Better Business Bureau Racketeering

I received a cold-call this week from a glowing BBB saleswoman representative excited to inform me that not only has my company been invited to join the BBB, but the 45 second Q&A at the beginning of our call qualified us for membership. And we can have the blessing and support of the BBB for the low low price of only $445.

Let’s think about this for a moment.

The BBB is supposedly a not-for-profit organization formed to protect and inform consumers on the ethical status of businesses. BBB funding, however, comes directly from the businesses they “investigate” in the form of membership fees. This means the BBB has a direct conflict of interest. An operational company with a clean record and good references (such as mine) has no need of the BBB except as a promotional novelty, and a company with a dirty record has no reason to pay to the BBB save for “cleaning up” their business record. There’s a name for this type of scheme; it’s called protection racketeering and is the same type of “business” performed by mobs. No thanks.

Complete follow-up email below, though contact information changed to protect the mobsters representatives identity. Please do your own research on the BBB and help spread the word to prevent other startups from falling prey to this scam.

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Dear Preston,

I enjoyed speaking with you regarding our invitation to become an Accredited Business with your BBB . You will be part of an elite group of businesses who have undergone a review process and adhere to the highest standards of business. I have enclosed our benefit package for you to review and a link to our website. Your annual BBB dues are $445. (This includes the BBB OnLine Logo!) We accept credit card or check by phone for your convenience. Please call me later at XXX-XXX-XXXX and we can take a few minutes to complete the accreditation information. We are the leader in marketplace trust and we look forward to having your company recognized as “BBB Accredited.”  Thanks again and have a great day.

Xxxxx Xxxx | Business Relations Representative