If your company has exhibited at an Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, SIA, Interbike or Health & Fitness Business trade show in the last year, chances are you've received a solicitation from the Fair Guide (www.fairguide.com) with its noticeable pink stripe across the header and foot of the letter.
The innocent-looking document (see to the right) implies that you are receiving a free listing in an international directory of fairs and exhibitors and that it is seeking to ensure your information is correct. If your information is incomplete or inaccurate, the temptation is to quickly fill in the correct information, sign and date the form, and send it back. That would be a BIG mistake!
SNEWS® recommends you 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 $981. Worse, according to the misleading form, your order for an "enhanced" listing in the Fair Guide will renew automatically after three years unless you contact the company by certified mail.
SNEWS® first alerted the outdoor and fitness industries to this scam in August 2005 (click here to read story). Since our story first ran, we have received dozens of calls asking us for advice; mostly from outdoor industry companies that have been and continue to be sucked in by the misleading Fair Guide form.
Perhaps just as disturbing is the fact that Construct Data Verlag AG, an Austrian-based company, is able to collect data on all exhibitors and then, without permission, post that information on its website. No matter how you look at it, the Fair Guide is nothing more than a well organized and thinly disguised scam designed to exact as much money from unsuspecting companies as possible. As of this writing, courts and others in Europe are working to shut Construct Data Verlag down, or force the company to, at the very least, be much more forthright and honest in its business dealings. Time will tell. Quickest way to shut them down in our view is to simply not give them any business -- so stop sending those forms back!!!!