The Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) recently invoked a change in the way it lists reports about member organizations. Instead of a simple “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” rating, company reports break complaints into categories, such as “Credit or Billing Disputes” and “Refund Practices.” The report includes the number of complaints of each type, as well as whether the complaint was resolved.

The change to what the CBBB refers to as “matrix-style” reporting, came about because of consumers who use the information, according to CBBB senior vice president Ron Berry. “We got a sense that more information was better,” he says. “We got a lot of questions about why a company got this or that rating. The ratings are based on these complaint details. So why not [make the details available]?” Berry stresses that this does not represent a change in the method that the CBBB uses to rate companies. “We're just including the detail that previously wasn't released,” he says.

Before it became mandatory for all BBB chapters on September 30, Berry estimated that around 40% of the chapters used this style of complaint reporting. It had been optional for the last four or five years, according to Berry.