OakWood sues Better Business Bureau
Ottawa Better Business Bureau revokes status of Ottawa’s top, award-winning Contractor
OakWood Designers & Builders, Ottawa’s only contractor to measure up to the stringent standards established by Canada’s superstar Mike Holmes, had its status unexpectedly revoked by the BBB in May of 2017. Repeated efforts by OakWood, which previously enjoyed an unblemished A+ rating and no valid complaints and over 60 years of business, have fallen on deaf ears by the BBB.
Sadly, this situation has been quickly exploited and misrepresented by several competitors who have tried to use this to their advantage, even the large west end competitor that abused the situation with the BBB. “We consider the reputation of our company to be sacrosanct,” comments John Liptak, President and Owner of OakWood. “For six decades we have worked very hard, often with the BBB, to raise the bar in the construction and renovation industry,” he adds.
After getting nowhere with the Ottawa BBB, and in the interest of protecting OakWood’s sterling reputation, the Liptak family, decided to take matters into their own hands. In June 2017, OakWood filed a formal legal claim against the BBB citing specific practices and actions that have unfairly defamed the company. “We take no satisfaction in filing a legal complaint”, says Patricia Liptak-Satov, OakWood’s VP Operations. “For over 50 years, OakWood has held the BBB in the highest esteem,” she adds.
John Liptak also says OakWood has previously recommended to all potential clients that as part of their due diligence for choosing a trustworthy business, they check a potential Renovator’s status with the BBB. “Until recently, we prominently featured the BBB visibly in all our marketing literature,” he laments. Ironically, OakWood is the only Ottawa company to have been honoured with the BBB’s coveted Torch Award for Marketplace Trust – not once, but twice – and has been a finalist four times. “These awards are a matter of record.” says Liptak.
Despite this impeccable track record with the BBB, OakWood now finds itself in the uncomfortable but necessary position of having to take legal action to protect the company’s reputation and confidential information, which is second to none in this City. OakWood is the gold standard in Ottawa renovations and custom homes and has won most of the top awards in the industry. The basis of OakWood’s grievance with the BBB is the following;
- The BBB divulged and emailed sensitive process and confidential information about OakWood to the owner of a direct renovation competitor.
- This information was included in confidence as part of OakWood’s winning submission for the BBB’s Torch Awards – ironically for Marketplace Trust.
- The owner of the competitive business is also a member of the BBB and is a large direct competitor to OakWood located in Ottawa west.
- Although a BBB board member has since been removed, the damage has clearly been done and the BBB hasn’t been held accountable for their actions.
Liptak-Satov is particularly concerned about the BBB’s actions and lack of communication, noting OakWood has invested significantly in unique proprietary processes to ensure they consistently deliver the highest quality Design and Build services in the Industry. “We were alarmed and deeply concerned when we discovered the BBB’s indiscretion by providing our confidential company information to a key large competitor,” she says.
John Liptak is even more forceful on this point. “As a long standing and highly respected Accredited Member we felt obligated to seek an explanation around this matter,” he says. Unfortunately, the Ottawa BBB president and BBB board of directors refused to give OakWood a satisfactory answer. “Indeed, they chose to ignore us even though they all know they did something wrong,” says Liptak. Most smaller companies would simply roll over but OakWood is the largest Renovator in Ottawa. The OakWood Group of Companies is larger than the BBB and has the financial wherewithal to hold the BBB accountable.
In the interest of transparency – not only for OakWood but other Accredited Members – OakWood chose to take legal action to force disclosure on this unfortunate and damaging incident. Sadly, the BBB’s response to this news was to immediately revoke OakWood’s membership without any satisfactory explanation. As of today, a visit to the BBB’s site (www.bbb.org), will reveal details of the previous rating with an undignified “Revoked” stamp emblazoned across the listing. Regrettably, several opportunistic competitors – including the very company whose owner sat on the BBB Board and received OakWood’s confidential information – are now using the BBB’s “revoked” status against OakWood in competitive bids. “We do take some satisfaction in noting that you can still clearly see, directly under the harsh “revoked” status, our A+ rating and 100%, 5-star customer approval rating,” says Liptak. “More importantly, we assure you that OakWood’s commitment to unconditional customer excellence has not waivered.” To punctuate this fact, and to this day, OakWood still does not have one valid, unresolved complaint with the BBB, after being in business for over 60 years. OakWood’s commitment to the highest-quality, transparency in its dealings with customers, suppliers, and contractors; and innovation are just a few of the reasons that Mike Holmes chose OakWood as his exclusive Partner in 2013 and every year since. At this moment, OakWood has a lawsuit against the BBB. “When the full details of this becomes public, I am sure that you, along with many people particularly in the business community will be shocked by how poorly the BBB has acted,” notes Liptak.
The tragic irony in this case is that the catalyst for OakWood’s lawsuit involved a breach of trust and confidence in the BBB regarding their indiscrete handling of confidential company information that was supplied for their Torch Awards for Marketplace Trust. This program is designed to promote professionalism and recognize local businesses deemed outstanding based on their integrity in performing and promoting trustworthy business practices.