Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Who's Who? Who am I? What?

I received a letter from Cambridge Who's Who in late October informing me I was "being considered for inclusion into the 2006/2007 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executive and Professional Women in Education 'honors Edition' of the Registry." The letter further explained:

The 2006/2007 edition of the Registry will include biographies of our country's most accomplished women. Recognition of this kind is an honor shared by thousands of executive and professional women throughout America each year.

Inclusion is considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement. Upon final confirmation, you will be listed among thousands of accomplished women in the Cambridge Who's Who Registry.

For accuracy and publication deadlines please return to us your application form within five business days from the receipt of this letter. There is no cost to be included. (Letter, October 25, 2006)

It sat on my desk for several days and on a whim, I sent it back and did not think anything more about it. Until today. This afternoon I got a phone call from Cambridge Who's Who and after a short question and answer period I was congratulated and told my biography was accepted.

Great, but it was at that point the sales pitch commenced.

The price for being included in this edition ranged from $189 - $700 depending on the level of sponsorship (for want of a better word) I was prepared to purchase. I had no desire to make this decision spur of the moment and the longer I "waffled," the harder the sales push. She moved from the highest price to the lowest telling me that she did not want me to miss out on this opportunity. As the conversation contionued, at one point I was asked, "Don't you know who we are?" That was when my patience expired. I replied, "Yes, but I have no intention of making a purchase of this magnitude over the phone without any consideration." She relented and gave me until 5:30 pm this afternoon to decide.

Naturally, I began my research on this company after lunch. I started with my boss, who had never heard of them, and finished with a quick Google search. Findings ranged from a few happy consumers to seriously snarky reports of outright scam. I also found several mentions of this letter in other blogs from other librarians and professionals.

Negative research results:

Positive customer results:

Blogging about the directory:

An interesting discovery:

I was less than thrilled with the sales pitch, mostly because the representative was pushy and rude. (It is now 5:30 pm and I have missed her deadline.) The crux of the matter for me? If, as per the letter, it costs nothing to be included, why do I pay for a subscription and/or membership to join? My overall opinion is a negative one at this point. I do not know if I will get a second phone call tomorrow. But I will be sure to ask why there is such a push for subscription benefits when it clearly states there is not cost for inclusion.

Update: 12/12/06

Last Friday afternoon I received a second call from Rebecca at Cambridge Who's Who. I freely admit I did not expect to hear from the company after missing my deadline earlier in the week. However, when she started the entire sales pitch a second time, including wanting to ask me additional questions to further assess my qualifications for inclusion, I politely interrupted and told her we had this conversation last week. I also reminded her I had answered all of the secondary questions and that she already welcomed me to the "family" (so to speak).

I questioned why I was being asked to make a purchase when the invitation letter specifically noted "There is no cost to be included." The clearest part of her circular answer detailed benefits only offered subscribing customers. I declined the opportunity to make a purchase and admit to some curiosity regarding my inclusion in the upcoming edition of their registry. It is obvious I should have researched before sending in the application, but I was flattered, somewhat naive, and did not see the harm. Quite honestly, no harm no foul for the entire process because I have learned something.

Tags: , , ,


Tara said...

Thank you for this valuable brief regarding your experience with "Cambridge", I just found it doing a similar google search. I too returned the post card but decided to do this search before returning the call.

Glad I did.

Ericka said...

I thank you also for your blog! I too received this application today and admit, I was flattered. Hate being a "skeptic" but I had to do the research! Thank you for being the "One" to put-up with the annoying sales calls and doing the work for us! I always appreciate when others use the web for service to others! You saved me time and frustration! Again, you are appreciated!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information, I just want to let you and your blog visiter know that I have been Ripoff from Cambridge who's who among few others.
I just found out this company is maybe one year here in US and has few ripoff report and other complains as well.
Here I found:
Ripoff # 1

Rip off report #2 http://ripoffreport.com/reports/0/226/ripoff0226198.htm

Thank you,

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the detailed info. I'm a full-time mother and homemaker. I knew it wasn't on the up-and-up when the letter came addressed to me since I've been out of the paid workforce for over a decade. My blog about the letter was in jest and a riff on the award show thank-you speeches. But I had no idea just how much of a scam the letter was.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this blog! I received a letter for the 2007/2008 edition and (considering what I've done professionally) was very skeptical of its quality. It's very nice to be able to find such helpful posts as yours on sometimes obscure subjects.

dreaminglily said...

My mother got this letter only for "executives" (her and my father own a small business). I tried to convince her it was a scam and she insisted it wasn't. So I said "let me google it" and tuh duh! I found your post.

Thanks so much!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up, I am a small business owner and my gut reaction was it may be a scam but my husband seemed thrilled after only a year in business I'd recieve such an honor so I pulled it out of the trash to check it out.
Thank goodness I did some googling before mailing it in and found your posting.


Lakshmi said...

Ditto ditto to the others thoughts above. Also a special thanks for going through it with all the same curiosity and actually publishing the answers and saving us the time...especially with a new baby. It is so flattering and even though you know it is scam sometimes it is hard to resist! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insight. I just threw my letter in the fireplace

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the results of your experience with this company. I too was skeptical and I see that a pinch of skepticism is a good thing! Thanks so much for informing us all!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info on this. I consider myself somewhat up and coming in the world and when I received the letter I was flattered, but somewhat skeptical. Since I have had nothing to do with Cambridge or any of it's charities and what not. I guess there is no end to the ways people will think to get money out of you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a bunch for your blog on this!! I received this letter from Cambridge Who's Who today. After reading it, I was quite skeptical because I am not a professional. I just graduated from college lol! I now know it is a scam. I must admit though that the 'Who's Who' part almost got me b/c I was in Who's Who in college.

Anonymous said...

Just got a letter for the 2008/2009 edition. I am always skeptical about these things, because, as we all know, nothing in life is free. In addition, I've never heard of the book or the company, so I knew it was some kind of scam. This blog just confirms it.

ClemArt Design said...

I am glad I googled and found your blog. I was just about to toss this letter and thought I should look it up before I did. Thank-you :)

Anonymous said...

I learned a lot from my experiences with Cambridge Who's Who such as Cambridge Who's Who gives you unlimited potential to network and market yourself. Do this right can really open up a lot of doors.

Anonymous said...

I must admit that this is pretty interesting. I received this letter and I thought.... hmmmm, I am a man, so why would I be considered a candidate for the Cambridge Who's Who Registry among Executive and Professional Women. Clearly, this is a major scam and my name was just picked from a list.