Hawai’i's Business Watch Dog

By Anne Deschene
Wednesday - October 26, 2005
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Better Business Bureau employees (from left): Sandra Youkers, Liz Ramos, Cheryl Lei Yoro, Joanne Bautistam Lisa Matsuyama and Anne Deschene.
Better Business Bureau employees (from left): Sandra
Youkers, Liz Ramos, Cheryl Lei Yoro, Joanne
Bautistam Lisa Matsuyama and Anne Deschene.

Customer perception determines success or failure in the marketplace.

According to a 2004 survey (Princeton Survey Research Associates), consumers turn to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) first for information on the reliability and reputation of businesses, and that they are more likely to do business with a BBB member. Those findings attest to the power and strength of the BBB name and reputation. Since 1945, the BBB of Hawaii has been promoting and monitoring ethical business practices. That’s 60 years of keeping the aloha in business. Founded by the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii by 23 companies, the notfor-profit organization now has 2,600 member companies.

The BBB serves both business and the community by:

* Being an accurate referral source (www.hawaii.bbb.org) of reliability reports on more than 13,500 companies doing business here by confirming their legitimacy and steering customers away from questionable businesses;

* Resolving problems for businesses and their customers through complaint handling, mediation and legally binding arbitration; and

* Offering a speakers program on a variety of business topics, such as customer service, benefits for the bottom line, ethics in the workplace, and safe shopping online.

The BBB also provides advertising review for businesses’ promotional claims, to reassure customers that advertising claims are legitimate and to provide a fair, level playing field for competitors.

With today’s growing number of Internet businesses and global purchasing, website users can go to BBBOnLine to check the legitimacy of online businesses, and view a Code of Online Business Practices that helps to guide ethical buying and selling conduct on the Internet.

Another BBB website, www.give.org, provides reports to check the validity and accountability of charitable organizations. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many “do gooder groups” came forward to assist in the relief effort, but may not have been able to manage donations responsibly. Whenever you’re unfamiliar with a charity, find out if it is following the guidelines for solicitation practices and accountability by contacting the BBB.

Whether you are an individual or a business, the BBB offers timely information when preparing for a major purchase. If you’re planning to remodel your home, buy a car, invest in or start a business, or donate to a charity, BBB provides the research and tools you need to make the right choices.

Among its partners, the BBB teams up with Equifax Inc. to encourage military personnel, active and retired, and their family members to use BBB programs and services to help manage credit and avoid identity theft. They can go to www.mycrediteducation.com for tools, tips and advice. BBB also allies with J.D. Power & Associates Consumer Center to view vehicle ratings based on experiences of verified vehicle owners. The BBB traditionally handles the most complaints about automobiles. Its Autoline arbitration program is a cost-free settlement process for new car buyers.

And with the steady increase in Hawaii’s aging population, BBB Senior Solutions is a valuable resource on senior issues ranging from housing for seniors, funeral planning, long term care insurance, and Medicare, to managed care and more. The toll-free Senior Scam Hotline, 536-8609 and 1-888-222-1772 toll-free from the Neighbor Islands, gives seniors and caregivers easy access to information to prevent becoming a victim.

These BBB services help maintain public confidence in good businesses. Membership support allows the BBB to continue the work of voluntary self-regulation and reduces the need for government regulation of business.

For more information about the BBB or to become a member, please log on to www.bbb.hawaii.org or call 536-6956.

Next Week: Arthur Senining, Honolulu Center For Physical Therapy

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