BBB, BCA, and Trustlink
Trust Rating Systems for Businesses in the USA
The three most trusted business rating companies for businesses in the United States are the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustlink and Business Consumer Alliance (BCA). Their sites are read by hundreds of thousands of consumers.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Since its inception in 1912, the Better Business Bureau has been evolving in order to continually and accurately rank the trustworthiness of companies. They evaluate the ethics and honesty of members and non-members based on available data.
The Better Business Bureau rates companies based on internal measurement systems. It marks businesses with a letter grade from A+ to F. Rankings are affected by the number and type of complaints leveled against a firm, and how the firm responds to those complaints. When conflict between the business and a consumer cannot be resolved without help, the BBB steps in to mediate and has successfully brought about resolution in tens of thousands of cases. Sometimes a business handles complaints responsibly and in good faith, but the client has been unreasonable or a legitimate misunderstanding arose. In other cases, clients seek satisfaction from a business that does not respond or does not honor promises.
Negative reviews from some consumers reflect problems with advertising and misrepresentation. A company can raise its grade by adjusting their ads and becoming more transparent. However, certain industries are inherently difficult to trust. In their case, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) will award a rank appropriate to the nature of the business.
Trustlink uses customer reviews to award ranking firms with zero to five stars. Consumers are welcome to write good or bad reviews about any business and to choose up to five stars for that company. As reviews come in, an average will emerge and this is the rating a company receives from Trustlink.
Trustlink was formed in 2008 when the BBB wanted to provide a place for customer reviews, both good and bad. The program was launched on the worldwide web in 2010. It has been an especially popular review medium in Southern California, but Trustlink rates companies from all over the United States.
Moderators of the site check reviews for factuality and obscenities, removing anything, good or bad, they believe to have been planted. They are looking for legitimate comments by consumers who have actually used a service or bought a product, not second-hand impressions. When a transaction has been proven, it will be marked “Trustlink Verified.”
People do not pay to post reviews and companies only pay a fee if they want extra services. Mainly, Trustlink provides a venue for consumer-company interaction. Companies are welcome to reply to what their clients say (to make things right, correct mistakes, or thank consumers for kind words). Writers can edit their ratings when a business response causes them to change their minds about a star-grade.
Business Consumer Alliance (BCA)
The Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) also began as an offshoot of the BBB. This non-profit organization was founded in Los Angeles 80 years ago but now ranks businesses from across North America. Their aim is to promote “self-regulation” among businesses and also to act as a mediator between customers and companies. Firms receive a grade from AAA to F. Issues with dishonest advertising will bring a grade down, but honesty in advertising raises the grade.
Companies may join the BCA and help promote ethics amongst businesses. To join the firm must be a legal business and must adhere to certain ethics and expectations to prove they are trustworthy.
Using algorithms, the BCA quantifies impressions of ethical business behavior so that consumers can see whether a business is following the rules, is reliable, or in a state of ethical uncertainty.
Like the BBB and Trustlink, the Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is unable to enforce any rules; they cannot insist that businesses make changes to their policies. All they can do is make consumer experiences available to the public and broadcast responses made by business owners when clients share their views.