Consumer Six: The Lowdown on “Who’s Who”

Wednesday, September 29th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Many people receive letters saying, “Congratulations, you've been selected to be in "Who's Who”. But there are some things you should know before you sign up.

Regina Ashley, the owner of a day care, is eager to applaud her children for a job well done. That's what she thought her peers were doing when she received an invitation to be included in the book entitled, “Who's Who in Executives and Businesses.” “I initially thought that someone from one of the child-care organizations that I belong to might have submitted my name," said Ashley.

She sent the application to a company called Nationwide Register and a few days later, they called and told her she'd been accepted. She says then they tried to sell her a membership package, beginning with a $695 deal for the book, two plaques and a news release. "I said there's no way I can afford anything like that,” Ashley remembered. “I said I thought this was something that was free." The company kept lowering the price ending at $95 for a news release. She turned them down.

The Better Business Bureau says people should be cautious about who's who books. "If there is a category of people, there's a who's who book out there that will take your money to make you feel good about yourself," said the bureau’s Rick Brinkley,
He says people should check out the company and its credentials. But the B-B-B doesn't have a report on Nationwide Register. It says the company refused to fill out a questionnaire. "When a company will not even respond to our questions, it makes me concerned,” said Brinkley.

The News on Six made a telephone call to the New York-based company. Chris Johnson with Nationwide Register spoke with us. "We didn't have very good dealings with the Better Business Bureau,” said Johnson. “They would taint our name and lump us together in one big group, and that's why we're not dealing with them."

Johnson says the company gets the names of prospective people from Dunn and Bradstreet and tries to take a sample of those who've been successful in their representative fields and those who will respond to the application. He says the book is for networking and marketing and says they accept almost all applicants. And even though the company does try to sell membership packages, it's not a requirement. Ashley says it doesn't matter if she's in a who's who book, the children's smiles are reward enough.