I’ll get to why I quit the Better Business Bureau in a moment (skip ahead if you like). But first:
Why I signed-up with the Better Business Bureau
I suppose I should briefly explain why I signed-up with the Better Business Bureau in the first place. I signed-up in the fall of 2012. I thought being a member would do at least three things for me:
- show potential customers that I’m trustworthy
- help my search engine ranking (for example, with backlinks)
- provide a way for customers to leave reviews/ratings for me
Most of my business comes from referrals, and that’s where the trust comes from. For example, if I worked on Paula’s website and she referred Susan to me, Susan knows she can trust me because she trusts Paula, and Paula trusts me. So I don’t think, in my industry anyway, that being accredited with the Better Business Bureau helped from a trust standpoint.
2. Search Engine Ranking
If having a Better Business Bureau account and profile helped my search engine ranking, I didn’t notice. It certainly never showed-up in my analytics and no one ever told me that’s why they choose me over a competitor. So, again, in my industry (graphic design, website design, photography) I don’t think it was worth the $35/mo.
If someone were to do a google search for my business name, they might see my profile on the Better Business Bureau website on google and see ratings and reviews customers have left.
Although this is a nice feature, having reviews on the BBB’s website doesn’t help from an SEO position. (Google reviews is where you want your reviews to be if a business wants them to help with search rankings.) I don’t think I ever directly requested a customer to write a review about me on any website. I always tried to leave it up to them and I often provided links to the BBB website (or google) so they could leave any comments if they wanted to.
Why I quit the Better Business Bureau
I made the mistake recently of not researching a business before I started working for them. I didn’t know they were wanted by Interpol. After the rather extensive project was done, they made-up quite a story and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
1. Long story short, the bureau did nothing as I, time and time again, provided evidence refuting my former client’s claims. I spent several days putting together evidence that refuted the majority of their claims and the bureau did nothing. The bureau should have been paying attention and stopped the nonsense.
2. Not only did the bureau not stop the madness, they encouraged the criminals to arbitrate, wasting even more time. All that evidence I provided, pre-arbitration, was a waste of time and needed to be submitted again for the arbitration. Why? So I spent several more days putting my evidence together for the arbitration. Evidently it’s the bureau’s policy to not share evidence that was submitted pre-arbitration, but what a waste of time!
3. My former client failed to respond to the initial arbitration letter in time and the bureau closed the case. My former client responded after the case was closed, so the bureau re-opened it even though he was late in responding and the case was already closed. Now I don’t trust what the bureau does or says.
I get that the bureau is there to look out for the customer and not the business, but sometimes the customer is the criminal. I thought this was rather clear pre-arbitration.
4. I’m disappointed that the bureau hasn’t downgraded my former client’s rating or removed their accreditation. They agreed to a binding arbitration and hasn’t fulfilled that. This should be against the BBB Accreditation Standards.
I don’t trust the Better Business Bureau!
Update (February 14, 2017):
On January 13, 2017, I emailed our local Better Business Bureau branch to express my disappointment. One good thing is that they returned my email with a suggestion: contact the BBB at where my former client resides (Washington) and file an official complaint there.
I started that process on January 23. It’s February 14, and I finally received word that they (BBB Washington) is going to confront and review my former client and possible downgrade or remove their accreditation rating. I’ve been calling BBB Washington every few days (Jan 23, Jan 25, Feb 7, Feb 10, Feb 14) staying on top of this. Every time I called I was told they were looking into it or they needed to consult with someone else or they couldn’t find the paperwork. It was always something. I was amazed at how unorganized they were. It’s been just over 3 weeks and something is finally getting done!