From Sept. 6 – 15, the Kansas State Fair will welcome you to its array of attractions, in Hutchinson at the State Fairgrounds. With numerous entertainers, rides, livestock exhibitions, arts and crafts, food vendors and merchandisers of every kind, there will be no shortage of ways to keep you and your family occupied. Your Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises that you consider showing off your consumer savvy at the fair. There may be no official contest for it, but going home with your budget still in good shape can make you feel like a winner. Here are some tips from the BBB.
How to swing smartly at all those sales pitches
Commercial exhibitors will be out in force at the fair. Their dazzling displays and practiced sales techniques can easily sway you into making a purchase on the spot. Unless you’ve done some research ahead of time, that might not be a good idea. Do you know in advance what you might want to buy at the fair? Consider sitting down before making the drive to the fairgrounds and doing some online research on the companies and their products.
If it’s a company you hadn’t considered ahead of time, check them out with your smartphone at the fair. Listen to their sales pitch. Then take a short walk. The purpose is twofold: It gives you a chance to deliberate about it and it gives you the chance to look them up on your phone. Checking bbb.org to read their BBB Business Profile is highly recommended. You can also see if there are customer reviews. Additionally, enter their business name along with words like “review” and “complaints” into a search engine to find out if there are other places online where customers have posted about them.
You should do more than just listen to those pitches, while you are there. Ask a lot of questions. Find out how long the company has been in business. Find out where they are based. Watch out if there is no physical address or phone number.
Keep in mind that the cheapest product is not always the best economical purchase. It may have a short life. It may need more frequent service. A cheap product may not perform well. For all these reasons, do comparison shopping whenever possible. An alluringly small price upfront can lead to large hassles and expenses later on.
Think about what will happen if there is a major problem with the product. Find out what sort of warranties and guarantees it has and get those in writing. If they can’t provide written proof of what they say, then it’s time to turn down the offer and go elsewhere.
Whether it turns out to be hot or mild weather during the fair, there is an FTC “Cooling-Off Rule” for purchases you make. Here are the basics:
• Purchases above $25 are covered by the rule on any items or services for personal, family or household use.
• You have 3 business days to change your mind.
• At the point of purchase the business should give you a cancellation form. If they don’t or you misplace it, you can write a cancellation letter on your own.
• You aren’t obligated to give a reason for changing your mind.
• More details about the rule are available at ag.ks.gov. Be sure to take the time to read it before submitting your cancellation.
Enjoy your visit to the Kansas State Fair and put your consumer smarts on exhibit. Just remember not to be sheepish. You have the right to cancel a deal if you find there was a bit of exaggeration involved. For questions about purchases made at the fair, contact your BBB at 800-856-2417 or visit our website at bbb.org.