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Children's Poems published by a possible scam company, should I say something?

(29 Posts)
Pictureperfect Sat 24-Nov-12 14:25:00

When I was at school I won a poetry competition that I had entered after hearing about it in English lessons. We were thrilled and forked out for a copy of the expensive book, I entered another time as did my dad and we again got published and brought the book. We started to get suspicious and the books which gave the impression would be in book stores and libraries never appeared aside for the people who brought it because they were in it. One day a long time later it came up on bbc watchdog as a scam. The books are amazing, tiny tiny print completely crammed with poems unlike a lot of poetry books with a poem a page.

I'm still seeing people being so happy their child's poem has been published and I never know what to say. They are so happy but are likely to be ripped off, I just saw they have a bit on their website denying they are a scam but I found it via google rather than easy to find on their site.

I wish someone had told us (and I wish schools would stop advertising it) but I never know whether to mention this to parents or not? Although we had Internet when I was at school you didn't tend to use the Internet for things like checking companies out like you do now.

Should I say something or let the pay out lots of money (I often see parents buying several copies for relatives, it's at least £15 a book) and let them enjoy the buzz of their child's talent?

LadyMaryChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 14:27:31

Yes, I would. I'd also contact Watchdog.

CrikeyOHare Sat 24-Nov-12 14:33:36

How is it a "scam"? Are people being conned out of money - it doesn't sound like it. You enter a competition to win a place in a book - and this happens. No scam there. You have the option of buying the book, no scam there.

Unless I'm missing something, it doesn't sound illegal. Just a marketing venture making use of vanity publishing - everyone wants to see their name/work in print.

LadyMaryChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 14:37:54

If they are told that the book will be sold in book shops, available for loan in libraries, and it isn't, then this is a scam. By the sound of it, this company is a very expensive vanity press that is targeting children and their parents. There's nothing right about this.

fluffygal Sat 24-Nov-12 14:41:07

Ooh when I was at school I wrote a poem once and had it published in a book! Sounds like the same deal tbh.

RichardSimmonsTankTop Sat 24-Nov-12 14:44:10

This also happened to me - but I didn't buy the book.

I wrote a ridiculous poem about how I liked potatoes - it took me all of two minutes. Forgot all about it until I started receiving letters telling me that my amazing poem was going to be published.

Well known scam, unfortunately.

mumto2andnomore Sat 24-Nov-12 14:45:17

I hate this,recently loads of my friends on Facebook were posting well done messages to their dcs for their poems being published, I got shouted down when I suggested it was just a money making scheme and they actually just choose them all

CrikeyOHare Sat 24-Nov-12 14:45:24

All marketing targets people - that's what it does.

I'm not defending them at all, I don't know anything about them, and it doesn't sound like a particularly pleasant company.

But if no one's being actively conned out of money, it's not a scam. Just a pretty low, shady marketing venture.

AgentProvocateur Sat 24-Nov-12 14:47:31

It's hardly a scam - more of a money making venture.

squeakytoy Sat 24-Nov-12 14:49:25

I am not sure how it is a scam either.. I doubt Waterstones would be stocking a book of kids poems and it would become a best-seller, and even if they did stock it, there is no guarantee that anyone would buy it.

Also, unless there was financial gain to the poets, what difference would it make if no books were sold?

CrikeyOHare Sat 24-Nov-12 14:49:38

when I suggested it was just a money making scheme

Exactly - that's what it is, rather than a "scam" which involves specific deception to obtain money.

cakeandcava Sat 24-Nov-12 14:50:29

If people are being led to believe that the poem has been selected out of many, because they are special or talented (which it sounds like is the case), but then in actuality, everyone gets published, then it is a scam. Also, if they are led to believe the book will be sold in bookshops and available in libraries, but this does not happen, then it is a scam.

I would probably say something, although I realise it wouldn't necessarily make me very popular...

exexpat Sat 24-Nov-12 14:51:13

This has been going on for years - see this ling-running thread in the G&T section.

I remember DM proudly sending me a book with my nephew's poem in it - along with half the other primary-aged children in his county - when he was about 6; he's now 18. When my DCs' writings were 'selected' by a similar scheme a few years ago, I refused to buy the book (nearly £15 for a badly printed book full of unreadable, identikit poems).

It is purely a money-making scheme run by vanity publishers, playing on parental pride. I am shocked that so many schools go along with it, but I presume they must be offered some kind of incentive, like a cut of the proceeds. If my DCs' current school tried to do it, I would protest very loudly.

RichardSimmonsTankTop Sat 24-Nov-12 14:51:38

It's a scam because they're telling you you've won a competition when you haven't. They're promising you exposure and recognition. A legitimate competition winner wouldn't have to pay to have their own poem printed in a book!

Loads of info about it on Google.

exexpat Sat 24-Nov-12 14:52:16

Sorry, forgot to add link: this long-running thread in the gifted & talented board.

ExitPursuedByABear Sat 24-Nov-12 14:55:49

DD's school still do this. The first time all the children in her class took in the letter saying their poem had been chosen. My DD thought she and her friend were the only ones not to be selected. I had googled it and new what they were up to.

If you want to part with £17 to see your child's name in print, then fine.

CrikeyOHare Sat 24-Nov-12 14:57:07

A legitimate competition winner wouldn't have to pay to have their own poem printed in a book!

Ah - but is that the case? It doesn't sound like it from the OP. They enter, they win, they can buy the book. Nothing actually illegal about that - and you can run a competition where everybody wins, as stupid as that sounds.

Morally suspect? Yes. A "scam"? Nope, unfortunately.

exexpat Sat 24-Nov-12 14:57:34

Of course, it can be nice for children to see their work in print, but a reasonably IT-savvy parent with a few hours or two to spare could put together a much nicer book on Lulu.com or similar, featuring all the children in the class or school, for a fraction of the cost.

RichardSimmonsTankTop Sat 24-Nov-12 15:00:51

"They enter, they win, they can buy the book."

But EVERYBODY wins! That's the point, and that's how they get people to part with cash. In a legitimate poetry competition you would NOT be sold the book, it would be given to you gratis.

hiviolet Sat 24-Nov-12 15:04:57

Yes, it's a scam, preying on parental pride and being able to boast that your child had a poem "published", when in reality they print every single piece of crap that gets submitted.

Celticlassie Sat 24-Nov-12 15:05:43

I thought about doing it with a class a few years ago, but my boss told me everything gets published so didn't bother. It's a bit misleading calling it a competition, but I'd imagine most schools are wise to it now.

CrikeyOHare Sat 24-Nov-12 16:07:50

But EVERYBODY wins! That's the point, and that's how they get people to part with cash

Yes, as I said, it's morally and ethically dubious - but not illegal, and therefore not actually a "scam". And people chose to part with cash - and get what they are paying for, a book with their child's poem in it. Worthless & pointless, agreed, but not obtaining funds by deception so, sorry, not a "scam".

mercibucket Sat 24-Nov-12 16:25:08

The terrible part imo is that schools are entering pupils for it. I'd be furious if our school did. Ethically immoral and schools should steer well clear

RichardSimmonsTankTop Sat 24-Nov-12 17:01:53

It is obtaining funds by deception - you're telling people they've won a competition. Scam means to 'swindle or deceive someone' - ergo, this is a scam.

CabbageLeaves Sat 24-Nov-12 17:09:11

I'm very cross at the school entering my DC for this. She was over the moon and grandma has coughed up £17:99 for a paperback book full of 'poems' because explaining it to DD 10 wasn't worth the let down for her. The school also passed on our home address for them to chase

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