Why Doesn't a Business Show Up on the BBB Website?by Ashley Poland
The Better Business Bureau is a century old, with a history of fielding customer complaints and reporting on how businesses respond to those complaints. Businesses are listed on the BBB website for one of two reasons: either because they have been accredited and listed on the website, or because customers have left reviews on the BBB website.
You can find reviews for businesses on the BBB website even if the business hasn't paid for accreditation. If a business isn't appearing on the website at all, it means that no customers have left reviews -- good or bad. This doesn't mean that the business isn't valid. It may just mean that customers have left their reviews on other websites.
Declined to Join
While the BBB is certainly one way to determine a business as reputable, the service is considerable less relevant in the Internet era. Before the common use of the Internet, the BBB handled millions of customer complaints, a number that has dropped to less than a million as of 2012. Many customers and business owners feel that the BBB isn't relevant in the modern era, and others find their confidence shaken by reports of foul play in BBB branches.
Lapsed or Pending Membership
It may take several weeks for a new business to appear on the BBB website. Membership with the BBB costs a few hundred dollars and takes a few weeks. It also requires intensive checks from the BBB to determine that the business is not a scam. Another possibility is that the business used to be a member of the BBB, but opted not to renew its membership. If a business doesn't feel that its BBB accreditation is a benefit, the owners may opt to skip membership renewal.
The BBB is one of the more trusted services in determining business validity due to the processes involved in accreditation; a professional must review the business and deem it authentic before the business can be verified on the BBB website. However, online websites such as Google Local, Yelp, and Facebook ratings provide user-based ratings for a business. While these sites can provide on-the-ground and useful information about a business, be aware of the pitfalls: Any single disgruntled individual can skew a rating and write anything he wishes; on the other hand, a friend or family member may write a glowing recommendation that is not based on actual experience. Choose sites that provide the highest number of individual ratings in order to ensure that you get a realistic rating average.