Recent emails notifying
The group behind the “awards” program is the U. S. Commerce Association of Washington, D. C. The association has been sending out news releases in recent months to
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) urges that area businesses exercise caution when dealing with this group or a related organization called the U. S. Local Business Association.
From everything we can find, this is just one more ploy to profit off the universal desire for recognition and approval. We are advising people to steer clear, unless they want to pay $180 for what looks to be a meaningless office decoration.
Pat Joshu, executive director of
On its Web site, the U. S. Commerce Association says the award program was “created to honor and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of businesses and organizations in and around
Other than the material on its Web site, there seems to be little publicly available about the U. S. Commerce Association. The site says its offices are in Washington, D. C., and a representative of the BBB that covers the area said that office has begun receiving inquiries about the association in the past several days. A recently updated BBB report says that the association’s Web site is a match to the Web site of an association with a similar name – U. S. Local Business Association. Both groups identify Ashley Carter as chair of the associations’ selection committees. And both groups report virtually identical award programs, the BBB says. The Washington, D. C. – area BBB office gives U. S. Local Business Association an “F” grade and warns that persons contacted about awards must be sure the recognition is not, “in fact, an attempt to obtain access to a company’s information or to elicit funds by an entity that may not be what it represents itself as being.”
An internet search of corporate records uncovered little additional information on the association. An email to the office (there is no phone number listed on its Web site) went unanswered.
Joshu first learned of her group’s “award” in a news release sent to an email apparently taken from the charity’s Web site. The release, issued June 8, said the Immigrant & Refugee Women’s Program had been selected for the award in the “Individual & Family Services” category. The release said that “various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category.” A photo in the email showed the crystal award with the organization’s name appearing to be engraved on the crystal. Joshu said she was offered three award options: an aluminum and wood plaque for $79.99, the five-pound engraved crystal award for $179.99, or both pieces for $199.99.
Clyde Jeans, president and CEO of Critique Personnel Service, Inc. of
Others, though, have not been so fortunate. The president of a
In a link provided in its email to Joshu, the U. S. Commerce Association provides a list of several hundred award winners from 2008. Among the winners were a discount driving school in
The BBB offers several tips to avoid losing money in a “vanity award” program:
· Learn everything you can about who is giving the award. If it is coming from a mystery company, chances are it simply wants your money.
· If you didn’t apply for an award or the group cannot tell you how you were nominated, chances are the award is not legitimate.
· Most legitimate awards do not come with costs for the recipient. If there is a cost, scrutinize it even more closely.
· Ask specific questions about how your company or organization was chosen for an award and find out how many similar awards are given each year.
· Check BBB reliability reports at www.bbb.org.