"Good morning, may I speak to the owner please?"
"She's not here, you can talk to me."
"And what is your name?"
"No, you go first, you called me."
"Oh, I'm sorry, this is Steve with the Chicagoland Better Business Bureau."
"I said this is Steve with the Chicag..."
"I heard you the first time, I'm just sorry."
"What can I do for you Steve?"
"Well, I'd like to talk to you about becoming members of the BBB."
"We were members, from 1972-2000."
"May I ask why you stopped being members?"
"Sure, go right ahead."
"Go right ahead and ask why we stopped being members."
"Oh, hah hah...that's funny, Misterrrrrrr......may I ask your name?"
"Sure go ahead."
"What's your name?"
"Okay Smutty, why did you stop being members of the BBB?"
"Because your company is, for lack of a better term, complete bullshit."
"You should be."
"I mean why do you think that?"
"I don't think it, I know it. I'm the one who made the management decision to fire your asses back in 2000."
"And why is that?"
"Because the BBB is fraudulent. It's a bullshit organization. A phony bastard outfit trying to pass itself off as a consumer advocate group. A watchdog that doesn't watch anything but the bottom line."
"That's not true Mr. Smutty."
"It is true Steve. The BBB is a money making operation, am I wrong?"
"Well, technically maybe, but our purpose is to serve the consumers of the area. We keep records of businesses and any complaints against those businesses. When consumers call and ask us for a report, we tell them I see from our records that you have never had a complaint filed. That's the sort of business we want as a Member Business."
"Bullshit Steve. You'll accept anyone with $400 and a business license registered with the State of Illinois. You'll accept the biggest crooks in the home improvement industry, in fact one of your Board of Directors is the owner of the owner of the biggest replacement window rip-off artists in the history of the fucking world. You know the company that's all over TV? Sox games? Cubs games. Bears games. Bulls games. Hawks games. Hell they sponsor the Sox 7th inning stretch! You have to know who I'm talking about."
"You mean Delfco?"
"Are you suggesting that they are ..."
"I'm saying they're rip-off artists. Bait-and-switch dildos who prey on senior citizens and stupid people who don't know that bait-and-switch is illegal. Saps who think they can actually get a window replaced for $129, and who wind up paying $700 per. Not only that, the parasite bastards hook the morons up with "financing" that allows the sucker to make low-low-low-low payments for the next 14 years. And, they proudly tell the community in all their ads, that they're a Member Business of the BBB!"
"Mr. Smutty, we check out our Member Businesses with the same..."
"Bullshit Steve. You don't check out anybody. You're a boiler room with a bunch of computers. Here let me explain it this way, maybe you can understand better. Four simple scenarios. Number 1- I'm a member, and someone calls to check me out. No complaints. That's what you tell the consumer. Number 2- I'm a member, and someone calls to check me out. There are complaints on file. You tell the consumer that. Number 3- I'm NOT a member, and someone calls to check me out. No complaints. You tell the consumer that whether I'm a member or not. And finally, Number 4- I'm not a member of the BBB, and I have a ton of outstanding complaints. You tell the consumer that. So, there you have it from my point of view. Since I'm in Group Number 3, why in the hell would I give you $400?"
"Membership means you can display our BBB Torch Logo in your ads."
"I know, and that's why I fired you in 2000. You're new there Steve?"
"Ya see Steve, up until then, around 2000, it was strictly against the rules to fly the BBB flag in advertisements. The BBB was somewhat worthwhile back then. A reasonably ethical outfit. But then, I believe it was right when James Baumhart took over, the BBB changed that rule. Suddenly, Member Businesses were permitted to display the BBB Torch in our ads. That's when the BBB became a bullshit outfit. That's when BBB Membership meant that we were an alphabetical listing in a phone book, populated by scam artists, ....at least the contractor section is populated by scam artists, .....and published by whores."
"But sir, please, that's not completely accurate. Our Summer and Winter directories are distributed to everyone who gets either the Tribune or the SunTimes. That's twice a year your business gets the chance to remind your customers that you are concerned with their well-being. You get to tell them that fair business practices are your trademark."
"They already know that Steve. Check your records. No complaints. And that's what you tell people without me giving you four hundred bucks. And let's talk about your Summer and Winter directories Steve, ya know...the ones that allow me to tell my customers that I'm all for fair trade practices. Have you ever looked closely at the directory Steve? Down there along the bottom, it says "The BBB does not endorse any businesses listed. Consumers are encouraged to check with your local BBB."
"Yes that's correct. We clearly spell out that the BBB does not endorse ANY businesses Mr. Smutty."
"Yeah, exactly. You publish a fucking phone book with your BBB Logo prominent on the front, and inside you alphabetically list everyone who sent you $400, and then finally the BBB says we don't endorse any of these people, down there in the small print. As if the BBB isn't tacitly implying endorsement by the mere presence of business in their own fucking phone book. Then you call me up and somehow try to pressure me into joining the list of scammers who you'll take money from, but not actually endorse."
"But you said yourself that your company was a member."
"Yeah, that was back in the day. My father, a guy who really was interested in fair business practices, used to send you $200 because he felt like you served a purpose. He was right. That was before Baumhart began pimping out the reputation of the BBB. I was able to convince my dad that we didn't need you any more back in 2000. Seriously Steve, after 55 years in business, I'm pretty sure they know we're an established business. And as I explained to my dad, a day will come when the BBB is not only pimping out their rep with the silly fucking phone books, they're going to take the next step and start bullshitting people about members."
"The BBB would never do anything..."
"That's what they said before they started doing what they said they wouldn't do back in the day. The advertising thing. They said they'd never allow it. Which turned out to be bullshit. And as I told my dad, the only businesses who need to join the BBB any more are start-ups, and shysters. The start-ups get to buy a little instant cred, and the shysters get to seem legit. I'm neither, so I'm not interested in becoming a Member Business of the BBB. You people are one step away from becoming part of the scam."
That conversation is as accurate as I can recall, and took place about 3 or 4 years ago.
Well, it turns out that the BBB is part of the scam.Pay no attention to the BBB people. Word of mouth is king. If you're not sure about a contractor, or a dentist, or a lawn care company, ask a friend. The BBB is not your friend.