Better Business Bureau unfairly under fire on peninsula

Posted: Monday, January 13, 2003

In December, the Better Business Bureau of Alaska hired two residents of the Kenai Peninsula, trained them and sent them back home to establish a presence on the peninsula and to build up our membership base. The ultimate goal is to have enough financial support from member dues to justify an office down on the Kenai.

Sadly, in the last six weeks the sales reps have been vehemently rejected as bureau representatives because of "things" the "old" BBB did to them seven to eight years ago!

Whatever these "things" were, I have no idea. I do know it is time to start anew and let folks know how much the BBB has changed since I took over in 1999.

When I became the bureau's CEO the organization was basically bankrupt and up for membership revocation with the National Council of Better Business Bureaus. On paper, we were $158,000 in debt, had one old computer, the IRS was after us and much, much more. Things were a mess!

Today we are out of debt, have some used, but upgraded computers and have instituted many new programs directed at helping businesses and consumers. The first is our new member directory with more than 50,000 copies being printed each year.

Secondly, we have a WinFax program where we send employee or business tips and alerts to all our members on a regular basis.

The best and most important new benefit is our Web site located at, where consumers can check on members and link directly to the member's Web site through the "Get a Quote" button. Consumers also can file complaints on any company, in or out of state, through the site and do much more.

We strongly urge businesses and consumers with computers to check out the site to see its many functions. Those without a computer may still call us on our toll-free number -- (888) 244-0704 -- if they require assistance.

As an organization we have worked miracles in three years and have come a long way toward helping all the citizens and all the businesses of Alaska. It is time for peninsula businesses to join us to help us create a powerful, useful bureau.

I have no idea what "evil" the bureau levied upon some of the Kenai businesses years ago to make them so angry. What I do know is there is a new sheriff in town. I've been here 24 years and enjoy an excellent reputation throughout the state because of previous jobs.

All the employees who worked here more than four years ago are long gone. The only thing that remains the same is the name -- Better Business Bureau of Alaska Inc.

Because we are a brand new organization, I find it a bit unfair to have my employees and myself judged based on the actions of people who are long gone. People I had no control over.

It is my sincere hope the folks who have much bitterness in their hearts, can let it go and give the new bureau a chance. Your bitterness is aimed at people no longer involved in any part of bureau operations.

We need your help. Please give our salespeople a chance to meet with you for a few minutes and show you exactly who we are now and where we are going. Help us to help you and all your fellow citizens. We are dedicated to working for you!

A. R. Tobin Jr. is the chief executive officer of the Better Business Bureau of Alaska.

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