How to File a Complaint with the Better Business Bureau

How the BBB Can Help You Resolve a Dispute with a Company

Frustrated woman using laptop
••• Charriau Pierre/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images

The best way to avoid a work-at-home or home business scam is by knowing the tricks and deceptions scammers use, and how to find legitimate opportunities. But, if you think may have been scammed you or or are having a problem with a company, there are resources to help. One of those options is to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Each year, the BBB helps consumers settle disputes related to sales, contracts, customer service, warranties, billings, refunds and more. The BBB accepts complaints even if the company doesn't belong to the Better Business Bureau.

What Is the Better Business Bureau?

The Better Business Bureau, often referred to as the BBB, is a private organization whose stated vision is to provide: "An ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other" and its mission is "To be the leader in advancing marketplace trust." The intent is for consumers to have an unbiased source to guide them.

Membership in the BBB is voluntary, and businesses pay fees for membership, plus they need to meet a set of ethical standards set by the BBB. The BBB rates companies based on their record on a scale of A+ to F (the BBB previously used a numerical scale). 

The BBB acts as an intermediary between the business and consumers. Consumer complaints against member BBB businesses are typically monitored by a dispute resolution specialist and followed to conclusion. However, the BBB also plays an important role in maintaining records of complaints against non-member companies. In this way, consumers can see if a business has previous complaints against it and can make a more informed decision on whether to trust that business.

By filing a complaint with the BBB, you are creating a record of your grievance. Further, the BBB tracks the responses from companies, so you can use it as a tool research a company to find out if there are complaints, what they are, and if the company has responded to solve the problem.

Just because a company has a record of BBB complaints doesn't make it bogus, but it can be a red flag that could prevent someone else from jumping in and getting scammed or having a bad experience. The key is to determine the nature of the complaint and the business' response. 

There are 128 BBB offices in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Each office maintains files on businesses headquartered in its service area. Every BBB in the U.S. and Canada posts its reliability reports on the web at BBB online.

Because the BBB is not a government or law enforcement agency, it cannot enforce the law or force a company to take action. However, the unwillingness of a business to respond to the BBB is noted in the company's record and may be a further indication that it is a company you should steer clear of.

Filing a Complaint with the Better Business Bureau

If you think you've been scammed or are having a problem with a company, you have many resources to help, including filing a complaint with the BBB. The Better Business Bureau accepts complaints involving all types of businesses - online, offline, BBB members (accredited businesses), and non-BBB-accredited businesses. They also accept complaints against charities and non-profits. 

Because the BBB will not process anonymous complaints, you will be required to provide your contact information in any complaint you file with them. Additionally, BBB complaints must include a company name and enough information to forward the complaint to the company. Finally, the complaint must involve a consumer-to-business or business-to-business transaction that relates to the advertisement or sale of a product or service.

Where to Report Work at Home Scams to the BBB

The BBB allows you to file a complaint online. To get started:

  1. Visit the BBB online.
  2. Search for the company's name. If it's a nationwide business, search for the location you did business with specifically. 
  3. From the list of results, click on the company you want to file the complaint against. 
  4. On the company profile, click the link that says "File a Complaint." 
  5. You're given three options; 1) file a complaint, 2) file a review, or 3) file a scam report. If you're looking for your money back or another resolution, choose the "file a complaint" option, so that BBB can mediate on your behalf. If you don't have a good resolution to your complaint, you can file a review and/or scam report.

What to Expect After You File Your Complaint

After you've successfully filed your complaint with the BBB, you'll receive an email confirmation. That confirmation typically includes information on which BBB office is handling your complaint and provides a link to a PDF file of your complaint for your review. From that point on, you may receive direct contact from a Dispute Resolution Specialist, who will work with you until the matter is resolved or the BBB reaches a dead end.

Getting Your Money Back

In some cases, having BBB mediate your complaint can result in a refund, but the BBB isn't a law enforcement agency and isn't able to force companies to fix the dispute. There are a few other places you can report a problem that may or may not result in getting your money back.

The best way to get your money back, if the company doesn't refund you through it's own policy, is to file a fraud complaint through your bank or credit card company.

In the end, it's always better to do your due diligence and research companies BEFORE doing business with them. The Better Business Bureau is a great resource to learn about companies, discover if there are any complaints, as well as whether or not the company works to resolve problems.