RENO –– Businesses need it, consumers generally want it and smart business management can’t function without it. Information, not only in large quantity but also great quality, can mean the difference between buying a lemon and getting a deal for your dime.
However, according to northern Nevada Better Business Bureau president and CEO Tim Johnston, businesses aren’t as forthcoming with their information as they used to be.
“We have about 1,800 businesses registered with us,” Johnston said. “That is down about 15 percent this year. That is a rough figure, but it is down. … Obviously, like any business, we are seeing an impact with the way the economy has been. ”
In the information age, and the age of economic recession, fewer businesses are seeking accreditation with the BBB.
“Accreditation does require an annual fee,” Johnston said. “When a business is impacted financially, that will affect their decision. We have seen a lot of businesses go out of business. Those that are still around, financially they would like to remain (with the BBB) but cannot at this time.”
The base fee for becoming accredited through the Better Business Bureau is $270 for a business with a staff of between one and seven employees. That fee increases for businesses with more employees.
BBB accreditation means that the business’ past history has been checked for violations, that it handles disputes in a timely and professional manner and that it adheres to ethical business practices.
“A lot of the information we will ask the business to provide,” Johnston said. “It is going to include the basics on the company: who the principals are, how long (they have) been around, any consumer complaints. We also will look out and keep in contact with other agencies. For example, if the attorney general were to issue a cease and desist, we are going to get that information.”
The northern Nevada BBB currently has about 16,000 accreditation reports filed and available to the public.
But while accreditations with the BBB are down locally, the number of people accessing the reports online has reached a record high, Johnston said.
“The people accessing those reports online have seen an exponential increase,” Johnston said. “With the Internet now, there are a lot of places people can go to find information. But you have got to look at how reliable is that information. Is it biased, unbiased?
“They (consumers) are typically going to go to multiple places to find info,” Johnston continued. “They meld that to get a better and bigger picture. I think ultimately it comes down to a financial decision for the business. There are plenty of review sites and discussion boards out there. The unfortunate side of that is that you are only getting one side of the story. We understand that there are always two sides to every story.”
On the Web
Northern Nevada Better Business Bureau: http://reno.bbb.org/
Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov
Consumer Product Safety Commission: www.cpsc.gov/
United States Department of Justice Consumer Complaints Division:
Nevada Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection: