App of the Week: The Better Business Bureau


Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a weekly series that will appear every Monday in which MainStreet spotlights one new smartphone app that can help readers manage their money, shop better or improve their job search. Check back each week to find out which apps you should have on your phone!

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —  The BBB released a much-needed free app for the iPhone earlier this month that lets consumers quickly research local businesses on the go to find out how reputable each is before stepping inside.

With this app, consumers can search for a specific business or category of businesses in the area and use the BBB’s vast database of ratings, complaints and news to determine whether it’s accredited and if any past customers have been scammed or frustrated by the organization in the past.

The key asset of this app is the ability to locate relevant businesses on a map and to filter out unaccredited businesses from the results. The map feature is available on the BBB’s websites as well, but it takes several additional steps to find it, if you find it at all.

In essence, the BBB app functions similarly to Yelp, with one notable difference. If you do experience questionable service at a business, the app also provides details on how to find the nearest BBB location and offers contact information to fire off a quick complaint to that bureau.

Still, there is certainly room to improve the app and make it even more helpful. For starters, we’d like to have the option to sort the list of business results by relevance and more importantly by the grade it received from the BBB. Likewise, when viewing the results on the map, there should be an option to filter out results by rating, not just whether its accredited, so that the user can find the most reputable businesses nearby in the shortest amount of time.

Finally, it would be nice if the app offered the option to subscribe to certain businesses so users could receive updates about any new complaints or actions the BBB has taken against their favorite haunts. This way, if there is a scam at a business you frequent, you’ll be among the first to know and can take action quickly if needed.

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