of Wis. Companies with This Grade

A+

3,561

A

7,017

A-

3,865

B+

15,206

B

4,205

B-

27,750

C+

106

C

1,862

C-

1,175

D+

45

D

14

D-

322

F

2,808

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, its 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 Randall Hoth, Wisconsin BBB president/CEO. “These reports make it extremely easy and convenient for consumers to research and compare local businesses—before they buy.”

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:

· The business’s overall complaint history with BBB, including the number and severity of complaints to BBB from customers

· Whether complaints have been resolved in a timely manner or the business has demonstrated a good faith effort to resolve them

· How long the business has been operating and whether it meets appropriate competency licensing

· Government actions against the business related to marketplace activities

· Advertising issues evaluated by BBB

· Whether the business is a BBB Accredited Business and has committed to BBB standards

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.