What makes you angry? Right up there for me is deception. I've discovered a story of deception on a global scale. It may well have affected your business already, and it should be more widely exposed. It should be stopped.
Here's the scam: You register to exhibit at a trade show. This unleashes a torrent of forms, but you have to fill them in or you end up with no publicity, furniture or whatever. One of them is an online catalogue entry. It implies it's free at the top. You verify the details and confirm with your signature at the bottom.
Some time later, possibly after the event, you receive an invoice. You check back. You find you've signed a three-year contract costing upwards of $5,000. It's your signature, but you have no idea how it happened. You're embarrassed and you're annoyed, but it's not so big an annual cost that you have to fight it, so you pay.
Well, this happened to a colleague in an associated business. Since the practice was so self-evidently unethical, I wondered about the position of the trade show organisers. This is what my PA found.
Expo Guide Warning!
Some … exhibitors have been fraudulently targeted by a company called Expo Guide.
Do not under any circumstances sign any forms from them.
Their current activities cover companies throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia.
Included in their group is debt collection agency… which works… to intimidate exhibitors into paying.
The sheer scale and systematic way in which these guides attack exhibitors is outrageous.
Apparently, this has been going on for years and there have been thousands of complaints. Good for the Fi, Hi and Ni organisers for trying to halt it. There is now a 'Stop Expo Guide Group' on Facebook and a Yahoo address called email@example.com. There is also lots of guidance about withholding payment, but none of this has succeeded yet.
What puzzles me is why a national government would allow such a business to remain in operation unrestrained. What should be done?
- Should more people write to the government of Mexico, where Expo Guide is based?
- Should everyone write to their own governments?
- Should there be one collective complaint that's sent to the international business media and the industry's trade magazines?
I really would welcome your views on this. Have you been affected? What did you do? What should be done now? I look forward to your comments.
Richard Hall is chairman of FoodBev Media