I worked for a guy for 6 years as his construction foreman when he closed his business in April of 2005 after I quit because he was stealing money and lying to customers. I then started the same type of business in March of 2005 and used the same business name since all of his customers knew me more than him because I was the one actually showing up to do the work. That way, if any of those old customers needed anything in the future, they could find me and get the same quality.
After being in business for about 5 months, I was contacted by the local Better Business Bureau and asked to renew my membership. I explained that I didn't have one to renew since my company was brand new. The nice lady then said that I am supposed to wait one (1) year before being eligible for membership, BUT she would go ahead and let me sign up since I had a business NAME that was in good standing. I figured, as most do, that it would look good to be a member, so I agreed. She informed me that, as a member, I had to agree to arbitrate any complaints that couldn't be resolved. I agreed because I know I'm the (apparently rare) kind of person that will do whatever is nessecary to please the customer, and if I don't make my customers happy, I will fail in business.
In April of 2006, I was contacted by my local BBB informing me of a complaint. It was from a lady who said my ex-boss took $1,780.00 from her as a down payment before he closed his business and that she could not find him. Also, my ex-boss, who signed a contract with this lady, had been typing my name next to his on his contracts and was giving people the impression that he had a partner. A set-up to be sure.
I followed ALL of the rules of the BBB and responded the very next day to this complaint. I informed them that this lady was NOT my customer and that I had no knowledge of the stolen money since it was handed to my ex-boss and NOT in my presence. The first BBB rep I spoke with told me that this was a case of mistaken identity and should be wrapped up with no problem. Well, I never heard from that rep again but rather from someone else who I now believe to be a personal friend of the complainant. This new rep argued and fought with me profusely about whether I was liable for this crime or not.
After many timely responses by me and insurmountable proof that I was not a partner in that old business and never met the consumer or had ever seen her money, not to mention many unanswered quieries about what have they all done to find the real criminal, the BBB offered arbitration and reminded me that, as a member, I had to accept if the consumer agreed. Well, I formally did not accept because this complaint was NOT about me! They then closed the case as UNRESOLVED in June 2006.
In August, for reasons they won't explain, the BBB reopened the case and sent me a threatening offer to arbitrate and stated that I never responded to this case past the initial response (which I can prove is false). Once again, I promptly responded, reminded them why I declined to arbitrate, asked them to return my membership dues since they admitted that I was never supposed to be a member, asked them to correct my online file which stated an incorrect business start date, and I addressed their threat to report on my file that I did not participate in the resolution of the case. They ignored every question I ever asked and every request I made to report correct information on their public forum (website).
Now, late August 2006, they send a letter again closing the case as UNRESOLVED and updated my online file with even more incorrect information and with the statement, " On August 17, 2006 this company's membership in the BBB was revoked by the BBB's Board of Directors due to failure to make a good faith effort to resolve a complaint." and, "Contract Issues - Unresolved - 1. Company failed to arbitrate the complaint in accordance with their BBB agreement."
I agree that the BBB is no real help to consumers, but they have reached a new low, in that, not only did they not help the consumer in this case by contacting the actual person that stole her money, but they are also attempting to take down an actual business that gave them money and is one of the very few truly ethical businesses of its type! I really believe this has been a witch hunt because the real thief is in hiding with nothing to lose (they have no leverage against him) and as a business they figure I have the money to hand over and something to lose (my reputation & future customers) if I don't. Everything this BBB rep has done in this case is questionable and against BBB guidelines and policies, which leaves me to think that she MUST be friends with the comsumer.
I want to warn consumers AND businesses to stay far away from the BBB.
U.S.A. STOP! ..before you think about using the Better Business Bureau (BBB)... CLICK HERE to see how other consumers were victimized by the BBB's false or misleading information. Don't be fooled! It has been reported, when there are thousands of complaints and other investigations underway by authorities, the BBB has no choice but to finally give an UNsatisfactory rating to a BBB member business that is paying the BBB big membership fees every year. When a business is reported that is NOT a BBB member, BBB files WILL more likely show an UNsatisfactory rating, then reportedly shake down that company to become a member of the BBB. One positive thing about the BBB is, either way, if a business has an unsatisfactory rating with the BBB, you can be sure, the business is bad. But what about all those BBB member businesses that had complaints filed against them? Consumers never get to hear about them. What about the BBB advertising to the public? Is this a false and misleading perception they are giving about ?consumer confidence? when dealing with a business? Click here to understand more of what consumers and business alike are saying about the BBB. You decide. ..Remember. The BBB membership is not earned, it's paid for!