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Why BBB Ratings Don’t Always Give A Full Picture Of A Window Company

Researching A Company’s Reputation
Across Several Review Websites Is Crucial.

BY JASON QUILLMAN, CO-OWNER

As of this writing, a national window company serving St. Louis has 460 Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaints… in the last three years.

Another big window company in the area has 165 complaints.

And we have zero.

Yet we all carry an A+ letter grade rating with the BBB.

Seems weird, right? Like a teacher giving an A+ to a student who scored 100 out of 100 on a test…  and an A+ to a student who scored 42 out of 100.

What gives?

BBB letter grade ratings aren’t based on the number of complaints a company receives. Nor are they based on actual reviews that customers can post on the BBB’s website.

This means a company can have 1,000 complaints and a one-star out of five review-score average… and still hold an “A+” letter rating!

Here’s how…

Breaking Down The BBB’s Letter Grade System

A company’s BBB letter grade is based on a 100-point scale that weighs several factors, including…

  • Type of business
  • Time in business
  • Number of customer complaints filed in relation to the size of the business
  • How the BBB feels a company responds to customer complaints
  • How effective a company is at responding to and attempting to resolve customer complaints (whether the customer is satisfied with the solution is not factored in)
  • The age of the resolved complaints—newer complaints have a bigger impact on rating

In all, there are 13 elements that affect a company’s letter rating, which you can read about on the official BBB letter ratings page. But the bottom line is that…

  1. Letter grades are separate from the five-star scale for customer reviews
  2. Letter grades are not strictly determined by the number of customer complaints

This is why it’s a good idea to dig deep into a company’s BBB profile.

Take time to look at actual customer complaints. See what homeowners had issues with and if the company provided a prompt, satisfying solution. Explore customer reviews. This will paint a more complete picture of a window company’s quality.

5 Key BBB Metrics To Consider

Here are five key metrics to keep in mind, straight from our own BBB profile page.

  1. BBB Page - Key MetricsAccreditation/Years In Business: BBB accreditation means a company complies with the BBB’s standards for swift complaint resolution; years in business is an important metric when considering the number of complaints a company has (example: 30 complaints in 30 years isn’t so bad… but 30 complaints within a few years is!)
  2. BBB Letter Grade Rating: As we’ve already discussed, the letter grade rating is based on 13 elements. Notice how this section says, “Customer Reviews are not used in the calculation of BBB Rating.” This means it’s possible for a company with a one-star average to hold an A+… or even a five-star company to hold an F!
  3. Customer Reviews: This is where customers themselves—not the BBB—rate a company. This is done so on a five-star scale. Customers can also leave written reviews, which are always a great way to gain insight into how a company treats people.
  4. Overview: If a company has been recognized for a special achievement, it will typically show up here. For example, our 2018 TORCH Award is showcased in this section.
  5. Customer Complaints: This is where you can see the number and description of customer complaints. You can also view a timeline of how long it took the company to resolve the complaint, and whether the customer was satisfied with the company’s solution.

Be Sure To Explore MULTIPLE Review Websites

Customers can leave reviews on tons of websites. Google. Facebook. The BBB. HomeAdvisor. Yelp. GuildQuality.

That’s why I recommend viewing at least three review websites when researching a window company’s reputation. Checking out just one review source—whether it’s Google or Yelp or Facebook—may not give you the full story about a company.

For instance, if you only read a company’s Facebook reviews but a customer posts about a negative experience on Google, you’ll never see it. Likewise, a company may have dozens of great reviews on one site but substantially fewer on another.

Exhibit A: XteriorPRO

To show you an example of this, here is how our customer reviews break down across a few websites as of this writing (9/30/20; numbers may differ slightly when you click on the pages):

As you can see, most of our customers leave reviews on Angie’s List, GuildQuality, and Google. Facebook, HomeAdvisor, and the BBB don’t see as much activity.

Since we have high marks across all of these websites (humblebrag!), this isn’t the greatest example of what I’m trying to convey. So let’s do another.

Exhibit B: Anonymous Window Company

We’ll use the national window company I mentioned earlier—the one with 165 BBB complaints. It has 57 reviews on GuildQuality with a 4.7 out of 5 average. It also holds a 4.5 out of 5 on Angie’s List.

That’s great! Based on just these reviews, you’d expect the company to be the best of the best.

But if you explore other review websites, and you get a slightly different picture.

This same company has 3.9 out of 5 average on Google. That is by no means bad. It’s still an above-average score. But when you factor this score in with the company’s 159 BBB complaints, you start to develop a more in-depth and accurate image of the company.

In this case, the takeaway is that the company CAN perform good work and satisfy customers… but it seems a little inconsistent in doing so.

Bottom Line: Due Diligence Is Key

As with any big investment, due diligence is critical to ensure high-quality window replacement.

Don’t go by just a company’s BBB rating… or just by its Google reviews… or just by its Facebook reviews.

Take ALL three into account. And then some.

Then dig into the company’s online reputation even deeper…

  • Does the company have any unresolved BBB complaints?
  • Does the company have a great, robust reputation across multiple review websites?
  • What, exactly, are the company’s customers saying in their reviews?

These are crucial questions to ask. You want a complete picture of a company before you decide to hire them. It can make the difference between window replacement worth every penny… and window replacement that looks like it cost pennies.