I’m a sucker.
In January, “Hometown Productions” called and offered us an ad on a city map, to be distributed from all of the local hotels/motels as well as our local Chamber of Commerce. The first run, they said, was 3000 maps and if those were depleted, they’d print another 3000 and send them out. They claimed that the Chamber was receiving the maps for free, as well as a portion of the sales proceeds. Here’s what it says on their website:
I bought 2 “spots” on the map, asked for the specs, built the ad, and emailed it in. I paid in advance to take advantage of the pre-pay discount.
A couple of months later, “Universal Ad” (aka Universal AdCom) contacted me and introduced themselves as “working with the Baker County Sheriff’s Office” in producing a magnet to be distributed through the Sheriff’s office as well as distributed to the Elementary and Middle schools. The magent would list all of the important phone numbers including the Police, Poison Control, etc., and over 5000 would be printed. They offered Paizano’s exclusivity on the magnet, and I bought 2 “spots”. Here’s the listing on their website:
Again, I built the ad per their specifications and emailed the camera-ready copy to their graphics department. Again, I pre-paid.
About a month later, a box arrived in the mail with copies of the map that I had agreed to do. The ad was awful. They had cut and pasted my camera-ready ad into a horizontal space, and it was blurry and set up completely wrong. I was pissed, but figured that there was nothing that I could do and to just keep my mouth shut.
Another few weeks passed, and I was sent another box with samples of the magnet that I had agreed to do. Again, it was awful – as if they had taken my camera-ready ad and used scissors to cut out my logo, fonts, etc. and fit it to a space that they needed to fill. And again, I chalked it up to a lesson learned to NOT do advertising with outifts outside of town.
Then, it became more apparent that I was a victim of a slick and slimy scam.
I received an email from our Chamber announcing that they were partnering with only ONE map company, and Hometown Productions was not it. I called Hometown Productions, and they admitted that the Baker City Chamber had decided to NOT partner with them.
A week or so later, I was delivering pizzas to the Sheriff’s Department when I saw a stack of the magnets. I was floored to see that the Sheriff’s Department was distributing magnets WITHOUT our ad on it.
The top magnet is what the Sheriff’s Office had / the bottom magnet is what I was sent:
I asked the Sheriff’s rep about it, and she had no idea what I was talking about; that they had received a box of magnets and left them on the counter for people to pick up. I asked if they were distributing them to the schools… Not as far as she knew of, she replied.
I called Universal AdCom and was told that I had been told that there were going to be two printings of the magnet, and that HALF of the production would have my ad, albeit “improvised” to fit the space that I had been told was available.
Slimy icky scam artists. I have been suckered.
Today, “Debra” from “Baker County” called me in regards to a magnet. She said that she just needed to verify our hours, and make the change on our ad for the next magnet that was being distributed by our Chamber. Debi is the person that I normally talk to at the Chamber, so hearing the name “Debra” put me on guard.
Sure enough, I asked if she was calling FROM the Chamber, or WITH Universal Ad….
Here’s the scam:
They get suckers like me to buy an ad, then call a few months later saying that they’re producing more maps/magnets and need to update the ad. The advertiser gives new info (typically hours of operation or a website added), and then a “3rd Party VERIFIER” gets on the line to verify the information you’ve given is WHAT YOU WANT CHANGED ON THE NEW AD without letting you know that you will be CHARGED for the second run. Your credit card is charged, and you’re left out to dry because you AGREED that you WANTED the change.
Universal AdCom is known by a plethora of different names:
Scam artists…. every one.
Here are some links in regards to other small businesses that have been duped: