Have a dispute with a business? One way of resolving your dispute before going to small claims court is to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau! The Better Business Bureau (also known as the BBB) serves as an intermediary between businesses and consumers.
In this article, learn about:
Reasons why businesses have incentives to respond to BBB Complaints.
Will the BBB accept your complaint?
Common types of complaints submitted to the BBB.
How to submit a BBB complaint.
What to expect once you submit your complaint.
BBB complaint didn't work, now what? Explore the option of filing a small claims lawsuit.
Reasons Why Some Businesses Respond to BBB Complaints
If the business is Accredited with the BBB and they don't respond to a BBB complaint, their accreditation may be revoked and the complaint becomes part of their BBB profile.
If the business is not Accredited with the BBB, the complaint will become part of their BBB profile.
BBB reviews provide other consumers with confidence when buying from a business. Businesses do not want negative BBB complaints.
Will the BBB accept your complaint?
For the BBB to accept your complaint, the BBB requires the following:
The business must be in the US.
Your name, address, and email.
The business’s name and address (or sufficient information to determine the business’s location).
You need assistance from the BBB to solve your problem with the business.
You had a relationship with the business you are filing a complaint about (for example, you bought a good or service from the business).
The problem with the business must have happened in the last 12 months.
The business didn't do what they agreed to do, for example, deliver a good or service.
A lawsuit has not been filed at the time you file a complaint with the BBB.
No abusive language is allowed in the complaint.
Normally the BBB will not accept the following types of disputes:
Disputes between employers and employees (for example, disputes over unpaid wages or late wages).
Disputes involving discrimination
Disputes that are currently filed in court
Disputes against an individual
Disputes against the government
Common Types of Complaints Submitted to the BBB
Common types of complaints against businesses submitted to the BBB:
Used and new car sales
Disputes with phone companies (bills, overcharges, returns)
Disputes against any business for their product or service
Disputes against a charity
How to Submit Your Complaint
Review the BBB criteria (also listed above), then scroll to the bottom of the page and click the button “Start Your Complaint.”
Provide the information for the following 6 categories:
Type of complaint
Vehicle (select this option for disputes involving used and new car sales)
Cell Phone or Wireless Carrier (select this option for disputes with phone companies (bills, overcharges, returns))
Business's Product or Service (select this option for disputes against any business for their product or service that doesn't fall under the vehicle or cell phone category)
Business's Advertising (select this option for disputes involving deceptive advertising, etc.)
Charity (select this option for disputes against a charity).
Under Step 2, type the business name in the search.
If you know the city and state where the business is located, then enter the city and state in the address box. Otherwise, leave it blank and press search.
A list of business names will come up. You may see a different business name than the one you typed. Try clicking on "view BBB review." You will be taken to a different page. Look under the "Business Details" section and see if the business name you typed is there as the business may have an alternative name.
Once you confirm that it is the correct business profile, go back to the other tab, click "select."
Type in your information for the following sections: Your Information, Your Complaint (Make sure to not include personally identifiable information in the public areas as they will be published online), Additional Details
What to Expect Once you Submit your Complaint to the BBB
The BBB will forward your complaint to the business within 2 business days.
The business will be asked to respond within 14 days, and if a response is not received, a second request will be made.
You will be notified of the business’s response when the BBB receives it (or notified that they received no response).
Complaints are usually closed within 30 business days.
Explore filing a Small Claims Lawsuit in California
The BBB complaint did not work, now what? Explore suing in California small claims court!
California Small Claims Fees
Here are the basics:
What are small claims court fees? Between $30-$75 to file the lawsuit. Learn more.
How much can I sue for in small claims? Up to $10,000. Learn more.
What types of lawsuits can be filed in small claims? Many types of lawsuits, the most common are over (1) contracts (2) failure to deliver something you purchased (3) disputes over bills (4) disputes over repairs, etc. Learn more.
Do I need a lawyer to go to court? No, in fact, California does not allow lawyers to represent you at the initial small claims hearing.
How to prepare for a Small Claims Court Hearing?
You have filed your case and notified the person you sued. The next step is to start preparing for your Small Claims Court hearing.
Research the law. If you are unsure about you the laws involving your lawsuit (aka why you should win your lawsuit), consult an attorney, or conduct your own research about the law (a quick Google search goes a long way).
Prepare your evidence. Invoices, contracts, receipts, etc. You want to have your evidence organized with titles, dates, and why that piece of evidence is important. All your evidence should be geared towards showing the judge why you should win.
Prepare what to say. During the hearing, the judge will ask you why you are suing. If you are being sued, you will be asked why you don't owe the other party money.
Get your receipts for costs ready. For example, your filing fees and any process server costs. Make sure to let the judge know that you would like to be reimbursed for these costs.
Print enough copies of all your evidence. You will need at least three copies (one for you, one for the judge, one for the other side).
Chief Legal Architect & Co-Founder @ People Clerk. Camila is an attorney, consumer advocate, and certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.