Giving the BBB (Better Business Bureau) a Rating of FFF
I recently had my very first experience with the BBB and since then have also experienced a very interesting and educational turn of events. Thank you Maria T! What I initially perceived as a major time waster has given me a great opportunity to educate through sharing this experience. Even better yet, instead of doing the damage I’m sure you hoped you’d do, you’ve actually managed to appeal to the side of me that just lives for this stuff! You so rock! And yes, I REALLY mean it! I happen to just love lemonade ;)
I just got done writing Clark Howard, the renowned consumer/financial advocate who has a weekend show on HLN. I’ve posted the letter below (the links were added for this post), it gives a good basis of where I’m going here. This is pretty shocking stuff! Well, at least I was shocked, not an easy feat to accomplish!
Mr. Howard, you often reference the BBB on your HLN show; however, I have some extremely serious concerns regarding them and their business practices.
I am a professional jewelry artist and I have owned and maintained the LongLocks HairSticks Boutique (http://www.longlocks.com) for over eleven years. My hair jewelry is collected worldwide, and each and every one of the almost 10,000 one-of-a-kind designs I have handcrafted are recorded in my design archive. My studio is in my home and I have literally given up my life for LongLocks. I work every day of my life and have not had a single day off, including weekends and holidays, for literally *years.* In fact, in 2008 I was in my car *three* times. In the two years since, less than a dozen each.
Customer service is exceedingly important to me, both as a retailer and as a consumer, and I have always given *consummate* individualized customer service to every one of my clients. In fact, you could easily describe me as “customer service anal-retentive.”
Recently a woman who has been, to put it gently, a “difficult” customer of mine for several years, filed a complaint with the BBB. In the eleven years I’ve been in business this is the *first* time I have ever had any sort of “official” complaint filed against me or LongLocks. This complaint was completely ungrounded and came from an entirely unreasonable customer whom I have literally bent over backward for over the course of several years. I responded to the complaint in *extensive* detail and included several documents that proved that not only was this customer being beyond unreasonable, she was not telling her version of the story truthfully by any stretch of the imagination.
I have not yet received an official response from the BBB and do not know if I will but when since doing a search on their site I see that they have rated the LongLocks HairSticks Boutique a C-. Though I don’t really fear this being devastating to my business as my livelihood is based largely on repeat business and my established customers know what kind of service they can expect from me, it does disturb me personally and gives an entirely inaccurate impression of what one who is unfamiliar with me nor my business ethics should expect from LongLocks.
Interestingly enough, only a day after I discovered my C-, ABC News did a 20/20 segment that was a scathing report in which they depicted the BBB as having become nothing more than a scam that won’t give you a good grade unless you pay several hundred dollars to become a member. They gave examples of businesses that are known for customer service and even documented a group of businessmen who posed as a fictional terrorist group named “Hamas” that was not only listed by the BBB, but given a grade of “A-” after paying their fee to become a member. Even world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck has received an “F” rating from the BBB because he will not buy into the BBB’s attempt to extort a membership fee from honest and reputable businesses… and nor will I.
The real killer was a virtual confession by BBB CEO Kevin Sanders, who according to ABC News, admits “Accreditation affects your grade.”
Clark, I would be more than grateful if you would address this on your show. The BBB is no longer what it once was, cannot be trusted to give fair and accurate portrayals of companies, and is fraudulently portraying itself as offering trustworthy and unbiased reviews of companies. There are many examples on the web of the BBB ruining the reputation of small businesses and honest businesspeople for no reason other than to perpetuate its own greed. At the very least, please stop using them as a resource for consumer information on your show, for as this scandal continues to grow even your own stellar reputation may be negatively influenced by your endorsement of such a questionable and untrustworthy source.
I have absolutely no argument that the world needs an accurate, fair and unbiased resource that gives consumers the information they need to make educated choices. Unfortunately, greed has firmly established that the Better Business Bureau is NOT that resource.
Needless to say, it concerns me greatly that so many people are unaware of what the BBB has become and how useless its greed has made it as a reliable resource for consumer information.
Since I wrote the above I have discovered that Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal has fired off an official demand letter to the national headquarters of the Better Business Bureau in which he has demanded that the BBB cease to use its grading system, which he states is “potentially harmful and misleading” to consumers.
I urge you to watch the 20/20 segment if you haven’t seen it already. I’m betting that it’s not likely you will have ever felt so deceived by a business you certainly should have been able to think of as beyond reproach. I also urge you to sign BBB Roundup’s online petition to “Eliminate the Better Business Bureau’s Double Standards In Grading Businesses.”
I will of course keep you updated if I receive any sort of action on the part of Clark Howard.
Now tell me… is it just me, or has our entire society actually turned into pond scum? Maybe it’s just because the internet makes it easy for people who are already so inclined to actually become pond scum. Who knows? All I know is that my faith in the human race surely has diminished greatly over the last few years. Is nobody taught morals and the value of integrity anymore? Surely it’s not possible that everyone was subjected to really bad parenting, eh?
Filed under: Angst