BBB Complaints: Avoid These 4 Mistakes

If you've had a bad experience with a business, you'll want to get the matter settled quickly and without any fuss. But what happens when the business or contractor refuses to acknowledge your complaint or reimburse you? That's when the Better Business Bureau comes in handy. If you're ready to make a complaint or settle a dispute, here are 4 things you need to avoid doing at all costs. The information provided here is for general information only and should not be used as legal advice.

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BBB Complaints: 4 Mistakes To Avoid

  1. Not Acting Right Away. If you want to get to the bottom of what went wrong with a product or service you paid for and the business just isn't responding, you need to file your complaint right away. Don't waste any time. If you wait too long, your complaint could easily get buried and you'll have to work a lot harder to get reimbursed or get your case seen.
  2. Not Reading The Ad Or Contract Carefully. Lots of businesses use sneaky double talk or legalese to mislead customers into paying for a product or service. Don't be taken in by this: Go over the ad or contract with a trusted lawyer to make sure you understood the terms of the agreement correctly.
  3. Not Contacting The Business. You might suspect that you're the victim of a scam, but even if you feel certain you're being mislead, it's always better to at least give the business a chance to sort out the mistake and give you your money back before heading to the BBB or to court.
  4. Not Protecting Yourself From Slander Suits. Even if everything about your complaint is totally verified, businesses could sue you over a negative BBB review. Always be sure to protect yourself legally and don't leave yourself open to a lawsuit.

What If I Uncover A Scam?

If you think you're the victim of a scam, there are a few things you can do. First, contact the BBB and report your experience in detail. Not every business on the BBB is accredited, but if you report a scam or dishonest company, you'll be able the BBB filter it out and help other would-be customers protect themselves from harm.

Most Asked-About Businesses On BBB

Business Type Inquiries Per Year
Printing and Graphics 120,049
Job Listing Companies 195,195
Online Marketing 87,915
Insurance Companies 84,814
Roofers 80,731
Used Car Dealerships 76,098
General Contractors 72,026
Furniture Dealers 69,008
Home Renovation Services 65,150
Travel Agencies 60,203

What If I Need To Sue?

If you've contacted the business in question and they refuse to give you your money back or provide you with a comparable product or service, you may want to consider taking the case to court. In this case, make sure you're armed with a trusted lawyer who can walk you through the whole process and get you your money back.

Top 10 Scams Reported On BBB

Scam Type Details
Tax Services Threats of arrest and legal action for not immediately paying an IRS debt
Debt Collection Threats to take legal action is a debt is not instantly paid
Sweepstakes and Prizes Claims that you've won a prize but must pay tax to collect
Online Shopping Items available for a "great price" that can only be purchased by wire transfer
Employment Job offers that require personal information and a payment
Grants Government grants that require a "processing fee"
Tech Services A planted virus requires remote access to your computer
Loans Instant approval for a loan that requires an advance payment
Check and/or Money Order Claims that you overpaid for something and must pay the difference
Phishing An email that includes a malware link

In Depth

If you've had an unpleasant or downright fraudulent experience with a business, you're probably trying to get your money back and set the record straight. You want other unsuspecting customers to know that they're not going to get what they expect from a certain service. So how do you go about it? Luckily, the Better Business Bureau, a non-profit organization that helps to keep businesses accountable for scammy or dishonest service, is here to help.

However, it's not as simple as going onto the BBB website and filing a complaint. If you want your complaint to actually be taken seriously and to see justice done, you have to file it in the right way, especially if you're planning on suing. Tons of lawsuits get filed against huge brand-name companies all the time and fail just because the person didn't go through the right channels.

If you're a huge celebrity like 50 Cent, you can afford to sue huge companies like Taco Bell over something as silly as a joke request to change your name to match their new value menu and get away with it. Most of us, however, don't have that kind of time or money, so we have to be careful about filing complaints against smaller businesses and corporate entities.

Most of us, however, don't have that kind of time or money, so we have to be careful about filing complaints against smaller businesses and corporate entities.

If you're ready to file your complaint, don't wait on it. Be sure to do it now before too much time goes by and your complaint gets buried. But before you do, here are 4 things you absolutely need to avoid at all costs if you want to see justice done.

#1: Waiting Too Long. Time is important when filing a BBB complaint. The sooner you file, the sooner your case will be resolved. After filing, the business will have 30 days to make the problem right or your review will go against their score. This means that you just can't afford to let any time lapse between dealing with a bad experience and posting your review, especially if you're going to end up needing legal help.

To get started immediately, scroll below this video to read our exclusive guide to getting your BBB complaint quickly resolved.

#2: Not reading the ad or service contract. When you're doing business with someone, you need to make sure that both of you understand the terms and conditions of the deal. It's not fair to expect something you were never going to get, and it's not right to be cheated out of something you rightfully paid for. When Anheuser-Busch, the company that makes Budweiser, started putting beautiful women in their commercials for the beer, they never expected that someone would be dumb enough to expect that the women came with the price of the drink.

But that was the essence of Richard Overton's 1993 lawsuit where he claimed that the company had used advertising to mislead him into thinking that drinking Budweiser would turn him into a player. Overton didn't win his case since Budweiser had never explicitly made any promises of the kind. However, plenty of businesses use misleading language to trick consumers all the time. That's why reading the fine print, ad, or full service contract can potentially save you tons of money and trouble in court.

We're not lawyers, and this is general rather than legal advice, but it always pays to have a trusted lawyer look over any contract or document before you sign so you can avoid signing agreements with fraudulent or suspicious characters. For a direct link to experienced lawyers specializing in fraud and contract law, be sure to read our quick guide on winning disputes with businesses. Check it out below this video.

#3: Not contacting the business first. Many disputes can be settled simply by contacting the business and telling them what's gone wrong. While some issues can be the result of a simple misunderstanding, others can go much deeper. Lindsay Lohan has sued the game Grand Theft Auto and a literal baby in the course of 10 years, simply because she felt her image or character was being portrayed without her permission.

While she didn't win either of these suits, she could have probably avoided lengthy court battles by reaching out to the companies directly responsible rather than serving an infant with an injunction. Most of us don't have money to burn on legal battles, so it helps to at least try and come to an agreement without dragging it into court. However, if the business will not speak to you or acknowledge wrongdoing, you need to file your BBB complaint right away.

#4: Not being aware of slander suits. Even if everything in your complaint is factual, there's still a possibility of being sued for slander if you're not careful. While most negative comments on review sites are protected under the First Amendment, there are also plenty of examples of individuals getting sued over Yelp and Angie's List posts. Don't end up like the three Chicago women who got sued for writing negative reviews of plastic surgeon Jay Pensler on Yelp in 2010 after claiming he'd given one of them quote unquote Frankenstein breasts.

While most negative comments on review sites are protected under the First Amendment, there are also plenty of examples of individuals getting sued over Yelp and Angie's List posts.

Even if you're just trying to get your money back, companies could still end up suing the pants off you just for leaving a bad review, so always be sure you have the right legal help by your side even before you file your BBB complaint.

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