LEGAL MATTERS: 4 Reasons Not To Trust The Better Business Bureau

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


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Don't believe the "better" in Better Business Bureau.

The Better Business Bureau uses the tag line “Start With Trust.” Unfortunately, you should not trust the BBB’s ratings nor should you trust the BBB to stand up for your rights. Here’s why:

It’s Too Dependent on Corporate Money

The BBB is too ethically compromised to be a strong voice for consumers. For instance, it has a partnership with Capitol One to educate consumers about how to handle credit wisely. GivenCapitol One’s noxious business practices, that is like taking fire safety lessons from an arsonist! I suspect the huge amounts of money the BBB collects selling web sites and allowing businesses to display the BBB logo means that BBB program has similarly lax standards.

You can see for yourself how corporate money has corrupted the BBB in the past by check out this devastating ABC News 20/20 report showing the BBB selling good ratings to apparently any business willing to pay its fees. (It gave “Hamas” an A.)

It’s Hypocritical

The BBB urges consumers to check out charities using its WiseGiving portal. But then it does not post any information about its finances there. (In case you are curious, the head of the Worcester area BBB received about $100,000 in pay and benefits in 2010. The head of the regional BBB that covers Rhode Island and Boston received about $363,000 in 2011.)  

It Does Not Fight for Consumers

If you file a complaint against a business, the BBB will forward a copy of it to the business. But that’s about all it will do.  Rather than just being a complaint forwarding service, the BBB could be using its reputation to fight consumer-crushing binding arbitration clauses; but it is not. It is could also be fighting against predatory payday loans and fighting to recover billions of dollars in dubious overdraft fees banks took from their customers; but it is not.

There Are Better Alternatives

Instead of the BBB, here is where you should go for help with consumer problems:

To complain about a business: Post to their Facebook page,,, and file a complaint with the RI Attorney General or the MA Attorney General.

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John Longo is a consumer rights attorney practicing law in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. He represents consumers who have disputes with businesses, employees cheated out of their wages or overtime, car buyers stuck with Lemons, and people in need of bankruptcy protection. He is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, and the Rhode Island Association for Justice.


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