US Commerce Association award is bogus

Best of De Pere Award, Web Design

So, have you received your award yet? I did:

From: “Board of Review” <>
Date: 20 Aug 2009 07:03:21 -0700
Subject: Second Notice: SMC Net Receives 2009 Best of DePere Award

Earlier this year, I sent a notification email to you recognizing that SMC Net had been selected for the 2009 Best of DePere Award in the Web Site Design category.

In recognition of your achievement, a 2009 Best of DePere Award has been designed for display at your place of business. You may arrange to have your award sent directly to SMC Net by following the simple steps on the 2009 Best of DePere Award order form. Simply copy and paste this link into your browser to receive your award:

Each year, the US Commerce Association (USCA) identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Also, a copy of the press release publicizing the selection of SMC Net has been posted on our website. The USCA hereby grants SMC Net a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use, reproduce, distribute, and display this press release in any media formats and through any media channels.

An Award Code has been assigned to your company that can be used on our website for quick access to your award information and press release.

Your Award Code is: 3UYN-6LRK


Ashley Carter
Selection Committee Chair
US Commerce Association

The intended recipient of this notification is the Marketing Director for SMC Net. If you have received this email in error please forward it to the intended recipient. If you do not wish to receive further advertisements from Best of DePere Award Program, please mail a written request to:, 2020 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC 20006 or simply click to opt-out.

Best of De Pere Award, Web Design

Pretty cool eh? Yeah, right. So what’s the problem? The problem is that it’s bogus. It’s a joke. It’s sent by a company who just wants to sell plaques. The first clue is that I develop web sites, I don’t design them (yeah I know, maybe you don’t know the difference, but a company giving awards for it should). And even so, if they’re giving me an award for “web site design”, you’d think they’d tell me which web site they’re talking about. Second, they’re honoring my company, smcNet, for “exceptional marketing success.” I don’t market. My marketing budget is $0. smcNet isn’t even my full time job, and I’m winning a marketing award?

So, thinking that they probably just want to sell me something, I visited their web site and filled out the form to see what would happen. I was so honored to be presented with the opportunity to purchase my plaque for $79.99. Or I could instead get the award in crystal for only $179.99. But that’s not all. I could purchase both for $199.99. What a deal!

Holy cow! This is just unbelievable. After all my hard work, sweating over my web sites for 14 years, all the late nights, I’m so honored. I’d like to thank so many people who have supported me in my career, but I won’t for fear that I’ll leave someone out.

Come on folks. What kind of company comes in out of no where, gives you an award, then honors you with the opportunity to buy your plaque? And they do it by e-mail, no less; they didn’t even spring for a 44¢ stamp and a letter. This reminds me of those web sites that send you an e-mail saying, “you won the Scott Crevier Web Site Of The Day Award…please display my logo on your web site and link back to my site…”

Here are a number of companies tweeting about their new award.

Here’s a newspaper article about the award: Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Here’s a press release about the award: PRWeb.

Here are letters and notices from various Better Business Bureau offices:

The US Commerce Association (aka US Local Business Association) has a rating of “F” from the Better Business Bureau, who opened a file for them on May 13, 2008. The company received this “F” rating based on the following factors:

  • BBB does not have sufficient information to determine how long this business has been operating
  • Number of complaints filed against business
  • Failure to respond to complaints filed against business
  • BBB does not have sufficient background information on this business

Here is the BBB’s Reliability Report (be sure to look at the alternate business names).

So, did you get your award? Congratulations!

Comments 12

  • thanks for this post. I also received this email for my business and did immediately assume it was a company (as you said) trying to make money by selling plaques. I did decide to google them tho, just to be sure, and read a little in case I was missing something I might regret. That is how I found your post.
    Always investigate the source-
    Stacey Hoffman
    Executive director of a jazz music organization based in California

  • I’ve gotten a couple of letters from these schemers too. I ignored the first one as obviously bogus. When I received the second letter, I checked them out and found nothing good about them. I didn’t go as far as filling out the form, I’m leery of mysterious Internet forms, but it was clear to me that they were faking it. Partially because my business was in this town a little more than a year; and because my marketing must stink because I closed it down at the end of 2007 for want of a pay check.

    Stacey’s right, always investigate the source. I’ve always said, “If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably TOO good to be true.”

    Tom Gartman, Professional Photographer

  • Thanks for the information. I get enough publicity free without using such illegitimate methods to get business. I didn’t get a first notice either. Your posting saved my money from being wasted.

  • Just got an email today for my award in “Nonresidential Construction”. The last time I worked construction was over 3 years ago as a helper for a small company. Thanks for this blog.

  • Scott,
    Glad I did some research and found this page of yours. Exactly like I thought and YOU saved me $199.00. Quite a scam they have going there I can got to a “local” awards shop and create my own award for far less… what a joke! A little research goes a LONG way.
    Thanks for this BLOB.
    Darrin T.

  • Scott,

    Thanks for the heads up. I also received this notification and like you, my marketing budget is $0 right now. I did some checking to verify the award and came across your post. Thanks again. As was mentioned before ALWAYS research the source.

    Andre F.
    IT Consultant in Maryland

  • We recieved the notice this week and after reading and filling out the “required” information we discovered also that it was a scam. It really looks offical and clean web site. I think they took their information and tips right off of the BBB site.

    Doing a little research there have been several businesss bought the award plaques…sad

    Parker Enterprises

  • Hey, if you want a nice trophy I can get them cheaper, i will also let you be the best whatever you want. Give me 200 dollars and you can be,
    the worlds greatest Dad
    King of Pop
    Cheese Baron of Washitau.

    It has as much legitimacy.

    I bet they do sent the plaque though

  • We just received our bogus award over Thanksgiving. Shame that this business gets enough responses to keep using the deceptive sales practice. It’d be nice to find the morons doing this and expose them. Any clues on how?

  • I Just got the bogus email as well…. however, when I try to call to verify where they got their information from, there’s NEVER a person available to speak to. Their website is easily set up to take $79.99 plus $19.99 shipping though…. surprise, surprise

  • We received an “award” as well for “auto detailing”. We are auto repair. We rarely detail cars – but apparently we are SO good at it, we are award winners :) What a scam.

  • Thanks for posting. I just received this award :-) and of course, as I researched the validity of it- I came across your blog. This brought more humor to my morning.