Yes, Yukon, there really is a Better Business Bureau

Dissatisfied Yukon consumers hoping for a branch of the Better Business Bureau are in luck. The Yukon has had access to the bureau’s services…

Dissatisfied Yukon consumers hoping for a branch of the Better Business Bureau are in luck.

The Yukon has had access to the bureau’s services for years, but nobody seems to know about it.

For more than a decade, the bureau has provided service to consumers seeking information about Yukon businesses, and even holds two Whitehorse companies as permanent members.

“It’s not that we have anyone based in the Yukon, but we service the Yukon,” said Mark Fernandes, communications director for the bureau.

With branches throughout Canada, the Better Business Bureau collects complaint histories and other business information in order to provide unbiased company information to consumers.

However, the board’s existence in the Yukon has come as a surprise to many in the business community.

Chamber of Commerce president Rick Karp had never heard about the bureau’s presence in the North until local media informed him.

In the supposed absence of the bureau, the chamber has provided many of the same services, including offering business information, fielding complaints and resolving disputes.

“We’ve really been doing that function — free. And if the Better Business Bureau of British Columbia would like to take that over that would be really good,” said Karp.

Karp said that even if services have been offered, it’s clear that the bureau has not had much of a Yukon presence.

“It’s probably just an awareness issue,” said Fernandes.

He suggested that bureau representatives should travel to the territory in order to familiarize themselves with the unique business environment of the Yukon.

“It’s hard to do business from that far away,” said Karp.

“They don’t know Whitehorse businesses and how things operate here — and that’s why I’m saying they should visit,” he added.

“It would be really nice if they contacted us, gave us the contact information and came up here and maybe did a luncheon presentation on what is it and how does it work.”

The Better Business Bureau aims to secure a larger presence in the North, but Fernandes could not say whether the bureau ever intends to establish an office within any of the territories.

Even for representatives of the bureau itself, its Yukon operations seem to have come as a surprise.

The bureau website informs visitors that consumers in the territories should consult the bureau of the closest province.

However, phone representatives based at the Vancouver office inform callers that no service exists for the Yukon, and that all inquiries should be directed to the Consumer and Safety Services office of the Yukon government.

Consumer Services was also unaware of any Yukon operations of the bureau, said director Fiona Charbonneau.

Much like the bureau, Consumer Services also fields complaints and customer inquiries.

“We help consumers on a regular basis, I’ve never had anyone ask or suggest that we needed a Better Business Bureau,” said Charbonneau.

Despite the apparent lack of knowledge regarding the bureau’s territorial presence, it has received Yukon-focused inquiries.

But that’s only been at a trickle — a mere 23 were recorded in the previous year.

By contrast, the chamber of commerce fields several inquiries a week.

The bureau suspected that the small amount of traffic was due either to a lack of knowledge about the services offered, or it’s possible “companies in the Yukon are just doing a wonderful job, and people don’t have a reason to complain,” said Fernandes.