With more than a century of experience under its belt, Better Business Bureau (BBB) still remains as committed as ever to keeping businesses accountable to a just and ethical marketplace.
By Nancy Coulter-Parker, Founder NCP Content + Consulting
Since the early 1900s, BBB has been on the forefront of positive marketplace change. From its inception, BBB looked to correct advertising abuses by fighting for truth in advertising and selling. With a focus on consumer education, dispute resolution and business self-regulation, BBB touched local stores and businesses across the nation as well as the likes of Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, and Ford. Here are some BBB highlights:
In 1912, the National Vigilance Committee, which oversaw local Vigilance Committees, and focused on scrutinizing regional and national advertising was formed. In 1916, Arthur F. Sheldon, founder of a well-known school of salesmanship suggested the Committee change its name to “Better Business Bureau.” In 1921, National Better Business Bureau (NBBB) was officially born.
In 1933, NBBB was joined by another organization in the crusade against fraudulent advertising, the New York-based Association of Better Business Bureaus (ABBB), whose members consisted of the individual local BBBs and included representation from NBBB.
After World War II, NBBB began its widely heralded War Savings Protection Program aimed at keeping the hard-earned money of servicemen out of the hands of swindlers. President Harry S. Truman congratulated the organization in 1950, saying, “Your bureaus have not relied on propaganda extolling the virtues of business. They have gone to work to clean out the shady areas in the commercial world.”
In 1970, as a new era of consumerism developed, NBBB and ABBB merged and Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) was formed.
In 1973, Henry Ford II called on BBB to, “restore the confidence of the public in the marketplace.” That year, BBB helped to found the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP) to enhance the role of consumer affairs professionals in corporate offices.
In 1978, General Motors, called on BBB to mediate disputes between GM and consumers who purchased GM cars. This program was met with resounding success and became a respected means to resolve consumer disputes.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the last full week of April as National Consumers Week.
In 1985, Virginia H. Knauer, Director of the United States Office of Consumer Affairs, and Special Adviser to the President for Consumer Affairs noted when speaking to BBB’s Annual Assembly that there was a new era of cooperation among government, business and consumers, and that businesses had “rediscovered that satisfying consumers is good business.”