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Understanding the Better Business Bureaus
Old 06-09-2015, 12:24 PM   #1
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Understanding the Better Business Bureaus

Have you ever tried to file a complaint?

After being ripped off for a small amount... $36, after an online purchase, I decided to complain.
In order to complain, you must first sign up, which consists of a 60 item list of yes no's... then a review of your personal information... ie. "are you a veteran?"
"age" "education", "ethnicity" addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc, etc...
Next... four pages of questions about the order, how placed how paid, date of order, date of receipt, date of phone calls to customer service, efforts made to resolve conflict, have a lawyer?, subject to binding arbitration... and on and on, ..... and on. Any line that is not filled in, such as the zip code of the company or the full name of the person you talked to, brings up a red warning, and you cannot complete unless the line is filled in.

Yes... I know this sounds silly, but it gets even worse. My dogged sense of ethics caused me to go thru completing the entire form which took an hour.
(my new hobby... afflict the afflictors)...

In the end, I have written off the small $ amount... simple, and unimportant, but along the way, I have found out that the Better Business Bureaus may not be there for the customer, but for the Businesses.

The difficulty of filing complaints accounts for the reason you won't find many negative marks on a company who participates as a BBB member.

Here's the website for the BBB I complained to. I find that almost all the states or areas with BBB websites use essential the same odious format for complaints.
Coast to Coast Fulfillment Review - SHIPPING SERVICES in West Greenwich, RI - BBB Business Review - BBB serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont

And so... just one guy's thinking on the subject of BBB's. YMMV.

Have you ever complained? With any results?
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Old 06-09-2015, 01:05 PM   #2
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I think a lot of people think the BBB is a joke. I remembered an article I read a while ago and here is a link.

Why the Better Business Bureau Should Give Itself a Bad Grade | TIME.com

"The organization’s customers are businesses, not taxpayers or consumers"
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Old 06-09-2015, 01:21 PM   #3
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BBB charges member businesses a membership fee to get listed. Unfortunately, being a customer friendly business is not a requirement to be a member.
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Old 06-09-2015, 03:24 PM   #4
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Received this confirmation of my complaint... will see where it goes from here...
Quote:
This notification is in regards to your complaint submitted on 6/9/2015 12:43:02 PM against Coast to Coast Fulfillment. Complaint # 10661446.

Your complaint, including contact information, has been sent to the business for their response. Anonymous complaints can not be processed by BBB. Once the business responds to BBB, we will notify you via email and provide you with the response.

The text of your complaint may be publicly posted on BBBs Web site (BBB reserves the right to not post in accordance with BBB policy). Please do not include any personally identifiable information when you tell us about your problem or in your desired outcome. By submitting your complaint, you are representing that it is a truthful account of your experience with the business. BBB may edit your complaint to protect privacy rights and to remove inappropriate language.

Thank you.
Better Business Bureau
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Old 06-09-2015, 03:56 PM   #5
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Thanks for the BBB info on filing a complaint. I believe that explains why I seldom find anything about businesses on the BBB web site.

In a similar fashion I recently had my car ransacked one night. They stole a number of items, but not a huge amount of $$ worth. I thought about filing a police report and found out I could do that online. I started the process and by the time I got to the 3rd screen they wanted my birth date, drivers license #, phone, address, e-mail, and it goes on and on yet nothing about the crime I experienced at that point. I closed the web page and said screw it! Now I know the crime statistics I see are probably much lower than actual events because of the hassle factor in reporting. If it was a large enough amount to involve insurance I would probably have to go through the police reporting process so thankfully it was not.
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Old 06-09-2015, 04:33 PM   #6
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Here's a story of my BBB interaction. Years ago I had my exhaust system replaced by a local muffler shop. He said he didn't have an exact fit, but he would easily bend pipe to fit. He installed the new exhaust system, but I found my car would hit the exhaust system with any movement in the car's suspension. I took it back, and he claimed the car's suspension should not allow movement(!). He was completely inept, or perhaps thought I was stupid. Despite multiple return visits, he couldn't fix it. I finally took it to another shop, who fixed it. I filed a BBB complaint. Mr Inept refunded money. Fast forward several years later- I got a call from an attorney, representing a competitor of the inept muffler shop. His client was being sued by Mr Inept, claiming libel because the competitor was telling customers that Mr Inept was incompetent. He asked if I would be willing to testify of my experience with him, which he got from the BBB. Absolutely, I said, I would gladly share my experience! But I never heard anything more of the lawsuit. Apparently it was resolved without my assistance. So there can be some good from filing a BBB complaint, it seems.
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Old 06-09-2015, 04:49 PM   #7
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Well then, if you DO see a lot of complaints on a business, resolved or not, you know the people really had to work to get them listed. Probably a good idea to check a different biz.
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Old 06-09-2015, 05:23 PM   #8
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I tried to file a complaint years ago and due to the onerous process as described above, gave up. I do check firms out with the BBB figuring if they have complaints, it's time to move on to another business.
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Old 06-10-2015, 06:09 AM   #9
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One of the realities of our modern age is that consumers can recklessly damage businesses with impunity to a much greater extent than businesses can recklessly defraud or harm consumers with impunity. The result is that, unmoderated, any venue (even one's own trusted friends) from which negative information about businesses flow is potentially a source of useless input. Groups like BBB, CR, Angie's List, etc., try to add accountability to complaints, trying to make it hard to pollute the information source (sources that many people rely on for legitimate insights) with unsubstantiated whining or expressions of buyers' remorse. I, for one, am very grateful that these more superior venues exist and are kept clean and worthwhile by the good works of those who filter out the pointless flames from the legitimate grievances.
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Old 06-10-2015, 08:50 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by bUU View Post
One of the realities of our modern age is that consumers can recklessly damage businesses with impunity to a much greater extent than businesses can recklessly defraud or harm consumers with impunity. The result is that, unmoderated, any venue (even one's own trusted friends) from which negative information about businesses flow is potentially a source of useless input. Groups like BBB, CR, Angie's List, etc., try to add accountability to complaints, trying to make it hard to pollute the information source (sources that many people rely on for legitimate insights) with unsubstantiated whining or expressions of buyers' remorse. I, for one, am very grateful that these more superior venues exist and are kept clean and worthwhile by the good works of those who filter out the pointless flames from the legitimate grievances.
While I would generally agree with your assessment, aside from the negative comments... flames.. from competitors, when a customer is willing to take the time to complain... it usually means he/she has been hurt to some extent. When responses show up on the ratings websites, hopefully, potential customers will be interested enough to sort through and make decisions on their own.

An example of "flames" comes in sites like Yelp... in our case, reviews about my favorite Chinese restaurant. Despite mostly 4 or 5 star reviews... there are a number of obviously vicious posts... dirty, cold food, bad service, roaches on wife's skirt, sick for three days, and "has been shut down by health department"... The interesting and funny part about those reviews, is they usually start with... "I went there once but now I go to xxx (competitor) which is really grate" .. and like that.

I do agree that almost all of the rating sites on the web are uncontrolled, even though some try. In those cases, the website offers a response from the business to counter the negative reviews. Problem is that this becomes degraded, as those businesses that have been vilified, post standard replies, like..."Sorry for your experience... Please send an email with details to XXX@XXX so our customer service can help resolve your issue."

Overall, no easy solution. Major corporations like Phone and Cable suppliers, and airlines tend to receive more balanced and evenhanded reviews from the major media. I wonder where this goes from here. Seems as if people have a tendency to go for the extremes.

On a more hopeful note, I have been following some studies on customer satisfaction, and it appears that one of the major changes that business may be considering, is to move away from voice mail... citing an analysis that this eventually costs more than text or operator manned contact sites. (Phone or Chat).

For us old timers, it's no longer easy to wade through the flood of advertising and ultra-smart marketing techniques. We've just marked the buying mistakes down as a regular part of the cost of living.
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Old 06-10-2015, 09:08 AM   #11
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While I would generally agree with your assessment, aside from the negative comments... flames.. from competitors, when a customer is willing to take the time to complain... it usually means he/she has been hurt to some extent.
Of course. The question is whether that was due to maliciousness on the part of the business toward that one customer or instead due to unreasonable expectations that customer fostered with regard to the treatment they'd receive. A ridiculously large number of people were taught growing up that the squeaky wheel gets the grease and that's led to a pervasive, albeit not ubiquitous, attitude of entitlement among consumers. That pollutes the environment within which all of us consumers must operate within.

There are indeed situations where complaints are legitimate which makes the prevalence of illegitimate complaints all the more egregious since the prevalence of illegitimate complaints often makes the addressing of legitimate complaints more of a travail. There are specific circumstances where formerly-generous consumer-facing businesses had no reasonable choice but to degrade the quality of their customer service because customers were abusing their generosity solely because it was being billed, by friends and acquaintances, but also even in the media, as a means of getting a bonus.

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When responses show up on the ratings websites, hopefully, potential customers will be interested enough to sort through and make decisions on their own.
It is not always very easy to tell when someone is prevaricating when they're speaking to you face to face. It is practically impossible to do so over the Internet.

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An example of "flames" comes in sites like Yelp... in our case, reviews about my favorite Chinese restaurant. Despite mostly 4 or 5 star reviews... there are a number of obviously vicious posts...
Those are posted by fools. Really smart, angry people know that to get the kind of response they want from their comments they need to make them seem rational, measured, and believable. I've seen the results of too many investigations into online complaints made against my former clients legitimately result in closure without action to believe words typed into a website just because someone who claimed to be a customer typed them. The validation process by someone other than the complainant is essential.

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I do agree that almost all of the rating sites on the web are uncontrolled, even though some try. In those cases, the website offers a response from the business to counter the negative reviews.
You cannot unring a bell, and the general attitude of the many American consumers is such that such response mechanisms are a no-win situation for the "defendant" ... so much so that, as you pointed out:
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Problem is that this becomes degraded, as those businesses that have been vilified post standard replies, like..."Sorry for your experience... Please send an email with details to XXX@XXX so our customer service can help resolve your issue."
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Seems as if people have a tendency to go for the extremes.
Precisely. It seems people providing feedback want to prevail, and so they craft their input to feedback systems with a mind toward what input will bring about the desired output, rather than providing input applicable and appropriate to that which was solicited.

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On a more hopeful note, I have been following some studies on customer satisfaction, and it appears that one of the major changes that business may be taking, is to move away from voice mail... citing an analysis that this eventually costs more than text or operator manned contact sites. (Phone or Chat).
It will be interesting to see how the numbers work out, i.e., how many companies eliminating voicemail feedback switch to text-only feedback versus switch to live operator feedback. I fear that text-only will prevail.
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:05 AM   #12
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Agree 100% that accuracy in any process of review is key. IMHO- businesses (or individuals) have the right to some protection against fraudulent bad complaints. Fortunately, most whining trolls are fairly obvious (like 1st post bad mouths a business and praises a competitor). HOWEVER I also agree that some review firms go so far beyond any reasonable need to verify a complaint or review that it becomes harassment of the pour soul who has a legitimate beef. IMHO- BBB and AL (at least under their old format) fit into that category.
If I have a problem I always try to deal (politely) with the business involved. Most make reasonable effort to reach a solution. Little things I blow off. Bigger things I have no problem reporting to gov't consumer protection agency (usu branch of state atty general's office). Figure even if I get nothing, at least my complaint is on file and AG my eventually do something if they get a pattern of complaints against same firm(s). And don't forget about small claims court, although that option varies a lot by your location (state, county, etc.).
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:21 AM   #13
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We tried to make a complaint about a contractor on BBB. Our issue was a loss of 10's of thousands of dollars.... so not trivial. Not only did BBB make it hard to complain, their response once we submitted the claim (and documentation) was to contact the contractor, who said "I didn't do it". That's it... he says he's innocent, despite the documentation, our complaint is never published.

Fortunately, the state contractors license board (which has an even more onerous process for filing and vetting the complaint) did an investigation and referred it to the state attorney general.

I considered angie's list - but since I'm not a member, I didn't want to have to join just to complain.
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Old 06-10-2015, 11:05 AM   #14
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The BBB is an advertising company, just like Angie's list or the old " Better Housekeeping ". Allegiance is to their customers, the businesses who advertise with them , in exchange for being able to use the BBB member logo. Has no value to the consumer IMO.
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Old 06-11-2015, 02:23 AM   #15
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I once filed a complaint with the BBB about a mortgage loan broker who described the documentation required. Once he had my application fee and documentation, he said he did not realize I was self-employed and now required 3 years of my tax returns. I refused and demanded a refund of my fee, since he changed the documentation requirements. He refused to refund me, and refused to process my loan application. After filing a complaint, and the BBB forwarding a copy of my complaint, he promptly sent me back a full refund in exchange for my withdrawing my complaint. It was not too arduous to file a complaint, and it got me a response.
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Old 06-11-2015, 04:28 AM   #16
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And it works because good companies want to police bad companies.
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Old 06-11-2015, 06:58 AM   #17
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And it works because good companies want to police bad companies.
I agree with the premise in general, but many report that the BBB (specifically) isn't working for them.

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Old 06-11-2015, 07:00 AM   #18
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Which brings us back to my earlier point about unfounded expectations.
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Old 06-11-2015, 08:18 AM   #19
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If I have a problem I always try to deal (politely) with the business involved. Most make reasonable effort to reach a solution. Little things I blow off. Bigger things I have no problem reporting to gov't consumer protection agency (usu branch of state atty general's office). Figure even if I get nothing, at least my complaint is on file and AG my eventually do something if they get a pattern of complaints against same firm(s). And don't forget about small claims court, although that option varies a lot by your location (state, county, etc.).
You're the type of customer business owners like, and will gladly do what we can to convince ourselves that "The customer is always right." Even in the event that you're not. A customer that complains and can then be satisfied frequently becomes a fairly loyal customer. Many companies can do a decent job, but how they recover from a blunder really says something about them.

As someone who has a BBB account for our business, I'll say that it doesn't really favor the business. We rarely have complaints (maybe one every few years), but I'd say it's more for the customer than the business: it definitely gets our business' attention when we get a complaint, so we do actually want to resolve it. I don't want to pay the $600 a year or whatever to be a member, but it's just one of those things customers want to see for some reason. As a good business, I'm glad that bad businesses can eventually get recognized as such. We sometimes wish we could turn in other businesses as dishonest, but we just have to encourage customers to advocate on their own behalf.

Side note: As a company with a very good reputation who gets a fair amount of referrals from online review sources, I still really dislike them. Why people will write a bad review without trying to contact the company first I will never understand. Also, if your review reads, "This company provided excellent service, and was hands down better than any other company in the same industry that I've ever used--but they charged me more than the others: F," what the heck is that? You think we're then going to try to appease someone with unrealistic expectations? No. You're not someone we'll want to serve in the future. As a business, if the only complaints we read are people saying we're too expensive, we're going to be pretty confident we're on the right track but we'll still check to make sure the price is justifiable. If you read reviews about things beyond price that's more of a cause for concern. And sometimes, just sometimes, if a business tells you it's going to be a really high price for something, it's because they can tell just from your demeanor that they don't want you to become their customer--but we can't usually tell that to your face. It's easier to price ourselves out of the market. We don't actually want to please everyone, it's not good for business. Some people will never be pleased so let them be another business' burden.
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Old 06-11-2015, 08:59 AM   #20
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Side note: As a company with a very good reputation who gets a fair amount of referrals from online review sources, I still really dislike them. Why people will write a bad review without trying to contact the company first I will never understand.
Sadly, sometimes the product just sucks.

I wrote a bad review (2 stars) for a computer product on Amazon. The company went crazy and started pummeling with emails to "help." I went through a whole exchange of the product, yet it still sucked.

Their service was excellent -- aside from the fact that their emails were darn aggressive in nature. But the product was not a good product.

Sorry. I was pretty confident right away that it was a design issue that could not be fixed, so this is why I did not contact them first. Sometimes it simply is not worth my time. I spent a LOT of time "helping" these guys with the product return, uninstalling from my computer, reinstalling, etc. All. For. Nothing.
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