How does BBB let the public know about problem businesses? I mean, really get the word out beyond an F rating on a business profile. We do have a process in place so as not to simply throw just any poor performing business under the bus. Even an F rated business has the opportunity to clean house and raise their letter grade. In fact, it happens all the time. A business can make changes, increase their BBB rating, and re-instill trust with their consumers. But if they don’t, then we sometimes need to do more to mitigate damage to unsuspecting consumers. Just recently BBB serving Mainland BC issued a press release on three online businesses based in Vancouver. When we do that, you know it’s a last resort to either get the company to respond or raise awareness of the general public to avoid doing business with them. That means using the power of the local media to get the message through. Before it gets to that point, there is a lot of homework to do. This usually involves our Investigative Specialist, our Media Advisor and our Vice President working together to make sure all of our information is correct and in accordance with BBB policy. We don’t take going to the media lightly. Firstly, is the company getting an unusual number of complaints over a certain time period? Are they being responsive to the complaints and making a good faith effort to reach a resolution? These actions are key to maintaining a decent rating with BBB. However the companies that go through our investigative process with the potential of getting media involved are the ones that don’t respond, or they’ve stopped responding to BBB communications. By this point, they would have been sent a pattern letter. This is a communication we send to a business when we see an unusual amount of complaints that are similar in nature. Again, the company would not have responded to this query. We have to look at many other aspects of the business as well. Is the company registered to do business in the area? A check with the city registry is a must. Do they have a license to operate? Do the names and addresses that we have match up to anything registered with the city? Sometimes these searches turn up nothing and we have to determine where, in fact, they are based. Does their website (assuming they have one) contain legitimate contact information or is it just a placeholder? Where is their website hosted? Scams often have websites with offshore IP addresses. Has the company stopped responding to BBB communications? Have they responded at all? This is crucial. If we have reason to believe they are still taking money from consumers, not providing the service, and not responding to us, then there is a problem. We see that happen when complaints keep coming in and BBB inquiries go unanswered. Before putting out a warning to consumers BBB will have exhausted all avenues to connect with the business owner. If all we get is radio silence and consumers continue to get bilked, then we have little recourse than to issue a public warning and get the local media to spread the word.