By Nick Barry
Editor’s Note: SOURCE and the MetroWest Chamber have formed a partnership. The Chamber’s column will run on Tuesdays on the digital news media outlet. This week’s column is about Chamber member the Better Business Bureau.
FRAMINGHAM – For many people during the pandemic, life has consisted of Zoom calls, watching a new streaming series or movie at home, and hoping for the day that the country would return to the way that it was before.
However, the drastic change in lifestyle did not mean that scams and other schemes
stopped taking place. And for small business owners, the pandemic hit them especially hard, as
many struggled to keep employees and their doors open. In response to this, the Better Business Burau or BBB did what it could to help.
The BBB was first founded in 1912. According to their website, their main purpose is to
“be a leader in advancing marketplace trust,” for consumers.
To establish this “marketplace trust,” the BBB provides letter ratings for businesses based on a variety of factors, such as customer complaints, responses to attempts at arbitration and mediation, and actions taken against a business by the government. In addition to rating businesses and addressing consumer complaints, the BBB also tracks scams, and has a business advice newsletter.
Although the core principle of its work has remained the same, the BBB noted that there
have been some unique discoveries that they have tried to educate the public on, the most
significant one being the prevalence of online scams.
According to the BBB’s own 2020 scam report, the number one type of scam that affected consumers were ones regarding online purchases. In addition, the largest demographics that were affected by these scams were 18–24- year old’s, followed by people over the age of 55.
Educating the public on scams was the not only thing that the BBB did during the pandemic. To help small businesses, the BBB partnered with Main Street Bank to create a program called Main Street Matters, which gave any business that was in “good standing” within the organization a 500-1,00 dollar grant to do whatever it needed to continue running.
Besides the Main Street program, the BBB also helped small businesses get PPP loans, and update their profiles so that they could try and attract employees.
“The last 18 months have been challenging for businesses as wells as employees,” said Paula Fleming, the chief marketing and sales officer of the BBB of Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island.
Although the pandemic is possibly on its way out, the BBB’s work to provide assistance
to both consumers and businesses shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
“We have been very focused on supporting our businesses within the community, making sure that we have accurate information on businesses, and allowing customers to work with trusted and reliable businesses in the community,” said Fleming.
Nick Barry was a 2021 summer SOURCE intern. He is a Westfield State University student.