Tuesday, October 28, 2008

USLBA: Congrats! Buy Your Plaque Now!

On a listserv I monitor, I saw a post about someone receiving notice that he or she had been given an award by the US Local Business Association. the question was, "Is this a VALID organization? or a 'scam' to get companies to buy their award plaque?"

Frankly, I didn't want to spend an inordinate amount of time on the question, since it wouldn't count in my monthly statistics,. But I did venture to the Better Business Bureau website, went to the national page, and found this about USLBA:

The BBB does not have a current report on this company, which means it has not had frequent enough inquiries or a reason to open a file. The red flags that the BBB sees with this organization's pitch are:

*There is no way to contact this company other than via email.

*Web site domain registration information is privately registered via Go Daddy. We consider this to be a red flag.

*Organization states that you have been awarded, and then presents you with the option of purchasing your own plaque. In order to receive your award you are first required to confirm your company's information. The web site states:
Receiving Your Award
In recognition of your achievement, a 2008 Best of Ft. Benton Award plaque has been designed for display at your place of business. Simply confirm your business contact information in the form below to receive your award.

*The BBB is unable to find anywhere on this organization's web site prior to confirming your business profile info how much the plaque will actually cost.

*Before ever agreeing to the award, this organization already has a "News Release" posted to its site stating that you are a recipient of this award.


Vanity offers differ from conventional offers in that they generally offer to award you at your expense, and/or they solicit entries in awards, directories or lists patterned after "Who's Who" Directories, which bear prestigious sounding titles.

Businesses nationwide should question direct email or mail solicitations that offer to include the recipient in an award process or directory. In most cases, no returned solicitation, nominee or entry is turned down. The solicitation may be accompanied by a request for a membership fee (in this case payment for a plaque) or for an order of one or more copies of a directory.

Businesses that deal with vanity offers should recognize that their award may have little or no significance in the marketplace and should realistically expect no more than the self-satisfaction derived from seeing your plaque on the wall, but don't be surprised when or if someone asks you to substantiate the award and its merits.

The Better Business Bureau routinely encourages caution. Thoroughly evaluate any solicitations as those described and determine if they are truly based on merit or are geared primarily to appeal to your vanity.

That seemed to be sufficiently blunt for me to send along. While not an indictment of USLBA, it was hardly a ringing endorsement.


Anonymous said...

This was helpful. I was trying to find info on this and you saved me a lot of work!

Anonymous said...

I, too, found this information very useful. Our business just received the same (swap out city name) unsolicited email. Thank you.

TeenyGozer said...

They just targeted our store -- same people using the same pitch with just the town & store name changed. I wonder how much they make on this scam? Surely someone has to fall for this at least once in a while, or they'd stop doing it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing the research for me

Brent Wong said...

Thanks for the post. I just got the email from them and figured it was a fake. Found a few posts like this that helped me confirm it was.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your research. Vanity award indeed. I laugh gently at myself because I admit to being a little disapointed ... ! Vanity aside, I am certainly glad to avoid this scam. Thanks.