Entrepreneur Trades on BBB Name to Gain Trust from Businessesby Nick LaFleur on Mar. 24, 2010, under Life, Tips
Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona is warning businesses about solicitations for print directory advertising by a salesman stating the businesses’ name was obtained through BBB. Bayshore Marketing, Mid Atlantic Marketing, Chesapeake Realty Consultants, and, most recently, Community Contractor Directory are names marketed by Marylander and serial entrepreneur, Eric Bacon. According to written reports on record with BBB, complainants have similar concerns.
According to BBB serving Maryland, businesses in multiple states say they have been told by Bacon that BBB gave him their companies’ names to call. Upon investigation by BBB personnel, Bacon conceded that he says to potential clients that [Mr. Bacon] got [the company] name from BBB and that [the company] had no complaints on file.
Unfortunately, according to reports, many businesses have interpreted Bacon’s message to mean that he is associated with BBB when their name was in fact just plucked from BBB’s web site. While anyone can use this method of sales, BBB considers this solicitation method to be misleading and violates the trust of our name and organization.
According to the filed disputes, businesses are contacted to purchase advertising in a brochure for $187.50. The brochures are alleged to contain a directory of contractors and will be distributed to realtors, who, at their discretion, will make them available to clients. Some complaints contend that copies of the directory including their advertisements have never been produced or furnished upon request. One complaint notes receipt of a “brochure,” which is described as a “white sheet of paper with ads on it.” BBB has previously requested copies of the marketing collateral but none have been provided to date.
In a recent letter addressed to BBB, Bacon states, “All of the names you have listed as companies of mine are not companies. It is the name of a referral program that I run.” He also claims that because he runs a referral service, he is entitled to change the name as much as he’d like. “… and the reason I do this is because I make repeat calls over the course of a year to the same companies who rejected me in the past,” stating that if a company sees his name come up on their phone over and over again they will not answer or return his calls.
BBB has processed a total of 17 complaints about Bacon’s ventures in the last 36 months. Bacon has failed to respond to seven of complaints and four were not resolved. In addition to complaints regarding Bacon’s inability to provide proof that a brochure was printed, some note unreturned calls and failure to provide lists of realtors to whom the directories were distributed when asked by the client.
Although no businesses in Southern Arizona have reported receiving a phone call from businesses in Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Maryland have filed complaints against companies owned by Bacon.
For information on nearly 4 million businesses, tips and other marketplace news, please visit www.tucson.bbb.org.