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Scam Central

Businesses Risk Losing Thousands in Possible Tradeshow Scam

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May 12, 2011 | 2,372 views | Post a comment

BBB Warns Upcoming Shows in Central Texas Are Bogus

Austin, TX -- BBB warns local business owners to ignore advertisements and solicitations for "Women's Expo" tradeshows promoted by Exposition & Festivals Incorporated. According to the company's website, tradeshows were planned for this weekend in San Antonio and Austin, TX. However, according to directors at the San Antonio Convention Center and the Austin Palmer Events Center, these events were never confirmed. It appears as though the tradeshows were never intended to be held, leaving businesses that paid to participate without any return on their investments.

Exposition & Festivals Incorporated, represented by Lia Johnson and Sheila White, has an F-rating from BBB for failing to respond to multiple complaints. Businesses complain that they paid the company hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of dollars up front for booth reservations only to learn later the tradeshow was canceled or delayed for months. According to the contract set forth by Exposition & Festivals Incorporated, no refunds are made under any circumstances, even if the show is canceled.

A local Austin business owner* signed up to be a vendor at one of the company's recent tradeshows, originally scheduled for October 2010, but then learned that it had been rescheduled to December and then again to May. The vendor continued to agree to the rescheduled dates, only to learn that the show scheduled for May was eventually canceled. The vendor asked Exposition & Festivals Incorporated for a refund of the money paid to participate in the show, but never received one.

The company's website states the May tradeshow in Austin was canceled due to the Alabama weather. On the contrary, an official with the Palmer Events Center -- where the show was alleged to be held -- stated that the venue refused to ever host the show due to complaints from local vendors and previous problems scheduling events for this company.

Another business owner from Dallas found herself threatened with legal action after asking the company for a refund when the tradeshow was rescheduled two weeks before it was scheduled to take place. Company officials told this vendor that "The National Woman Tour," the host of Women's Expo shows, "has been sold to the Southeast Women's Chamber." The website, www.nationalwomantour.com , makes no mention of the change in ownership and currently advertises upcoming shows in Atlanta, Georgia and Huntsville, Alabama.

BBB was unable to confirm that any of the tradeshows advertised by Exposition & Festivals Incorporated are ever actually held. Businesses that choose to pay for booths at the company's alleged tradeshows are at a high risk of paying thousands of dollars for a fictitious opportunity. For more information, click here to view the company's current BBB Business Review.

When considering the purchase of tradeshow booths, BBB advises businesses to:

• Check with the venue and confirm the time and location.

• Research the host organization by reading its online BBB Business Review.

• Get all details in writing. Carefully review the terms and conditions, as well as exhibitor options in case the event is canceled or rescheduled.

• Find out if the event has been held before, and if so, ask to speak to other businesses who attended.

• Consider paying for the event by credit card. If the services are not rendered as promised, it may be possible to dispute the charge through your credit card provider.

• Be wary of any websites promoting tradeshow events that do not list the name and address of the trade show organizer or promoter.

• Ask event organizers about add-on costs, such as fees for electricity and Internet hookup, tables and tablecloths and other charges that may not be included in the booth rental fees.

To check the reliability of a company, visit www.bbb.org.

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