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Better Business Bureau: What is the point?

June 18, 2011 at 1:18 a.m.


By Alan Bligh

I sometimes am asked, "What is the point of filing a complaint with BBB. What does BBB do to the business?"

Well, I explain that one common misconception about BBB is that we are not a government agency and, therefore, do not have the same authority as government agencies to take action against businesses.

However, what we can do with consumer complaints is report on consumers' experience and make that information part of a company's public BBB Business Review so that other consumers will be informed about the experience and the complaint. The fact that you filed a complaint may impact the business' BBB rating. We rate companies from A+ to F and most businesses want to maintain a good rating for all to see.

Last year we received more than 25,000 complaints and more than 83 percent of them were resolved.

All indications are that businesses are increasing their desire to solve the complaints they receive from BBB as shown by the resolution rate of 87 percent for May. And that is what this is all about-resolving issues.

Better Business Bureau is hearing from consumers who have lost money on offers they found on Craigslist advertising home exercise equipment at 50 percent off in some cases. They say that after paying for their exercise equipment with Green Dot MoneyPak gift cards, the merchandise they ordered was not delivered and the scammers dropped out of contact.

According to consumers and information in BBB files, these scammers are moving from Craigslist ad to Craigslist ad, website to website, making the same fraudulent offer. To avoid falling for these scams, consumers should be wary of websites or Craigslist advertisements linking to Websites where home exercise equipment is offered at steep discounts.

And another warning for cyber shoppers: if you are looking for designers' duds online, beware, there are plenty of fakes out there that can cost you big.

One site, called outletscentre.com advertised "real designer" shoes. The shoes are called Christian Louboutin, which normally sell for $1,500. So when this site said it was selling the high-end Parisian designer shoes for less than $200 a pair, it's not surprising shoppers jumped at the deal. The problem is when the shoes arrived, they weren't from France, they were clearly from China and looked fake.

The BBB says the best way to determine if a website is legitimate is to check the domain name. You can do that by logging onto a site called whodatis.com. If it's too good to be true.

With all of these problems with online shopping maybe we should give our local merchants a chance for our business.

Summer is considered the busiest moving season. If you are planning a move, check out our five steps for making your move smooth:

Plan ahead and take inventory - six to eight weeks in advance is ideal, to give you enough time.

Research at least three companies - It's really important to compare at least three different moving companies. How long have they been in business? Do they have a history of keeping customers happy? Check out their BBB Business Review (bbb.org) to view their complaint history. Are they BBB accredited?

Get at least three price quotes.

Verify you have insurance.

Get your agreement in writing - When you decide which moving company you want to hire, make sure you have a written contract that outlines the timeline.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by e-mail at abligh@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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