Better Business Bureau

From Academic Kids

The Better Business Bureau, founded in 1912, is an organization based in the United States and Canada devoted to honest business. On their website, they list their core services as:

  • Business Reliability Reports
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Truth-in-Advertising
  • Consumer and Business Education
  • Charity Review


The inception of the Better Business Bureau is credited to the court case initiated by the government against a number of firms, whose number included the Coca-Cola Company, in 1906, after the Pure Food and Drug Act had been written into law. As a result of the trial (the legal charges had been determined to be unfounded) Samuel C. Dobbs, sales manager of Coca-Cola Company and later its president, began committed to the cause of truth in advertising. During the trial, Coca-Cola’s own attorney had uttered a famous remark that confirmed Dobbs' desire to see honesty in business practices: "Why, all advertising is exaggerated," the lawyer had remarked. "Nobody really believes it." In 1909, Dobbs became president of the Associated Advertising Clubs of America (now AAF) and began to make speeches on the subject; in 1911, he was involved in the adoption of the “Ten Commandments of Advertising." Similar organizations in succeeding decades, such as the National Better Business Commission, Inc. of the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World (1921), and the National Association of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (1933) merged to become in 1946 the Association of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. This association functioned until 1970 when it was merged into the Council of Better Business Bureaus.


The BBB is primarily funded by its member corporations, thus leading to criticism that it is less than effective as a consumer protection agency. As it is not a governmental agency, its capabilities are confined to reporting bad, or allegedly bad, business practices to the proper authorities. Companies are also forced to pay an annual fee (currently $375.00), and must pay twice in order to belong to the Online Better Business Bureau as well as the regular, offline Better Business Bureau. Other criticisms have arisen from the fact that the BBB office in each community is a separate entity. Accusations have been leveled against individual BBB offices that do not belong to the Council of Better Business Bureaus, who deny that there are outstanding complaints against even the worst of their member companies, to avoid losing revenue from membership fees. However, according to the BBB, all BBBs are required to be members of the Council of BBBs; there is no such thing as a BBB that is not affiliated with the Council of BBBs. Additionally, Bureaus are governed at the local level by a board of directors, though all are regulated by the Council. The Federal Trade Commission is considered to be a more effective body in dealing with financial scams and rip-offs.

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