BBB AUTO LINE is an out-of-court program administered by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) system to settle automotive disputes.
A Better Business Bureau is not a government agency, and it receives no
tax dollars. Better Business Bureaus are funded by local business
BBB AUTO LINE does not charge any fee to consumers. To guarantee
impartiality, funding for staff and program administrative costs of BBB
AUTO LINE is committed in advance by the participating companies. BBB
AUTO LINE staff and arbitrators are independent of companies that
participate in BBB AUTO LINE, and perform no duties for these companies
other than providing impartial dispute resolution services.
If you are experiencing a problem with your vehicle that has not been
resolved to your satisfaction, this booklet will tell you about the BBB
AUTO LINE program and how the BBB can help you resolve your dispute.
The BBB will assist in the resolution of your dispute when possible.
However, only certain claims are eligible for arbitration.
Please read all the information sent to you. You will receive a
Customer Claim Form along with a letter that tells you how to complete
it. You also will receive the Program Summary that has been developed
for the company with whom you have a dispute. The Program Summary will
describe the claims that are eligible for arbitration and the remedies
that may be awarded in arbitration.
Upon receipt of the information about your case, a representative from the company may contact you to discuss settlement options.
You and the company representative may explore settlement options directly, or you may be assisted by a representative from the BBB.
If you and the company representative agree to a settlement, please inform the BBB staff person as soon as possible.
BBB staff will work with the consumer and company representative to help the parties take an objective look at issues in dispute and the standards that will be considered by the arbitrator.
The role of the BBB staff is to open communication between you and the company representative and to facilitate the exchange of offers. BBB staff will not comment on whether or not an offer made to you is "fair" or "unfair"; to do so would compromise the BBB's neutrality. Only you can decide whether an offer is satisfactory.
If a settlement is reached at any point, the BBB staff will draft a letter that summarizes the terms of the agreement.
This letter will be sent to both parties, and the BBB staff will follow up with you to confirm the terms of the agreement were carried out.
The settlement process is voluntary, and you may proceed to arbitration (if eligible) at any point.
Arbitration is an informal process in which two parties present their views of a dispute to an impartial third party, an arbitrator, who will decide how the dispute will be resolved.
Companies participating in BBB AUTO LINE have agreed to arbitrate disputes with their customers within defined limits of eligibility and remedies. The company's Program Summary lets you know what is eligible for arbitration if your case reaches arbitration and what remedies may be awarded to you in arbitration.
The issues that the arbitrator may consider in your case will be outlined in a document (titled Agreement to Arbitrate) that will be based on the facts of your case and the eligibility standards set out in the company's Program Summary. The arbitrator will be asked to make a decision that he or she believes is fair based on the facts of your case.
BBB AUTO LINE arbitrators are persons from your community who are interested in the fair and expeditious resolution of consumer disputes. They are trained and certified by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB).
Your arbitrator will not be an employee or agent of either party. A single arbitrator, or a majority of the panel if a panel is used, will be a person who has no direct involvement in the manufacture, distribution, sale or sevice of any product.
Information about arbitrator qualifications is available upon request.
In some cases, to the extent permitted by state law, the BBB will automatically appoint an impartial technical expert to examine your vehicle prior to the arbitration. (Please check the company's Program Summary.) In other cases, an impartial technical expert may be appointed by agreement of the parties before the hearing. If an impartial technical expert is used before the hearing, all parties will be provided with a copy of the technical expert's report prior to the hearing.
In all cases, you may ask the arbitrator to obtain the assistance of an impartial technical expert. You may make this request at the arbitration hearing, or you may make this request to the BBB, along with reasons supporting your request, at least 14 days prior to the hearing. If both parties or the arbitrator agree a technical expert is needed, the BBB staff will make all necessary arrangements.
Whenever an impartial technical expert participates in the BBB AUTO LINE process, all parties will be given an opportunity to review and comment on the findings and credentials of the technical expert.
Before coming to your arbitration hearing, you should prepare an outline of important points you wish to make as part of your presentation. You may want to use the suggestions at the end of this section to assist you in your preparation.
You should also prepare a list of questions you want to ask the company representative.
Each party should plan to present its position in one hour or less.
The arbitrator will determine the exact format of the hearing, which will
include an opportunity for you to:
The company will be given the same opportunity to present its
case, question you and your witnesses, and rebut testimony or evidence
The arbitrator also will ask questions to clarify uncertain areas
and gain a fuller understanding of the dispute.
After each side has presented its case and the questioning is
completed, you should be prepared to give a summary of your position, deal with
any questions that have not been answered, and tell the arbitrator exactly what
you think the decision should be and why.
Remember, the sole purpose of the hearing is to allow the
arbitrator to gather and sort the facts in order to make a fair decision. You
should be prepared to convince the arbitrator your position is right.
A cooperative approach works best. You are there because you and
the company have a disagreement, but keep that disagreement factual and within
the bounds of common courtesy and conventional language. Arbitrators may not
have technical expertise, so your presentation may be more productive if you
can use "layman's" terms to describe what happened to your vehicle.
Use common sense and professional courtesy as you proceed.
During your presentation at the hearing you should provide testimony and
evidence about the following:
Organize your materials in the order you wish to present them. This will help
you present your case clearly and logically.
Collect and bring to the hearing all available materials relating to your
If you are missing any documents, you may be able to get copies
from your repair shop, bank or credit card company.
Please bring the original of any documents you send to BBB AUTO
LINE. While electronically imaged copies of documents we receive are submitted
to the manufacturer and the arbitrator before the hearing, it may be necessary
to refer to the original document if there is any difficulty in reading the
If you bring to the hearing any documents that you did not
previously send to BBB AUTO LINE, please bring extra copies for the arbitrator
and the manufacturer.
Documents that might be useful include:
Bring anything or anybody that can verify the problem with your
vehicle. It is better to be overprepared than underprepared.
The arbitrator will accept all relevant evidence presented at the
hearing. The arbitrator will decide the importance of each piece of evidence
after the hearing is closed.