Warning on questionable professional practices

Be advised, be vigilant, beware in any dealings with
Expo Guide/FairGuide.com/Construct Data Verlag
and other questionable practices.

This information relates to questionable professional practices perpetrated against exhibitors by FairGuide.com/Construct Data Verlag, Expo Guide (Mexico), Event Fair –  The Exhibitors’ Guide with their misleading directory services. There may be others that we are not aware of and are hence not named here. Construct Data Verlag officially ceased to exist on 30 January 2010 after legal action was successfully taken against them by the Austrian Agency against Unfair Competition.

These companies provide legitimate exhibition guides aimed at exhibitors across the globe, offering online listing services. They use a form which resembles an organiser’s free catalogue listing service, inviting exhibitors to complete the form for an entry in an on-line directory. Unsuspecting exhibitors who sign and return the form are then contracted into a three-year, non-retractable agreement, which could cost the exhibitor a significant amount of money, with very limited foreseeable benefits. In reality, the details are often available on the form itself, but are often too small and insignificant to be noticed. It is always wise to read all the small print before signing a contract, and if the information is impossible to read then the contract should not be signed.

Included in their group are several debt collection agencies, notably, Gravis Inkasso Gmbh and a Swiss debt collection agency called Premiumn Recovery AG (a Construct Data subsidiary) that work in partnership with the various guides to intimidate exhibitors into paying.

These publications have no connection with exhibition organisers or any of their events, and it is important that all companies who are exhibiting are made aware of this.

We strongly advise UFI members therefore, all exhibitors and the entire exhibition community, to be most vigilant against this and similar organisations. Organisers: we advise you to inform your exhibitors of the existence of these companies, and the need to be wary of their dubious practices. They can cause extreme damage and harm to the reputation of our industry.

Through the combined efforts and vigilance, we will succeed in defending the interests of the international exhibition industry – and those of our clients!

 

What to do if you are caught out?

Our advice, should you receive any communication from Expo-Guide and Fairguide.com or related company is to IGNORE THEM COMPLETELY, and not to communicate with them in any way. Experience tells us that writing letters simply confirms that you are alive and at the address/email address/number they have for you, and hence can continue pursuing payment….

Copies of relevant correspondence on this subject is available by clicking on the following links:

For samples of forms and more info:

From EnergyGrid

For cautions by HKTDC:

·         Caution by HKTDC (English version)

·         Caution by HKTDC (Traditional Chinese version)

·         Caution by HKTDC (Simplified Chinese version)

FTC Stops Foreign Operation That Scammed Many Small Businesses and Non-profits Into Paying Millions of Dollars for Bogus Online Directory – March 2013

For other information:

On mu:kaumedia and on LinkedIn

 

Legal documents and court cases

The most recent court case links back to the USA. Working out of Slovakia, Wolfang Valvoda was recently formally charged for his role in an international mass marketing business directory scheme which defrauded consumers.  An Illinois Grand Jury has indicted Valvoda with mail fraud.

Businesses were led to believe that the forms they received were for a free listing for a particular trade show and not an order for an expensive listing in a different, and useless, internet directory called Fairguide. Forms from Construct Data to unsuspecting exhibitors misleadingly suggested that the directory listing was directly related to the consumer’s participation in the trade show listed on the forms. It is estimated that over 1000 victims in the US sent over $2 million to Construct Data as a result of this scheme. Exhibition organizers are strongly advised to warn their exhibitors of this potential scam which continues to be carried out in other countries around the world. US Grand Jury indicts Valvoda for Business Directory Scam US State of Illinois press release on Construct Data Indictment (2014).

Messe Bozen against Construct Data (May 2008)

Following work by the Austrian ‘Schutzverband gegen unlauteren Wettbewerb’ (equivalent of the Office of Fair Trading), Construct Data signed a further undertaking on 21st February 2008. Original here (in German)

The settlement in Austria where Fairguide agreed to stop harassment of many people who dispute their contracts

Letter from the Federation to prevent Unfair Competition, Vienna dated November 2006

·         Proposed template rejecting payment request

·         Proposed template rejecting payment request 2

UFI Legal Counsel advisory notice to Construct Data/FairGuide dated 14 October 2005, concerning the Paris Convention on Intellectual Property Rights.

Letter from the Federation to prevent Unfair Competition, Vienna dated 15 December 2005

Belgian legal position (2004)