The national Better Business Bureau (BBB) is altering the way the organization rates businesses, following an investigation by the Connecticut Attorney General’s office that...

The national Better Business Bureau (BBB) is altering the way the organization rates businesses, following an investigation by the Connecticut Attorney General’s office that the system was unfair, and a lawsuit filed against the Connecticut chapter by TicketNetwork.

Connecticut Attorney General, and recent U.S. Senator-elect, Richard Blumenthal launched an investigation into complaints that the BBB’s rating system was based in part on a “pay-to-play” arrangement, where dues-paying members gained accreditation and received higher ratings.

The BBB had been using the letter-based rating system for more than a year, but had used a more simplified “satisfactory/unsatisfactory” rating in the years prior, but it changed it offer consumers more thorough insight into a business. The BBB allegedly gave additional points to a business’ rating depending on whether it had paid dues.

As a result of the criticism, the BBB will no longer give additional points to accredited businesses based on their accredited status, Steve Cox, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, said in a videotaped message. In addition, the BBB will offer a “streamlined process for receiving complaints on BBB sales practices” and study ways of investigating complaints faster. Also, the BBB will review its accreditation system and look to team up with an independent third party to study its processes.

“We do not agree with those who have questioned BBB’s integrity,” Cox said, but added that the BBB “absolutely understands the need for trust and confidence in BBB.”

Don Vaccaro, founder and CEO of TicketNetwork, told WVIT-TV that he was pleased by the BBB’s decision to make changes to the rating system. See video below.

“We thought [the rating system] was unfair, it was especially unfair for smaller type businesses which are the businesses that are our customers, small mom and pop shops that don’t understand the ramifications of not paying,” he said.

Later, in a prepared statement, Vaccaro added, “We are pleased that the Connecticut Better Business Bureau and its national umbrella organization has acknowledged this problem and is prepared to take the necessary steps to adjust its grading system accordingly. That said, this change should have come without the need for a lawsuit by TicketNetwork and an investigation by the Connecticut Attorney General.”

Despite the planned changes, Blumenthal told WVIT-TV that he remains concerned that the BBB’s alterations might not go far enough. “I am seriously troubled by the continued ratings system itself, because there are inadequate resources to verify information.”

“We believe all of these actions demonstrate the commitment by the great, local BBBs in communities across the nation to provide valuable services that protect consumers and promote ethical business behavior,” Cox said.

TicketNetwork is the parent company of TicketNews.

(Click on the image to watch the video)

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By Alfred Branch Jr.

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