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How to Speak and Understand the BBB Language!

How to Speak and Understand the BBB Language! - The Beacon


By: Cathy

How to Speak and Understand the BBB Language!

The BBB® system has a language unique unto its own, and sometimes folks have difficulty in understanding exactly what it means. Whether you go online to check out a business or call our office to hear an operator read the Business Review to you, some confusion might remain as to what is meant by the review.

First, the Better Business Bureau is a neutral reporting agency. We do not take sides. We cannot tell you whether or not a company is “good” or “bad,” but we try to give you all of the information possible in order for you to make an informed decision. This includes ratings.

 Most businesses in the BBB files have a letter rating assigned to them. These ratings range from A+ to F.   It’s very similar to a school report card grading scale. A+ is very positive and F is negative. A+ means that even if the company has complaints, in relationship to their size and in the way they have handled the complaints, they still have a favorable rating. F is most often given if a company has multiple unanswered complaints.

In every review, there is a paragraph that will explain why a rating is given for that particular company, so you will be able to see what caused the A+ or the F.

Sometimes, for various reasons a company will not be rated. It may show up as NR (no rating). This most often happens when the BBB has not been able to receive information that would configure into the formula for the rating, such as the date the company began operating, who the principals are, and so forth. Other times it may indicate that we are unsure of what the company’s business or services are and have not been able to clarify. No company is required to answer the BBB’s inquiries for information, but most choose to do so as it assists their potential clients who may be researching them before doing business.

You may also find some reports that state they are on update and no information is currently available. This means that the BBB is in the process of trying to gather information needed in order to issue the review, or new information may have come to light that we are investigating and do not feel comfortable in releasing information currently available until the investigation is complete.

Some companies have patterns of complaints indicated in their reviews. A “pattern” is comprised when any three or more complainants make similar allegations. The company may still have a high rating, particularly if they are addressing the patterns and handling the complaints. This is just to give all the pertinent information. For instance, a company may have a pattern of slow service, but still have an A+ rating, if they have advised the BBB of what they have done or are doing to correct the issue and they have properly answered complaints.

We hope this helps to answer some of your questions when you are reading a BBB Business Review. For more information, you may contact us at or 812-473-0202.


This article was written for and appeared in the Evansville Courier & Press, dated 6/14/2015.

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Cathy is the President and CEO of the Tri-State Better Business Bureau.