Commentary and our Opinion: Mechanic’s Responds.com® News, LLC has caught Fred Elsberry Lying about Mechanic’s Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC. The BBB grading system is unfair. Fred Elsberry’s BBB was caught changing Mechanic’s Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC’s grade from a “C” to an “F” overnight in order to jump on the band wagon of Tabloid Reporter attack dogs helped out, if not encouraged, by the Atlanta BBB. Fred Elsberry must be some kind of magician – He now has changed Mechanic’s grade to a “B-”. I wonder whose hairs are standing up on their neck?
BBB: Questionable and Unfair Accrediting Practices and Grade Scaling
At some point, we have all been students and teachers whether in the classroom or the school of life. In the classroom, there is a clear definition and of a grading scale from A+ to F- and as students, we understand that our grades are based on class work, tests and homework. In the school of life, the grading scale is different…but nonetheless…we have a clear understanding that accountability, responsibility, teamwork, integrity and ethics are important and that the more we strive to operate within those parameters…our grade in life will be higher.
Apparently, the national BBB and the Metro-Atlanta BBB operate under a different umbrella of truth when it comes to granting accreditation and grading practices.
Recently, Fred Elsberry, President of the Metro-Atlanta BBB was featured on several local media television networks making slanderous statements that Mechanic’s Heating and Air Conditioning, LLC had a grade as high as a “D” when in fact, Mechanic’s had a grade of a “C” for a considerable amount of time. The truth is that the Atlanta BBB only changed Mechanic’s grade from a “C” to an “F” after the sensationalized and staged sting tabloid story produced by Wendy Saltzman that was aired in February 2012. When Mr. Elsberry was confronted with an (OCP) Office of Consumer Protection complaint and a screenshot of Mechanic’s BBB reliability report dated February 21, 2012 showing a “C” rating, and shown the fact that Mechanic’s hired a high profile first amendment attorney. Suddenly and magically in a matter of hours, Mechanic’s BBB reliability report was changed to a “B-” rating courtesy of Fred Elsberry and the Metro-Atlanta BBB after the complaint was lodged.
It brings into further question the unfair grading practices of the BBB…and further the purpose of the BBB? To the general public that is not privy to the actual practices of the BBB, we consider it as our civic duty to educate and inform the public that the BBB is not the trusted and reliable governing body of defining “Better Business” that it claims to be and welds itself as scepter of truth when in actuality it is a dagger of falsehood and lies.
This is not the first time the grading practices of the BBB have been brought into question as they were exposed on the national level on ABC’s 20/20 news magazine feature by Brian Ross.
Our grade for the BBB is “F” for “falsehood” and “fraudulent” and “frowned upon”.
We are not certain which school of thought Fred Elsberry or the BBB subscribe to…but when it comes to the actual work being done…it’s easy to see that ethics, integrity or fairness was not in the curriculum.
Better Business Bureau
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|Better Business Bureau
||3033 Wilson Blvd, Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201
| Area served
|| United States
||A marketplace where businesses and consumers can trust one another.
||Start With Trust
The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a corporation consisting of a number of separately governed and incorporated local BBB organizations in the United States and Canada, affiliated with the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB). In 2012 the BBB celebrates its Centennial.
The Better Business Bureau, through local chapters, invites businesses to become dues-paying Accredited members. In return, the BBBs allow their member businesses the use of their logo, and mediation and arbitration services.
The Better Business Bureau gathers and archives information it receives about businesses, both locally and nationally. It uses the information it gathers from consumers and other businesses to vet businesses to become members. The BBB collects information on business reliability, alerts the public to frauds against consumers and businesses, provides information on ethical business practices, and acts as mutually trusted intermediaries between consumers and businesses to resolve disputes. According to the BBB website, their mission is “advancing marketplace trust”. In an effort to remain unbiased and maintain fairness the BBB holds a standard policy of refraining from recommending or endorsing any specific business, product or service.
Although it has “Bureau” in its title, the Better Business Bureau is not affiliated with federal, state, or local government, and has no direct affiliation with any consumer protection government authority. The BBB, as a privately held corporation, has no governmental authority over businesses.
“Medical quackery and the promotions of nostrums and worthless drugs were among the most prominent abuses which led to the establishment of formal self-regulation in business and, in turn, to the creation of the NBBB.”
BBB’s concept has been credited to several court cases, such as United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola, initiated by the government against a number of firms, including the Coca-Cola Company, in 1906 after the Pure Food and Drug Act had become law. Samuel Candler Dobbs, sales manager of Coca-Cola and later its president, took up the cause of truth in advertising in the wake of those judgements.
In 1909, Dobbs became president of the Associated Advertising Clubs of America, now the American Advertising Federation (AAF), and began to make speeches on the subject. In 1911, he was involved in the adoption of the “Ten Commandments of Advertising”, one of the first codes of advertising developed by groups of advertising firms and individual businesses. Similar organizations in succeeding decades, such as the National Better Business Commission, Inc. of the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World (1921), and the National Association of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (1933) merged to become the Association of Better Business Bureaus, Inc in 1946. In 1970, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (CBBB) was established.
 Structure and funding
The 116 regional BBBs are independently governed by their own boards of directors, but must meet international BBB requirements, which are monitored and enforced by the CBBB on a continuous basis. The CBBB is governed by leaders of local BBBs, as well as by senior executives from major American corporations, and community leaders such as academics and legal experts. Each BBB is run separately and is chiefly funded by its members, who often serve on its board. A study by a business school dean at Marquette University found that ninety percent of BBB board members are from business.
Businesses that move from one BBB jurisdiction to another may need to apply for BBB Accreditation in the new BBB location unless they have a system-wide accreditation. BBB entities are chiefly funded by member businesses. The national CBBB receives franchise fees, which amounted to $4,884,226.00 in 2009.
 Dispute resolution procedures
The organization’s dispute resolution procedures are established by the Council of the Better Business Bureaus, and implemented by local BBBs. Usually, disputes can be resolved through mediation; when appropriate, low- or no-cost arbitration may also be offered and provided through the BBB. The BBB acts as a neutral party when providing dispute resolution services.
Complaints about the practice of professions like medicine and law are usually not handled by the BBB and are referred to associations regulating those professions. The BBB does not handle complaints that have gone to court or are in the process of going to court as the complaint is already being handled by an alternative entity.
If a BBB receives a consumer dispute, the BBB contacts the business in question and offers to mediate the dispute. A business does not need to be a member of the BBB to use its mediation services. These mediation services are free to all businesses and consumers. BBB Accreditation, or membership, is completely optional for a business to accept and participate in through the payment of dues. A business’s declination of membership does not result in a lowered BBB rating. Past complaints allege that the BBB compiles scores based upon their ability to collect their money from businesses, and not entirely upon business performance.
 Rating system and accreditation
Until 2008, the BBB rated companies “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory”. On January 1, 2009, the BBB moved to a new system based on a school-style A+–F rating system. The 16 factors have been posted on each business review since the program’s inception and the details on the points awarded as well. Initially there was a 17th factor worth 4 points for businesses that were Accredited and paid a fee to BBB. That process was changed in November 2010 in response to criticism in the media and from the Connecticut attorney general who accused BBB of using ‘pay to play’ tactics. There are currently over 625,000 companies rated “A+” that are not accredited and pay no fees to BBB and almost 300,000 accredited firms with an “A+” rating that are paying annual fees. If a business chooses not to provide basic information about his/her business, such as size and start state, the BBB assigns a Not Rated (NR) rating due to lack of information.
If a business chooses not to provide basic information about his/her business, such as size and start state, the BBB does not have sufficient information and may assign a Not Rated (NR) rating. A low rating due solely to a company not providing information would read: “BBB does not have sufficient background information on this business.”
A business is eligible for BBB Accreditation if it meets, in the opinion of the BBB, the “BBB Standards for Trust” There are eight BBB Standards for Trust that the BBB expects its Accredited or Member businesses to adhere to: Build Trust (“maintain a positive track record in the marketplace”), Advertise Honestly, Tell the Truth, Be Transparent, Honor Promises, Be Responsive (address marketplace disputes), Safeguard Privacy (protect consumer data) and Embody Integrity.
The Attorney General of Connecticut demanded that the BBB stop using its weighted letter grade system, calling it “potentially harmful and misleading” to consumers. Responding to the Atorney General of Connecticut and others, the BBB has since modified its letter grade system.
In 2010, 20/20, an ABC network news magazine, reported in a segment titled ‘The Best Ratings Money Can Buy’ about the irregularities in BBB ratings. They reported that a man created two dummy companies which received A+ ratings as soon as he had paid the membership fee. They also reported that business owners were told that the only way to improve their rating was by paying the fee. In one case a C was turned to an A immediately after a payment and in another case a C- became an A+. Chef Wolfgang Puck said that some of his businesses receive Fs because he refuses to pay a fee. Ritz Carlton, which does not belong either, also receives Fs for not responding to its complaints.
In response, the president of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has stated the BBB ratings system will cease awarding points to businesses for being BBB members. The national BBB’s executive committee took several steps to address the public’s perception of the ratings system. The BBB ratings system no longer gives additional points to businesses who pay accreditation fees. They also implemented a system to handle complaints about BBB sales practices and conducted a review of their accreditation processand instituted a strict, uniform, minimum Accreditation Processes.
In Canada, the CBC News reported in 2010, that Canadian BBBs were downgrading the ratings scores of businesses who stopped paying their dues. For example, a moving business who had an A rating and had been a BBB member for 20 years, dropped to a D-minus rating when they allegedly no longer wanted to pay dues.
BBBs have been accused of unduly protecting companies. The BBB responds by, at a minimum, notating complaints on the “Business Reviews” section of its web sites. If a branch does not act reasonably on behalf of a consumer, a complaint may be filed with the Federal Trade Commission. However, recent reports have suggested that the Austin chapter of the Better Business Bureau refused to resolve complaints against companies if customers do not pay a $70 “mediation fee”.
 Criticism on case resolutions
It has been reported that the BBB encourages and solicits money from the very businesses they monitor, which again, raises the question of neutrality. The BBB states that they hold their Accredited businesses to a higher standard, as outlined in their Accreditation standards.
On December 22, 2010, William Mitchell, CEO of the Los Angeles BBB, and originator of the BBB Letter Grading System, resigned as a result of an internal investigation conducted by the CBBB.
Fred Elsberry’s Divorce Records
Complaint recently filed by Mechanic’s Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC against the Atlanta BBB with the OCA
You can reach Fred Elsberry via email at email@example.com.
You can reach Monty G. White, Jr. via email at News@MechanicsResponds.com.
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