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Jul 1, 201308:36 AMOpen Mic

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Johnny Cash and the Better Business Bureau

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Johnny Cash was not thinking about the Better Business Bureau when he wrote the song “I Walk the Line,” but he could’ve been. He sings, “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine, I keep my eyes wide open all the time.” He could have been writing about my job at the BBB.

For many, the idea of a nongovernmental, self-regulatory organization that “walks the line” between businesses and consumers doesn’t seem to make sense. But Johnny’s line “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine” gives a clue. It relates to how we work. First and foremost, staff at the BBB keep a close check on their emotions and, more importantly, their opinions. The information we provide about companies and their ratings is completely impartial. That’s what sets us apart from other organizations that merely provide “reviews” of companies — which could be written by anyone. Perhaps understanding our mission might be easier if you have a little background on how we work.

First off, the BBB is a business-supported nonprofit organization that exists to help create a more trusting marketplace. As you can imagine, this “trusting marketplace” was almost non-existent when the BBB was founded more than 100 years ago. The Wisconsin business world was full of snake-oil salesmen, flimflam artists, shysters, and con men. Hope came from Northwestern Mutual, Roundy’s, Johnson Controls, Usinger’s, and other companies with leaders who knew that trust was an important, if not critical element to good business. These are the types of companies that started and supported the first Better Business Bureaus across the country and in Canada to “keep a close watch.”

So how does the BBB work with both consumers and businesses to promote marketplace trust? We begin with education. In order for consumers to make the best purchase decisions, they need good information. That’s why our free website contains millions of reports on companies — companies accredited by the BBB and not — and rates those companies A+ to F based on 16 factors, including complaint history, length of time in business, size of the business, and more. And as I mentioned, consumers looking to find a good company to hire can do their homework with us and know that the information is not based on reviews or opinions but verifiable facts.


Jul 1, 2013 01:58 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Good article, especially for someone (like me) that is not aware of how the BBB has evolved over the years. Keep up the great work Ms. Hazen!

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