Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Who's Who? What do you think?

Along with several thousand other people, I received a letter from Cambridge Who's Who in late October (the 25th to be exact) informing me I was "being considered for inclusion into the 2006/2007 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executive and Professional Women in Education 'honors Edition' of the Registry." After dragging it from my mail box, I covertly glanced to see how many others received the same missive. The letter further explained:

"The 2006/2007 edition of the Registry will include biographies of our country's most accomplished women. Recognition of this kind is an honor shared by thousands of executive and professional women throughout America each year. Inclusion is considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement.
Upon final confirmation, you will be listed among thousands of accomplished women in the Cambridge Who's Who Registry.
For accuracy and publication deadlines please return to us your application form within five business days from the receipt of this letter. There is no cost to be included."

It sat on my desk for several days and on a whim, I sent it back and did not think anything more about it. Until today. This afternoon I got a phone call from Cambridge Who's Who and after a short question and answer period I was congratulated and told my biography was accepted.
At that point the sales pitch commenced.
The price for being included in this edition ranged from $189 - $700 depending on the level of sponsorship (for want of a better word) I was prepared to purchase. I had no desire to make this decision spur of the moment and the longer I "waffled," the harder the push. At one point I was asked, "Don't you know who we are?" That was when my patience expired. I replied, "Yes, but I have no intention of making a purchase of this magnitude over the phone without any consideration." She relented and gave me until 5:30 pm this afternoon to decide.
Naturally, I began my research on this company after lunch. I started with my boss, who had never heard of them, and finished with a quick Google search. Findings ranged from a few happy consumers to snarky reports of outright scam. I also found several mentions of this letter in other blogs.
Negative research results:
Positive customer results:
Blogging about the directory:
An interesting discovery:
I was less than thrilled with the sales pitch, mostly because the representative was pushy and rude. (It is now 5:30 pm and I have missed her deadline.) The crux of the matter for me? If it costs nothing to be included, why must I pay for a subscription and/or join? I would be interested in hearing comments from others who have paid for this service and/or opted out.
Update: 12/12/06
Last Friday afternoon I received a second call from Rebecca at Cambridge Who's Who. I freely admit I did not expect to hear from the company after missing my deadline earlier in the week. However, when she started the entire sales pitch a second time, including wanting to ask me additional questions to further assess my qualifications for inclusion, I politely interrupted and told her we had this conversation last week. I also reminded her I had answered all of the secondary questions and that she already welcomed me to the "family" (so to speak).
I questioned why I was being asked to make a purchase when the invitation letter specifically noted "There is no cost to be included." The clearest part of her circular answer detailed benefits only offered customers subscribing to their registry. I declined the opportunity to make a purchase and admit to some curiosity regarding my inclusion in the upcoming registry. It is obvious I should have researched before sending in the application, but I was flattered, somewhat naive, and did not see the harm. Quite honestly, no harm no foul for the entire process because I have learned something.

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sf girl said...

Thanks for publishing this - good to know! I almost responded to their letter. Glad I found your blog post first :)

Anonymous said...

i unfortunately agreed to pay the membership, and within one hour, called back and said i wanted it cancelled.

i wish i had more time to seriously think about this. they made it seem like it was hard to get in, until that day they call you.

now i'm in the middle of looking up ways to avert their "no cancellations/no refunds" policy. i should have trusted my instinct and i didn't.