Untying The Knot

Untying The Knot

Can you really trust The Knot?

This week I was at Barnes & Noble and I picked up The Knot’s 2009 ‘Best Of Weddings’ {the winners} issue.  Now I know that many brides and grooms view The Knot – both the magazine and the website – as a reputable resource, one which they can turn to for recommendations for wedding vendors.  In many cases – if not most – the pages are filled with respected professionals, some of which I know personally and would enthusiastically endorse like Mark Kingsdorf from Queen Of Hearts Wedding Consultants – www.qohweddings.com – for example, who truly is one of the best in his field.

But it looks like one slipped through ‘The Knot.’

On page 171 of ‘The Knot Best Of Weddings 2009’ issue, there is a DJ company listed as an editors choice, meaning, The Knot ‘hand picked’ them and chose to list them as one of their ‘winners.’ It seems to me that The Knot didn’t do very much research at all.

The name of the company is ‘A Solid Gold Sound.’  A simple Google search turned up several complaints on my3cents.com, and well over fifty complaint submissions on Ripoff Report and that was only on the first page.  Dig a bit deeper and I found several news stories, one from WCPO, the ABC television affiliate in Cincinnati, Ohio and one from Inside Edition.  Even the Better Business Bureau has multiple listings for this company, and gave them an ‘F’ rating claiming that they never responded to refute any of the claims.

Here are the links

my3cents.comhttp://www.my3cents.com/showReview.cgi?id=27820

Ripoff Reporthttp://www.ripoffreport.com/searchresults.asp?q5=A+Solid+Gold+Sound&searchtype=0&q1=ALL&q3=&q2=&q7=&q4=&q6=&start=0

ABC Televisionhttp://www.wcpo.com/news/local/story/April-30-2007-I-Team-Report-Solid-Gold-Wedding/SEI9Fa-lFEGYXS5HnKyVwg.cspx

Inside Editionhttp://www.insideedition.com/news.aspx?storyID=1336

Better Business Bureauhttp://www.bbb.org/us/Find-Business-Reviews/#middle-result (Just type in ‘A Solid Gold Sound’)

Seeing that these complaints were coming from cities all over the United States, I decided to do a little further investigation of my own.  I contacted a DJ colleague Rob Green of ‘Entertainment Express’ –  www.houstondiscjockey.net – in Houston, Texas regarding an address that A Solid Gold Sound had listed as their Houston office.  Rob physically drove to the listed address and had this to say…

They have a fake address for the Google “local business results” section here in Houston. The address they are using here is 9521 Westheimer. My work is close by, so I drove three blocks over one day to see what was there.  It’s a mostly vacant strip mall that (surprise, surprise) doesn’t have A Solid Gold Sound office.

Ironically, this blog has very little to do with ‘A Solid Gold Sound.’

Do I think that The Knot could have been more responsible in giving a strong endorsement to a company like this?  Yes.  I can’t imagine how many brides-to-be look to The Knot for ideas and for vendors.  This isn’t merely a case of a paid advertisement that turned out to be a scam, this was what The Knot saying is ‘the best’ of 2009.  Remember… The Knot isn’t in the bride’s best interest business, they aren’t even in the wedding business. The Knot is in the publishing, selling magazines and selling advertising business.

It took me all of fifteen minutes to Google and come up with this information.  I guess The Knot was too busy.

Brides, do your homework.  Use Google, ask the other vendors you are working with, ask your friends but whatever you do don’t look to a magazine like The Knot as if it were scripture.  Ask whatever vendor you are working with for references or ask the hall, country club or hotel where you are having your reception for their recommendation.  For example, my friend Keith KoKoruz from Keith Christopher Entertainment in Chicago, Illinois – www.keithchristopher.com – provides potential brides with up to four pages of past brides wedding dates, names and phone numbers (given with their permission of course) for them to contact before choosing his services.  This is a man clearly proud of his work, but I guess that The Knot felt A Solid Gold Sound was a better choice for their ‘best of’ list.

Whatever you do, don’t make the same mistake that so many brides who submitted complaints to these sources made by not using the internet until it was too late.

-Craig Sumsky
Cutting Edge Entertainment


www.cuttingedgedjs.com

21 Responses

  1. I must say you took the words right out of my mouth. I was just at a bridal show this past weekend and saw several vendors with their various “bought and paid for” awards and accolades on their banners and promotional paraphernalia. Some of them even claiming to have won the same award in the same year. One DJ company here in the MD/DC area “won” a few awards that were from “brides votes” by emailing the “vote for me” link to all sorts of people who had never even used their services including the owner’s fraternity’s national mailing list.

    I also find it sad to see so many brides and grooms get sucked into using the internet to find songs and end up getting scammed into buying the perfect mother son or father daughter dance song that sounds like it was recorded at Wednesday Karaoke night at the neighborhood bar by an A.I. never was. It’s unfortunate that so many people assume just because something is on the internet or in a magazine that it must be true.

    I think I have ranted enough for now but once again big kudos for bring up this topic.

  2. Thanks for this

    at least some will get the idea that no matter what vendors are out there can you really trusta wedding site that has no idea on how to check if a business is really there and not just a fake address

  3. One of the great points you made was that Magazines are in business to sell magazines…the Knot has from what i have seen mostly great Vendors and feel that there could be some bad apples, but few.

    …but without word of mouth, there is just so much “glam and glitter” out there in advertising, it can result in disappointment.

    Buyer beware, especially when decisions can be made with emotional incubated fears of “what if i don’t get the best???” which happens when one is planning the biggest day of their lives..

    So i agree with your advise and wise counsel, get informed, do a bit of homework, and then go out there with confidence.

  4. I believe two things.

    1. I currently am not on the list. Am I upset? No not currently. I was in the beginning especially looking at my competition that made it. I feel that it could benefit my company as all awards do and I would rather be in it than not on it. I did get the “Bride’s Choice” award from weddingwire.com though.

    I am friends with a photographer that has made it three years in a row, they told me that they have never once had any bride say that they looked at them specifically due to being the “Best Of” and they never once had a bride say they chose them over someone who wasnt “Best Of”. I take it that it’s actual value as to a vendor is a proven zero. This leads me to the 2nd thing I believe.

    2. I believe this is a very well executed public relations / advertising gimick by The Knot. These “Best Of” vendors are promoting The Knot to everyone for free.

    If there are 3,000 vendors highlighted in their “Best Of” Awards and if each “Best Of” vendor comes into contact with 1,500 brides per year via, a bride visiting their website, receives a postcard, and email, visits them for an appointment, meets them at a bridal show etc. Thats 4,500,000 impressions for The Knot for free within the wedding industry. There is a rule in marketing that your logo in print is worth .02 per impression. That’s $90,000 worth of free advertising.

    Im going to start giving out awards

  5. Great Great. Could not have said it better myself. You did your homework. It’s kinds back to PAY TO PLAY.
    Last year a vendor won Best of Philly. The same week the vendor received the notice, the vendor got a court letter being sued by 3 brides. Go figure it.

  6. Jason

    Wow, I can’t believe a company as reputable as The Knot wouldn’t do their research. Good job Craig, you should have been on that list!

  7. Columbus DJ

    Solid Gold Sounds (SGS) has been doing this FOR YEARS!! When I started in the biz back in ’91 the DJ that I learned a lot from hated SGS with a white hot hatred, and he wasn’t afraid to express it either.

    They have a terrible repuatation with vendors in Columbus. I remember once a hotel sales person jokingly told me that if we ‘screwed up’ one of her client’s events that she would put our name in the SGS pile!

    I believe that they book as many shows as they can, and then look for a warm body to do the actual show. They’ve been doing it for years on the DJ side, now they have expanded to videography. The hook is always the same, bring them in with a super low price and large advertisements so the client thinks they are getting a great deal from a very well established company.

    But I will say this for SGS, they are probably the largest DJ company in my area in terms of the number of shows they are doing. I got their info at the last bridal show and it was VERY NICE!! I also hear that they do have some very good DJs on their staff. The DVD for their wedding videography wasn’t too bad either. The bottom line in my opinion is that their end services come no where close to matching their claims.

    But here’s a recent development … they have started up under a new name in my area. They have started up a new DJ company with a new name, website, and phone number. The ad for both of these companies are next to each other in the local bridal magazine.

    http://www.asolidgoldsoundcolumbus.com/

    and then you have

    http://www.columbusprodjs.com/index.cfm

    They used to go to the same site, but now they are a little bit different. Notice how they both have the Knot award on their site LOL. It might be an attempt to move away from the SGS bad reputation, but if it hasn’t hurt them after all these years, I don’t see why it would now.

    Now onto the Knot. I’ve never advertised on the Knot nor do I intend to. And while I know some of the companies that made this list are incredible companies, I totally believe that SGS is paying for this award. And I also believe that they are posing as brides on our local Knot chat board. Because everytime a bride ask about ANY othe DJ, there are the same 2 or 3 ‘brides’ that always claim how cheap and how great SGS was at their wedding, and their 20 sisters/friends weddings too!!

    While I do read the Knot about once a week, most of the time I just laugh at it. Some of my friends have tried advertising with them but ultimately stopped as it wasn’t worth while.

  8. I’ve been saying this for years and absolutely agree with Keith KoKoruz regarding the Knot’s clever marketing campaign. Local company’s display their “Best of” sticker on their front doors.

    Unfortunately, there are an increasing amount of other “Best of” or “Bride’s Choice” awards going around from other media sources including television, newspaper and radio stations – all of which encourages people (and not specifically brides-to-be) to visit their official website(s) to vote on their favorite and/or nominate a wedding business. This becomes a “win/win” for these media outlets since it promotes their station’s name as well as increase their web traffic – which in turns allows them to increase ad rates due to the presumably high volume of online traffic.

    These ‘awards’ are given away like candy and have deluted the marketplace so much that they’ve become relatively meaningless.

  9. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see anything wrong with recognizing excellent companies for doing a great job or for winning some type of talent contest for entertaining, photography, etc.

    I have a competitor that years ago won a certificate at a dj conference for participating in the consolation round of the competition because he hadn’t made it into the actual competition. He was at the next bridal show though with a huge trophy that he had made to replace the certificate calling it 1st place in that division. It was all a big lie and the problem is there is no one to enforce it. He still has photos of it on his website.

    As Jim pointed out there seem to be a ton of these awards being given out. The question truly is how and why?

    I won the Bride’s Choice award from http://www.weddingwire.com and I have no idea what I did to win it. I don’t know what the criteria was. I am still glad I won it though.

    If you look at The Knot’s criteria/explanation of this year’s awards, they still have last year’s dates and such listed up there. If this award has any true meaning, the least they could do is update their own website with regard to their awards.

    Some may say that these contests are popularity contests and that may be true but people don’t recognize people they don’t like or that have given them poor service.

    Unless of course you paid for the award. Could the editor’s pick be such an award? It may clear things up here with regard to the company in question. I don’t know, just a theory. I don’t know anyone involved with the company listed above but something obviously doesnt make sense here.

    Just my opinion.

  10. Allison

    The Knot’s requirements – they choose their top advertisers!

    Come on, brides don’t know this, but any vendor who has been around for any length of time knows the Knot’s deal. They have successfully positioned themselves as the wedding planning site with the most traffic, and this of course had made it one of the the top places where vendors across the country spend their advertising dollars.

    However they started to see a dip in advertising a few quarters past from more veteran companies, but have picked up what I see are newer companies advertising in the Knot. Do a Google search for “Knot quarterly report” and find out yourself…though they put plenty of spin on it to keep their shareholders happy.

    Every year their “best of” selections are pretty much a joke to most of us in the industry. Brides – everything you read in the Knot is PAID FOR with advertising dollars. It is hardly an objective source. To some extent, the only exception is the discussion boards on their web site, but obviously, most of the posters there have already been greatly influenced by the articles they’ve read on the Knot. I can usually tell which of our potential clients are “knotties” – they are usually the most paranoid and disrespectful people we meet, but I don’t blame them, it’s the strange paradox that exists between vendors who literally subsidize wedding magazines, and the horrible articles and fear they would have readers believe dominate our industry. I stopped advertising in the Knot and other magazines years ago for this reason. AND, don’t be surprised that the most troubled and complaint-riddled business (who make us all look bad) are the biggest spenders on advertising. If they had to rely on word of mouth, they would be out of business. There are several less-than reliable companies who are the top advertisers on the Knot, and also get picked for their best-of edition each year.

  11. Whoaaaa! What controversy! I like it.

    My mom endorses me as the Best Wedding Planner. While we have received other local professional accolades, I’m really thinking of just promoting her opinion on a shiny, bronze plaque.

    Have you contacted theKnot about this DJ?

  12. Add me as another victim here in NY. I did a wedding for them on August 15, 2009 and haven’t been paid as yet. I have been getting the runaround for 3 weeks now and they have no idea when I will be paid. I have already been advised to “write it off”. I am real sick of getting ripped off and am taking it to the next step. I sent a nasty email to the local KNOT representative demanding to know how the KNOT can condone endorsing such a company. I have also sent CRAIGSLIST an email and will be going to the FBI to investigate possible internet fraud since the job posting was on the internet. I will also be going to the NEW YORK and NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENTS OF TAXATION and filing sales tax evasion complaints. And, unfortunately for the couple’s who wedding I did, I will be suing them for Theft of Service.

  13. lar

    The biggest issue with the knot is twofold.
    1. The Best Of (and this is coming from a guy regularly voted as such). You have no idea how many Brides voted. Only 50 Brides could’ve voted, naming only 5 DJ’s, but the DJ’s with the most votes, i.e. 8 are the best of. WHAT!?
    Plus you have no idea how many vendors ask & ask & ask… their clients to vote, which many do.
    They will KNOT release the #’s. Worse are the vendors who aren’t advertisers but are also voted a best of. You’ll NEVER find the best of the knot’s web site. Isn’t that a bit odd? Why would they only publish it in print when it’s such an INTERNET MONSTER. Because a vendor spending well over 2 grand to advertsie online would be extremely upset when they don’t get the nod as a best of, while a vendor who has never advertised is. Instead the knot takes a back door approach making it available only on newstands.
    2. POSTS. The posts are ridiculous. I’m not referring to the drama. That comes with being a Bride on the boards. I’m referring to a Bride being able to bash a vendor many of who are an advertisers. I’m sorry unless you were so wrongful in your product or service, there should be no character assasinations, or damaging of one’s character or business allowed.
    So an advertiser can spend 100’s to 1000’s a month but not make a best of list, they can still get slammed on the boards, while non advertisers can get free promotions every day in the chat rooms and they can also be a best of.
    WOW! I want stock in the knot.

  14. Jesse

    I used Solid Gold and they were good. I know someone who works there, so I went through her. They do like 8,000 weddings a year in something like 50 + cities so I do know first hand they do get a lot of complaints compared with other companies, but if you do 8,000 shows and get 30 something complaints that year, thats still like less than 1%. So I can see both sides of this arguments, but I was told by her that the Knot gave them this award because they did over 200 shows in Baltimore in 2009 and had less than 5 complaints

  15. Tony

    In response to the last comment.

    Actually “Jesse”, you’re wrong. Solid gold didn’t do anywhere near 8,000 events last year, it’s common knowledge that they have one office and they sub out to the lowest bidder.

    Your knowledge of statistics is mind boggling, considering you claim to be a customer yet use the industry term “shows.”

    And the 60+ complaints (notice how you reduced it to 30) are just the ones who reported it, and in each case Solid Gold Sound did nothing about it.

    The award didn’t say Baltimore, it said Columbus. Get your facts straight. Are you an employee of The Knot or A Solid Gold Sound?

  16. SGS owes me for gigs done in August and September of 2008…yes, I said 2008. They still call me on a regular basis hoping that I will do a show for them in my area since no other DJ here will consider working for them.

    They are a terrible company with 98 complaints on “ripoff report” as well as more than 200 complaints filed with the BBB. They claim they “sold” the business a year ago and are no longer liable for the tens of thousands of dollars that they didn’t their pay DJs and owed to customers in the form of refunds, but the same people still seem to work there.

    Two weeks ago, they had the nerve to call me using a different company name and said they had extra gigs in my area and wanted to know if I can do some of them. They gave a local phone number to return their call but my caller ID told me immediately it was SGS. It’s really pathetic when you can’t find one DJ in a large city to take your gigs.

  17. Hey, as much as we may slam The Knot, and indeed, brides, for not doing their research regarding ASGS, when do DJs accept responsibility too? If no DJs ever took their subcontract work, then they would be out of business in no time.

    But the “any gig is a good gig”, or “I need to put food on my table so I’ll forgo all my usual due diligence” stuff means there will always be a steady stream of suckers to help do their dirty work. They are not a new company by any means so we as a group of entertainers, are as guilty as The Knot.

    The Knot has lost credibility as a result – if you’ve done work for ASGS, so have you…

  18. Troy Augustine

    I hate to burst your bubble, but the knot is and always has been out for one thing… the mighty dollar. They are beholden to stockholders and Carley Roney’s bank account.

    They never have and never will take responsibility for their irresponsibility.

Leave a Reply