Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

BBB investigation

I made a comment in another thread and no one picked up on it, I think it is relevant as some here suggest for our OP’s with “business conflicts” seek help from the BBB, and some use BBB ratings as a component in their choice of mechanics.

The AG of Conneticut (how I did not slay that one too bad) is investigating BBB for a variation on a “pay to play” scam.

One business owner showed how she was able to get her “C” rating changed to an “A” in one day simply by joining up. Another example was given concering the terrorist group “Hamas” they recieved an “A+” rating.The response from BBB “oops”.Resturantaur Wolfgang Puck gave an interview where he stated the BBB will not fairly rate him until he pays up. Source ABC News.

I was turned off by BBB years ago when I didn’t know better and believed it was a good agency.

I called them to report an electrician who had failed to complete a job at my home - leaving a hot wire exposed - and refusing to come and fix it. To make a long story short, BBB contacted the electrician, the electrician denied it and BBB contacted me and said that the guy denied the charge so they were closing their case.

The good news is that I then contacted the Contractors State Licensing Board here in California - and to make another long story short - the electrician had his contractor’s license revoked and he had to pay for the completion of the work, and the correction of a couple of code violations.

The BBB is next to worthless. They may be semi-useful if you call them to check the number of complaints a business has, but that’s about it. They have no teeth. If a business has a lot of complaints, the best they can do is to give them a lower grade and maybe take away their shiny little plaque. (and they probably can’t even do that if the business pays their dues) If you truly have a major problem, a call to the business from a lawyer or a complaint to the attorney general may actually get something done.

I’m shocked!

Shocked, I tell you!

I went through their complaint resolution once. What a waste of time. Well known dealership, charged 5 hours of labor for diagnosis of a problem, made wrong diagnosis and also billed for the not needed part & labor (on top of diagnostic time), then when asked to fix the original problem had the nerve to give an estimate if the number of hours of diagnostic work needed. Went to the top of the dealership, nada. Complained to BBB, they forwarded it to the dealer and back to me with some useless comments that they are not aware of anything. Never even reflected on the website as a complaint against said dealership.

About the gambling going on in the back room? (think Casablanca)

The Connecticut AG’s investigation is just further evidence of what many of us already know to be true. A couple of years ago, Smart Money magazine stated that “few consumers are actually helped by the BBB”.

The BBB is a an utter joke and while I don’t know the details behind it, I think the local branch here had to shut down a few years back.

Someone recently posed a question on this forum about a car they had purchased and being curious I took a quick look at this car dealership’s BBB rating.
This used car dealer (a somewhat new startup company) has a “C” rating from the BBB.
The BBB states this rating was given to the company for several reasons. One is that the company was sent a business information form which they had not mailed back to the BBB and the other was that there was a “lack of complaints”.

That hardly seems fair to tarnish the company with an average rating because they haven’t paid up and had a rash of complaints. Maybe the owner of that company simply has the same dim view of the BBB that many have and prefers to keep his annual accrediation fee in his pocket.

What bothers me just as much as the near-uselessness of the BBB is the bizarre notion held by many people that the BBB is a government agency. Think about it. How often has a car owner posted something along the lines of, “I am going to report them to the BBB or other government agency”? Fairly often, as I recall.

I can tell you that, in my 34 years as an educator, I encountered a huge percentage of parents and students who thought that UPS was part of the US Postal Service, and that FedEX was also a government entity. Many were unable to distinguish between public colleges and private colleges. Many fell hook, line, and sinker for the high-pressure sales pitch of representatives from the “For Profit” private colleges, some of which are essentially diploma mills. Many of them gave money to private entities that promised to obtain “maximum government financial aid” for their child–despite my warnings about these scams–and wound up wasting perhaps hundreds of dollars. And, yes, I do recall that many of these same folks believed that the BBB was a government agency.

I know that there is a popular sentiment that government can do no right and business can do no wrong, but this is just one more of those absolutes that is a foolish notion. Even our own sainted Ronald Reagan famously stated, “Private business always does things better than a government agency”. No qualifiers, no “sometimes does things better”, or even “frequently does things better”. Just that absolute “always”. Yup, always–just like Enron, Global Crossing, General Motors, Arthur Anderson, World Savings, Chrysler, Circuit City, Bear Stearns, Countrywide Mortgage, Merrill Lynch, ad infinitum.

People in this country need to educate themselves about some of the realities of both their government and private business. Some government agencies do a very good job for the taxpayer, and some private businesses do a very good job for their customers. And, of course, there are agencies and private corporations that do a truly lousy job. However, when a large portion of the citizenry does not even know what constitutes a government entity and what constitutes a private entity, that just muddies the water and makes everyone even dumber than they were previously.

When someone files a complaint with the BBB, possibly even paying a filing fee (depending on the local BBB franchise holder), and gets nothing of value in return, I wonder how many of these folks then say something along the lines of…“typical government agency, dammit”…and then become part of the “government is evil” crowd.

The BBB is a privately-run, for-profit operation that sells local franchises. Some of the local franchises may do a middling job of helping consumers, even though their primary goal is to make a profit for the owners of the local BBB franchise. On the whole, however, as Smart Money magazine’s investigative report revealed, the BBB is just one hair away from being a scam operation.

Maybe if the public was better-informed, we would not have semi-scam operations like this operating with apparent impunity, and maybe people would be more likely to be able to distinguish between the good and the bad that exist in both government agencies and private entities.

I think the main goal of the BBB is to keep those accreditation fees rolling in so the directors can keep their salary and perks going, along with the salaries and perks of their friends and relatives whom they hire on there.

Speaking of accrediation, many of you have probably seen those scam commercials on television. That company, in spite of countless complaints, is rated A+ by the BBB.
The only reason I mention this is because I found out recently, after the fact, my wife fell for that sales spiel. The deal was to be a one-time, one month charge of 9 bucks or something like that and our banking acount got clipped for 150 dollars. We did get it refunded after much ruckus was raised but others are not so lucky.

Great post. I agree it’s not a black & white world as far as Government vs Private Sector. The use of the word “bureau”, however, by the BBB, seems like a stroke of genius on their part to get people to think they are a government entity.

So, what does the government do better than private business?

how about the Federal Reserve? at least it has "quasi-government status’. What I mean is there is some oversight of the Federal Reserve and I will go out on a limb and say it is from the House.

The Gov. does mamage to never be late with Social Security deposits, I guess I should add “yet”.

The company that has both has an “A” rating from BBB and questions about its practices is “Goldline”.This is the company that can afford 5 day a week television adds on Fox. For me when a company has this level of advertisment it send up my red flag

“So, what does the government do better than private business?”

In order to keep this within the theme of this forum, I will give the example of car inspection, at least in the state of NJ. One of our former governors, Christine Todd Whitman, under the guise of cutting government expenses, privatized car inspections about 10 years ago. The state employees who had performed that task were let go, and the state-owned facilities were turned over to Parsons Corp.

Parsons installed lots of new equipment, apparently in an effort to make the process more efficient. Within days, the equipment began breaking down, and it was clear that their employees knew little about what they were supposed to be doing. An inspection process that had previously involved perhaps 1/2 hr of wait time for drivers stretched at some locations to 3-4 hours. During the winter, drivers were supposed to stand in the cold
for hours while these bumbling dunces jerked around with cars.

It took about 2 years for the mess to be straightened out, by Whitman’s successor. The one thing that was never resolved was the sad reality that it cost the state exactly double the amount of money per car to have them inspected by this private corp than it cost to have them inspected by state employees.

I once worked for a company whose business model lent itself to frequent customer complaints. It was my job to handle those complaints.

In spite of the fact that we had so many customer complaints against us, our BBB rating was pretty good, all because we kept up with our dues. The BBB is no longer a watchdog organization, and it hasn’t been for a long time.

When I told my boss customers were threatening to go to the BBB, he wasn’t concerned at all. It is a hollow threat.

I doubt that Reagan said, “Private business always does things better than a government agency”. I think he said something like “government is the problem”. If you are looking for lame strawman arguments no need to go that far back for presidential quotes.

If you can cite where he said this, I apologize in advance

Actually the BBB is a non-profit. That said, according to an investigative piece by WCVB TV in Boston last week, the head of the Massachusetts office made $370,000 last year, which is absolutely obscene given the increase in dues last year and the very low pay given to their other employees.