Free Services of BBB, Part 1

Did you know that BBB is a non-profit organization that offers most of its services for free? People sometimes think that BBB is a government agency or maybe even a business, but we are a non-profit whose goal is to make the world a better place by creating greater trust in the marketplace. Pretty cool, huh?

BBB is almost entirely funded through our business accreditation fees – allowing businesses to display their accreditation and show their commitment to building trust in the marketplace. Those funds allow us to provide a wide range of services to both consumers and businesses.

BBB Business Directory

These days, our business directory is primarily online, and allows users – absolutely anyone who can get on the Internet – to search our list of companies by name or category. This way, they can quickly find out if a company is accredited and what its BBB rating might be, among other things. Companies are included in our directory whether they are accredited or not, so it really is a fantastic source of information about most businesses.

It is important to note, by the way, that the directory is not just online. From the beginning, consumers have been able to call in and check out a particular business, or ask for a list of Accredited Businesses in a specific category (asking for a list of BBB accredited plumbers, for example). This service is still available and people use it all the time.

BBB Guide to Trustworthy Businesses

In Mid-Missouri, we publish the annual BBB Guide to Trustworthy Businesses, a tabloid with a complete listing of all BBB Accredited Businesses in our region. The guide is distributed through the newspaper with the largest circulation in the region, the Columbia Daily Tribune, and at coffee shops, restaurants, and other businesses. It is a great resource for checking the accreditation of over 500 businesses

BBB Complaint Reporting

Perhaps BBB is best known for our complaint process, allowing consumers to register a formal complaint about a business they feel has not met the commitment they have made with their product or service. Those complaints and how they are resolved – or not resolved – are incorporated into the company’s business record, available through the BBB directory, and other consumers can see how the company handles complaints.

BBB Complaint Resolution

Being able to register a complaint to a neutral third party is great, but BBB service gets even better, acting as a neutral third-party that can help resolve the complaint. Often, complaints are resolved pretty quickly; once a company knows about a complaint, they frequently work with the consumer to address the situation. Many times, everyone is able move forward, feeling good about the way things worked out; sometimes, BBB looks at the situation and decides that the business has done everything that could reasonably be expected of them, even if the consumer is not 100% satisfied at the end.

Sometimes, settling the complaint requires more. Without BBB, these cases often end up in court. BBB, though, offers free mediation, and even legally binding arbitration – services that typically cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Next week, we will learn about even more free services offered by Mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau.

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