Starting with Trust

Building and maintaining trust between businesses and consumers is at the core of what the BBB does, and just as trust is a basic and universal requirement in our personal relationships, it’s also a requirement for a healthy business community.

Because creating trust between businesses and consumers is our mission, we require all BBB Accredited Businesses to adhere to our Standards of Trust, which include advertising honestly, telling the truth, being transparent, honoring promises, being responsive, safeguarding privacy, and acting with integrity. Building trust means the business adheres to those standards in good times and bad, when the customer is watching and when the customer isn’t watching. This is self-regulation at its best

But this only works if customers adhere to similar standards of behavior.  When someone goes out of their way to take advantage of a company, it costs us all. There are certain responsibilities the consumer has to the business transaction. Here a just a few that come to mind:


Know your rights and responsibilities, comparison shop, read contracts, and ask questions before buying. If you don’t take the time to do some pre-purchase research you are only setting yourself up for disappointment – and the fault is your own. The fact is, if you sign a contract without reading it and then file a complaint to get out of it, there’s little to nothing BBB can do for you. The same stands for comparison shopping. If you file a complaint because the new stove you bought turns out to be $100 less at a different retailer, that misstep falls on you –  not on BBB and certainly not on the business.


Don’t return used goods under the pretense that they are damaged if they are not. This is theft, plain and simple. Businesses offer return policies in good faith. The business cannot resell an opened, used product.  They are forced to dump it at a fraction of the original asking price. Abusing a return policy costs all of us.


Show the same level of honesty you expect from a business.  There’s a reason the golden rule works. If a sales clerk makes a mistake in your favor, point it out as quickly as you would a mistake in the company’s favor.


Recognize that store employees are individuals. Treat them as you wish to be treated.


Don’t make unreasonable demands. Respect the firm’s right to limit services and products offered. Don’t expect to get something for nothing. Turn to your BBB for assistance with a marketplace dispute only if you’ve tried to resolve it directly with the company and that effort failed.

Trust is a two-way street and something that must be earned constantly. Whether a business owner or a customer, we all play a part in that process.