As the next school year approaches, the Better Business Bureau warns businesses across the country to beware of phone calls and invoices in the mail from Signature Sports, Dallas. The business claims to publish high school sports posters with advertising by businesses in the high school’s area. But businesses are complaining to the BBB about misrepresentation of the offer, failure to produce advertising, and unauthorized bills for advertising. Businesses paid from $89.50 to $278 for the ads.
Signature Sports, 2633 McKinney Ave. #130-308, Dallas, has a BBB rating of F, the lowest rating possible. The F rating is due to 8 complaints since January, 2010, that remain unanswered by the business. Complaints are from Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas. View the BBB Business Review on Signature Sports at http://www.bbb.org/dallas/business-reviews/advertising-specialties/signa…
Several complaints say that although Signature Sports implies that the sports posters are somehow associated with a local school, the schools say they have no such arrangement with Signature Sports.
“Business owners who want to show their support for local school teams, and get good value for their advertising dollars, are being taken advantage of by Signature Sports,” said Jeannette Kopko, spokesperson for the BBB serving Dallas and Northeast Texas. “The BBB advises businesses who are approached for any advertising offer tied into a local school or team to verify that the offer is authorized.”
An invoice received by one business is headed with a local high school name and “2011 Fall Sports Poster”. The invoice asks, “Please remit business card or ad copy ASAP so we can meet our printing deadline … [If not] we will create an ad for you and place it on our publication.”
Only in the fine print at the bottom of Signature Sports’ invoice does this disclaimer appear: “Company is not affiliated with any school.”
A restaurant owner in New Braunfels, TX, reported: “We were billed for advertising on a local high school poster. I asked to see the poster once it was done and was promised a copy. We never saw the poster and never approved any ad … Once we realized there was never a product that we have seen or that the school has no idea who this company is, we have refused to pay their invoices.”
In another complaint, a Massachusetts dentist stated, “I recently bought a dental practice, and started getting mail requesting payment for an advertisement I did not place,” says a complaint from Massachusetts. “The bills implied that the service had already been rendered, but on closer inspection, smaller print implied that a copy or layout needed to accompany the payment to proceed … The bills implied that this ad was for some publication affiliated with a local high school, but when I called, no one at the school was familiar with the company.”
A psychologist in Florida complained, “I received a solicitation by phone for advertisements at Leesburg High School. I told them I need to think about it and would get back in touch with them, and I started receiving bills and collection notices. I called them several times and told them nothing was ever approved or authorized or signed. But they do not return my calls.”
From Colorado, a new car dealer stated: “We received an invoice from this company for $199 to endorse a spring sports poster for a local high school. They ask for payment and a business card. We contacted the high school, and they do not endorse nor have any knowledge of this company and do not benefit directly from this ad.”
BBB advises businesses who are approached for advertising on items such as school sports posters to check out the offer with the school before proceeding. All too often, there’s no formal agreement with the school and no guarantee the advertising items will be distributed.
Consider any advertising offer on the basis of the advertising value: What is the total cost of the ad? What will the advertisement look like, and can you proof the ad before it’s distributed? How many items will be produced, and how will you know the items will be distributed? Will you receive a sample?
Complaints about advertising offers can be reported to the BBB. The BBB will send a copy of the complaint to the advertising business, ask for an answer, and check back with the complainant to see if the problem is resolved.
For more alerts for business, visit http://www.dallas.bbb.org/business-alerts/
Find this news release online at http://www.dallas.bbb.org/article/Alert-to-Business—-Complaints-on-Sig…