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Better Business Bureau

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The Better Business Bureau charges businesses an additional fee for members who want to mention their BBB membership on their company's website. The Better Business Bureau charges businesses an additional fee for members who want to mention their BBB membership on their company's website.
WSVN -- -

Chip Klement's family has been in the aluminum business longer than many people reading this article have been alive.

Chip Klement: "Well, my dad opened up in 1960. I'm here since 1974."

In 53 years, Modern Aluminum Products has built just about every aluminum structure you could imagine and, Chip says, building in the right way.

Chip Klement: "Workmanship is a difference, in my opinion. A metal beam is a metal beam. I don't have a better beam, but I do have better talent."

Chip is a member of several organizations, including paying $435 a year to be part of the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Florida.

Howard Finkelstein: "Some people may not realize that the Better Business Bureau is not a government agency. Instead, it's a private, not for profit business, meaning it is not there to make a profit. Its purpose is to help customers and businesses."

Chip thought paying $435 a year made his business a member of the Better Business Bureau ... but he was told, not exactly.

Chip Klement: "They tell me now I'm an accredited business, that I'm not a member. I had always understood that I was a member."

Chip's website posts that he is a member of the Better Business Bureau, but the BBB sent an e-mail telling him that to call himself a member on his website he had to pay an additional fee.

Chip Klement: "I think they're trying to generate revenue for the Better Business Bureau. That's my opinion."

A Better Business Bureau spokesman told me Chip can write that he is a member on printed material, but Chip doesn't want to pay a second fee to say he is a member on the Web, calling it a money grab.

Chip Klement: "The more you pay, the more reliable you are, in the eyes of the BBB. That's my impression, and I don't know if that's fair to say or not. That's how I feel."

Now, Chip's rating with the Better Business Bureau is sterling, rated A+.

Chip Klement: "I've been here for 60 years with one complaint, and we resolved it to the customer's satisfaction."

But if he doesn't pay an additional fee on top of the $435, he can't say he is a member of the Better Business Bureau on his website. So Howard, can they require that additional fee?

Howard Finkelstein: "Yes. Because they are a private business, they own the right to their logo and the right to declare who can call themselves a member, and they can force a business to pay an extra fee to call themselves a member on the Web."

A spokesman at the BBB of Southeast Florida told me that they had created a new program called Dynamic Seal. With that, a customer can click it and lead to the businesses' website. The spokesman said it's not a money grab, that the business is paying for a separate fee for that additional service that could help to bring your business' BBB report higher up in search engine results.

Chip Klement: "And we don't advertise, we satisfy. It's cheaper, wiser."

Chip doesn't want to pay the additional fee, but he says he may have to, so customers won't think something is wrong if he doesn't list himself a member of the Better Business Bureau.

Chip Klement: "I think the consumer expects it. They expect you to be a member of the Better Business Bureau. They believe in it."

Now, it's good for a company to use the Better Business Bureau, and it's good for you. You can check to see what other customers think of the company before you hire them, and if you aren't happy afterward, the Better Business Bureau will work to resolve the issue, even taking both sides to arbitration to try to satisfy everyone.

Feel like someone is giving you the business? Wanna be a member of the winning side? Contact us. We don't charge any fees, and we do try to leave you feeling better. With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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