Better Business Bureau: An Overview and How Its Ratings Work


The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing marketplace trust by evaluating the ethical business practices of companies across various industries. Understanding how BBB ratings work is essential for businesses aiming to maintain a positive reputation and build consumer trust.


In today’s competitive business landscape, maintaining a stellar reputation is crucial for success. This is where the Better Business Bureau (BBB) comes into play. Founded over a century ago, the BBB has evolved into a trusted resource for consumers seeking information about businesses and their practices. In this article, we’ll explore the history and purpose of the BBB, delve into how its ratings work, and discuss the significance of BBB accreditation for businesses.

History and Purpose of BBB

The Better Business Bureau traces its roots back to 1912 when it was established as the National Vigilance Committee. Over the years, its mission evolved to promote trust and transparency in the marketplace. Today, the BBB operates as a network of independent organizations, each serving a specific geographic region. Its primary objectives include fostering ethical business practices, mediating consumer disputes, and providing consumers with reliable information about businesses.

How BBB Ratings Work

BBB ratings are based on various factors, including the number of complaints received, the resolution of those complaints, transparency in business practices, and adherence to BBB standards. Businesses are assigned a rating ranging from A+ to F, with A+ representing the highest level of trustworthiness and F indicating significant concerns. These ratings are displayed prominently on the BBB website and can influence consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Factors Influencing BBB Ratings

Several factors influence BBB ratings, including the volume and severity of complaints, government actions against the business, and the length of time the business has been operating. Positive factors such as accreditation, transparency, and responsiveness to consumer feedback can also enhance a business’s rating.

Importance of BBB Ratings for Businesses

BBB ratings play a crucial role in shaping consumer perceptions of businesses. A high BBB rating signals to consumers that a business is trustworthy, reliable, and committed to ethical practices. This can lead to increased customer confidence, loyalty, and ultimately, improved sales and profitability.

Criticisms and Controversies Surrounding BBB

Despite its reputation as a trusted arbiter of business ethics, the BBB has faced criticism from some quarters. Critics argue that its rating system lacks transparency and may be influenced by factors such as membership fees and advertising revenue. Additionally, some businesses have raised concerns about the impact of negative reviews on their BBB rating.

BBB Accreditation Process

Businesses can choose to become accredited by the BBB by meeting certain criteria, including a commitment to ethical business practices and responsiveness to consumer complaints. While accreditation is not mandatory, it can enhance a business’s credibility and visibility in the marketplace.

BBB Complaint Process

Consumers who encounter problems with a business can file a complaint with the BBB. The BBB will then mediate between the consumer and the business to seek a resolution. If a resolution cannot be reached, the BBB may assign a rating based on the outcome of the complaint.

BBB Services and Resources for Consumers

The BBB offers a range of services and resources to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. These include business profiles, customer reviews, and educational materials on consumer rights and protections.

BBB Services and Resources for Businesses

In addition to serving consumers, the BBB provides valuable resources and support to businesses. These include training programs, networking opportunities, and guidance on ethical business practices.

How to Improve BBB Ratings

Businesses can take several steps to improve their BBB ratings, including addressing customer complaints promptly, maintaining transparent business practices, and seeking accreditation. By demonstrating a commitment to excellence, businesses can enhance their reputation and attract more customers.

BBB and Online Reviews

BBB ratings are often integrated with online review platforms, providing consumers with a comprehensive view of a business’s reputation. Positive BBB ratings can bolster a business’s online presence and attract more customers.

BBB and Consumer Trust

The BBB plays a crucial role in fostering consumer trust by providing unbiased information about businesses and their practices. Accreditation and high ratings serve as trust signals that reassure consumers and encourage them to do business with confidence.


In conclusion, the Better Business Bureau plays a vital role in promoting trust and transparency in the marketplace. By understanding how BBB ratings work and actively engaging with the BBB, businesses can enhance their reputation, build consumer trust, and ultimately, achieve long-term



  1. How does BBB differ from other consumer protection agencies?
    The BBB focuses on promoting ethical business practices and providing consumers with information about businesses, whereas other consumer protection agencies may have broader regulatory powers.
  2. Can businesses remove negative BBB reviews?
    Businesses cannot directly remove negative BBB reviews, but they can respond to them and work to address any underlying issues to improve their rating.
  3. Is BBB accreditation necessary for all businesses?
    BBB accreditation is not mandatory for businesses, but it can enhance credibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of consumers.
  4. Are BBB ratings affected by industry standards?
    BBB ratings are based on a standardized set of criteria, but they may also take into account industry-specific factors and standards.
  5. How long does it take for a complaint to be resolved by BBB?
    The resolution time for BBB complaints varies depending on the complexity of the issue and the cooperation of the parties involved. However, the BBB aims to resolve complaints in a timely and efficient manner.


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