The Better Business Bureau (BBB) – a review, extortion and questionable business practices

Better Business Bureau accredited business extortion scam

The biggest extortion scam in our country – the BBB accredited business program!


I think it’s funny and a little bit strange that when you look at the Better Business Bureau reports that almost every new car dealer everywhere has an A+ rating. Some of these same new car dealers that have these A+ ratings on the Better Business Bureau have been fined, ordered closed down, have their dealer’s licenses revoked, and investigated or are currently under investigation and are some of the most nefarious business entities out there.

Now being that I was once a car dealer, I know how the scam works and yes it is a scam being run by the Better Business Bureau. Basically what the Better Business Bureau does is they extort from any and every business that they can. If you want a great rating on your Better Business Bureau report for your business then you have to become a member which includes paying exorbitant fees.

Once you pay these fees it doesn’t matter how many investigations are ongoing, fines or whatever. They apparently don’t take that into consideration as long as you’re a member. For years Louis F. Harrelson Ford was constantly in the news for ripping off consumers. They even ended up arresting several managers and sales staff for fraudulent filing loan applications and more. Yet this same business was an A+ rated business by the Better Business Bureau.

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Now they’ve been bought out and are called Keith Hawthorne Ford. Apparently Louis F. Harelson was found guilty in the above fraud with his managers is no longer allowed to have a management capacity in any car dealership. So his son has one dealership, his daughter another and Keith Hawthorne bought his main one. What did he really buy it out right? Keith Hawthorne does not have the funds to purchase or finance the big Ford store on South Boulevard (remember Keith Hawthorne is that tiny little store in tiny Belmont and Harrelson Ford is the largest Ford store in Charlotte – this is a massive difference). Besides there were other far more well-heeled buyers that were never made notified that Harrelson Ford was for sale like the Sonic automotive group and the Hendrick automotive group – Rick Hendrick would’ve bought the Ford store in a heartbeat.

No, what most likely happened here is kind of a repeat of what happened when Rick Hendrick himself was indicted for fraud 10 or 15 years ago.  He relinquished control of his car dealerships to his brother John Hendrick until President Bill Clinton pardoned him (in exchange for some sizable donations to the Bill Clinton Memorial Library).  It sounds to me like Louis F. Harrelson found a willing business partner in Keith Hawthorne that would let him retain a silent ownership of his flag car dealership.  So regardless what the law says in his fraud conviction, Louis F. Harrelson is still in the car business and, even though the Better Business Bureau would now be forced to give him a bad rating with all of the fraud charges, he gets a clean slate as it’s under Keith Hawthorne Ford now!

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And it’s not just with this car dealership or with car dealerships in general, it’s in all kinds of businesses.  This is just one example. The main fraud here is that the Better Business Bureau is incorrectly reporting how they rate businesses to people and consumers.  This is misinforming consumers under the auspices of being a non-for profit consumer reporting agency.  That is horrible!  It’s kind of like the fox watching the henhouse.  It’s completely unacceptable.  But if you look into it you can see it yourself.

Any business that is not a member of the Better Business Bureau will generally have a much lower rating.  And it doesn’t matter how great their business practices are.  The Better Business Bureau will find a way to rate them lower and then they will contact them and held him back if they become a member of the Better Business Bureau and go through their program processes which basically are nothing that they will have their scores increased.  I know this from personal experience.  The Better Business Bureau granted me a C rating for absolutely no reason.  Then they contacted me twice, one time by a letter and one time by phone call, to elicit my paid membership in the Better Business Bureau.

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I asked them about the C rating and how that came to be.  I was told not to worry about it and as soon as I became a member that would change.  While when I look through the reports of various types of businesses there are none that are members of the Better Business Bureau with less than an A grade for their business report.  Now if you were to ask someone at the Better Business Bureau why that is they would tell you that it is becaue if they don’t follow their guidelines that they will be dropped from the membership.  That is so far from the truth it is unbelievable.

Somewhere at some point in time here the feds have to and need to start investigating this extortion, fraud and scam at the Better Business Bureau!  It’s just not right that every scumbag, fraud and cheating new car dealer that is constantly in the news for defrauding consumers has a rating of an A+ or a on the Better Business Bureau!  That just doesn’t compute!  If you look on the Internet in search for any car dealerships with the word complaints tied into it you will find hundreds sometimes even thousands of complaints by people that were defrauded by them in one way or another.

I am just one person but if enough people can figure this out and see for themselves and make a big enough stink out of it something will hopefully get done to stop this extortion and wrongful reporting of businesses by the Better Business Bureau.


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8 Responses to The Better Business Bureau (BBB) – a review, extortion and questionable business practices

  1. John Gyslan on July 8, 2010 at 10:40 PM

    Yes, I completely agree with you, the Better Business Bureau is a Ponzi scheme operating under the auspices of being a consumer rights company and non-for profit. When in fact, they are all about profit and lavish corporate parties. Someone at the FTC or Congress needs to look into the Better Business Bureau and shut them down because all of their information is erroneous and is not helpful to anyone.

    You are right all you have to do is look at their ratings for any new car dealer. Most new car and used car dealers in the United States are some of the worst run companies out there. Many of these car dealers are constantly feature in both local and national news for ripping off customers, fraudulent business practices and numerous other violations and law breaking activity. Yet they somehow all have A or A+ ratings on the Better Business Bureau. Figure that one out!

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  2. Fred Tipps on September 4, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    Yes, the Better Business Bureau contacted me first by mail and then by phone to see if I wanted to be apart of their “accredited” business list. When I told them no, the very next day my business score went from an A to a C. When I called them about this I was told that only accredited businesses follow their guidelines and deserve an A. The price to join $300 per month – that is pure and simple extortion and illegal. I have reported them to the FTC and guess what? Lots of others have too. The FTC said they have an ongoing investigation of the BBB for unfair business practices…

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  3. Bill Lenman on September 20, 2010 at 7:17 AM

    I see exactly what you are saying. Some of the scammiest and most corrupt car dealerships out there are all listed as A+ by the Better Business Bureau. All it takes is for them to send them money and presto they are backed by the Better Business Bureau. The BBB seal no longer means anything at all!

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  4. ty mills on April 6, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    The bbb is nothing but a scam.

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  5. Steve Franks on April 12, 2011 at 10:13 PM

    I am NOT and will NEVER be a member of the BBB. They suck and are an illegal scam.

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  6. Jeff on April 18, 2011 at 7:08 AM

    The BBB threatened our business with an F rating if we did not provide them with confidential information which we cannot disclose without breaking federal law, subjecting our firm to fines and lawsuits. When we repeatedly attempted to explain to the BBB that we could not do this and why, they said that they would review the problem, and get back to us. They did not. Instead, they posted an F rating with our firm. It was not until we complained to our Attorney General that they stopped and actually responded to our concerns. In the meantime, the F rating is very damaging and could cost us business. It is shocking that a business that holds itself out as a beacon of business ethics has no ethics itself. If you do not do what they say, they retialiate without knowing the law and the truth. Of course, if we were giving the BBB money, I am sure the entire matter would have been handled differently. The BBB refused to even apologize for their misconduct. Says alot about the integrity of the BBB.

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  7. Dave Mowers on May 20, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    We received a phone call from the Raleigh BBB asking us if we wanted to resolve a complaint made by a consumer. We were informed that in order to guarantee “resolve” in the matter we would need to write a check to the local BBB for $600.00. Essentially attempting to extort money from our business.

    They explained that they had mailed two complaint letters, we received one AFTER they called us, that we had limited time to adhere to their complaint schedule; in other words send them money now. I explained to them that I would review the compliant and contact them back, after reviewing what they initially put online we determined that the customer, WHO WOULD NOT REVEAL THEIR REAL NAME, was a person who had in fact ripped our company off.

    This customer thought he knew what was wrong with his boat and insisted he was right, even though he could not fix it himself; to the point of claiming we were even trying to rip him off. He had an electrical issue that required swapping out most of the system (battery, plugs, cables, starter, wires) to find the problem. He wrote us a check, while not complaining about anything and picked up his jetski then canceled the check. He has never returned any of the seven phone calls made to him by us about the matter. Which we have informed the police about.

    After filing a complaint with the BBB and of course not bothering to contact us, as we apparently don’t know what we are doing, according to him; he them canceled his personal check to us and refuses to clear his complaint with the BBB even though he received free service and parts, which he also refuses to return. The Wake County Sheriff’s office has told us that after we file a civil complaint and win a judgment they would then charge him with felony theft. Unfortunately for us as a small business that customer’s $573.00 bill is simply not worth the day in court and one thousand dollar filing fee charged by Wake County. This is one of the many reasons why dealerships and honest service shops will not bother with mobile service, there is no automatic lien placed on the property enforceable in court without a civil suit process. Our company lost more than $170.00′s in parts cost, which the BBB refuses to acknowledge since we refuse to pay them their extortion fee. I have gone as far as threatening to contact the local police and record their phone calls next time they decide to allow someone with no evidence to libel us online and then extort money from our business. Consequently, the Raleigh BBB gave our company an F rating and wrote three of their own false bad reviews about us, because we would not pay them to remove the original complaint.

    We have had/handled 15 serious customer complaints in seven years of doing business out of more than three thousand service jobs performed(and we can back that up with documentation in court). Out of the total available market in Wake County we are currently servicing 5% annually and have a referral rate of 20% meaning that 1 in five customers has been referred by an existing customer. Other than a phone book listing Dave’s Marine Services spends no money on advertising.

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  8. Joe on April 9, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    I would generally agree with the above. I had an experience with a heating contractor who stated blatant lies. After reporting this to local BBB with documentation, no notation was ever made against that heating contractor. To this day, the documented complaint remains unregistered for others to see. I had frequently suspected that BBB was not legitimate but for me this is ironclad proof. Rochester, MN

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