Ø business start date and general background information. This tells you how long the firm has been around, its nature of business, and any available history on the principals’ previous business ownership. If a firm declines to provide basic background information, this is noted in the report;
Ø summary of firm’s complaint history and responsiveness to complaints. BBB reports will list the number, type (e.g. repair, delivery, or product quality) and closure of complaints (e.g. resolved, unanswered by the company, or unresolved) within a 3-year period. Reports will also indicate if there are any patterns of serious complaints or failure to respond adequately to complaints filed. (See explanation below concerning “satisfactory” and “unsatisfactory” designations);
Ø the existence of serious BBB concerns about a firm’s advertising practices;
Ø any governmental action known to the BBB which involves the firm’s marketplace practices:
Ø special business practices. If there are any important or unusual aspects of the firm's advertising or selling practices that may help you understand the company or its offer(s), these will be reported;
Ø satisfactory/unsatisfactory designations. In many instances, BBB reports will state that a firm has a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” record with the BBB.
If a firm receives a “satisfactory” designation, this means it has been in business for at least one year, and has voluntarily provided the BBB with all requested information about the business and its product or service. If any complaints have been received involving the firm, they have been routine in number and nature for that industry, and responded to in a professional and responsible manner. In addition, the BBB has a clear understanding of the nature of the company’s business, and has no concerns about the firm’s offerings or its industry.
In addition, a firm receiving a “satisfactory” designation has not been the subject of major law enforcement actions which raise concerns about the firm's marketplace integrity. If the firm has been contacted by the BBB concerning its advertising or selling claims, it has modified or substantiated its practices to the BBB’s satisfaction.
An “unsatisfactory” designation is given to firms that fail to respond to two or more complaints, answer complaints inadequately in a large number of cases, have a pattern of complaints of a serious nature, fail to eliminate the underlying causes of complaints, or fail to substantiate or modify questionable advertising or selling claims. An “unsatisfactory” designation is also given to firms that fail to participate in BBB arbitration or to honor an arbitrator’s decision after promising to do so. If a firm does not clearly fall into the satisfactory or unsatisfactory categories, no designation will be given.
In appropriate cases, the BBB report may describe the nature of a firm’s product or services, or explain specific promotions which may be confusing to consumers. If a firm is a BBB Accredited Business, or participates in the BBB Online program, that is reported as well.
BBB reports are generally based on file contents over the previous three years, and are not intended to endorse or disapprove of any firm. Callers must draw their own conclusions from the information presented.
Reports on Charities
Each year, Americans donate hundreds of billions of dollars to charities. Smart donors want to make sure that their charitable gift dollars are used wisely and responsibly. They also want to avoid those scam artists and phony charities that prey on people's generosity.
The Council of Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) evaluates nationally-soliciting charities based on 20 standards designed in cooperation with charities and corporate donors. Locally, the Cleveland BBB’s 20 standards mirror those of WGA, and are used to evaluate locally-based organizations.
Important considerations examined involve Public Accountability, the organization’s Use of Funds, Solicitations and Informational Materials, Fund Raising Practices, and Governance.
Before you or your company donate to an organization, obtain and review its BBB Report. Call (216) 241-7678, Reports can also be obtained through the Internet at www.bbb.org.
We encourage you give, but give wisely.
BBB Dispute Resolution Programs
The Better Business Bureau receives thousands of customer complaints every year. This is an important function because it gives the BBB the opportunity to help resolve problems between businesses and their customers and brings customer concerns to the company’s attention. Each complaint also provides valuable data to strengthen the BBB’s reports on area firms.
We encourage consumers to attempt to resolve any complaint with the merchant or organization before seeking the BBB’s assistance. Complaints to the BBB generally must be in writing and should clearly articulate the problem and resolution sought. Copies of relevant documents should be enclosed. (Tips on how to complain effectively, including how to compose a letter of complaint, are found on page 21). The BBB will not process complaints which contain inappropriate language or are otherwise considered offensive.
To file a complaint, you can contact the BBB to send a letter of complaint to our offices, contact us to request a complaint form, or file online at www.ClevelandBBB.org. Once received at the BBB, your complaint will be submitted to the company for its response. Complaints involving companies located within the BBB’s 5-county service area, (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties), are handled by our local BBB. Complaints concerning companies located outside our service area are forwarded to the BBB that serves that city.
If the nature of your dispute involves issues that are outside the BBB’s range of authority, we can refer you to another source for assistance. Complaints that must be referred elsewhere include:
Ø Those concerning the quality of professional services (e.g., medical or legal malpractice);
Ø Employer/employee disputes;
Ø Matters that are in litigation or have already be settled through the courts;
Ø Those involving damages other than simple reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., punitive or consequential damages).
Most complaints are processed by forwarding them to the firm in question and requesting a response. The company's reply is then mailed to the complainant. Any consumer comment concerning the company's position is sent to the firm for its further input. BBB employees may personally intervene in cases where their involvement is considered helpful.
If a firm does not respond to a complaint filed with the BBB, or a firm's response is considered inadequate and does not satisfy the customer, the complainant is advised of other avenues to pursue if desired.
The BBB complaint handling process can take up to 4 weeks, especially if the company is unresponsive. Most complaints take far less time to handle.
The Better Business Bureau has a variety of dispute resolution programs to serve area consumers and businesses.
BBB Accredited Business Complaints - The BBB attempts to aid in resolution of all consumer complaints. Because BBB Accredited Businesses share our mission of promoting responsible, ethical practices in the marketplace, they are committed to working with us to fairly resolve disputes. That means that together the BBB and its accredited businesses will work for creative and equitable ways to resolve problems that may arise. Accredited businesses agree to participate in a special, meaningful dispute resolution process which includes binding arbitration, for any unresolved matters.
BBB AUTO LINE - The Better Business Bureau’s AUTO LINE Program is an impartial and informal forum designed to mediate, and if necessary, arbitrate disputes which may arise between auto manufacturers and their customers.
If attempts to resolve a dispute through the manufacturer have proven unsatisfactory, BBB AUTO LINE is an alternative. AUTO LINE has also been certified by the State of Ohio as a "lemon law" arbitration mechanism for several of the listed manufacturers or divisions (indicated by an asterisk*).
The following manufacturers/divisions participate in BBB AUTO LINE:
Acura, AM General, Audi, Buidk, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Honda, Hyundai, IMS, Infinigi, Isuzu, Kia, Lincoln, Lotus, Land, Mazda, Mercury, Nissan, Saab, Saturn, Volkswagen.
Decisions rendered by arbitrators are binding on the manufacturer, but not on the customer, who can pursue other available avenues if desired. The AUTO LINE process is fast, fair and free to customers. For more details or to file a claim, call the BBB Anytime Line, (216) 241-7678, or
1-800-955-5100 or visit.bbb.org.
BBB Mediation - The Better Business Bureau offers formal mediation services to resolve customer/merchant disagreements. In this process, a trained mediator helps the parties fashion their own solution to a dispute, and does not issue a decision of any sort.
BBB Arbitration - In many instances where formal or informal mediation efforts have not resolved differences, the BBB can, with the parties’ consent, convene an arbitration hearing. In an informal setting, a trained arbitrator chosen by the parties listens to evidence submitted or requested by the parties, and renders a decision.
Depending on the rules governing the particular hearing, an arbitrator’s decision is binding on one or both parties. All parties are familiarized with arbitration ground rules early in the process.