“Best of” award too good to be true for Bennington businesses

The awards may be made of crystal, but a Washington state company is being far from transparent.
Best-of awards for one Nebraska city are turning out to be bogus.
Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 10:32 PM CST
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BENNINGTON, Neb. (WOWT) - Pride in his business is a feeling Adam Gomez would gladly display.

“It’s exciting, you’re a business owner and you get an email and you think, gosh, this is it, we won an award,” Gomez said.

But a notification that his business is the best is too good to be true.

“We were awarded Best of Bennington and here’s our validation,” Gomez said. “But the truth is it’s not an actual award. It’s something manufactured as a marketing gimmick.”

A photo gives the impression that the award is made of crystal, but the Better Business Bureau found its sponsor in Seattle is not transparent.

“Businesses are notified that they have won,” said Jim Hegarty of the BBB. “They’re not provided with any criteria about what it is that they won or how they won and then they’re told if they want their plaque or prize to display, they have to pay for it.”

A business would pay about $150 for the Best of Bennington award.

Chamber of Commerce President Lindsey Adams worries the award could be used to mislead Bennington-area residents -- for example, if a storm chaser knocks on their door.

“Somebody could come back on us and say, ‘Well, you guys gave them this award, or we thought you did and we had them put on our roof or siding and they did half the job and they left the state,” Adams said.

Adams said the chamber has 90 members with 200 businesses, both at-home and street-front, registered to the community.

Bennington businesses are being notified about this award -- not that any of them won it, but that they should be skeptical of emails claiming they received it.

Adam Gomez says the sales pitch for a vanity award to put on his desk only reinforces the mission statement stenciled on the wall.

“Work hard, stay humble, and stay informed,” Gomez said.

The BBB shows an “F” rating for Business Recognition Awards, based in Seattle. Emails and phone messages left by 6 News have not been returned.