As a small business owner, your reputation is everything. When consumers in your area are looking for a new business with which to work, one of their first steps is likely to be an internet search. If that search turns up a string of Better Business Bureau complaints, they may take their business elsewhere.

You don’t have to idly sit by when a complaint comes in, though. Whether or not you’re an accredited BBB business, you can take steps to address the complaint and keep your reputation intact.


BBB complaints can't be removed for three years. You can take steps to resolve the complaint, though, and that is also noted on your record.

The BBB Complaint Process

If one of your customers is searching for “how do I file a complaint against a company,” one of the options he may come across is filing a BBB complaint. BBB complaints must be filed in writing either by filling out their paper complaint form or by completing their online form.

Once the complaint is filed, the process is as follows:

  • The customer complaint is sent to your business in one to five calendar days.
  • You have 30 days to respond.
  • The customer will be notified of your response.
  • The complaint is closed in about 35 calendar days from when the customer filed the complaint.

The BBB does expect the customer to follow certain guidelines when he files a complaint. For example, the customer must have contacted your business at least once for resolution, and the complaint must meet BBB guidelines. For example, the BBB does not handle complaints regarding landlord and tenant disputes.

How to Remove a BBB Complaint

When it comes to how to remove a BBB complaint, your options are limited. The BBB has a policy of keeping complaints on a business’s record for three years to keep their reporting accurate. After three years, the complaint will age off your record, but until then, there is no option for removing a consumer complaint.

The BBB does include whether or not the complaint was resolved, though, which can help protect your reputation.

How to Resolve a BBB Complaint

The first step to resolve a BBB complaint is to ensure you receive the complaint promptly. The BBB can send notifications automatically, and you can flag those to ensure they receive priority attention.

Next, carefully read and research the complaint. Consumers are directed by the BBB to write factual, detailed accounts of their experiences, so you should be able to learn more about the incident if you were not already aware of it.

Finally, write your response. Include any details that support your stance, such as a copy of your company policies or a copy of the contract signed by the customer. If you are a BBB-accredited business, you can also reach out to the BBB for assistance in coming to a resolution.

Preventing BBB Complaints

The best way to remove BBB complaints is to avoid them in the first place. Most consumers only search for options such as “how do I report a bad business” after having felt dismissed or mistreated by a business in the first place.

For example, do all your team members know the answer to “How do you deal with rude customers?” Coach them on how to remain calm in the face of an upset customer and when it is appropriate to escalate the situation to a manager or to you. Ensure there is a system in place for documenting more serious complaints.

Make sure you and your team members really listen to customer complaints. Even if you don’t agree, make sure you’re hearing the root of the problem. Was a team member rude? Was a product defective? Look for ways to appease the customer and resolve the real issue, and train your employees to do the same.