Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Making a List: Better Business Bureau of Eastern Oklahoma Official: Technology Gives Consumers Access to More Info

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Making a List: Better Business Bureau of Eastern Oklahoma Official: Technology Gives Consumers Access to More Info

Article excerpt

A dozen years ago, the Tulsa Better Business Bureau answered 100,000 calls a year and had no website.

Today, the Tulsa BBB is handling half the calls, but issuing four- and-a-half times the number of reports - 450,000. Instead of calling, most of the questions and 96 percent of the reports are now done online.

This generation of consumer does not pick up the telephone to make calls, but relies on the Internet like never before, said Rick Brinkley, Better Business Bureau of Eastern Oklahoma executive director.

Like most of society, consumers have changed the way they seek access to information, he said.

"Today, they are accustomed to getting information from their cellphone 24/7," Brinkley said. "They think having to deal with a live human is annoying. They do their research and want to use every resource they can get their hands on."

After 12 years with the bureau, Brinkley has heard negative comments: The bureau is an organization used by businesses to delay and frustrate the consumer, or can be used as a tool in an attempt to reduce the chances of finding an honest business.

But the bureau is not the only resource for information on businesses.

Indianapolis-based Angie's List is a word-of-mouth network where people share their experiences about local service, said Angela Barnes, spokeswoman.

"Unlike other business ratings sites, the reviews on Angie's List come solely from the consumers, not the businesses and not Angie's List," Barnes said. "A company cannot put themselves on Angie's List, nor are they able to pay to be on the list."

The only way for a company to be included on Angie's List is for a customer to submit a report on the service received, Barnes said.

"We prohibit anonymous reports and require consumers to attest to the accuracy of the information they are reporting. We have a number of systems in place to protect against fraudulent reviews. If there is a red flag, we have a specialized team of people to investigate."

Both the BBB and Angie's List allow businesses to respond to every report.

"The company's response is posted right next to the consumer's review - this helps give other consumers the full story," Barnes said. …

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