The organization’s name may be the Better Business Bureau, but its mission is to help the consumer by being a neutral third party and being a leader in advancing trust in the marketplace.
By providing consumers with unbiased, verified information on businesses in the community and by mediating disputes with businesses when they arise, the Better Business Bureau Serving Delaware gives the state’s residents a source they can trust when they need support as they make major spending decisions.
One of the most helpful services BBB Delaware offers is Request a Quote, says Christine Sauers, the organization’s president.
Request a Quote was started about 12 years ago, but improvements to the program and upgrades in technology in the past few years have made it more helpful than ever, Sauers says. With those changes, “we’ve had a real pickup in engagement,” she adds.
Request a Quote works best, she says, for consumers who have a pretty good idea of what they want but aren’t sure of how to find the right business to provide the product or service.
The system worked smoothly recently for a Wilmington resident who had purchased bamboo flooring from a big box retailer but ran into trouble with the installer recommended by the store.
Rather than go back to the big box store to get the name of another installer, she decided to try Request a Quote. After typing in “flooring installation,” she reviewed a lengthy list of BBB accredited contractors in the area, selected several and wrote a summary of her needs in another box. A couple of days later, she got a call from Mark Shrewsbury, the owner of Mr. Sandman in Newark, who came out to her home, reviewed the situation and wrote an estimate.
“He gave a very fair price. He did a fantastic job, and the floor is gorgeous,” the woman says.
“We got the Request a Quote information by email, the BBB gave us the customer’s name, and we made the call,” Shrewsbury says. “It worked out real nice. We had a quick turnaround.”
Consumers who want to comparison shop can requests bids from up to five retailers or contractors for any product or purchase, Sauers says.
In 2015, BBB Delaware received 1,088 requests through the program. BBB doesn’t track the number of inquiries that turn into sales, but the ongoing popularity of Request a Quote indicates that both consumers and businesses consider it a valuable resource, Sauers says.
“Request a Quote is an excellent concept. It’s extremely valuable to participating companies and even more valuable to consumers,” the Wilmington resident says.
“We probably get contacted through Request a Quote as many as three or four times a month. To me, it’s excellent advertising,” Shrewsbury says.
To ensure that consumers receive bids and estimates promptly, the BBB follows up with businesses to make sure that they have received requests and to remind them to respond, Sauers says. “We also get copies of all the emails between the parties,” she adds.
In addition to Request a Quote, BBB provides a several other services that are helpful to consumers. Perhaps its best known is its complaint and dispute resolution service, which can include the use of a professional arbitrator. Other pages on the BBB site allow consumers to read about scams and report suspected scam attempts, and to write reviews of BBB accredited and non-accredited businesses. There is also a link to Give.org, the website of the national BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance, which posts reports and financial information about thousands of nonprofit organizations.
“We set and uphold high standards for ethical business behavior,” Sauers says. “Because we set the bar high, consumers can be confident when making a major purchase from a BBB accredited business.”