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How Do I File Complaints to the Better Business Bureau®?

By Susan Abe
Updated May 16, 2024
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The Better Business Bureau® (BBB®) is a US-based, national private corporation made up of smaller local associations with the stated purposes of maintaining files on businesses' reputations and helping to reconcile customer disputes with member companies. The organization specifically excuses itself from certain issues, including employee complaints, allegations of discrimination or those potentially related to lawsuits and legal or medical malpractice. Almost every small town or county has a Better Business Bureau® and some large metropolitan areas boast several. Complaints to the Better Business Bureau® are easily made. A customer can telephone his local BBB® to initiate the complaint, write a letter addressed to both the local and national offices, or make a complaint online through the organization's national website.

Telephone complaints to the Better Business Bureau® only initiate the complaint process at most of the associations. BBB® offices will mail a paper complaint form to the customer for collection of the claim details prior to beginning the dispute resolution process with the business in question. The claim form can then be returned to the Better Business Bureau® office by mail or fax. Information that can be garnered during the initial telephone report process can include the names and telephone numbers of the BBB® representatives, whether the business is a member in good standing with the local community association and whether other similar or recent complaints have been made against the company.

Letters outlining customer issues are another way to communicate complaints to the Better Business Bureau® and are often taken more seriously than telephone calls. Complaint correspondence should explain as clearly as possible the details of the customer's complaint and request a specific action on the part of the business to satisfy the dispute. Letters may be mailed or faxed to the BBB® office and it may also be helpful to "cc" or "carbon copy" a copy of this letter to the business with which the customer has a dispute. An advantage to writing a formal letter of complaint is that the customer has a copy documenting his complaint and his actions.

The easiest way to make complaints to the Better Business Bureau® is online through their national website. The online method leads a customer step-by-step through filling in a form that includes the nature of the complaint, the specific business in dispute, the customer's contact information and the details of the complaint itself. The complaining customer should make a copy of the final complaint form as well as notes on the date the complaint was made online to the agency.

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Discussion Comments

By Markerrag — On Apr 25, 2014

One of the single, best things about the Better Business Bureau's complaint process is that it is a great defense against abusive creditors. Let's face it, most creditors do abide by the provisions of the federal Fair Debt Collections Practices act but there are a few that violate the heck out of it because they gamble on the notion that debtors won't call them on those abuses. The BBB is quite adept at curbing practices that violate that act and has been known to keep creditors in line.

By Terrificli — On Apr 24, 2014

What some people don't realize is how effective the Better Business Bureau is at helping consumers that feel they are being taken advantage of by companies. Filing complaints online is easy and the BBB, in my experience, handles complaints quickly and fairly. The BBB doesn't always side with the consumer, but it will help consumers who have legitimately been wronged and it will do it for free.

Those consumer complaints also help future customers as the BBB ranks companies. A company with a failing grade from the BBB is one to avoid.

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