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"Better Business Bureau"

mp3 #330 Better Business Bureau (mp3 file)

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a nonprofit organization of private businesses. BBB's vary from community to community. While BBB programs do vary, basic services include:

1. General information on products and services (no endorsements).

2. A source for establishing a standard of good business practice for business people.

3. Complaint mediation between consumers and merchants, as well as legally binding arbitration if necessary.

4. Review and handling of advertising complaints.

5. Information on charitable organizations.

A telephone call to the BBB will help you obtain information as to:

1. How long a business has been established.

2. If the business has a satisfactory or unsatisfactory complaint record.

A satisfactory record refers to a business answering complaints and resolving justified customer complaints. Remember, however, a satisfactory record does not mean a business has no complaints against it.

Complaint Handling

Should you have a complaint that you want the BBB to handle, you’ll find a local office listed in the phone book. Call the BBB and explain the problem. Your complaint must be submitted in writing on forms the BBB will provide.

After your complaint is received, the business is notified of your complaint and is asked to resolve the prob1em, whether it is a member of the BBB or not.

Arbitration Program

Should a mutually satisfactory resolution to a complaint not be reached through informal mediation, legally binding arbitration offered through BBB's may provide an alternative to the courts.

In BBB arbitration, you and the merchant involved agree to submit your dispute to a disinterested party who will be chosen by the two of you. BBB maintains a pool of volunteer arbitrators and can provide an arbitrator with independent expert witnesses, interpreters and independent laboratory testing. If you want a record of the proceeding or stenographic services, you must pay for them, as well as expenses, if any, for your own witnesses. Other than these costs, the BBB offers its arbitration without charge.

Hearings are informal and you can present evidence and question the other party’s witnesses. Attorneys or representation by another party is permissible, but not necessary.

Hearings are held at a time convenient for all parties involved. Many hearings are held on the site of the dispute and usually last one or two hours. The process usually takes from 3 to 21 days from start to finish.

An arbitration award is legally binding on both parties and is enforceable in court. There is no minimum or maximum dollar limitation on the size of disputes which can be arbitrated.

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