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Plan to Resurrect BBB Service in Southland Offered

November 12, 1987|JOHN TIGHE | Times Staff Writer

The Better Business Bureau of Los Angeles/Orange Counties, which closed last week after running out of money, may be replaced by branch offices of a bureau based in San Bernardino County if a local proposal receives national approval.

BBB officials confirmed Wednesday that the board of the beleaguered Los Angeles/Orange County bureau approved the branch-office plan at a closed-door meeting Tuesday and will submit it to the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Alexandria, Va., by the end of the week.

Ted Aldershof, board treasurer, confirmed that if national approval is received, the Better Business Bureau Inland Cities will begin providing service to consumers in Los Angeles and Orange counties by financing the opening of at least one office in each county.

Jim McIlhenny, president of the national council, said Wednesday that the group had not yet been contacted about the proposal.

"There are many steps any plan would have to go through," McIlhenny said. He said he has not ruled out other options, including the opening of a new bureau or bureaus in Los Angeles and Orange counties by business leaders independent of the existing board.

McIlhenny said he has written letters to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and executives of major corporations seeking their suggestions and financial assistance.

"I'm giving the Los Angeles board a chance to come up with something before we do anything, but I haven't heard anything yet," McIlhenny said.

While the Inland Cities bureau, based in Colton, currently serves a smaller market, its 1987 budget of $750,000 and membership roster of 3,200 companies both exceed those of the ailing Los Angeles/Orange Counties bureau.

By last week, the two-county bureau had exhausted its 1987 revenue of $700,000, and many of its 3,000 members are unlikely to provide additional funds, according to William Fritz, the bureau's president.

While details of the branch-office plan have not been divulged, Inland Cities BBB President William Mitchell said that his bureau would move existing employees into new offices in Los Angeles and Orange counties and immediately launch a fund-raising drive.

Fritz said that the failure of the local bureau was caused in large part by the defection of several thousand member businesses bitter at being charged for advertising in an ill-fated BBB Consumer Guide and Directory.

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