So is the Better Business Bureau a "F*(;#ing Scam"?

Fri, 23rd September 2011, 18:38

For many people researching prospective web hosting companies for their projects, the Better Business Bureau insignia or accreditation has traditionally been a consideration in their endeavor to shortlist a chosen few. It appears that some recent scrutiny of the BBB vetting and verification process has invoked an unusual retaliatory response.

FeeFighters, a comparison shopping website for credit card processing that prides itself on being "financial ninjas who fight to help business owners keep more of their money" wrote a very provocative piece entitled "The BBB is a F*(;#ing Scam."

FeeFighters likened the BBB to the mafia of old, shaking down businesses for “protection money”,and alleging that consumers are in the dark when it comes to one category particularly riddled with fraud — credit cards processing. They found that BBB ratings in these areas suspect at best, and categorically stated that consumers “should not put ANY credence whatsoever in the BBB’s ratings. It is NOT a valid data point.

Naturally one would expect some form of measured response after writing such a scathing post that cuts to the heart of the Better Business Bureau financial bedrock. The BBB has responded in triplicate! (email, snail mail, and certified mail).

Quoting Stella from FeeFighters:

Ouch. It looks like if you say anything that the BBB deems “aversely affects (their) public image” you’re out. Not much of a fair system.

Not Exactly a Scientific Study

HostJury used our own Reviewed Hosts List of providers for an indication of how well the Better Business Bureau rated various web hosting entities. (an automated list generated from all reviews to give a cross section of best to worst hosts... not exactly scientific but we picked the 3 hosts from the top... and 3 found at the bottom)

SingleHop pulls off an A... BBB Accredited Business since 04/01/2008
Fused rates an A- but they are not BBB Accredited
HostGator  gets an A+ ...BBB Accredited Business since 4/28/2008

Hosting Zoom (DBA ResellerZoom) gets A- Also not BBB accredited
Netfirms  gets A+ BBB Accredited Business since 27/09/2004
WebServe gets a C+ This Business is not BBB Accredited..

As the preceding list shows, there is no conclusive trends or patterns that substantiate FeeFighters allegations in regards to the web hosting industry, (there does appear to be a slight advantage to being accredited). So I searched the BBB database for a company that has attracted more criticism in the past than a lightening rod on a golf course in Florida …

GISOL... aka Global Internet Solutions, Best Internet Services, and G I S, Inc.: They are not accredited and did "manage to squeeze out an F" (emphesis is mine)

The BBB site also states under Complaint Experience

Complainants allege billing disputes due to unclear website disclosures, unauthorized credit card charges, and inability to cancel services or obtain refunds. Other complainants allege high pressure sales tactics are used by company representatives when attempting to solicit upgrades, renew accounts or collect on accounts receivable. Some customers allege false advertising, or that the company misrepresents the terms and conditions of services. In some cases complainants allege that services were stopped by the company without notice, and the company failed to communicate reasons or refund eligibility. The company responds to complaints by denying most allegations, and referring complainants to specific sections of their service agreement which supported the company's position.

In conclusion, while there does appear to be some very small value in utilizing the BBB database as another resource in researching a web hosting company, it is likely that the Better Business Bureau will provide no worthwhile information on uptime, support responses, features, and pricing. It may help you avoid companies such as GISOL... that is unless they suddenly get BBB Accredited... and an A+ rating!