Like a recurring nightmare, the Fair Guide people just won’t disappear. If you are not 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 use very deceiving letters and directory correction forms sent to companies that have exhibited at either an Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, SIA, Health & Fitness Business, SHOT or Interbike trade show. If anyone at your company fills out a solicitation form by mistake and sends it back, your company will soon descend into a dark hole of frustration. You’ll 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.
Every year, as if right on cue, SNEWS receives multiple letters (one is pictured to the right), as a result of exhibiting at Winter Market, Summer Market and Health & Fitness Biz. The difference in our solicitation letters this year is the return address on the postage-paid envelope. It is, get this, Fair Guide, P.O. Box 5666, Glendale Heights, IL 60139-9903 — though 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.
We’d love to know how they are getting our exhibitor information, but that’s another question for later. Though slightly different in design and layout each time over the years, the tone and information requested, and style of each form, 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 getting more obvious that there is a free way to update a listing, we suspect few folks will read it, meaning if the cover letter gets separated from the form in a stack of office paperwork, the appearance is that the only way to update a listing is in writing, using the form – and once you do that, they’ll say they’ve got you for $1,717 per year, automatically renewing 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 resembling the one below, simply shred the documents they sent, 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 questionably ethical attempt to extract money from unsuspecting businesses.