The Better Business Bureau (sometimes known as simply the “BBB”) is a nonprofit organization that aims to advance consumer trust in companies and the marketplace by providing information about the business practices of millions of different companies.
The Better Business Bureau began in 1912 in response to much controversy about the business practices of many companies, including concerns about false advertising. In the early 1900s there was much demand for the improvement of public services including the quality of canned foods and medications. In 1906, the “Pure Food and Drug Act” became a law followed closely by laws that demanded truth in advertising and safe and clean working conditions. The Better Business Bureau worked to ensure that businesses were adhering the rules of safety for both staff and consumers.
Like in a classic school room, the BBB gives letter grade ratings to companies with “A” being the highest and “F” being the lowest. Generally, a company will receive an “F” grade if there have been numerous complaints made about their services and/or products and if there are any governmental investigations presently underway that focus on the company (such as companies that have gotten into trouble for operating unsafe factories).
The information collected by the BBB was always intended to be made public knowledge since the organization’s goal is to make the public aware of the practices of the companies that they purchase from. The BBB has the right to release information about any safety issues found with a company’s products or services including any reports of worker abuse and recalls of products. The Internet has made it easier than ever for this information to be accessed and now, with smartphones, consumers can check out a company before they walk out of a store with any of its products in their hands. Thus, the BBB website is a great source for alerting the public to problematic situations with certain businesses including issues such as scams.
Presently, the BBB website is one of the top 500 most visited websites in the United States of America. The BBB offers consumers the option to list complaints about a company if they want the BBB to investigate the organization. The website is very user friendly and easy to navigate. By simply typing in a company name to the site search a consumer will be able to get immediate information about the company’s practices.
However wonderful the concept of the BBB is, there is one huge downside: Not all companies are BBB accredited and so there is simply no information available about some brands. Many businesses choose to let themselves be investigated by the BBB and “graded” by them in order to establish a sense of legitimacy yet there is no law insisting that companies must seek BBB accreditation, recognition or review. Hence it is entirely legal for companies to sell products and services without being known to the BBB and dealing with such companies could be a risk to consumers.
Nevertheless, the companies that are reviewed by the BBB help consumers remain safe while shopping the market and the BBB website is full of useful information about many companies. I give the BBB 4/5 stars and urge them to push all companies to go under investigation to ensure quality control.
Part of learning online is being able to research things that impact daily life—such as what companies we buy from. The BB website enables consumers to do this and subsequently makes people aware of the conditions in many businesses and factories. For more information visit: http://www.bbb.org/us/