Is there Value in a BBB Rating?

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Chapter 4

Is there value in a BBB rating when you want cash for structured settlements? No, not really.

When you want cash for structured settlements it makes sense that you would look for opinions about what company to choose. With the advent of the internet we have become accustomed to reading reviews about everything. If you make a purchase online, or even just research a product, you can almost always find a list of user reviews, complete with stars given or thumbs up and a discussion of what was good and bad. These have helped us to shop in a new way.

What about the Old Way?

In days gone by the only ways that we really had to hold businesses accountable were through word-of-mouth and then the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

“When the world got too large and our needs too vast to rely on the opinions of our friends and family alone the BBB was born. ”

This is a company that serves two purposes. One, they allow companies to register with them, for a fee, and be listed in their registry. Two, they allow anyone to file a complaint against companies, both companies who are members and those who are not, and maintain a database of these complaints for anyone to review. The BBB provides a service, much like any other ratings website.

What is the BBB, Anyway?

Many people think that the BBB is a government run agency, and thus with it comes a level of credibility. But do you know what? It’s not. Nope. No government affiliation. In fact, it’s not the non-profit that you probably think it is. The BBB is simply a company out to make a dollar. They charge hundreds of dollars to join, and that fee, many assert, actually buys you a good rating. Really.

Let’s explore the BBB ratings a bit.

You might have heard that certain structured settlement buyers have an A+ BBB rating, and you might assume that this means this company has few complaints. Actually, that is not necessarily true.

Companies with good BBB ratings have many structured settlements complaints when it comes to buying payments.

To earn a good BBB rating a company needs only meet some BBB specific criteria. Among these they must promise to uphold the BBB standard to reply to consumer complaints (not satisfy, just reply), must not engage in dishonest advertising (according to BBB standards), must respond to consumer complaints in a way that the BBB deems appropriate, and must not have too many complaints that the BBB feels are serious.

But the BBBs own ethics are often questioned. One researcher found that the BBB was allowing companies to pay fees to maintain a high BBB rating; the BBB had this company ejected from the BBB itself, but never issued a statement of denial or clarification. Could they be hiding structured settlements complaints as well?

Checking a Company’s Rating before You get Cash for Structured Settlements

When considering what a BBB rating means, think about this: if you look at J.G. Wentworth’s listing on the BBB you will find that they have an “A+” rating. This sounds great. But if you look further you will see that they have had 40 complaints filed against them, through the BBB. That is 40 complaints, but still a perfect rating? Stone Street Capital has an “A+” rating as well, though they have had 57 complaints as of this writing. Imperial Structured Settlements, on the other hand, has only an “A” rating (no plus), yet they have only two complaints filed against them.

Strategic Capital doesn’t even appear on the BBB website, presumably because no one has ever complained about them to the BBB.

So now, you have to answer for yourself, what value does a BBB rating really hold when choosing a company to get cash for structured settlements? Does it make sense that no complaints warrants no grade, two complaints warrant an “A” and 57 complaints are still awarded “A+”. You decide.

Know how to weigh information appropriately!

Gathering information about a company is always good before you start a relationship with them. But today, BBB ratings are not a reliable way of choosing a company. A search of a company’s name with the word “complaints” after it can reveal if people are happy or upset and can be much more revealing than any BBB rating.

Previous president of the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA), previous director of Society of Settlement Planners (SSP), and author of a blog on structured settlements, Patrick Hindert, said, “One criterion to consider when selecting a purchaser is whether that purchaser belongs to the National Association of Settlement Purchasers (NASP), a professional association that promotes best practices among its members and provides industry education about the transfer process.” Credibility does not come from buying a BBB rating. Credibility is born when respected people and agencies recommend you, as they do Strategic Capital. You can feel secure when you call Strategic Capital.