And I win for Best Restaurant!
You will proud to know that I have just been awarded the “Best of San Leandro 2015” award, in the restaurant category, for Marina Restaurant. You didn’t know that I owned Marina Restaurant? I didn’t either, though given that I’ve been getting their spam mail for years, I might as well. It’s time that my sacrifices on behalf of the business were recognized and I thank the San Leandro Awards Program (SLAP) for the honor.
According to SLAP’s press release, the award is granted to businesses that have “achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category.” And, you have to admit that marketing yourself as the owner of an award-winning restaurant by doing nothing at all is quite a feat. I must be some kind of marketing genius.
I found out of my award last evening, through an e-mail which my obviously faulty spam filtered, tried to keep away from me. The e-mail had few details but it offered a link to my very own award web page. There, I was able to read how this award can help my company (though being the marketing genius that I am I don’t need no help) and have my frequently asked questions answered. I now know that Marina Restaurant is the *only* restaurant in San Leandro to get his award (so, if any other local restaurants get the award, it’s surely a mistake) and that the full list of awardees will be published after all the e-mails are delivered. I can’t wait to see who else is there!
The page also gave me a link to change my information. I can change the name of my business, the category, the city or the state – but I can’t actually change my e-mail address (more proof that this award is for me and not for the actual owners of Marina Restaurant).
The FAQ also explained very helpfully that as SLAP does not charge membership dues, it must charge for the award (the press release is free!). I can get an award plaque for only $150 or a beautiful crystal octagonal award for just $200 (plus $20 in shipping & handling). All I have to do is give this company I never heard of but who promises to sell my name, address and e-mail to their “strategic partners”, my credit card information. In just two to three weeks I should have the award in my hands. And did I mention how I get to choose whether I want a blue, green, red or yellow background? Which one do you think I should choose?
Call me suspicious (you never could really pronounce Marga, could you?), but I did a little bit of research on the San Leandro Awards Program. I couldn’t find any records of them existing as an actual organization, but I found that the domain name they use, persity.org, was registered for the first time yesterday, 10/6/15, by someone using what seems to be a fake name and the address of the Chamber of Commerce in Hinsdale, Illinois. Press releases and shopping carts are hosted at a different domain name, local-best.com, which was registered for the first time in early September 2015 and uses the address of a Christian Counseling Center in Detroit, Michigan. They do provide a phone number to get more information on their award, 888-509-9915, and a google search for this number leads to warnings from local BBBs and newspapers about an award scam associated with that number. I am shocked.
Business award scams have been around for quite a few years, so I imagine they are pretty successful. Who doesn’t want to get an award, after all, and $200 for the actual trophy doesn’t seem too bad, specially if your business is actually doing well. I can only imagine how disappointing it must be for business owners to find out that it their award was just a scam. They can take heart on the knowledge that most awards are scams anyway. Nonprofits give awards to celebrities in order to sell tickets to award ceremonies. Universities give honorary degrees to big donors and politicians to big supporters. Even business organizations use awards as a hook to get membership. The only award that ultimately should really matter to a business is the loyalty and happiness of their customers. They can assess the former by how often they see them and the latter by reading Yelp reviews.
If you are a business and feel the need for a trophy, why not just take a particularly good customer review, print it and buy a fancy frame for it? Or even have it engraved in some crystal. Or just get your creative juices going and make up your own award! It’ll be cheaper.