San Diego, California
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Update by user Dec 08, 2013

One month after posting the warning about NAM in which we claimed a monetary loss of $240, my wife discovered something that the Credit Card Company and the BBB said we would need to prove that we were ripped off: i,e, a receipt. Up until now, we did not know if the receipt my wife received when she paid the $240 made note of NAM's claim that the money was non-refundable.

Well, guess what? The receipt makes no mention of it being non-refundable. This is why NAM refused to send us a copy when the Credit Card Company and the Better Business Bureau asked us to provide them with a copy of this document.

Up until now, it was their word against our word. Well, not it is eminently clear that they ripped us off and that we have every right to be "pissed customers."

Original review posted by user Nov 04, 2013

NATIONAL AMERICAN MISS: PARENTS & SPONSORS BE INFORMED!

In March of 2013 our family received an invitation in the mail from National American Miss (NAM) to enter our daughter, Sasha, into the NAM South State Pageant. My wife and daughter, Sasha, attended an Open Call session at the Sheraton Mission Valley in San Diego on April 24, 2013 during which Sasha was photographed and interviewed by NAM representatives.

When Sasha returned from the Open Call, she said "Daddy, I entered the National American Miss contest so that I can win you a Ford Mustang convertible!" In addition to displaying a Ford Mustang on the cover of their promotional magazine, NAM also produced an advertisement that could lead one to believe that women like Diane Sawyer, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, etc. were former contestants in the NAM Pageant.

In May, the month after the Open Call, Sasha received a letter addressed to her from NAM which read; "Congratulations!!! You are an Official State Finalist." Because my wife saw what appeared to be around 300 girls between the ages of 4 and 20 at the Open Call the previous month, we got the impression that Sasha was one of a few girls who was chosen as a "State Finalist" within her age category. When my wife went with Sasha to the "Pageant Prep Training Session" on May 28, 2013 at the Sheraton Mission Valley, my wife was told that she had to pay $240 in order for Sasha to continue in the competition, and another $240 prior to the Pageant weekend scheduled for June 27-30, 2013. Not wanting to disappoint Sasha who was standing next to her and who thought she was very special for being named a "State finalist," my wife gave the NAM representative her credit card number from which $240 was deducted.

When my wife informed me what she paid and what additional money she was expected to provide, I asked to see a copy of the document listing the terms she signed authorizing the credit card transaction. When she said she was not provided a document receipt but was only asked to provide her credit card number, I decided to look more carefully at NAM by doing an Internet search. My search revealed numerous entries questioning whether NAM was a scam. One writer wrote: "Research on the net shows that the pageant has been banned in areas, has many complaints, and that the organizer has changed the name of the company many times in the past to avoid lawsuits." Another writer wrote: "While I wouldn't technically call NAMISS a scam, I would call it a money grab. The more you spend, the better chance of winning."

After reading numerous online comments, I then read very carefully the materials my wife and daughter were given. When I read the 20 page NAM brochure to determine how much this undertaking might cost our family (particularly after reading comments online about it being a "money grab"), I was drawn to a caption on page 12 entitled "The Bottom Line." The caption identified three fees: Total Sponsor Fee of $480; Production Number Outfit: $40; and Audience Tickets to the Final Show: $15. It then went on to say, "This is what we call the ‘bottom line.’ There are no other required fees!"

After careful research, I reached a number of conclusions:

1) Even though NAM advertises in their literature and news releases that "National American Miss…each year…awards…a New Ford Mustang!", Sasha could not win her daddy a Ford Mustang because there are six age categories in the competition and the one Mustang is only awarded to the winner of the "Miss" category (ages 19-20).2) While the various NAM fees amount to an investment of a little over $500, there are other costs associated with participation in a NAM pageant that are not involved in other pageants. For example, participants and their families are expected to pay for hotel lodging and food costs at the state and national pageants. Even if Sasha were not to go on to the national competition, our housing and food costs for a three day stay at a Hilton Hotel would come to another $500. Consequently, participation in the pageant is a minimum investment of $1000. 3) When Sasha was informed that she was a "State Finalist," we had no idea how many other state finalists in her age category she would be competing against. If a family felt their daughter was one of five finalists in her age category, they might be more inclined to invest their time and money than if she happened to be one out of fifty finalists. The truth of the matter was that when families arrived for the pageant at the Hilton Costa Mesa from 27 to 29 June, 2013, it was only then they discovered there were no fewer than 63 finalists in the Junior Pre-Teen Category from South California. This large number leads me to question if all the girls who entered this contest were contacted and told they were finalists. Collecting $535.00 from 63 girls would yield $33,705. If there were an equal number of "finalists" in each of the six age categories at the pageant, NAM would stand to make $202,230 while only giving away $6000 in cash prizes to the six state winners.4) The successful women who were pictured in a NAM flyer (e.g., Diane Sawyer, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, etc.) were not former contestants in a NAM Pageant. While these women participated in pageants, none of them ever participated in a NAM pageant. Also, the pageants they participated in did not require them to pay for their hotel and food expenses during their various stages of the competition.

After completing my research, my wife and I decided that Sasha would not be competing in the NAM Pageant. When we contacted the NAM office and requested that our $240 be refunded, we were told that this fee was non-refundable. When we contacted our credit card company to contest this payment, asserting that we paid for services that were never rendered or used, we were told we needed to provide a copy of the contract that my wife signed when she paid the $240 fee. When we contacted NAM again and requested a copy of the signed agreement, we were never contacted by their account department as we were told would happen. With out such documentation, we could not prove to the credit card company that my wife was duly informed that the $240 she paid was non-refundable.

I am sending a copy of my research to the Better Business Bureau with the request that they assist in having our money refunded, as well as to the Official National Prize Sponsors (Ford Motor Company, John Robert Powers School System, Dance Spirit Magazine, and American Cheerleader Magazine) recommending they withdraw sponsorship unless NAM implements some important changes (such as the following):

1) Parents be told at the time they are initially invited to participate in the pageant what ALL of the costs associated with the NAM pageant may be (e.g., fees in excess of $500, hotel accommodations and food, etc.).2) NAM disclose to the sponsors and the families exactly how many girls actually entered the competition and how many are being invited back to compete as "finalists."3) NAM provide signed receipts when they collect money from families that clearly delineate all the conditions associated with the payment (e.g., "This fee if non-refundable even if you later decide not to compete in the pageant.).4) NAM literature be rewritten so as not to mislead families to think that certain well-known women were former NAM contestants, and that the grand prize of a Ford Mustang is not an achievable prize for most pageant participants.

While I am sure a number of girls have benefited from their participation in NAM competitions, I believe steps need to be taken to overcome some serious problems that I and so many others have uncovered in our interaction with National American Miss that recently moved their offices from Elmer, NJ to Franklin, TN.

Monetary Loss: $240.

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Anonymous
#1491062

NAM is a *** terrible buisness who preys on starry eyed mothers who think their daughters are something special. Only thing NAM proves is that you’re a *** gullible idiot.

Anonymous
#1313363

My daughter just made it to the state finals. I went to the open call and they make it very clear that all money is non refundable.

They state that the women all got their starts in pagents..not so much NAM. I think you just want your money back which is fine but dont bash the company.

In the end the ladies learn many skills and make lifelong friends. I'd spend all the money I could for my daughter to be happy

Anonymous
#1491059
@Anonymous

You’re all *** stupid Pagaent people. All they care about is money, come on, are you stupid, really?

The girls who win are girls who have been in the pageant for years and years because they pay all the money! In the end they don’t give a *** about your daughter all they want is your money you ***

Anonymous
#1068210

They have since moved their office to Texas. Very dishonest company. Hopefully with enough effort, social media will run this company out of business

Anonymous
#1042418

Although, I do believe that NAM is very pricey and tends to over charge for many of the competition aspects. It is a pageant and pageants are not cheep.

A lot of people complain that only girls who have done it before win. Well, that is because they learned from experience and worked for it. Many people will not take the time to hire a coach the first year then regret it. The only problem with NAM is they don't give all the info up front so you can make a sound choice.

But, that does not make them a scam. There is plenty info online about the cost and easy to call them and ask questions.

I have coached contestants since 2003 for NAM. It is by far the best system I have had contestants enter. Cost aside, they get a lot out of it.

Confidence, meeting new friends, interview skills, and NAM puts a big focus on education. Unlike many pageants its not about being just a pretty face.

As far as your money. It comes down to you not reading what you sign.

You are not required to put down any deposit at the prep meeting. So there was plenty of time to read the info provided.

Anonymous
#984809

Clearly if you all had read the letters they sent if said NON REFUNDABLE secondly every girl that gets in is a state finalist because its NATIONAL if you had any questions you should have called the number. The website is www.namiss.com next time pay attention and do your reasearch. Call in and go online.

Anonymous
#983926

You can't base a story off of faulted information! These people obviously didn't listen and are just looking for people to pity them.

Anonymous
#984416
@Anonymous

We were not looking for anyone "to pity" us. We thought there was not enough transparency and NAM needed to be more upfront in the very beginning about what a family might be expected to pay were their daughter invited to compete.

Here are comments from two others who had similar misgivings:

"Yes, it is deffinitely a scam. Too many people on the web continue to list it as a scam. Employees in the service of NAMISS later pepper all the reports with fake posts from alleged satisfied parents and children. Anyone who has children can spot these fake posts as not accurately reflecting the vernacular of a child of that age....Further research on the net shows that the pagent has been banned in areas, has many complaints, and that the organizer has changed the name of the company many times in the past to avoid lawsuits."

Another parent wrote: "I totally agree.

I'm a parent and my daughter has participated and even won but I'll be the first to not recommend this pageant to anyone.

I don't have sour grapes, I just have seen enough to know that it is not what it appears to be....I think the families are so uptight after dropping upwards of $1000 that they will do anything to win. If you want to do a pageant, check out some others first.

Anonymous
#983923

You can't blame any of this on them. They clearly state at the open call that those successful women participated in pageants, they never say a NAM pageant.

Also NAM is an amazing pageant, it builds confidence and is one of the most age appropriate pageants in the nation. You shouldn't be bashing them because you couldn't do your research before you paid. ANY pageant you enter is going to cost a lot, and many pageants expect you to pay for food and lodging with the pageant discount. I have done hours of research and NAM is one of the best.

Just because you decided not to, doesn't mean they are a bad pageant. This is your fault.

Anonymous
#954360

I totally disagree with NAM being a scam. All pageants have fees and this one has really helped my daughter.

This is the only pageant she has competed in and she loves it. And that's what it's suppose to be about. She has fun, loves the girls and all the staff are super nice and supportive. It's the one thing she looks forward to all year.

The ONLY downside I've seen is yes, many of the winners are former winners and some families win more than one age division in the same year. Out of over 100 girls it is odd that one girl would keep winning. The "barbies" do not always get top 5.

But, it's not about the winning, it's about the joy your daughter has and the overall experience.

Meghan is the best! Southern Californian mom

Anonymous
#942933

1. I am truely sorry that you think you have been cheated but it seems either your wife did not clearly read what she signed at the open call or she is intentially leaving out that the application at open call clearly states in bold (so that people wont overlook it.) That anything you pay for at NAM is NON-refundable.

2. Also there are several open calls across the state and not all of them get in from each open call but after all of them are done there will propably be a lot of state finalists.

3. At the open call the information about the $480 (two payments of $240) is mentioned it is also at the booklit that each girl recieves at the interview of open call, it is probably also in the stuff sent in the mail after sasha became an official state finalist.

4.

Expecting a pageant to pay for your hotel room and not making sure is kind of irresponsible, nothing NAM handed out said that they would pay your hotel room for state.

5. The ford mustang was awarded to a seven year old two years ago, it is in no way only for the miss division.

ALL of this was covered at the open call.

Anonymous
#932161

While NAM does have it quirks in financing and I agree that they tend to be money grabbers the fact that you are upset about paying for room and board at your pageant shows your ignorance into the pageant world. The only systems that pay for title holders rooms are MAO and MUO and they only pay for contestants.

The family still has to provide their own room and board.

And it's not even the national organization. Each state has to pay the fees for their contestant.

Anonymous
#832934

So did you get your money cause I trying to get mine

Anonymous
#749943

first of all learn you stuff because the mustang isn't awarded to a Miss. it is a drawing at the national pageant for all the girls there.

Anonymous
#739220

Good luck in your fight. I coached a girl for the NAM pageant that had 170 girls in her division.

She got 1st runner up and the queen's title went to a previous winner. This is ridiculous and needs to be addressed!

I guess this is why NAM does not hold a pageant in every state. I heard the District Attorneys kicked them out.

Anonymous
#739299
@pageant patty

Truth needs no luck, but I'm sure you know that. Thanks nonetheless.

Anonymous
#738347

Dear genegomulka,

I am a writer and am working on a piece. Your information is essential to this piece. Please call me at 619-248-5229. I can share more when you call.

Sincerely,

A. Stan

Anonymous
#1149735
@Anonymous

Yes hello, My daughter is of course a finalist. I immediately felt in my gut this is a scam.

Anyone who accepts the junk mail in their childs name for a beauty pageant is not going to be turned down. The money multiplied by each contestant adds up. I believe anyone can coach girls to smile and walk with poise. No matter, my childs effort to experience this among other wonderful families.

I cannot deny her this time to try.

Anonymous
#1491163
@Anonymous

Are available to still write a piece.

Anonymous
#737829

Why do you need to list your daughter's name all over this? It's frightening. :x

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