Web Awards Scams

How to know if web awards that charge entrance fees are scams:
Internet ScamBusters #20

First, an update on our last issue on Internet malls. Wow, was that a controversial subject! We expected to be bombarded with both positive and negative email — and we were. And, to continue to add to the heat, here’s more…

We recently read an absolutely fascinating study on Internet malls by Paul Marshall. Even though we can’t say we’re surprised by the results, they are so dramatic that we decided to share some of the highlights with you. Here they are:

Businesses that have sites on malls were surveyed and asked to rate their experiences. Five of the questions used a scale of 0 to 10. A rating from 0-3 means they are very dissatisfied, 4-7 is somewhat satisfied, and 8 and up are very satisfied.

Here are some of the results:

84% of the respondents are very unsatisfied with the leads or sales they have received from their site, and less than 2% are very satisfied. The average rating was 1.4. More than half of the respondents, 55%, has not received any business from their site. Most of the 43% who have received business have received only a few orders.

Further, 89% of the respondents said that they are not getting the results that they expected. Again, less than 2% are receiving the results that they expected. The average response was 1.1 out of 10. These figures show just how unhappy Internet mall customers are with their sites. It is astonishing how a company can stay in business when nearly 90% of their customers are unhappy.

Another area of dissatisfaction includes mistakes made by the mall owners that are never corrected. Here’s a particularly striking example:

One site was listed in the mall’s directory as a “Clam Substation Specialist.” The business was a research company; they were a “Claim Substantiation Specialist.” This error was never corrected and remained on the mall for at least 1 year.

You can check out the article at our site — it’s called The Truth about Internet Malls.

OK, let’s move on to this month’s scam.

NOTE: The below article was written in January 1998. At the time, we knew of no legitimate sites that charged entry fees. In the interim, there are now a few legitimate sites that do charge entry fees, most notably the Webby Awards.

Many of the award sites are still free. And we still believe that, in most cases, you can spend your marketing dollars much more wisely using other Internet marketing techniques than paying award entry fees.

Scam: Sites that charge a fee to nominate a Web site for a “Best of” or “Cool Site” award.

Thanks to Adam Boettiger for alerting us to this scam.

As I’m sure you know, there are many sites that offer awards to Web sites for being “cool,” useful, best of something, etc. Some of these awards are legitimate and actually mean something, and others are worthless or scams. Recognition by some of the real awards can generate a ton of traffic to the award recipient’s Web site.

However, here’s a new wrinkle: At least one site is now charging an entrance fee of $150 just to nominate the site for the award!

Those new to the Net may be suckered into paying this type of fee. Remember, no legitimate site we know of charges a fee to nominate a site for an award.