The BBB claims to adhere to its Code of Business Practices including being in business for at least 12 months, obtaining all licenses, are free from government actions, agreeing to be honest and transparent… to address disputes quickly and professionally, etc. This all sounds fantastic… something I train my small business clients to do.

But as this expose reveals, any small business owner can quickly and easily bypass these BBB “Accreditation Standards” if they simply pay for it…

Watch this amazing and revealing video about the BBB:

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I don’t trust the media… they’re just as bad as the scammers the seem to expose. These media companies lie 24/7 and pretend to “be on our side” as our whistleblowers. But the video (above) is hard to ignore as Steve Cox (President of the BBB) admitted to a “few errors.”

Quite frankly, that’s propaganda and public-relations spin… and this follow-up video seems to show a pattern that the Better Business Bureau is nothing more than a small business extortion telemarketing firm:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GN4MKqDXGmY

Even worse, Google bolster’s the “trust and authority” value of the BBB by assigning their website a PageRank score of a 9 (out of 10):

No wonder most people still truth the Better Business Bureau as the world’s go-to whistleblower.

The Better Business Bureau isn’t the only feedback service in the extortion business…

Last year, several lawsuits emerged accusing Yelp.com (founded by two PayPal employees) of shaking down business owners to advertise in exchange for positive reviews.

And the wildly popular (and darling of Google’s search results) RipOffReport.com offers to turn negative reports into positive one… scammers are given the “opportunity” to pay up to $50,000.00 to join RipOffReport’s “Corporate Advocacy Program” and have their entire history of rip off reports negative reports vanish from the site.

I know, I know… you’re probably asking yourself, “Who can you trust?”

My answer is nobody. Seriously. I personally don’t trust a single feedback service (as a whole). What I do trust are most of the feedback comments posted online to help me make a better buying decision…

Here’s how I skim the cream from the top and find the best people to do business with:

Look for “complaints” or “sucks” websites
Anytime someone invests the time, money and energy to host a “suck” site, you know there’s both smoke and fire.

Take a look at this:

Some scammers are tricky and actually bully suck sites to hand over website to the scammer. That’s EXACTLY what Mike Filsaime (ex- car salesman by the way) did at this site:

(Interesting that he uses this “Mike Filsaime Sucks” website to show (in a YouTube video) how he used a legal loophole/technicality to literally steal away this website from its rightful owner – what a douchebag.)

Of course we can use the WayBackMachine (www.archive.org) to unearth what the site looked like before Filsaime snatched it:

Don’t look at overall grades
When a site gets a 4 out of 5 or an A- grade, that doesn’t mean much… feedback is easy to game. Some business owners game the system in their favor and competitors rig the ratings, too.

I’m much more interested in individual feedback.

Be skeptical of some 5-star ratings
Tons of people on the popular outsource site Fiverr.com are willing to accept a lousy $5 to give its employer an A+ feedback rating. It’s easy to spot these fake endorsements and testimonials… just check out their profile and see if they give everyone the best scores.

Pay special attention to the lowest feedback
As the most skeptical person on the planet (and proud of that tag), I zoom to those who give the worst feedback. Their comments reveal a lot:

Here’s a great example of how I’m able to extract gold nuggets of information from a 1-star review:

From this single review, I was able to make a (non) buying decision… it told me almost everything I needed to know about this book.

Bottom line: The real problem is us… this information about the Better Business Bureau scam has been around for many years. The problem is we’re often apathetic about this stuff and bury our heads in the sand…

Instead, we can make a difference. Forward this to a friend or colleague… Facebook like this post (see below)… get angry and spread the word – that’s what I’m doing.

By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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