What is a BBB

Learn about BBB

Our Vision: 
An ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other.

Our Mission:
To be the leader in advancing marketplace trust.

How can it help me?
This information answers these and other questions asked by you.  The services provided by your BBB can make you a better informed and more satisfied consumer.  Use these services often.  It is to your advantage to do so. 

How does the BBB help me?
Your BBB helps you both directly and indirectly.  The BBB helps you directly by:

  • Providing information about a company before you do business with it.
  • Helping to resolve a complaint you might have against a firm, including a final step of binding arbitration in most areas.
  • Providing you with good consumer information so that you can make intelligent buying decisions.
  • Providing information on charitable organizations.

In addition the BBB aids you by:

  • Fostering ethical advertising and selling practices.
  • Monitoring advertising and selling practices.
  • Alerting consumers to bad business and advertising practices when the business in question will not cooperate with the BBB to eliminate the abuse.
  • Disseminating consumer information through newspapers, radio, television, and printed literature. 
  • Providing speakers for schools, civic groups and business organizations. 
  • Providing the media with public information materials on consumer subjects. 

Aren't BBBs best known for their handling of complaints?
Actually, most consumer contacts with BBBs are inquiries (checking out a company) and not complaints.  The wise consumer checks with a BBB BEFORE dealing with an unknown company.  Such inquiries reduce the possibility of complaints arising. 

How are complaints handled?
Most BBBs prefer to have complaints in writing.  This procedure is desirable for accuracy and efficiency.  Each complaint is taken up with the business firm involved by a consumer service specialist.  Normally, the matter is satisfactorily resolved and the complainant is advised. 

However, if the firm does not cooperate, or fails to resolve a complaint satisfactorily after several requests, the complainant is advised and the fact is noted in the firm's file.  In many instances further action is taken through binding arbitration. 

What is consumer arbitration?
Most BBBs have established consumer arbitration programs as a means of voluntarily resolving business/customer disputes.  Traditionally, the BBBs have attempted to resolve such disputes by mediation.  This method is usually successful, and the majority of disputes will continue to be settled in this manner. 

In cases where resolution is not achieved through mediation, arbitration can be used.  In the past, the consumer's only alternative was the courts, which takes time and money.  Arbitration can quickly resolve a problem, and it is, of course, legally binding on all parties. 

What information do BBBs give about companies?
Information given to consumers is based upon the BBB's record on a company.  The report is a summary of the actual performance record of the company as reflected in the BBB files, supplemented by special BBB investigations, if needed.  In addition, the local BBB can draw upon additional information compiled by the national BBB network. 

What does the BBB not do?
It does not give legal advice.  It cannot help to breach or assist in voiding contracts made without fraud or misrepresentation.  It does not make collections of any kind, nor does it provide credit information.  It does not act as a reference or give recommendations or endorsements.  It does not appraise articles; pass judgment on the question of the price charged for merchandise or quality of services or workmanship, efficiency of operation of devices or how long merchandise should wear or last. 

Are BBBs effective?
BBBs have millions of contacts with consumers annually.  BBB statistics indicate that a majority of the complaints received are settled.  Surveys show that BBBs are the first choice of consumers in need of help. 

When did the BBBs start this work?
The first BBBs began operation over 75 years ago.  Originally, the BBBs were the "Vigilance Committees" of Advertising Clubs, established to eliminate fraud in advertising.  As they broadened their function to monitor other marketing practices and the performance of business, the BBB System evolved. 

Why are there BBBs?
BBBs exist because business believes that it is best able to correct abuses in the marketplace.  Legitimate business also wants to provide all the help necessary (through BBBs) to help customers get satisfaction for their money.  That is good business!

Does the BBB have legal powers?
BBBs are private, self-regulatory agencies that seek the voluntary cooperation of business.  When illegal practices are uncovered and the business refuses to cooperate with the BBB, the matter is referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency.  Also, BBBs have close working relationships with governmental agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, with consumer protection agencies, and the State Attorneys General. 

Where does the BBB get its operating funds?
BBBs are organized as nonprofit corporations and financed by membership dues or subscriptions paid by responsible business and professional firms in the community.  Reputable firms are solicited for membership to maintain and expand services provided by the BBB. 

What is the council of BBBs?
The Council of BBBs, Inc.  was formed in 1970 by consolidating the former National BBB and the Association of BBBs International.  The CBBB has a dual mission: to be an effective national self-regulatory force for business and to demonstrate an active concern for consumers. 

The Council has offices in Arlington, Virginia and New York.  The headquarters in Arlington coordinates the activities of member BBBs, issues advertising standards on the national level, administers the BBB arbitration program, disseminates information about charitable solicitations, and performs consumer education and public information functions.  The Arlington office also works closely with government regulatory agencies and trade associations, and keeps abreast of government activities that concern business and consumers. 

CBBB's New York office monitors and investigates complaints against national advertising