The Better Business Bureau Gorilla Tactics
Why I Won't Recommend the Better Business Bureau to My Clients
You get their calls. They usually come at the most inopportune times. They seem nice enough as they tell you all of the wonderful benefits of becoming an advertiser with the Better Business Bureau. But as an advertiser I would like to warn you that this company has a very dark side and employ gorilla tactics which are about as libelous as they will probably accuse me of being if they find this post.
Let me say that I don’t usually get involved in voicing my opinions about companies that I don’t like. My momma taught me, like most of you I am sure, if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all. Normally I wouldn’t, but I have been in online advertising since before Google was born and I have never seen a company bully people like this company. Now. I won’t cast any negative light without being able to substantiate it. This time they messed with one of my clients/friends and it really steamed me.
Background: The BBB as they are often referred to allows general consumers to post reviews about companies online. They make their money by selling advertising to businesses and putting their business listings on their websites. Okay. That’s fine. One problem I see is that they don’t get permission to put your information on their site, but the moment you link to their website from your own site they expect you pay. If you don’t they let loose their wrath upon your business and effectively smear your name on their site by giving you an “F” rating. Yet their policy is as clear as the Comal River that you can link so long as you do not misrepresent them in any way. I am totally okay with that.
So, as any business owner would be, my friend was extremely happy when he started to notice that people were leaving GREAT reviews for his business on the BBB website. So, what did we do, well, we put a link with a nice image pointing traffic to their website where his reviews were listed. Keep in mind my friend did not ask them to put his business name on their website.
Long story short. They scan for back-links and find that my friend has a link to the profile with his company information on it and tell him that he must either become a BBB customer or remove the link. This smacks against their own policy.
Here is the image we used to link to the profile
Nowhere on this logo is my friend claiming to be a member, but rather, we were simply linking to reviews which are legitimately on the BBB website. Nowhere on this logo is it explicitly mentioned my friend an A+ rated member nor is it even implied. The link at the bottom of the page does however explicitly say “REVIEWS ON BBB.”
Furthermore, according to their own terms and conditions regarding the use of hyperlinks it states clearly:
Terms and Conditions
Third parties may link to our home page, publications, educational or consumer information, business profiles, and/ or to other website information so long as the link:
(a) is not in any way misleading;
Note: My client/friend does not mislead as it implicitly states “REVIEWS ON BBB” and the link goes directly to REVIEWS ON BBB.
(b) does not falsely imply sponsorship, endorsement or approval of the linking party and its products, services or membership;
Note: No reasonable English speaking person could infer, based on the wording and the graphic that my client/friend is implying that they are accredited by the BBB.
(c) appears without the use of any confusingly similar logo or border around the content;
Note: The entire section is focused on reviews and not memberships- Context people….context
(d) correctly uses the name “Better Business Bureau”, “BBB”, “BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust”, or “International Association of Better Business Bureaus”;
Note: This graphic was generated by the BBB
(e) uses the uniform resource locator (“URL”) being linked to or any other description of the IABBB or BBB website or material being linked to that makes sense within the context and format of content on the linking party’s site; and
Note: Check – no problems so far
(f) does not reflect unfavorably on BBB (organizations representing inherently suspect types of businesses, such as work-at-home opportunities, are considered unfavorable and shall not be allowed to link).
Note: Very favorable and on a high ranking page which looks pretty darn good if I don’t say so myself!
The BBB Accredited Business Seal (the “Seal”) is designed to provide BBB Accredited Businesses with links from their web pages, and those where they advertise, to their BBB Business Profile. Such use is under license and approval by BBB. Non-accredited businesses are strictly prohibited from using the Seal to link to their BBB Business Profile. To obtain information about how to become accredited by BBB, please visit us online at http://www.bbb.org.
Note: we are not using the “Seal” inappropriately, in fact the graphic we are using is not an official seal but a recognizable logo incorporated into their own branding
Any organization on which BBB reports may, as part of its social media marketing, use the BBB Social Media button to link to its BBB Profile, as long as the link does not in the sole judgment of BBB reflect unfavorably on the BBB (organizations representing inherently suspect types of businesses, such as work-at-home opportunities are considered unfavorable and shall not be allowed to use the icon.) It may only be used in the size given and in the context of other social media links.
So here is the beginning of the gorilla tactics in the form of a letter sent by one of their managers.
So…my friend respectfully responds and explains that he is merely linking to the the reviews they have about his business on their site and in the most positive way possible. Shortly thereafter, I go to my friends listing only to see this (Boycott Verbiage Not on the listing- that is how what I found made me feel).
The reality is that my friend has stellar reviews on their platform, and if anyone is misrepresenting it is the BBB.
I am pretty fumed about this. But thankfully my client has a cooler head than I do on this one so he just simply had me remove their lousy logo and link.
So the next time they call me or any of my clients, whom I represent (my clients have all their solicitors call me directly so I can vet them), I will tell them about my friends experience and tell them where they can put their torch.
Okay…rant finished. Thanks for listening.
January 13, 2015