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Calling B.S. on the BBB (Better Business Bureau)

 
Who do you call when the Better Business Bureau is being shady?

So, a few weeks back, my company received a letter from the Better Business Bureau (of Chicago and Northern Illinois) saying that we’d been nominated for the Better Business Bureau’s “Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics”.  They go on to say that we were nominated “by an individual who believed your organization should be publicly recognized for its day-to-day ethical business practices.”  It then goes on to say, “Enclosed are the Entry Form and Judging Criteria with suggestions as to what to include in your supporting materials”, with two pages on “how to enter”, rules and judging criteria.  (Oh, the irony…)

I am calling bullshit.

This is the second year in a row we got such a letter.  There is a better chance that I will get struck by lightning and win the lottery simultaneously than that “an individual” not associated with the BBB nominated our company once, let alone twice, for this “award”.  Our clients aren’t the general public, don’t interface with the BBB, mostly aren’t located in the Chicagoland area and when I asked them, had no idea what the heck this was.

Oh, and did we get nominated for an award or do we have to enter

Here’s the likely reality- the only person “nominating” us (or possibly anyone else) for this award is the BBB office, ostensibly to promote their agenda and to get us to attend some lame awards luncheon (which by the way, per the letter, is taking place on December 2nd at the Holiday-Inn Mart Plaza in Chicago- mark your calendars). 

Why can’t they just say that?  Why can’t they just be straightforward and say that they are nominating us for an award based on our track record?  Or just ask if we would like to enter?  What’s up with the ridiculous “some individual nominated you” crap?  I know there is a lot of bait and switch marketing (see Michael Port’s blog here), but to be totally shady in giving out an award for marketplace ethics is beyond pathetic and the BBB should be ashamed of themselves.

So, who do you call to complain about unethical practices from the BBB? 

Here’s the cover letter (I left the supplementary “entry form information” out since it was multiple pages long- and I know it’s kind of fuzzy, so I copied it for your convenience underneath).  You be the judge.  Oh, and note that there is “no fee to enter”.   Cirque-du-So-Lame!

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Text of letter:

Congratulations! Your company has been nominated for the Better Business Bureau’s prestigious Fourteenth Annual Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics by an individual who believed your organization should be publicly recognized for its day-to-day ethical business practices.

The Torch Award is designed to promote not only the importance of ethical business practices, but also the willingness and efforts made by outstanding organizations to ensure that our country’s marketplace remains fair and honorable for all people. Companies need not be a BBB Accredited Business to win the award.

Past winners have included: Carmax, Empire Today, Wm Wrigley Jr. Company, U.S. Waterproofing, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Pepper Construction Company, CDW Computer Centers, The Pampered Chef, Abbott Laboratories, Tasty Catering, and ABT Electronics.

All entries for this award are segmented by employee head count to maintain a level playing field.  Northern Illinois winners are encouraged to enter the BBB International Torch Awards competition.

Enclosed are the Entry Form and Judging Criteria with suggestions as to what to include in your supporting materials. Fill out the form with the appropriate supporting materials and submit them by September 10th.The Annual Awards Luncheon is set for Thursday, December 2nd at the Holiday-Inn Mart Plaza in Chicago.

We look forward to receiving your submission as soon as it is ready but no later than September 10, 2010 to 330 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 2006, Chicago, IL 60611. Please call Tom Joyce at 312-245-2643 or e-mail tjoyce@chicago.bbb.org with any questions. There is no fee to enter.

Congratulations on being nominated – now it’s up to your company to submit an entry.

Sincerely,
Steve J. Bernas
President&CEO
Better Business Bureau of Chicago &Northern Illinois, Inc.

Chicago Office
330 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 2006. Chicago. Illinois 60611 312.832.0500
Regional Office
810 East State Street, Rockford. Illinois 61104 815.963.2222
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Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is currently an on-air contributor for the national cable television station CNBC, the pre-eminent name in business news. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011, 2012 & 2013) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
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