BBB: Tips for Consumers at the State Fair

Better Business Bureau of  Minnesota and North Dakota

 

The start of the Minnesota State Fair is always the surest sign summer is winding down. But it’s a terrific way to wrap up a season of fun.

It’s also an ideal platform for many businesses to showcase their products, inventions and ideas to happy fairgoers. In that carefree environment, it’s easy to get carried away in all the excitement.

However, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota reminds consumers the same guidelines they follow outside the fairgrounds should also apply inside the fairgrounds.

“We know people get caught up in the atmosphere of the fair,” said Susan Adams Loyd, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “We at BBB sometimes feel that same excitement. We just want to remind people of the importance of due diligence and making wise purchasing decisions.”

BBB offers the following tips for consumers who attend the State Fair with an eye on making non-food related purchases:

• Research companies at www.bbb.org. Free BBB Business Profiles are optimized for smartphones. Additionally, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can call 800-646-6222 to speak to live operators for pre-purchase guidance. BBB offers customers reviews as well.

• Prior to making payment, get the company’s refund and exchange policies in writing. Also, ask about any guarantees or warranties.

• Collect the company’s physical location and telephone number in case you need to return or exchange an item after the event.

• It’s always a good idea to do some comparison shopping before making a purchasing decision. Keep in mind, however, that the least expensive item may not always be the best value.

• Don’t be pressured to buy. After the demonstration or sales pitch, give yourself some time to think about the purchase. This will help you decide whether you’re getting a good deal.

• Ask the vendor if a sale price will be honored after the State Fair. If so, you will not feel pressured to purchase the item on the spot.

• It’s important to note that the Federal Trade Commission’s “cooling-off rule,” which normally allows consumers three days to cancel a purchase, does not apply to the following purchases at fairs:

– Purchases under $25

– Goods or services not primarily intended for personal, family, or household purposes

– Insurance, securities, or real estate

– Motor vehicles

– Arts and crafts

• If you are making a purchase where the “cooling-off rule” does apply, and you need to cancel a sale, sign and date a copy of the company’s cancellation form, which they should provide. If you mail the form back to the company, be sure it is postmarked before midnight of the third business day after which you made the purchase. Sundays and federal holidays are not considered business days. Otherwise, bring the form in-person to the company within three days of the date you made the purchase.

“We think businesses do a terrific job of putting their best foot forward at the State Fair,” added Adams Loyd. “So long as consumers are keeping their eyes on their bottom lines and fully understanding the terms and conditions of any purchases they’re considering, it’s a win-win proposition.”

BBB will once again be an exhibitor at the Minnesota State Fair, with a booth in the Education Building. The fair runs from now through Sept. 3.

 

— The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at www.bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

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