Icon’s Better Business Bureau rating changes overnight, questions still simmering

Icon’s Better Business Bureau rating changes from one day to the next – from "C-" to "B" -- although it had no communication with the agency and it has only two fewer "complaints." Life Fitness, Johnson Health Tech and others? We continue our look at what’s going on.
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Johnson Health Tech wasn’t the only company surprised by its Better Business Bureau rating. In JHT’s case, the news came in a nationally broadcast press release that prompted an out-of-the-blue call from the local newspaper about the company’s “F” rating (which has since changed to a C-).

Click here to read our March 24, 2010, SNEWS® story, “BBB surprises Johnson Health with ‘F’ rating; SNEWS questions broader BBB inconsistencies.” 

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Icon rating

Icon Health & Fitness of Utah took our advice in the story and checked its rating on the BBB website (www.bbb.org) within 24 hours after accessing the SNEWS email on March 25 with our story and -- surprise -- found a B rating. The additional surprise is that when SNEWS checked the BBB website several times before finalizing the story, the rating was C-. See a scan of our printout, right, from March 24, also showing the 472 complaints and, below, a screen shot from March 26 with the revised rating. Click here to see the current page live on the BBB website.

After noting the discrepancy, Colleen Logan, vice president of marketing for Icon, contacted her company’s vice president of quality control, who is the company’s BBB contact, who told her he had not talked to the BBB in a few weeks.

“We have no idea how it changed,” Logan said, who noted that it was “a big difference.”

“As a normal course of business, we respond to any matters the Better Business Bureau brings to our attention,” she said, “and we resolved the situation with the customer.”

In this case, as late as March 24, Icon had 472 complaints listed on the website and a “failure to respond to one complaint” as an additional note. On March 26, the company had 470 complaints noted on the website and no note about any failures to respond, but one additional warranty issue listed and one fewer each in the categories of customer service, product, and refund/exchange. 

Jane Driggs, president of the Utah Better Business Bureau, emailed SNEWS after the close of business March 29 in response to a voicemail and an email message from SNEWS that morning, stating Icon had contacted her office the previous week about "some complaints that had been unanswered in our system and provided responses." She noted that the BBB was verifying with the consumers and the complaints are not considered closed, but "it appears that is what caused the rating change."

Life Fitness rating

Per our report on March 24, Life Fitness didn’t know it had an F rating until contacted by SNEWS. Surprised, the company has been communicating with the BBB since then to find out what the problem is.

The BBB has informed Life Fitness that it has not filled out a company profile form, which has allegedly been mailed four times (twice in 2005, and twice in 2009, with the latest mailing said to be October 2009). Those mailings had been going to somebody who is no longer with the company although the contact on the BBB website for Life Fitness is a current employee, we were told.

The system

Neither Icon nor Life Fitness is a “BBB accredited business.” About three years ago, what used to be known as “members” changed to be called “accredited businesses,” which means they have applied for membership and make “a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints,” per the BBB. BBB accredited businesses must also pay a fee “for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.”

Ratings are issued based on what the organization calls on its website “a proprietary formula that represents BBB’s opinion as to (1) the importance of each category, and (2) the appropriate score given to the business for each category. BBB assigns grades from A to F with pluses and minuses….”

For more information about the BBB, where to seek information, and the ratings of various fitness and outdoor companies, click here to access our exclusive March 24 story.

--Therese Iknoian

SNEWS® View: Remember, don’t hesitate to check your own rating, be it as a retailer or supplier, since you may be surprised. And be sure to stay on top of your rating since, as we have seen, ratings can change quickly and without notice.

Please drop us a note at snewsbox@snewsnet.com or call us at 530-268-8295 if you have additional information about your own experiences you’d like to share.

--SNEWS® Editors

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