BBB's Regulations May Punish 'Problematic' Industries

Posted: Sep 19, 2008 10:37 AM
Should your company be punished just because some people don't think people should eat cheeseburgers?

If things go wrong, that might just happen.  ... I'm hearing word that anti-business "consumer" groups are pressing the Better Business Bureau to revise their ratings system -- a move which could have serious repercussions on specific industries.

Founded to "promote and foster the highest ethical relationships between business and the public throught voluntary self-regulation ...", the BBB still holds a lot of sway with many consumers, so it's not surprising that any change to their accreditation can have a significant impact on a business or industry.

Considering the other serious economic news happening this week, on the surface, this may not seem like terribly alarming news.  However, the very real concern is that the new ratings system (which I'm told will be voted on October 5), will allow points to be deducted based on the “BBB's opinion of the problematic nature of an industry.”  In the past, the BBB has rewarded points based on objective standards of excellence (their current "standards" are apparently down.)
This, of course, opens the door to "consumer" groups who may want to target specific industries, such as fast-food, used car dealerships, and sub-prime lenders.  If successful, these companies would receive negative ratings (which would injure their reputations) based not on the merits of their service -- but rather because they are part of an unpopular or politically incorrect industry. 

Obviously, this is unfair and un-American.  Perhaps more concerning, though, is the precedent this move would set for other organizations to follow.

Stay tuned ...