LINCOLNTON, N.C. -- It is the kind of place where a smile and sweet tea can open up a lot of doors for you.
It is homey and downright quaint, especially over at Rick Dudley's 36th Sreet Bakery, which incidentally is over on North Court Square.
Rick's Bakery is known to serve up really good cream horns and apple fritters. So good, in fact, the U.S. Commerce Association sent Rick an email saying he was the “Best Bakery” in Lincolnton.
Not surprising, since he's the only bakery in Lincolnton.
Rick says he became suspicious when he found out the organization wanting to give him this award wanted him to pay for it as well.
"When I researched it I found out that it came with a price tag,” Dudley said.
The BBB of Charlotte said they aren’t surprised, in fact, they say it’s a scam sent to millions of people and businesses. Janet Hart of BBB Charlotte said these awards “play to the ego of the business owner and try to capitalize on vanity, which is why we refer to them as vanity awards.”
Many of these companies tell you that you or your business have been selected as “Best of” and that you can pay for a plaque and a framed certificate. The cost of actually getting the award can run between $500 and $1,000, something BBB says is “highly suspect.”
Rick smelled something rotten and didn't bite. When he investigated he found the same thing: a price tag of about $600.
BBB says if you are contacted by someone saying you won an award you knew nothing about, start asking questions. Ask, who did the judging? What were the judging criteria? Who were past winners? Who were the other candidates up for the honor? If it is truly an honor, you shouldn’t have to pay anything.
Awards and honors like this aren't illegal, they're just made up and totally bogus. This scam also typically targets parents of high school and college age students saying their child has been chosen as a “Who’s Who,” and for a fee can get the national directory with their child’s name in it.
BBB has 10 open complaints on the U.S. Commerce Association and currently rates the business with an “F.”