If your company has exhibited at an Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, SIA, Health & Fitness Business, Flyfishing Retailer or Interbike trade show in the last year, chances are you've received a solicitation from the Fair Guide (www.fairguide.com) now sporting a noticeable aqua green stripe across the header and foot of the letter. The company has even updated its tactic a bit, opening with a cover letter and then the actual application inside (see images to view actual solicitations SNEWS® has received for Health & Fitness Business where we were registered as exhibitors this year – yours will look similar.) We’ve also received solicitations as Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and Summer Market exhibitors. The game may have changed slightly, but the basic scam has not.
SNEWS® has been warning the industries we serve about this scam since 2005, even alerting Outdoor Retailer and Health & Fitness Business trade show management to it on several occasions. Finally, it appears even show owners Nielsen is taking action.
As of this last week, Outdoor Retailer posted a warning on its website that starts with:
“WARNING! Beware of Misleading FAIRGUIDE Advertising SCAM.
Construct Data Verlag AG, an Austrian organization, is apparently now targeting Outdoor Retailer (Nielsen Business Media) exhibitors….”
To read the full warning, click here.
We continue to get emails from outdoor and fitness SNEWS® subscribers bemoaning the fact that even though they knew about the scam from reading SNEWS® coverage, a well-meaning office assistant (who does not read SNEWS®) was not clued in and sent back a signed form, thinking he or she was simply doing the company a favor and updating a free listing. WRONG!!!!!
SNEWS® recommends you tell your entire staff, including office assistants, that if the office receives any mail from an Austrian company, offering the opportunity to update a listing for an Exhibitors Directory for Fairs and Exhibitions, simply toss the document in the trash – or, better yet, shred it. Do NOT sign this document and send it back under any circumstances! If you do, your company will be in for a world of frustrating harassment as the Fair Guide's owner, Construct Data Verlag AG, will attempt to force collection of what it will then claim is a legally binding contract obligating your company to pay them USD $1,531. Worse, according to the misleading form, your order for an "enhanced" listing in the Fair Guide will renew automatically every year for three years unless you contact the company by certified mail.
In country after country in Europe, the company has been found in violation of laws, and it is continually unable to enforce any of its contractual claims. It does not stop Contruct Data Verlag from being a pain in the backside, however, and it must mean it is extracting payment from some folks. Under no circumstances should you buckle under and pay the idiots for any reason.
To read our June 2006 story, click here.