CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

BBB claims it is making changes

Since I posted info that did not present the BBB (in paticular the Conneticut division) in a postive light I think it is only fair to report that the BBB says it is taking complaints to heart and will institute changes that are intended to restore its credibility.



These changes include a removal of all practices that could be seen as “pay to play” and moving away from the “A” “B” “C” rating system. My source was my local Saturday paper but I think it was a AP story.

Isn’t that what most failing organizations say? Just like the Chamber of Commerce its hard for them to come down too hard on their own customers.

I hope they follow through.  Time will tell. 

I am happy to add that clearly oldschool does not have the same issue with integrity.  As always, he tries to present honest comments.

I have never had a positive experience with the BBB either as a business owner or as a consumer. They clearly have a hidden agenda which will remain even if they attempt to make changes. I would like to see the organization dry up and blow away but that’s just wishful thinking. The good thing is that they would have to get better if they decide to stay in business because they certainly can’t get any worse.

There are many misconceptions about BBB. First BB is a member organization where the members agree to uphold certain business operating standards.

What the BBB is not is a place to get disputes resolved. That’s what the courts are for. When the company I work for gets letters from BBB, we ALWAYS respond - as is required. We also always review the complaint to see if it is both factual and balanced. We also review the way the complaint was handled by us to make sure we were fair. If any of that isn’t the way it is supposed to be, we fix it - either by resolving the complaint or by correcting the record at BBB.

In either event, BBB serves as a way to make sure businesses are doing what they are supposed to be doing - reviewing complaints and being fair.

I do not believe that the changes will be any more than just words. It’s a whole new paradigm. TQM and Excellence combine to form rhetoric. The BBB is less of a bureau and more like a vanity case.

This is the same thing every organization says after they lose their credibility. I am not from Missouri, but I say, “Don’t tell me, show me.”

Honestly, they have been so useless for so long, I doubt I will ever view them as a useful source of information again.

Capri Racer

What you say is true–to a certain extent.

However, filing a complaint against a non-member of the BBB results in–at most–placing your complaint in a file cabinet.

And, if someone complains about a member organization, the BBB’s response is tepid at best.
Did you know that if the offending business merely responds to the complainant, this response qualifies for a verdict of “resolved” on the part of the BBB? The response does not have to satisfy the complaint. The business’s response merely has to discuss the complaint with the complainant.

Thus, when you look at a company’s ratings on the BBB website, you might see something like…“20 complaints received. 20 complaints resolved”. In reality, many of those responses may have told the complainant that nothing would be done by the business in regard to the complaint. In my mind, that type of response is very far from a resolution.

A business that is genuinely interested in good customer service–and yours is likely one of them–will do the right thing whether the BBB is involved or not. The problem is that there are many, many very questionable businesses that are well-rated members of the BBB.

As just one example, in my area there is a basement waterproofing business that is highly rated by the BBB, with about 99% of its complaints listed as having been “resolved”. However, in the community, this business is well known as a fly-by-night bunch of high-pressure scam artists who frequently do not successfully remediate basement water problems, charge high prices, and essentially tell their customers to “pound salt” when they complain.

A friend of mine mistakenly called this company for an estimate. The salesman was charming, to say the least. Luckily, I intervened within the three day recission period and accompanied him to their offices in order to rescind the contract. I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that dealing with the company CEO was about as close as I would ever like to come to dealing with La Cosa Nostra. He used every scare tactic in the book and was on the ethical borderline of using threats in order to preserve the contract.

The bottom line is that the contract was ripped up, but company reps continued to call my friend weekly for several months in order to try to resurrect the deal, even offering to cut the price by several thousand $$. Their constant phone calls–despite my friend’s request to cease and desist–continued until I grabbed the phone one day and informed them that I would file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if even one more call was received from them. That finally put an end to about 3 months of high-pressure from this bunch of charlatans and their highly-rated BBB member company.

Unfortunately, being a member of the BBB gives little real assurance to consumers.

This “20 complaints recieved 20 complaints resolved” situation was one motivator to go to the “A” “B” “C” system and that system was abused by the “pay for play” requirement. It seems BBB is strongly considering going back to the 20/20 system.

My expeience with getting County Attorneys and “Congressmen” involved in these type of things is that these things are not the type of things I voted them in to handle . It is a bigger fish to fry situation, like outright stealing from budgets, down to cops taking payoffs. I like the CA. system of having a Bureau of Automotive Repair, even if a simple mistake made when filling out the repair order will cause the decision to go against the shop. What I like is, as a customer it is right there and setup for one purpose, too handle automotive repair related complaints, and take $90.00 or so from the shop (last time I paid was 1982 so perhaps it went up). Of course this $90.00 gets passed down and probably does not come close to covering the Bureaus expenses,with pensions being what they are. How did the States get dragged into the pension debacle anyway?

“How did the States get dragged into the pension debacle anyway?”

Well, essentially, the problem resulted from Governors in many states (mine included) who used the pension accounts as a “cash cow” over the past 10-20 years in order to give tax cuts to the voters. Even though tax increases were needed to cover the cost of state building programs and education expenses, many opted to take the money from state pension accounts, and thereby gave tax cuts that were fiscally unwise. But, after all, giving tax cuts is the way that pols get reelected, even if this sham only puts the state further into long-term debt in more ways than one.

In NJ–and probably in a few other states–governors compounded their “borrowing” from pension funds by deciding to not make their required contributions to the funds over many years–again in the name of unwise tax cuts. So–by first robbing these accounts of money that had been paid in by employees and by previous administrations, and then by not making scheduled contributions for many years, they essentially bled the systems to the point where benefits can only be paid for the next…10-15 years…before the system runs dry.

The “fund grab” and the failure to make required contributions were justified on the basis of stock market returns in the early '90s. If those returns continued and never took a downturn, this hare-brained scheme could have worked. Because the stock market never takes a downturn, right?

When markets cratered, the feces hit the fan–so to speak–and the reality of what had been perpetrated became clear.

Of course, politicians could restore the funds that they had grabbed and begin making the scheduled payments mandated by law, but that would necessitate a huge tax increase in order to put state pension systems back on a sound footing. And, as we all know, no politician wants to be the one to do what is necessary, simply because he/she wants to be reelected.

The result of the inadequate funding is the contract that the states had with their employees will be violated, but by telling the electorate that all of their problems are the result of “greedy public employees”, pols can handily turn away any outrage at violation of these contracts. In reality, unless one is talking about high-level commisioners or other highly-placed executives in state government, public employee salaries and pension benefits are not very high in comparison with good private-sector plans.

It all comes down to matters of honesty and integrity, and unfortunately there are very few politicians who seem to have either trait.

Then , even after they make any changes
how will joe customer know if the review and rating they’re getting is PRE or POST system changes ?

I conclude that you believe that the decision to offer some type of pension plan was not an incorrect one. I speak as a person that has been told “No” after applying for countless “civil service” type jobs. I want to know when my piece of the pie gets serverd (and serverd to me). Right or wrong I have a real good laugh and have no sympathy at all for “civil service” employees that are having a hard time, “join the club” is what I say as I never have been offered any type of pension plan what so ever and I feel that theses plans were not required to be created and offered in order to attract employees. They say we need the best and brightest in these positions, well look what it has got us.

they would change them all at once. I worked for them when they instituted the letter grades, about two years ago, the letter grades appeared for all overnight, and I told them at the time it was a conflict of interests to give paid members a higher grade.
As the investigative piece pointed out, this “nonprofit” paid the Mass/RI CEO $370k last year, but what they didn’t mention was how severely underpaid the rest of the employees are, all while crying “we’re a non-profit, we can’t afford big salaries”. Hypocrites.

So, you believe that it is okay to eliminate a program to which employees contributed and which was part of their employment contract?

Hmmmm…That is…interesting.

I wonder how you would feel if your employer decided to drastically reduce your rate of pay, or if he decided to take away vacation days that you had accumulated, or to make other changes to your employment contract. In the case of gutting pension plans, the implications are far more serious than these other issues, but I can guarantee that you would become very upset if any of these contractual promises were voided by your employer.

Reading all this leads my to my typical devil’s advocate position.
Can you report the BBB to the BBB?

You could phase it out. You don’t stop it immediately and not pay out any more.

Can you report the BBB to the BBB?

Even if you could, what would be the point? It would be an exercise in futile futility. It would be like contacting the Department of Redundancy Department.

VDC, you have never made the mistake of such a drastic misinterpetation before, I never said States should fail to pay what they promised. What I did say was the States should not have made the promises in the first place. Now if a result of a State moving into bankruptcy be that it can’t pay the pensions it promised, well then so be it.

I never had the pleasure of working under an employment contract (as these are for the “other” classes) I am one of those workers that has one option when the boss does things you don’t like, which is quit.

I often wonder what it would be like to actually have theses type of “protections” at my places of employment. I had a taste of it for about ten years while working in Switzerland and it was real nice to know if you got sick the insurance you paid for would actually pay you a full paycheck and that your job would be there when you came back. Offereing such simple guarantees to the majority of American workers would cause the country to collasp.

When going through a “Lemon Law” experience, I researched and initiated three levels of “attack”, BBB, NYS Attorney General, and a lawyer. One can do all three in that order in an attempt to achieve the restitution one seeks. In my research, I found that the BBB is funded by the businesses and seems to lean towards them in the process. In the final negotiations, the BBB suggested I keep the car I had difficulty with after the repairs and accept a GPS system as compensation. I said no as the record of all the repairs would show up on a Car Fax and diminish the value. I went to BBB arbitration, presented my case against the automaker’s lawyer to the BBB appointed arbitrator. I was awarded a new vehicle, the only cost was a few faxes and a trip to the site of the arbitration. Research on the internet is a wonderful empowering thing!

This story should carry the disclaimer “your actual results may be different”. People read this stuff and they hold out when they should have setteled. Arbitration may or may not go your way.