The Better Business Bureau of metropolitan Washington is celebrating its 61st year of service to the community this month. During the past year, the BBB handled over 100,000 individual service requests from the public and business community and expanded their arbitration process, which offers an alternative to legal proceedings in cases where consumers and producers reach an impasse in a dispute.

Among the recent achievements cited by Chairman of the Board Harry . Schoenly were the opening, in April, of the BBB's second branch office, the Northern Virginia BBB in Falls Church and the creation of a new publication, the BBB Special report. The Report presents "topical information perceived to be of particular interest to the membership," according to Schoenly.

Another milestone for the past year was an increase in member dues, initiated "to enable us to concentrate on our mandated work without the necessity of worrying constantly about our economic health," he added.

Once again the BBB's "top-10 complaint categories" was headed by mail-order companies. Franchised auto dealers ranked second, auto repair shops third, and magazines ordered by mail fourth. Other major complaint generators included home remodeling contractors, dry-cleaning establishments, department stores, home-furnishings stores and apparel and accessory shops.

"More and more consumers and businesses are turning to the bureau for assistance in these times of accelerated economic pressures," a BBB spokesman said.