Chicago, IL -June 1, 2009 - Consumers are receiving new help in effectively making purchases as the Better Business Bureau introduces a new business ratings based on letter grades A+ through F. The new ratings provide more specific information for consumers to find trustworthy businesses and provide businesses a better guide to improving their operations. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is one of the first organizations to rate businesses on their honesty and fairness to customers. The organization, begun in northern Illinois in 1926, provides reports on more than four million businesses across the United States and Canada. The new letter grades are displayed on the BBB Web site in individual company profiles called "BBB Reliability Reports." All are accessible online and free of charge at www.bbb.org. "In today's tight economic times, customers want to make sure they are dealing with a business that is trustworthy and honest," said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois. "More than 102,000 businesses from the Chicago area and northern Illinois are in the BBB database with Reliability Reports and will reflect the new ratings system on June1st. Of those, more than 7,000 are Accredited Businesses that belong to and support the BBB.
The new letter-grade concept was tested for more than two years at selected BBBs. With modifications, based on testing, the new ratings system was adopted by the parent organization Council of Better Business Bureaus as the standard for all BBBs to follow and introduce in 2009. The new letter grades replace the previous "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" ratings.From the business perspective, Bernas explained that the new ratings not only spotlight the honest and ethical companies customers look for, but the ratings components also assist companies see where their operations may be improved. As part of its strategy to build trust in the marketplace, the BBB also recently changed the way businesses affiliated with the organization were designated, from "BBB Member" to "BBB Accredited Business." The "Accredited" designation highlights the fact that businesses have been evaluated by BBB and have contractually agreed to meet and uphold BBB's high standards for integrity and reliability when dealing with customers. The proprietary BBB ratings formula that determines an individual company's letter-grade takes into account 17 weighted factors, using objective information and actual incidences of business behavior that are verified and evaluated by BBB professionals. Specific issues affecting a business's rating are described in detail in BBB Reliability Reports. Ratings factors include: · The business's overall complaint history with BBB, including the number and severity of complaints to BBB from customers.· Whether complaints have been resolved in a timely manner or the business has demonstrated a good faith effort to resolve them.· How long the business has been operating and whether it meets appropriate competency licensing.· Government actions against the business related to marketplace activities.· Advertising issues evaluated by BBB.· Whether the business is a BBB Accredited Business and has committed to BBB standards. Rating factors also take into account whether business models and industries operate in violation of the law, misrepresent products and services, and are likely to generate trade practice concerns and/or have high levels of customer dissatisfaction. Both BBB Accredited Businesses and non-accredited businesses in BBB's database will receive a letter grade as part of their report. For more information on BBB ratings and to find out ratings of local businesses, go to www.bbb.org. It is critically important that all businesses in northern Illinois provide the latest information to the BBB at www.chicago.bbb.org/updatecompany This information will remain confidential and is the basis of providing an accurate grade under our new ratings system.