It was a prim and stern woman’s voice on my office voice mail yesterday.
“Yesssss. [pregnant pause] This is the Better Business Bureau. My name is [ ]. This message is for the owner of the company. Please return my call. My direct line is [ ]. I will be in my office until 4:30 p.m.” ((Click))
There was no “thank you.” No “goodbye.” No reason why this unfriendly person at the Better Business Bureau was calling me.
I’m just a one-person office. The “owner of the company” is me. The massage therapist and Yoga teacher is me. The bookkeeper and laundry washer and taxpayer and phone answerer and toilet paper buyer and Yoga mat roller and vacuum cleaner emptier and the one who carefully picks the ladybugs off of the office window and brings them outside to freedom? All me.
Did someone complain about me to the Better Business Bureau? Why else would they be calling?
Did I forget an appointment? Is someone upset that we did too many Down Dogs in class last week? (We didn’t, honest!)
Of course, I called them back. If someone was going to complain that the table warmer wasn’t warm enough during their last massage, I wanted the opportunity to explain.
And, of course, (and you already knew this was coming, but I’m not as quick-as-a-whip as you are) it was a sales call. A cold call asking me to pay the Better Business Bureau for accreditation. I had to wriggle myself out of a lousy sales call by explaining that my client was about to walk in.
The more I thought about this stupid call which wasted my time, the more steamed I got.
To get off the call, I had to ask the lady to just send me additional information via email. And, she did. Her materials told me a lot of good things about accreditation, but didn’t answer the most important question that any half-decent business owner would have. Hey BBB, just how much will that cost me?
(Although, she did respond to my email this morning and did answer my question about costs. A question that, I admit, I was asking just to see if she would answer. And, she did. But, I’m still steamed about the rest of this.)
I mean, look. I get the bait and switch. If the Better Business Bureau called and said, “Hi, wanna pay us $462 a year so you can put a Better Business Bureau widget on your website?” I’m not calling back. Sales calls drive me nuts.
They know that, too.
That’s why they leave frosty, unclear messages that might lead someone to think that the call is for something other than a sales pitch.
A friend told me last night that her business had also received a vague message from them. The message sounded, she said, “like we had done something wrong.”
Which they hadn’t.
They actually did it to me once before, some years back. The message then was from a man and it was much shadier, saying he needed to talk with me “immediately.”
And, it was a sales call then. And, yes, you are right, I should have figured out that yesterday’s call was a sales call. But, I didn’t.
And, sure, there’s nothing technically wrong about the message the Better Business Bureau left with me yesterday.
YOU’RE THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU!
You’re about BETTER business. Not boiler room, cold call, marketing practices.
Look, BBB, it’s right there on YOUR own website. Under the Code of Business Practices, in a section titled “TELL THE TRUTH”:
“Make known all material facts in both written and verbal representations, remembering that misrepresentation may result not only from direct statements but by omitting or obscuring relevant facts.”
You didn’t NOT tell the truth. And, you didn’t misrepresent who you were when you called.
But, you and I both know that you omitted one relevant fact in your message: you were making a sales call. And, you know that when a business gets a stern call and a vague message from the Better Business Bureau, you know … YOU KNOW … we will return that call just in case there has been some mistake and someone has complained.
It’s not a reach for me to assume your omission was intentional.
And, that stinks. Because, seriously, the Better Business Bureau ought to know better.
I really wanted to file a complaint about this with the Better Business Bureau.
Instead, I’ll do with them what I do with all the vague messages left on my answering machine … including those shady callers who say that they’re “interested” in a massage or learning more about my Yoga classes in the hopes that their “I might be a potential client” message will lure me into calling them back so they can try to sell me scheduling software or Yoga mats.
Sorry, Better Business Bureau, I don’t do business with callers like that.
2018 Update: They called again! Same pitch. Same sketchy voice mail message. This time, armed with their own Code of Business Practices, which their voice message violates, I called them back. I told the woman who made the call to me that I wasn’t interested in their sales pitch, but was honestly concerned that they weren’t following their own best practices code. I read her the exact language from their code and explained how their sales calls violated their own best practices. The woman I spoke to didn’t respond except to say she would put me on their “do not call list.” If you’ve read this far, please, please call back the Better Business person who left you a message and read them their own Code of Business Practices that I have excerpted above. Please tell them to be a Better Business. And, until they do, tell them you won’t do business with them.
Let’s help the Better Business Bureau be a “better business.”