Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Vanity Awards Prey on Small Businesses

Be cautious of emails from marketing companies posing as legitimate credentialing organizations. The emails say that you've won their 2013 "Best of – fill in the blank" award for your industry and congratulate you for joining "such an elite group of small businesses."

You are then offered the opportunity to purchase a plaque, a crystal award or both at a cost ranging from $79.99 to $199.98. A complimentary digital award image and personalized press release are also included in the package.

The awards can be part of a widespread scheme designed to get businesses to pay for vanity awards of little or no value. They mirror offers made in the past by U.S. Commerce Association, an organization whose phony vanity awards were the subject of several BBB complaints.

Phony vanity awards prey on small businesses who are trying to make their companies stand out in their industry. The program's website tells business owners that "a select few have been able to benefit from the strategic value of business awards" and that "a business award can be an account executive's ace-in-the-hole."

BBB offers the following tips to businesses to avoid being taken by this or similar schemes:

Most awards of value to any business will come from a local business organization such as a chamber of commerce or a known, recognized trade organization for a specific industry. Award schemes often have little or no value to the business within the community in which they do business.

Most businesses are not charged to receive honors that they are awarded. If you are being charged to receive a plaque or trophy, it is likely a money-making scheme that has little to do with business performance.

Start With Trust. Always check with the BBB before doing business with a company, even if they seem to be doing you a favor. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, especially if you have to pay for the honor.

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