Boycott Watch  
November 17, 2010
BBB Story Sparks Sudden Outrage About Known Problem
Summary: The BBB has been, for the most part, useless in the business world for a long time. The Hamas membership case will just fasten their demise.
   The ABC's 20/20 and the later the Associated Press reported the Better Business Bureau favors paid members and how they had a company called Hamas as a member . Without rehashing the stories, the fact is, the business community has known about the problems within the BBB for a long time, explaining why their membership has reportedly dropped over the years - Business people have lost faith in the usefulness of the BBB long ago.

   The fact is, the BBB will take almost any company as members, and at the same time have been seen as anti-small business. In once case, the BBB was behind a campaign to have people and companies using Mail Boxes Etc, now the UPS Store, and similar mail service companies to require box holders use "PMB," for Personal Mail Box or even "Box" rather than "Suite" to designate the address. In that case, the BBB claimed companies using such services were inherently shady. Fact is though; many small businesses use such services for convenience since they cannot always get packages and other mail at their business office because they are not always there. The BBB and the USPS dropped the PMB campaign after public outrage on the issue.

   Businesses also prefer to join local chambers of commerce rather than the BBB for several reasons. First, chambers tend of offer seminars, networking events and group insurance discounts not available via the BBB. Second, chamber memberships are usually less expensive and if someone wants a referral, the local chamber office staff knows their members first hand, thus they can give better referrals and can be more selective with membership. Third, local chambers often work with local benefits companies, thus making it easier for members to offer benefits to their employees. Perhaps this is why some insurance companies require small businesses they cover to be members in a local chamber and not the BBB.

   From a marketing standpoint, Boycott Watch has seen companies falsely place BBB membership logos on their website, and few consumers verify it. Regardless, it is an open secret among businesses that being a BBB member in good standing really just means paying the dues on time.

   In most cases, membership in a local chamber of commerce is a far better deal than BBB membership. Business owners know that. While some larger companies may join the BBB as a matter of being seen as a supporter, the BBB does not serve the vast majority of businesses which are the small businesses. Now we see the BBB accepting Hamas as a member, indicating the BBB is further out of touch with society than ever. The BBB has therefore marginalized itself to an even greater extent. People will remember BBB's Hamas membership and keep away from BBB membership. There may not be an organized boycott of the BBB, but their Hamas membership will be remembered for a long time and many people who are considering BBB membership will use that as a strike against joining.

   The BBB originated in an era when accurate and detailed information about how businesses treat their customers was hard to obtain. These days, there are far more and better sources available on the Internet, especially from bloggers who would rather post their actual complaints than see a filtered version of their words appear, if they are lucky, on the BBB website. There are also various consumer advocacy websites, as well as Boycott Watch that monitors consumer actions for accuracy and busts scams. The BBB, therefore, offers less to consumers with complaints than other resources.

   Boycott Watch does not see the Hamas BBB membership case as something which will put the BBB in the dustbowl of history. Their anti-small business policies have been doing that for them, but this will certainly add to the eventual demise of the BBB, at least as we know it today.

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