The Better Business Bureau, also known as the BBB, is a nonprofit organization involved in consumer advocacy since 1912. American consumers have trusted the BBB for decades as a source of valuable information about companies of all sizes. However, many consumers misunderstand what the BBB is and how it functions. Here are the most important things you need to know about this organization.
1. It’s Independent Structure
Though the BBB is an umbrella organization operating as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, daily operations are carried out by 112 independently incorporated organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada. That means there is no central BBB office exercising control. Each individual corporation oversees its own operations within its geographic jurisdiction, including operating local offices in cities and counties.
2. The BBB Has No Legal Authority
The BBB is nothing more than a well-organized consumer advocacy group. It has no legal authority to establish law or regulation, nor does it have the authority to enforce any laws. Consumers can file complaints with the BBB, which, in most cases, will result in the organization attempting to broker a solution. However, if the company in question does not wish to cooperate, there is nothing the BBB can do about it. Enforcement of consumer law is the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and various state and local government agencies
3. Participation Is Voluntary
It is not uncommon to look up a business on the BBB website only to find they do not have a grade. That’s because the BBB can only grade those companies and organizations willing to participate. Moreover, because the BBB has no legal authority, participation is voluntary. Also understand that the BBB has to be very careful about collecting and publishing information regarding nonparticipating businesses and organizations.
Now that you know more about the BBB and how it operates, we encourage you to use their services as you see fit. Your local BBB website is a great resource for locating businesses and organizations with good reputations, as well as settling complaints involving program participants.