advertisements seeking beauty pageant participants read, “Win Big Prizes!
Scholarships! Cash! Become the Next Supermodel!” These ads are appealing to
parents of young children, teens and others who are convinced they have what it
takes to become the next big star. Participating in a beauty pageant may
provide a rewarding experience, but many would-be contestants find that some
pageant promoters do not deliver what they promise. While there are legitimate pageants,
there are also those - whose only purpose is to fatten the pockets of
In 2010, Better Business Bureau received nearly 10,000 inquiries from consumers about beauty pageant promotions. “Beauty pageants can carry big price tags,” said Nancy B. Cahalen, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central New England. “Before finding yourself scammed out of thousands of dollars, it’s important to check out the pageant operator with BBB first.”
entering into a pageant, parents and others who want to get involved should
consider the following questions:
How long has the
company been operating pageants? Who are the directors? Usually pageants
are operated by for-profit organizations that solicit participants by mail or
print advertising, or by broadcast media, to compete for recognition and prizes
from the promoter.
What is the total
cost of pageant participation for both the entrant and the chaperone? Oftentimes, family
or business sponsors are asked to pay a sponsorship fee, which can vary in
size, to the pageant promoter to cover hotel rental fees, awards,
administrative costs and salary for company personnel and to generate company
profits. Also, keep in mind that there are other costs for entrants, such as
clothing, make-up, food and lodging.
Can the location
(place of business) of the pageant company be verified? Where and when
will the actual pageant be held? What accommodations are provided for
contestants? Will there be adequate supervision?
Do all of the
details add up? Are
there judges and what are their qualifications? Do they have any affiliation
with the company? Are refunds possible if a contestant decides to withdraw from
the pageant? How are the winners chosen? What criteria are used for selection?
What are the obligations of the winning contestant? What do former contestants
and winners have to say about the pageant? Ask the company for references.
Finally, what benefit will be derived from participating or winning?
Do the winnings sound too good to be true? If so, they probably are. Be sure to read any contract carefully and thoroughly in advance of entering a pageant to understand the rights and responsibilities of the winner or other contestants.