ABC's 20/20 News Investigates the BBB: "Pay for Play" Allegations & Swapping A's for Membership
The Better Business Bureau, one of the country’s best known consumer watchdog groups, is being accused by business owners of running a “pay for play” scheme in which A plus ratings are awarded to those who pay membership fees, and F ratings used to punish those who don’t. In this eye-opening ABC News report, BBB is revealed to be unfairly selling A grades and giving F grades to businesses that refuse to play along.
"Right now, this rating system is really unworthy of consumer trust or confidence," said Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal in an interview to be broadcast as part of an ABC News investigation airing tonight on 20/20.
The Better Business Bureau, a non-profit group that began 98 years ago, instituted its A plus through F grading system just two years ago, replacing a “satisfactory/unsatisfactory” ratings system.
One of the first to raise concerns about the new grading system was New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. Weiner was investigating complaints to his office about the popular precious metals dealer Goldine. Some customers had alleged they were ripped off after responding to Goldline’s television ads, which appear in heavy circulation during conservative talk radio and television programs.
Goldline responded to Weiner’s criticism in part by pointing to the stamp of approval the company had received from one of the nation’s most respected consumer groups.
“We are proud to be rated A+ from the Better Business Bureau,” Goldline VP Scott Carter said at a congressional hearing convened by Weiner in September.
Weiner told ABC News he considered Goldline’s A plus grade to be suspect.
Weiner and other critics say they believe the BBB has used the new grading system as part of an extensive tele-marketing campaign to increase membership and revenue.
Read more about the BBB scam here: Terror Group Gets 'A' Rating From Better Business Bureau?