Most consumers assume that when they attend trade shows,
fairs, or home improvement seminars that all the businesses are reputable. This
can be a very expensive assumption.
While many exhibitors are professional and reputable, there
may be some who have little experience or skill, or some who intentionally look
for potential victims to scam.
Avoid giving out information or entering into agreements
that you could later regret.
Below are things to consider when at a fair or trade show:
Drawings and prize offers
Sometimes drawings for a free prize are held and everyone
turns out to be a winner. Later, winners learn they have to pay money to get
that “free vacation.” Other times winners learn that they are required to
listen to a high pressure sales pitch in their homes in order to get a free rug
shampoo or some other prize.
Prize drawings are also a way for vendors to gather your
personal info. Beware of giving out your address or phone number, as you may be
giving solicitors permission to call, text, or spam-mail you for telemarketing
purposes. By giving such permission, the vendor can then legally contact you
even if you are registered on the state or federal NoCall programs.
Shows, fairs, and seminars serve a valuable function for
consumers by displaying a great deal of merchandise and information. However,
consumers would be wise to take their time and think things through, rather
than signing any contracts or entering into agreements while still at the
Do not feel pressured to make a quick decision. Take the
information home and review it at your own pace and comfort. Start by reviewing
the complaint history of the potential contractor.
Consumers often check with the Bureau of Consumer
Protection, the Better Business Bureau, or local trade associations for such
Consider asking family, friends, and co-workers whom they
would recommend or avoid. Ask what they know about your potential contractor.
Search the Internet for the company. There are multiple sites where you can see
real reviews of potential contractors.
Selecting a contractor
When selecting a contractor, consider at least three
different businesses and get three references from each business. Try to get
one or two references from several years ago, to get a better idea of quality
of materials and follow up service provided. If references will allow it, go
see the contractor’s work in person.
Reputable contractors enhance the beauty and value of a
home. Unscrupulous contractors cost you money or cause damage to your home. But
a contractor is not necessarily good or reputable simply because they advertise
in the yellow pages, newspapers, radio or TV.
If you do enter into an agreement with a contractor at a
trade show you may have 3 days to cancel. Ask about your rights and get detailed paperwork from the contractor. Doing
your research on a company and not signing under impulse or high sales pressure
is still the safer route to go.
Do not assume someone offering a “free” inspection is a safe
bet, and do not feel pressured because you accepted the free estimate. Shop and
compare before making a commitment.