A Step to Rebuild Trust in the Marketplace

January 6, 2009

Every day seems to bring another story of a major corporation falling on hard times or an investor unwittingly bilked of their savings. Names we have known for decades are disappearing overnight.

This is a worrisome situation because most business transactions are based on the simple notion that I can trust the other party to deliver what they promise. In too many cases, that trust has been shaken to its core.

The Better Business Bureau is committed to building and strengthening the trust between consumers and the companies they deal with right here in our community.

That is why there has never been a better time for our organization to unveil a major new approach to rating local businesses. This month the non-profit BBB has launched a new letter grading system for local businesses that will assign letter grades ranging from A+ to F. These grades represent the BBB’s degree of confidence that the business is operating a trustworthy manner and will make a good faith effort to resolve disputes.

Our ratings formula takes into account 16 weighted factors, using objective information and actual incidences of a company’s behavior that have been verified and evaluated by BBB professionals. This includes how long the company has been in business, its complaint history, the severity of complaints and government actions against the business related to its marketplace activities.

The rating factors also take into account BBB’s opinion as to whether business models and industries operate in violation of the law, misrepresent products and services and are likely to generate trade practice concerns.

It is important to know that our new letter grade system applies both to BBB Accredited Businesses and to any other business in the community that is in our database.

Given the current tough economic conditions, consumers cannot afford to make bad buying decisions. These reports make it easy and convenient for consumers to research local businesses before they buy.

To begin your research, just go to our website at www.columbia.bbb.org. We are excited about this new approach and hope that it will strengthen your trust in the many fine companies that are dedicated to building trustworthy relationships with their South Carolina customers.

James R. Camp is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Better Business Bureau of Central South Carolina and Charleston . He joined the BBB last year after retiring as  Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of AgFirst Farm Credit Bank in Columbia .