Vancouver Island BBB publishes business ‘bible’

A year of change for consumer advocacy organization

Victoria and Vancouver Island’s Better Business Bureau is set to launch its 2014 business directory as part of a year of big changes for the non-profit organization.

The BBB publishes its directory each year, essentially a listing of BBB-accredited businesses on Vancouver Island.

“These are the businesses you want to do business with,” said Scott, who is based in Victoria. “Put it right next to your phone book. It’s like a little bible.”

A business must go through a detailed vetting process in order to be accredited – it is not as simple as just joining the BBB. In order to be accredited, a business must have been in operation for at least a year, have no complaints logged against them, have established a positive presence in the marketplace and have a good rating with the BBB, based on specific criteria.

One criteria focuses on honest advertising and making sure companies make promises they can keep. Advertising as “the best” in an industry doesn’t fly with the BBB, same with other unverifiable claims. Sales promises with small print exceptions also raise flags for the bureau.

“It kind of backfires on a business when they do that,” Scott said. “So we work with businesses to help them have good advertising practices.”

Businesses are monitored to make sure they keep up these standards. The BBB itself is audited yearly to make sure it is keeping up its standards. The Vancouver Island bureau passed with 100 per cent for 2013.

There were significant changes for the BBB in 2013. The biggest perhaps is the Canadian BBB’s integration with its U.S.A. counterpart, creating a North American BBB. The two organizations can now work closer together, and share resources and information about businesses on both sides of the border.

“We retain our Canadian identity, however we become part of an amazing brand,” Scott said. “That was huge for us, a wonderful transition.”

In order to get in, the Canadian BBB had to be accredited, just like any other business, a process which was complex, but ultimately successful. “Me and my staff are very proud,” said Scott, who was elected chair for the Canadian region.

Last year also saw the BBB improving website security and migrating to Google apps, part of an overall partnership with Google.

The Vancouver Island-specific “Did You Know?” campaign, started in 2013, will continue this year, helping consumers learn more about the local BBB and what it does and doesn’t do, through bite-size facts, disseminated through a variety of platforms.

A new organization-wide website is in the works for early 2014, which will offer improved functionality and design. The new year will also see the introduction of enhanced ratings for businesses, which will allow for more detail for people looking for information about a business. Specifics are being saved for the launch of the changes.

“We’re the good guys and we look at ourselves long and hard everyday, trying to make everything that we do better,” Scott said.

See vi.bbb.org for more information.

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