Better Business Bureau celebrates 100 years - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Better Business Bureau celebrates 100 years

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA -

The Better Business Bureau is celebrating 100 years of promoting business and mediating disputes between its members and real customers like you. But balancing the two can be tricky. The BBB gets kudos for much of its work, but it also has its critics.

Fred Elsberry, who runs the Atlanta BBB office, says working for business and consumers is a constant balancing act.
 
"We aren't a consumer organization. We're not all-business organization. Our interest is the marketplace," said Elsberry.

It's a marketplace that has been fueled by a lot of innovation and more than its share of exploitation.  So, 100 years ago in Minneapolis the Better Business Bureau opened shop to help keep businesses honest.

"At the turn of the 20th century, advertising was kind of where the Internet is today -- everybody recognized it as a very powerful marketing tool, but they also recognized that there was room for abuse," said Elsberry.

The idea spread until everywhere in the country was represented. Today, the BBB still keeps an eye on ads.

"We're looking for puffery, superlative, underselling, over selling advertisements and we'll go back to the company and ask them to prove it," said Lanada Green of the BBB in Atlanta.

They're always chatting with customers who feel they've been swindled.  Recent targets include military men and women overseas.

Dottie Collina is a 29-year BBB vet who says she's proudest of The Military Line -- a free resource for military families.  

"Which was established a few years to especially focus on the military and how they are often victims of frauds and scams, especially payday loans," said Collina.

To many, the BBB is a consumer watchdog.  But there is criticism by some business owners that the non-profit runs a pay-for-play scheme, where high grades are given to businesses who pay for membership while non-members get poor marks.

Unfair, says Fred Elsberry. The national BBB says it resolved a million complaints last year and handed out plenty of failing grades to paying, accredited businesses.

"It's my responsibility to be sure that everything that we do here at the Better Business Bureau is designed to reinforce our neutrality in the marketplace," said Elsberry.

One of the early motivators for getting an organization going was a former Coke president Sam Candler Dobbs.  Coke products at the time had an early competitor called Pluto Water that made outrageous health claims that simply couldn't be true and so Dobbs pushed - on a national scale - for truth in advertising.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • Fox 5 I-Team

    Cheap vs. Frugal

    Cheap vs. Frugal

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:15:25 GMT
    There is nothing wrong with saving a buck, but can you cross the line? There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.
    There is nothing wrong with saving a buck, but can you cross the line? There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.
  • Fox 5 I-Team

    Save on Vacation

    Save on Vacation

    Monday, April 21 2014 9:56 AM EDT2014-04-21 13:56:05 GMT
    Thinking about vacation is a lot of fun. Thinking about what it'll cost you is not so fun. Here are some ideas for cutting costs.
    Thinking about vacation is a lot of fun. Thinking about what it'll cost you is not so fun. Here are some ideas for cutting costs.
  • Get Financially Fit: A Step-By-Step Plan

    Get Financially Fit: A Step-By-Step Plan

    Monday, April 14 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-04-14 13:15:13 GMT
    April is Financial Literacy Month, so it's time to think about getting financially fit.  Let's start with two questions. Do you know how much you spend each month?  How much of your check should you save?
    April is Financial Literacy Month, so it's time to think about getting financially fit.  Let's start with two questions:  Do you know how much you spend each month?  How much of your check should you save?
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Dine Out for Project Open Hand

    Dine Out for Project Open Hand

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:39 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:39:13 GMT
    Head out to the a participating restaurant to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of Dining Out For Life.
    Head out to the a participating restaurant to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of Dining Out For Life.
  • Fox 5 I-Team

    Cheap vs. Frugal

    Cheap vs. Frugal

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:15:25 GMT
    There is nothing wrong with saving a buck, but can you cross the line? There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.
    There is nothing wrong with saving a buck, but can you cross the line? There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.
  • Mountain Festival Brings Music, Dancing To Dahlonega Square

    Mountain Festival Brings Music, Dancing To Dahlonega Square

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:08 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:08:13 GMT
    The North Georgia town of Dahlonega is best-known for its gold. But this weekend, music will bring more than 50,000 people to the historic town square.
    The North Georgia town of Dahlonega is best-known for its gold. But this weekend, music will bring more than 50,000 people to the historic town square.
Powered by WorldNow

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices