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"99.2% of all businesses fail online. I will make sure yours succeeds!"

- Laurence Samuels, Owner of Broadstone Media

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The Truth about the BBB – Avoid!

June 7, 2012

bbb1 150x150 The Truth about the BBB   Avoid!Ahhh the Better Business Bureau. An American tradition seeped in history. Did you know they just celebrated their hundred year anniversary?

Before I knew better, seeing the BBB logo next to a business used to fill me with me warm and fuzzy feelings. Now I feel differently..

I mean you could always trust the BBB to steer you in the right direction when choosing companies to work with correct?

Apprarently not.

Did you know the Better Business Bureau is a privately held company that actually franchises out to local chapters?

Many of my new clients proudly tell me how they are members of their local BBB. Some have been excused for thinking the BBB is connected to their local government.

I hate to burst your bubble but the BBB is nothing more than a “pay to play” organization that has had the general public fooled for decades.

I can remember the phone call well. One morning I was sitting in my office when I received a phone call from Angie at my local BBB office. The conversation went something like this:

BBB: “Good morning Mr. Samuels, you have been officially chosen to join the Orlando chapter of the Better Business Bureau”

ME: “Wow that’s quite an honor, why was I chosen?”

BBB: “Your business has shown to have a long standing relationship with your local community and we have decided to offer you the opportunity of becoming an accredited BBB Gold business. This gold standard means you will have a A rating with us and you will be able to use our logo in all your advertising increasing consumer confidence and overall sales.”

ME: “Sounds great, I’m always looking to increase awareness”.

BBB: “Wonderful, let’s get started. I just need to ask you a few questions in our application process. I will then review your application personally and providing you are approved, you will be our newest BBB member.”

ME: “Let’s get this party started then” (I always like a bit of joke on the phone)

BBB: “Mr. Samuels, can you tell me the address of your business?”

ME: “I work from home, is that ok?”

BBB: “Well normally accredited BBB business have an office address or business location but I will take this into account during the application process”.

ME. “Excellent, my address is….”

BBB. “And how long have you been in business for?”

ME: “Well I started my new business a 7 months ago”

BBB: “In order to be a member of the BBB you will need to have been incorporated for 1 calendar year, but again, I can take this into account during your application process”.

LS: But you said the reason I was chosen for inclusion was because of my long standing relationship with my local community?”

BBB: “Oh don’t worry Mr. Samuels, on to the next question, how many employees do you have?”

(By now my suspicion levels were sky high)

LS: “Why do you ask?” (I was acutally a little embarrassed to reveal I was a 1 man operation)

BBB: “Well the yearly BBB fee depends on the amount of employees you have”.

LS: “So if I have more employees the fees are more or less?”

BBB: “The more employees you have the more the yearly membership fees are. For 1 employee the fee is usually $699 per year but today only we are having a sale reducing your fee to only $499 per year!”.

LS: “And what is the purpose of the yearly fee?”

BBB: “It’s to be included on our website and for use of the BBB logo”.

LS: “So what you’re telling me is that I’m paying $499 to be listed on your website and for logo usage?”.

BBB: “Well Mr. Samuels, the BBB has been around since 1912 and is world renowned so there are many other benefits of membership.”

LS: “Such as?”

BBB: “You will also receive our monthly newsletter filled with usefull business information”.

LS: “Sounds like an expensive newsletter. If my business adds 2 more employees, what is the fee increase?”

BBB: “In the event of additional employees, the fees would increase per employee. For example if you were to add 2 employees your yearly membership fee would increase to $999″.

LS: “Ouch, expansion is costly eh?”.

BBB: “Just think of it as an investment in your growing business. So Mr. Samuels, after reviewing your application, I’m delighted to tell you you have been approved! How would you like to pay for your yearly membership fee of $499 today?”.

LS: “Angie you are most kind but things aren’t working out between us. I think I will pass but I wish you the best of luck with your growing business.”

And that was the end of my enthusiasm with the BBB. To be honest the whole scenario felt like a low level shakedown based purely on monetary gain.

It was the quick “application approval” process and lack of knowledge concerning what type of business I was operating that really put me off.

Based on my research, I cannot recommend any business joining the Better Business Bureau. They are the brick and mortar version of a website seal which are nothing more than brilliant marketing schemes designed to part business with their money while providing nothing more than a logo and false feeling of safety.




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