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July 24, 2009

The Better Business Bureau and the Helpless Victims of a Sales Pitch


You know how naïve you are. Some company invites you to a seminar, and they tell you they’re going to show you how to make more money. You have no idea – not a clue – that they might try to use your time as their captive audience to sell you something.


Thank God for the Dayton Better Business Bureau. They are on the job like white on rice, unless it’s that long-grain rice that’s sometimes brown, which doesn’t even take into consideration the various Rice-a-Roni flavors with all the different seasoning packets.


But I digress.


The BBB is warning the vulnerable businesses of Dayton that if they attend such a seminar, they could be victims!


“All of us in business are waiting for the economy to make an upward swing and we’re looking for ways to increase revenue streams,” said John North, BBB president and chief executive officer, in a press release reported by the Dayton Business Journal. “Unfortunately, some fall victim to operations that don’t have their customers’ best interests in mind. It’s important for area businesses to check out all of their vendors before doing business with them.”


Here’s what apparently happened. A company called B2G Group Inc. held a free seminar at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dayton. They advertised to would-be attendees that they would be offering insight on how to get government contracts.


So the good businesses of Dayton, figuring you can’t go wrong getting contracts with people who can print their own money, trudged through the hotel lobby, past the swimming pool where shirtless fat guys and kids tossing sponge balls were frolicking, and made their way to a conference room.


They grabbed some tiny cherry Danish, took a seat and were introduced to the presenter. At some point during his talk on how to get government contracts, the presenter mentioned that B2G Group offers a three-day training course that normally runs $4,995. But if the attendees signed up on the spot, they could get in for $2,000.


Horrors! Someone went to a free seminar and got a sales pitch!


You know, I may get in touch with the Dayton BBB. About three years ago, this guy invited me to lunch – even offered to buy – and when I got there, he started trying to get me to do business with him! I . . . feel . . . so . . . used. Here I think I’m just going to get a bacon tuna wrap and I get a sales pitch.


You don’t suppose the Dayton BBB was under the impression that people give free seminars just out of the goodness of their hearts, do you? Actually, for all I know, maybe they did think that.


I have no idea if B2G Group’s training session is worth $2,000, let alone $4,995. But I figure people can make that assessment for themselves. If you spend that much money on a training session, and it doesn’t turn out to have been worth it, it’s not because you got scammed. It’s because you’re an idiot.


It’s your responsibility as a business person to assess the value of what you’re buying, and to determine if it fits into your budget. The value of something like “training” can be awfully hard to measure, but that doesn’t mean the company offering it is scamming you. It means they’re offering a service for a price they hope the market will bear.


I get the impression that Better Business Bureau types see every customer of every business as a helpless, wilting flower just waiting to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous business piranhas – unless, of course, said piranhas display a Better Business Bureau sticker in their windows. Then you know they’re trustworthy.


And how do you know you can trust that sticker? Hey! I sense a scam . . .


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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