Category Archives: General

BBB of Kansas City at a Glance

Magnifying GlassAuthor: Dustin Johnson

I wanted to share what the Kansas City BBB has done over the past year. You may not know how much the BBB does to further its mission to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust.

Here are the statistics for the last year:

1,021,087 Inquiries
This is the number of times that BBB Business Reviews on local businesses were provided free of charge. The vast majority of business reviews were viewed by consumers through our website.

19,568 Complaints Closed
Number of complaints BBB processed against greater Kansas City and surrounding area businesses.

4,930 Customer Reviews Submitted
Consumers who had a marketplace interaction with a business can share their experience whether positive, negative or somewhere in between and rate it on a 5 star scale. We expect the number of reviews to increase dramatically over the next few years as news of this newer BBB service continues to spread.

49 Advertising Review Cases Closed
BBB routinely monitors advertising within the marketplace and contacts businesses whose advertisements may not meet BBB’s Code of Advertising.

27 Investigations Performed
While BBB does many more simple investigations into businesses, their principal(s) and practices, this is the number of more significant cases where BBB seeks voluntary correction through written correspondence, seeking clarification and/or correction of the practices and/or information that BBB is investigating. BBB also informs the public on their review along with press releases and other media outreach. Additionally, information may be provided to local prosecutors, federal, state or local agencies for potential legal action.

There are a total of 2,547 accredited businesses as of the end of June.

Here’s a breakdown of activity from 7/1/2017 – 6/30/2017:

  • 302 applications for accreditation were vetted and approved by BBB officials and its Board of Directors.
  • 56 applications were denied.
  • 6 Revocations. Businesses who did not maintain BBB’s Standards for Accreditation had their accreditation revoked.
  • 90% Retention Rate. Only those businesses who are meeting BBB accreditation standards are invited to renew their annual commitment to BBB’s Standards for Trust.

We would like to thank our accredited businesses for their commitment to the BBB’s core values and support of services to the public.

Learn about BBB, obtain reviews on businesses and charities, find or report scams, submit complaints/customer reviews, find a BBB Accredited Business and more at www.bbb.org/kansas-city.

Northern Networking: The BBB Presents at Northland Coffee Connect, Hosted at iWerx

Author: Jennifer McGlothen

Northland Coffee Connect Hosted at iWerkxI live in South Kansas City, and while I was familiar with Northland Coffee Connect, I hadn’t made the extra effort to arrive at this 7:45AM networking event north of the river. I had run into Terri S. Turner of TST Marketing & Communications Services some time ago and she mentioned I should check out the event. Then a few months ago, one of our colleagues at the BBB who lives north also mentioned the event. It was time to check it out!

Terri works to manage Northland Coffee Connect so I contacted her to learn more. We scheduled a date for the BBB to share about how we advance trust in the marketplace.

Northland Coffee Connect Hosted at iWerkxThe week prior to the presentation, I decided I would attend to make some new connections and see the iWerx co-working space. I was sorry that I had not made a point to get there long ago! It was a great group of people, great coffee and a great space! The living room arrangement adds such a nice touch.

So, on Wednesday, June 21st, I and two of my colleagues arrived at iWerx bright and early to provide an overview of what the Better Business Bureau does. If you like infographics, here is what that overview looks like:

BBB at a glance

If you like live video snippets, I’ve got those for you also!

Dustin Johnson, Director of Accreditation Services covered some stats and how people use BBB information.
(21 seconds)

Aaron Reese, Manager of Information & Media Services covered advertising review.
(54 seconds)

Northland Coffee ConnectI spoke about our charity review program and how it’s a public service to both charities and donors, but I didn’t video myself! You can check out lots of presentations on Northland Coffee Connect’s Facebook page.

We got good feedback from some attendees and we’re glad that we were able to share details about the varied activities of the BBB. Last but not least, we thank Northland Coffee Connect, iWerx  and their sponsors.

No matter what area of town you live or work, check out Northland Coffee Connect and iWerx!  We know you will find exactly what we found – great people, great coffee and a refreshing space!

Tips For Buying From the Facebook Marketplace.

By Aaron Reese

Facebook MarketplaceThe Facebook Marketplace is steadily growing in popularity. Like Craigslist, it displays a local collection of personal sale classified ads. One reason it’s probably gaining in popularity is that a seller must have a Facebook account. There’s no denying the overwhelming popularity of Facebook. Most people surf the site daily, and it’s awfully convenient to do some shopping while you’re there.

When a seller has a Facebook page, it’s comforting. It helps set a buyer at ease. If the seller’s Facebook page is public, you can see the person’s profile picture. You can look at his or her activity and friends, political rants, friendship quizzes and whatever else they are doing. Craigslist, on the other hand, all but guarantees anonymity with its auto-generated email addresses. It’s easy to see why the Facebook Marketplace might rival Craigslist. It’s a trust thing.

But not so fast.

We already know that Facebook is rife with scams. The BBB issues warnings about them all the time. We also publish articles about plenty of Craigslist scams. Both sites come with their own risks. With the advent of the Facebook Marketplace, we’re seeing a combination of two kinds of scams.

Facebook scams often exploit people’s trust in their Facebook friends list. Scammers will replicate someone’s page, stealing their pictures and sending friend requests to everyone on that person’s friends list. When the scammer gets a few approved friend requests on the fake profile, he’ll start hitting up people in his friends list for money. Sometimes scammers ask to borrow funds for personal reasons. Sometimes scammers tell people that they’ve won a sweepstakes. Sometimes they steer people to scam sites.

Scammers are pulling some of those same tricks to swindle people in the Marketplace. They’re creating fake profiles and claiming to have great deals on merchandise. Scammers are tricky, but you can look for a few red flags that reveal them for what they are.

F-150The deal is too good to be true. You’ll find some great deals in the Marketplace. People will try to get rid of unwanted stuff, but try to recognize when it’s not realistic. For example, I found a 2015 Ford F150, 4-door with chrome running boards on sale for $4,500. That truck is worth $31,000. No one, and I mean no one mind would sell it for so little. The best case scenario is that the seller truly wishes to unload it for so little money…because it’s stolen.

The photos are from the manufacturer’s promotional material. If a seller lists a home entertainment center, they should have pictures of the one they actually own. If they provide a picture with a pristine white background and professional multi-angle lighting, you can safely assume that the seller did not take the picture. You have no way of knowing what the entertainment center looks like, what condition it’s in or if it even really exists

The seller asks you to wire money. Sometimes sellers claim to be out of town. They might tell you that they’ve had other offers, but they’ll do you a favor and hold the item if you wire them some cash. Don’t do this. Ever.

The seller’s Facebook page has no activity. This is a pretty good indication that the profile is new to Facebook and probably fake. If the seller has a private profile, send a friend request so that you can see their history. If you don’t see anything older than a week, don’t buy from them.

You can find more about Facebook scams here and Classified Ad scams here.

If you’ve had experiences with scams in the Facebook Marketplace, let us know. Leave a comment or report it to BBB’s Scamtracker.

The Importance of BBB Customer Reviews

Author: Dustin Johnson

Word of Mouth Just Went Viral!

Online Review StatsYou finish a big job. The customer’s thrilled. Next thing you know, the client’s neighbor wants you to price out some work. Isn’t word-of-mouth a wonderful thing?

Now imagine that same happy customer didn’t just talk to his neighbor but went out and told everyone in town how much he liked your work. Talk about a job well done. Welcome to the wonderful world of online customer reviews. One of the most powerful business development tools available today.

Did You Know?

Did you know that your BBB allows for customers to post reviews about their experiences with businesses, brands and charities whether it be positive, negative or somewhere in between? BBB has always helped consumers with dispute resolution, but for the past few years BBB has also accepted customer reviews.

A BBB customer review is the subjective opinion of a customer who had a marketplace interaction with a business. Customers can share their experience whether it be positive, negative or neutral. The customer is not necessarily seeking any dispute resolution help through BBB, and if he or she is, BBB may recommend to file a complaint instead.

Submit a ReviewBy accepting customer reviews, BBB is able to provide additional information on organizations to help potential customers make educated purchasing decisions. Reviews also allow businesses to demonstrate how they interact with their customers.

In today’s climate, it’s what many consumers are looking for when researching online. Countless potential customers are reading reviews and they’re doing it for almost everything they buy.

Engage Your Customers

Don’t be afraid to ask! Tell customers their feedback and opinions are important to you. If you don’t ask, your chances are much lower in getting a positive review. If a customer has a bad experience they will set out to write a bad review. A customer with a good experience may simply let you know in person, over the phone, or in email within a conversation. This is your time to ask them to share their experience in an online review.

Here are some tips to help you get the right kind of feedback

Ask:  Let customers know you want to hear from them and be responsive and open to their feedback. Tell them that your business is on bbb.org and ask them to write you an online review. You can also solicit reviews after a job is done via an email or even a post card. Be sure to include a URL that directly links them to your BBB Business Profile and/or engage them on Facebook or Twitter with an account for your business.

Save:  Emails and letters with nice customer comments make great testimonials, so keep every one that you get. Do ask for permission before you publish them, and remember to ask if they would submit their review on your BBB Business Profile. For BBB accredited businesses, don’t forget to include your BBB Accreditation Seal to remind customers of your commitment to service.

Share:  Turn customers into advocates. Encourage clients to share a good experience with your business online on Twitter or Facebook.

Follow-up:  If a job went well, but the customer doesn’t leave you a review, contact them again in a few weeks. Politely inquire if they were satisfied with your service. If yes, ask again if they would consider sharing their thoughts online.

Respond:  There’s no reason you can’t respond to a good review by saying thank you publicly. It shows you are listening and people like to be acknowledged. It’s also important to actively monitor your online reputation.

While BBB will contact you when a complaint or customer review has been submitted, get in the habit of searching your business name plus “reviews” to see what comes up. If it’s a negative review, respond timely and professionally. Make an honest effort to resolve the issue but do not continue to engage in a long dialogue online. Try to take it offline and respond more personally via phone or email. As it can be difficult not to take a negative review personally, remember to be professional in your response. Potential customers reading your reviews may consider how you’re responding to them just as important as the reviews themselves.

To learn more about BBB Customer Reviews, including what makes BBB Customer Reviews different from other review sites or to learn about the difference between a customer review and a complaint, visit: https://www.bbb.org/council/reviews/about-bbb-customer-reviews/ or contact your local BBB.

5 Things You Should Do When Hiring a Contractor

Author: Dustin Johnson

For the past couple of months, I’ve spent just about every weekend doing some type of home improvement or maintenance work to my home and yard. I’m either mowing, trimming trees and bushes, planting flowers, fixing the landscaping, replacing wood rot, painting, staining, installing hardwood floors and the list goes on.

Now my wife wants to remodel two of our bathrooms as she already has new vanities, faucets, tile and paint all picked out and ready to go. She says, “we’ve got out of town guests next month so it needs to get done before they arrive!” Ugh, when does it end? After working at the office all week, aren’t my weekends meant to be more relaxing, especially now, since my wife and I are empty nesters?

I’m not getting any younger and my lower back aches for days after working around the house all weekend. I think it’s time to hire some of this stuff out and start enjoying some more free time pain-free!

Here are 5 things you should do when hiring a contractor.

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The College Conundrum: One Parent’s Journey

Author: Jennifer McGlothen

UniversityWhen I was preparing to go to college, I picked a few schools based on what I thought I wanted to do and where I thought I wanted to be. No campus tours, no interviews. I applied and was accepted. I chose Drake University. My parents had planned financially, accepted my choice and that was it. That was more years ago than I care to admit, but going through the process with my daughter was a bit more complex.  I’m not even sure of all the reasons why, but a few stand out.

Helicopter Parents

First, the college counseling staff at her high school held a meeting in her junior year to begin to outline what happens when and what we parents needed to know.  One clear message I got was about not being a “helicopter parent”. I thought it was a little too late to expect a parent that typically hovers to back off now that their child is ready for college. Besides that, there was a lot to take in about the nuances of admissions, test scores, essays, need-based aid, merit aid, visits and the timing of it all. It was overwhelming, but knowing how my daughter is pretty independent and stays on top of things, I decided there was no need for anxiety. I just let her get in the driver’s seat.

Career Direction

Second, some kids are very clear about their career direction, others are not.  My daughter fell into the latter category for the most part. I was okay with that, remembering how I changed my major as a sophomore and how career goals for me were more a process of discovery, learning what I did and didn’t like with each job I had. But now it seemed that college was way too expensive to not know what you want to do, so I began to understand why some students choose to take a gap year or attend community college for a couple years.

My child was not remotely interested in these choices.  The option of moving away from home for the quintessential college experience was what she wanted. Deciding on this huge educational investment with an eighteen-year-old, with quite a variety of interests and talents began to be somewhat of a conundrum.

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What Is The Council of Better Business Bureaus and Why Does It Exist?

By Cherie Reese

The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization or hub for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

Council of BBBs

Mission: To be the leader in advancing marketplace trust

How is this done?

  • Setting standards for marketplace trust
  • Encouraging and supporting best practices by engaging with and educating consumers and businesses
  • Celebrating marketplace role models
  • Calling out and addressing substandard marketplace behavior
  • Creating a community of trustworthy businesses and charities

You may ask, what does the local BBB do if the Council does this?

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