Better Business Bureau ratings plagued by alleged corruption

Sunday, January 27th, 2013 By


Though the Better Business Bureau is a trusted institution, many businesses insist the rating system is akin to robbery. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

One of the supposed safeguards against unethical companies is the Better Business Bureau ratings system. Customers have long relied on the bureau’s grading system, but now the BBB is plagued by allegations that it runs a “pay-for-A” scheme.

Long-standing business rating service admits mistakes were made

The Better Business Bureau is thought to be among the few resources that consumers can trust in order to find out whether a business is trustworthy. The BBB has existed for decades and gives the public at large a way to vent frustrations at dealings that went sour, but there is a growing body of evidence that something could be rotten about the state of the BBB. Allegations have been made repeatedly over the years that businesses have to pay for a membership to get an “A” rating. According to a recent article at, the finance and business news site of AOL News, in response to questions on whether its rating system has a “pay to play” component, a BBB rep admitted “mistakes” had been made.

Rating system changed after news sting

The BBB announced last year that it was going to change its business rating system following a sting operation by a small group of Los Angeles area businessmen, an anonymous blogger and an accompanying “20/20″ news segment, according to ABC. It was also revealed that some very high profile companies have received disparaging grades for not being members. Some companies that have received F grades that aren’t BBB members include Wolfgang Puck restaurants, Disneyland and the Boston Ritz Carlton hotel. The Boston Celtics basketball team at one point held a D minus, and the New York Yankees currently have a C minus. The Boston Red Sox, as fate would have it, have an “A plus” rating– and the team is a BBB member. The sting operation by some Los Angeles area businessmen established a company called Hamas, after the Palestinian terrorist organization, and by simply paying $425 for a membership, Hamas received an A minus rating.

Holes exist in some nets

The group that created the Hamas company also created a BBB listing for a company they called Stormfront, the name of a neo-Nazi organization, which also received an A rating. It is not that the BBB is simply a “pay to play” organization, though it has been criticized as such by a fair number of people. The BBB does give consumers a legitimate forum to air grievances and use an impartial third party to register legitimate complaints about businesses.


Daily Finance


ABC on BBB Hamas

ABC on Ritz Carlton

BBB New York Yankees

BBB Boston Red Sox

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