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Kodak Resigns from Council of Better Business Bureaus
Staff Report

The Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) announced that Eastman Kodak Company has advised the CBBB that it is resigning its national membership this month, in the wake of expulsion proceedings initiated by the CBBB Board of Directors. According to the CBBB, Kodak has refused, for many months, to accept or respond to consumer complaints presented to the company by the Better Business Bureau in its headquarters market of Rochester, NY.

“Every member of the BBB system is required to make a good faith effort to resolve consumer complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau. To do otherwise, is to abdicate their commitment to helping advance trust in the consumer marketplace, the key focus of the BBB,” said Steve Cole, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

In 2006, Kodak notified the BBB of Upstate New York that it would no longer accept or respond to complaints submitted by the BBB. Whereas, in years prior, Kodak had responded to BBB complaints by offering an adjustment to the consumer or an explanation of the company’s position.

The CBBB Executive Committee voted in December 2006 to begin membership termination proceedings. Under the organization’s procedures, a special committee would have held a hearing and made recommendations to the board regarding termination. The CBBB says Kodak was advised it could participate in the process and contest the termination, but the company chose instead to resign its membership.

David Polino, the president and CEO of the BBB serving Upstate New York, said, “Assisting businesses to resolve customer disputes is a core BBB service. The BBB has repeatedly expressed our desire to work with Kodak to help turn dissatisfied customers into satisfied customers.”

As reported by Kevin McCoy in USA Today: During the last three years, Kodak customers have logged 183 complaints for problems ranging from repairs to digital cameras to difficulties communicating with customer service representatives, said David Polino, head of the regional Better Business Bureau.

While characterizing that number as “small for a large, multinational company,” Polino said Kodak’s response has been a corporate headache. Instead of revealing how the firm processed the complaints, he said Kodak’s response has been to say … nothing—says the article.

“They’re not providing information that would enable us to report to the public what they’re doing,” said Polino, citing a requirement that states that members must “promptly respond to any and all complaints forwarded by the bureau, and make a good-faith effort to resolve all such complaints in accordance with generally accepted good business practices.” “It’s a great company that seems to have made a left turn," said Polino in the article.

The article goes on to report: Kodak, saying “no one is more concerned with the satisfaction of our customers” than the company, offers a different snapshot of the dispute behind this month’s resignation.

The company quit the Council after years of “unproductive discussions” about Better Business Bureau website postings on Kodak that “were consistently inaccurate,” according to Brian O’Connor, the firm’s chief privacy officer.

Rather than continue trying to get the bureau to update the postings, O’Connor said, Kodak would prefer to spend that time “meeting the needs of our customers.” “Kodak’s customer service and customer privacy teams concluded that 99% of all complaints forwarded by the BBB had already been handled directly with the customer,” O’Connor said in the article.

Kodak was a founding member of the CBBB, established in 1971 to serve as the umbrella organization for Better Business Bureaus throughout the U.S. In 1973, Kodak became a member of the BBB in Rochester, NY. The first BBB was founded in 1912, and today there are 129 local Better Business Bureaus across the U.S. and Canada, serving nearly 400,000 small and medium business members as well as sever hundred national and multi-national corporations based in North America.

“Eastman Kodak’s resignation marks the end of many decades of strong support for the mission and ideals of the BBB system. We look forward to the day when Kodak decides to resume a leadership role in promoting a trustworthy marketplace,” Cole said.