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Is it worth filing a complaint with the BBB?

Camila Lopez - How to File a Complaint Against a Company - November 25, 2023

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    In this article, we try to answer the question on many consumers' minds, “is it worth filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (“BBB”)?” Given the number of mixed reviews on Reddit and Quora threads alike, this article goes over what the BBB can and can’t do and discusses the pros and cons of filing a complaint with the organization. 

    So, is it worth filing a BBB complaint?

    Short Answer:

    • Yes, if the business has responded to BBB complaints in the past, it is worth filing a complaint with the BBB since it is free and relatively quick.

    • But note, the BBB cannot force the business to come to an agreement with you since the BBB is not a government agency.

    • You may also consider sending the business a demand letter (more on this below) if the BBB doesn't accept your complaint or you don't reach a resolution.

    Disclaimer: We are not associated with the BBB, and we don’t get anything out of you filing a complaint with the BBB. As a business, we pay for BBB accreditation to support the BBB as an organization. 

    What is the BBB? 

    The most common misconception we noticed is that people believe the BBB is a government agency. The BBB is NOT a government agency; it is a nonprofit organization with no judicial or enforcement power. 

    The goal of the BBB is to promote transparency between businesses and consumers. The BBB  gives consumers information and resources to help them make informed decisions when choosing to work or purchase items/ services from a business. It also serves as a mediator in resolving disputes between businesses and consumers.

    6 Reasons You Should Consider Filing a BBB Complaint

    Below we discuss some reasons to file a complaint with the BBB. For most people, knowing it’s a free and straightforward process is a big driving factor.  

    It’s Free 

    The BBB does not charge you to file a complaint. They make money not from consumers filing complaints but from charging businesses membership fees to be accredited by the BBB. 

    It’s Easy

    It’s relatively easy to file a complaint with the BBB. You will likely take around 20 minutes to complete and submit the online form. Learn how to file a BBB complaint here

    Complaints and Reviews Keep Businesses Accountable 

    The BBB gives consumers confidence when making buying decisions, and businesses know this. Because keeping a good reputation on the BBB website is so important for business, most businesses will try to resolve any complaints or bad reviews they get. 

    Moreover, if a BBB-accredited business chooses not to respond to a BBB complaint, its accreditation may be revoked, and the complaint becomes part of its BBB profile. If the business is not Accredited with the BBB, the complaint will only become part of its BBB profile. 

    The BBB Has a High Complaint Resolution Rate

    In an inquiry done by the BBB in 2020, the BBB estimates that of 1,166,991 complaints, 942,031 were settled (81%). Though the success rate is not 100%, the likelihood that they can help is still very high.

    There are instances where the BBB complaint process may not work for you, but filing a complaint with the BBB doesn’t hinder your ability to take a company to small claims later

    Pretty Good Complaint Resolution Time

    The BBB will forward your complaint to the business within 2 business days, the businesses will be asked to respond in 14 days, and complaints are typically closed 30 days after filing. 
    The process is short, and businesses typically respond to BBB complaints within the first 14 days, so if the dispute isn’t resolved in your favor, you didn’t waste much time.

    You Don’t Lose Out on Anything by Filing a Complaint 

    Filing a complaint with the BBB doesn’t guarantee your dispute will be resolved. However, there is no risk involved with filing a complaint with the BBB aside from a small fragment of time being lost. 

    Filing is free, easy, and an accessible alternative to filing a small claims case or submitting a consumer complaint with a regulatory agency. Even if the business doesn’t rectify its wrongs, it may still be held accountable at the BBB’s discretion so that some justice may be served. 

    Factors to Consider When Filing a BBB Complaint

    The BBB Cannot Force a Company to Take Action 

    The BBB is not a government agency or a part of the judicial branch, they do not have the authority to force a business to resolve consumer complaints. This means that a business can ignore a BBB complaint. 

    However, while a company may not be legally obligated to resolve the complaint with a consumer, they may receive a negative rating on the BBB website. Negative ratings can be a significant incentive for businesses to resolve complaints.

    The BBB Does Not Handle All Types of Complaints

    Some people cannot file a complaint with the BBB as they do not take certain types of cases. Normally the BBB will not accept the following types of disputes:

    • Disputes against an individual.

    • 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 the government.

    You May Waste Some Time and Effort  

    As there is no guarantee that your claim will be resolved, you may be wasting your time and effort filing a complaint. Nevertheless, filing takes no longer than 20 minutes, and complaints are usually closed within 30 business days. For a free service and for how efficient filing is, the time and effort you invest are not significant.

    Alternatives to Filing a BBB Complaints

    If the BBB complaint process didn’t work for you or the BBB can’t assist you, you can also try sending the business a demand letter or suing in small claims

    Alternative: Send a Demand Letter 

    A demand letter is a letter you can send to a business requesting them to right a wrong. For example, in a demand letter to a business, you can demand a refund or other types of compensation. 

    The main reason you should consider sending a demand letter is that you may be able to resolve your dispute against a business without having to go to court and pay court fees.

    People Clerk has a free demand letter tool you can use to write a demand letter to a business.

    Alternative: Sue in Small Claims Court 

    As an alternative (or in addition to) filing a complaint with the BBB, consider suing a business in small claims court. Small claims courts handle relatively minor disputes between individuals or businesses. These disputes typically involve small amounts of money, such as refunds, breach of contract, etc. Each state has a different maximum amount you can sue for, explore the small claims limits here

    Small claims court is designed to provide an accessible and cost-effective way for individuals to resolve their disputes without the need for a lawyer (as in most cases, parties represent themselves). 


    Camila Lopez

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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