Consumer 6: Some Tips for Shopping at Trade Shows

Wednesday, December 22nd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

When it comes to shopping at trade shows, the Better Business Bureau says it's often a case of buyer beware. The more you know before you buy, the better off you'll be when you take the product home. A selection of hundreds of products and big sale prices are just some of the selling points of trade shows.

When Michelle Trudell needed a new printer for her home office, she went to a mega sale in Tulsa and found the one she wanted. “He had a sign that read $79 for a printer- scanner by Canon,” she said. “I assumed it was a new printer because of the high price. But I didn't ask about it.”

There were other problems. Trudell says the software didn't work. Then when she opened the printer’s color cartridge case, it was empty. "I was angry,” she said. “It was seven o'clock and the trade show was closed, so I couldn't go back to the show to get what I wanted. I looked at the receipt and the company is located in California.”

She called the company several times and they finally promised to send her the necessary software and a color cartridge. That was one month ago and she still hasn't received either item. The Better Business Bureau says there's not much more she can do, because there aren't special rules for trade shows. "When it comes to trade shows, it is considered the same as doing business,” said the Better Business Bureau’s Rick Brinkley.

The B-B-B says consumers must be ready to ask questions. "When you go to a trade show to buy,” said Brinkley, “you need to ask, where is your company physically located? If I have a problem with this, how am I supposed to take care of it? What kind of warranty does it have?"

Trudell admits she didn't ask the right questions. Now she's stuck with a printer that doesn't work. To make her feel even worse, she saw a local ad for the printer she wanted, advertised at $30 less than its regular price. She says after the holidays, she should be able to afford a new color cartridge. Trudell plans to use the printer for homework when she goes back to school next year. But she explained that she’s already learned a valuable lesson about business.

The B-B-B says if you do go to a trade show to buy products, find out the company's policy for returns, repairs and warranties before you buy.