Chamber urges businesses to carefully evaluate advertising offers

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In a new release Wednesday, the Craig Chamber of Commerce urged local businesses and parents to be cautious when responding to calls or emails soliciting advertising.

Questionable contacts include advertising on community maps, magnets and community guides, according to the release.

Currently, local businesses are being contacted via email by Communities Unlimited for sponsorship opportunities on a community magnet featuring emergency contact numbers.

Warnings about this company have been circulated by the Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and Florida Better Business Bureaus, which have issued an “F” rating to its parent company Ossian Enterprises, according to the release.

Ossian Enterprises, which also operates under the names American Publishing, AM Publishing, Ads Sports and Communities Unlimited, has several unanswered complaints with the BBB in several states, according to the release.

Based on the Iowa BBB files, “this company has a pattern of complaints concerning sales practice issues. Complainants primarily allege that after purchasing advertising space on the company community magnets or high school posters, they fail to receive the promised merchandise. A number of complainants have stated that as part of their sales pitch, the company states that they will distribute up to 5,000 posters or magnets to members of the community. The complainants later face difficulty finding substantiation that any finished products were ever distributed. Other complaints allege that after much difficulty, they received a product of poor or substandard quality that did not match the company mock up example used in their sales pitch.”

Communities Unlimited claims to plan to implement “community-based” magnet distribution in grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and retail stores, but can not give the names of specific retailers that have agreed to distribute the final product.

“If any business receives a solicitation from an unknown company for advertising or sponsorships, we encourage them to report it to the Craig Chamber of Commerce,” said Christina Oxley, executive director of the Chamber. “One of the services we're proud to provide our businesses is the verification of these offers and our ability to warn other businesses.”

In any instance when solicited for advertising or sponsorships, the Chamber advises businesses to:

• Ask how many of will be printed and make sure any contract includes that information.

• Verify specifically how the product will be distributed, including the names of businesses that have agreed to distribute.

• Ask whether the product has a local sponsor or who will benefit from its printing. Verify with the local sponsor, if any.

• Ask to see a copy of a similar product the company has produced for another community.

• When in doubt, contact local law enforcement, the Better Business Bureau or the Craig Chamber of Commerce at 824-5689.

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