- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2002

The Better Business Bureau is making it easier for consumers to find out if the companies doing business online are protecting their privacy.
The nonprofit consumer protection group has set up a new "safe shopping site" (www.bbbonline.org/consumer) that allows consumers to search online among the thousands of companies that have met the bureau's e-commerce rules.
BBBOnline, the Internet arm of the Better Business Bureau system, has developed programs that have laid the foundation for business standards on the Internet.
The safe shopping site "is a central location with over 10,000 companies that have met BBBOnline standards," says Steve Salter, project manager at BBBOnline. "We want it to be a resource for consumers to shop."
The companies in the safe shopping site not only meet BBBOnline's code of ethical business standards, but they also have agreed to resolve complaints using BBB's dispute-resolution program or a similar program. Companies must live up to these promises or they lose the right to remain in the BBBOnline program a program that has become a trusted name for consumers.
As of last week 10,626 companies like Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Procter & Gamble, displayed one or more of the BBBOnline Privacy and Reliability seals.
Research shows that privacy and the collection and sharing of information online remains the No. 1 concern among consumers, Mr. Salter says.
"We want to increase consumers' trust online," he says.

Double decker
Crate and Barrel, the Northbrook, Ill.-based home furnishings chain, is opening a new two-level store at the Market Common in Arlington on Feb. 14.
The 33,500-square-foot store, which will have about 80 employees, will have the company's complete line of furniture upstairs and housewares and accessories downstairs. Currently Crate and Barrel has two other full-line stores in the area one in Tysons Corner and another in Clarendon. These locations are much bigger than the handful of stores located inside malls like Montgomery Mall and the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
The chain isn't currently looking for any more locations in Washington for its two-level stores because the existing stores cover the market fairly well, says Sissy Barnes, area manager for housewares.
However, Crate and Barrel's newest concept CB2, a boutique-style store with a more urban younger feel, may be suitable for a place like Dupont Circle, Ms. Barnes says. The only CB2 store that exists now is in Chicago and opened in 2000. Crate and Barrel has not yet started to expand the concept.

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