Better Business Bureau more reliable than criticism reveals

An article in the latest issue of The Journal of Consumer Affairs uses an extensive national-level analysis of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to find that the BBB can and often does provide potentially valuable information to consumers seeking to do business with local companies. Author Dennis Garrett finds that three of the most common critiques of the BBB (that only a small percentage of companies had reports, that reports do not contain enough information, and that the BBB is biased toward member companies) are overstated.

The study found that the BBB had reliability reports for more than sixty-nine percent of auto dealers, fifty-eight percent of movers, and forty-three percent of roofers-- three of the most requested industries in company reports. Most reports contained the number of prior complaints lodged against a company, the types of complaints, and how the company responded to these complaints. Dr. Garrett's research did not find any significant difference between the numbers of complaints disclosed for a business that was a BBB member as compared to a non-member but notes that alleged preferential treatment is still open for further scrutiny. The greatest distinction was in the manner in which companies resolved their complaints. Nonmember companies were more likely to have their complaints classified into undesirable categories such as unanswered or disputed resolution. Member companies were more likely to have their complaints classified as resolved or making a good faith effort to.


This study is published in the April issue of The Journal of Consumer Affairs. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact [email protected]

The purpose of The Journal of Consumer Affairs is to serve as a publication outlet for scholarly research, analysis and informed opinions advancing the consumer interest. The journal features analysis of individual, business, and/or government decisions and actions that can affect or influence the interests of consumers in the marketplace. It is published on behalf of the American Council on Consumer Interests.

Dennis Garrett is a professor of marketing at Marquette University. He has been published in numerous books and journals. Dr. Garrett is available for media questions and interviews.

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with 665 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 800 journals and, to date, has published more than 6,000 books, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
    Published on All rights reserved.