We love playing Whac-A-Mole and continue to be amazed that the Fair Guide people just keep popping up. If you aren't familiar with Fair Guide, aka Construct Data Publishers, aka Construct Data Verlag, aka Expo Guide, aka Commercial Online Manuals, then click here to read our March 2008 story, "Beware: Has Fair Guide now morphed into Expo-Guide?" – one of our many stories over the years warning industry companies to stay away.
The Fair Guide’s continuing strategy is to send very deceiving letters and directory correction forms to companies that have exhibited at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, SIA, Health & Fitness Business Expo, SHOT or Interbike trade shows. If anyone at your company mistakenly fills out a solicitation form and sends it back, your company will soon be buried in a flood of demand letters and threats of legal action for not paying an advertising contract that was signed with good intentions, but always unknowingly.
Each trade show cycle, as if right on cue, SNEWS receives multiple letters (photo, right), as a result of exhibiting at Winter Market, Summer Market and Health & Fitness Business Expo. What's fascinating is the company keeps moving its U.S. address (this time they're saying they can be reached at P.O. Box 4050, Naperville, IL 60567). The company's headquarters remain published as being in Slovakia. But make no mistake – regardless of address – this is the same company we’ve all been dealing with for years.
Though slightly different in design and layout each time over the years, the tone and style of each form, the information requested, no matter who the sender is, matches that of the original Construct Data (Fair Guide) years ago. And while the company, or companies, behind this deceit are at least being more open that there is a free way to update a listing, we suspect few folks will read it the letter. This means if the letter gets separated from the form in office paperwork, it appears the only way to update a listing is to fill out the form – and once you do that, they’ll say they've got you for $1,877 per year (an increase from last year, so apparently they are feeling good about the economy worldwide), which automatically renews each year unless you cancel in writing three months prior to the expiration date via registered mail. Ever try getting a registered mail document delivererd from the U.S. to an address in Slovakia? Exactly.
Our advice? Instruct your mail department that if they receive a letter and form from the Fair Guide, with a postage-paid envelope, simply shred the documents, put the remains in the envelope and mail them back. At least that will mean the idiots at Construct Data will have to pay some extra nickels for their highly annoying and unethical attempt to extract money from unsuspecting businesses.