Legal Insight. Business Instinct.

The Business of the BBB

Lawyers get things done. A truism apparently learned by my 10-year-old son. During a recent recess at school he used such knowledge in his negotiations with a local mom who was volunteering her time. The bell had rung and it was time to go back to class. My son decided he needed more time on the playground. The local mom volunteer, who happens to be a family friend, gently told him he needed to go back to class. Additional words were exchanged and ultimately my son proclaimed, “My dad is a lawyer, I can convince you!” His genetic link to legal prowess notwithstanding, instead of more time on the playground he got a whole lot of laughter and a quick trip back to class.

While lawyers may get things done, hiring a lawyer may not be the best way to handle all disputes and issues that arise in life and in your business. One such avenue that is not typically discussed by lawyers is the Better Business Bureau (BBB). In the interest of full disclosure, the author is on the board of the Snake River region of the BBB.

The BBB is a non-profit organization whose mission is “to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust.” Its vision is to have “an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other.” It accomplishes its mission by:

  • Creating a community of trustworthy businesses;
  • Setting standards for marketplace trust;
  • Encouraging and supporting best practices;
  • Celebrating marketplace role models; and
  • Denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.

While the BBB is probably not the best avenue for major legal disputes between businesses, it is a very effective way to deal with more minor business disputes. Going through the BBB complaint process can arm a business with information and prepare it for small claims court should the need arise. The complaint process contributes to a business’s BBB rating. Most companies take their BBB rating seriously, which validates the complaint process and promotes the BBB mission of having an ethical marketplace.

Responsible businesses want to know about customer complaints so they can address them and make any necessary changes. The entire design of the BBB is to allow that to happen. A business can become accredited by the BBB and receive additional benefits including dispute resolution services.

Businesses should give the BBB a chance to help. The website is a good place to start: Convinced yet? You should be, I am a lawyer after all and we get things done – just ask my son.

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