Read the Fine Print: Not All "Free" Trade Show List Offers Legitimate

If you're exhibiting at a trade show overseas, be careful what you sign for in the months leading up to the event.

A company called Data Concepts, operating out of Austria, provides what it calls "the first on-line publication to offer an overview of fairs, exhibitors and organizers" and relies on directories and other published reports show organizers and exhibitors to obtain the information published therein. Part of the modus operandi of the company is offering a "free listing" to a trade show exhibitor requesting the company's information. As part of the "free listing," company representatives unknowingly sign what is considered a three-year binding contract. An exhibitor assume the correspondence is from the show organizer and will be used in a (or one of many) show guides, Construct Data works independently from the event and, after initial publication, charges the companies for continued publication of their information.

The cost for one company was $900.

Trade show managers have become aware of this practice, which has been active for at least four years.

Doug Dame with Dame Associates, organizers of some of the glass industry's bigger trade shows, including China Glass, said that no one in the trade show industry remains untouched. He cited the example of a recent show management conference wherein participants were discussing the situation.

"People are asking, 'who are these people and why are they attacking our exhibitors?'" Dame told USGNN.

In the wake of China Glass 2006, someone left an anonymous voice mail for Dame, indicating that the caller had been duped by Construct Data.

The actions of Construct Data have not gone unnoticed. An international effort has been launched to stop the tactics used by the company, and the Institute of Entertainment and Arts Management has requested that the Austrian Trade Commission look into the matter of the company and the legality of it operating in the manner that it does. The trade commission ruled that the Austrian Association Against Unfair Competition, the Schutzverband, had no jurisdiction over the case, as Construct Data contacted companies outside Austria, but noted that "the decision was purely one relating to formal requirements" and did not reflect approval or assessment of the communication.

The Austrian Trade Commission located in New York recommended that those companies adversely affected by the actions of Construct Data withdraw from the contract and bring legal action against the company. A sample letter based on Austrian civil law is being circulated to help those who have been entrapped by the Construct Data ploy can take steps to withdraw from the contract.

"I wish I knew who'd left me the message about China Glass. I would have set him up with this letter," Dame said.

Dame advises those who will be exhibiting at up coming international shows to be wary of correspondence they receive and verify authenticity with show organizers before signing anything and stated for the industry to be very aware of what they sign and with whom they do business.

"These guys are very aggressive," he said.

CLICK HERE for a copy of the sample letter created by the Schutzverband to help companies withdraw from the contract.

CLICK HERE to see an example of the Fair Guide contract.

CLICK HERE for more information on or to join the movement created to stop Construct Data's methods of obtaining clients.

CLICK HERE for more information on Construct Data


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