Making the Grade: The BBB Rating Syllabus

Elements of the BBB rating system

You and your guilty conscience may have almost gotten away with hiding those cringe-worthy second semester grades you received way back when… If only you knew then that a brief bout of parental disappointment was nothing compared to the indissoluble loss of trust that followed the inevitable discovery of your less than satisfactory marks.

Just like you may have thought hiding your report card from your parents was a bright idea, some businesses consider hiding their true grade, ratings and reviews from consumers. Take the first step in understanding how companies are classified with this quick outline of the rating “syllabus” the BBB uses to determine what grade they deserve. If a business doesn’t appear to satisfy the requirements of the grade they display, always remember to Ask BBB.

Desks in classroom


Go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief. Although there is a science behind the BBB table of rating elements, it’s nowhere near as extensive as the periodic table that most likely haunted your freshman year dreams.

This crash course in the Study of the 7 Rating Elements is one crash course you don’t need to sign up with the Dean’s Office for…

Element 1: Complaint History

The BBB accounts for eight factors when considering how complaint history affects a business’s grade. Each factor considers marketplace activities including total number of complaints, size of the business and good faith effort made to reach resolution following a complaint.

See All 8 Factors

Element 2: Type of Business

If a business operates in violation of the law, raises marketplace concerns or misrepresents itself, their lower rating will reflect it.

Element 3: Time in Business

We all get wiser with age and businesses are no exception. BBB ratings are based, in part on the length of time a business has been operating.

Element 4: Business Practice Transparency

Just like you can’t leave an answer blank on a test and expect an A, businesses can’t leave off, fail to complete or falsify information and expect an A either.

Element 5: Honoring Commitments

Businesses who fail to honor commitments to their customers, their mission statement, and the law are immediately disqualified from making an acceptable grade.

Element 6: Licensing and Government Action

Businesses who drive consumers in without the proper licensing will eventually hit a red light. Your BBB routinely checks required competency licensing and government actions before a business becomes accredited.

Element 7: Advertising Honestly

In order to maintain a high grade, a business must remain truthful, accurate and in compliance with the BBB Code of Advertising.


Businesses can earn or lose a maximum number of points in each element of the rating system. Scores stack up based on a 100 point scale based on a variety of 13 elements.

Study up on the system with a play-by-play of the points.


The Better Business Bureau provides grades on both Accredited Businesses and businesses that have yet to seek BBB Accreditation. All businesses, regardless of if they are accredited or not, can earn and preserve any letter on the scale, including the highest A+ grade. Accredited Businesses are held to an even higher standard and are able to reap the benefits of accreditation. Accredited Businesses work consistently to maintain a grade that ensures consumers they abide by the standards of accreditation and have done the homework necessary to graduate into running a thriving, successful, and trustworthy company. Ratings are dynamic and change based on marketplace factors, which encourages businesses to stay at the top of the class.

Are you a business or service provider that carries a B rating or higher? Let consumers know of your compliance with the rating system and obtain the right to display the seal by becoming a BBB Accredited Business!

Are you someone who wants to better understand how ratings can help you continue to be a safe and confident consumer? Keep in mind and pass along The Truth About BBB Ratings!

Making the Grade: The BBB Rating Syllabus

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