Business Columns & Blogs

Off-site sales at fairs, expos, tents could lead to trouble

Veronica Craker
Veronica Craker

It’s that time of year when state fairs, expos and specialty sales tents make their way into town. While these vendors often offer great deals at a limited time, your Better Business Bureau is warning shoppers to do their homework before buying.

BBB urges people to inform themselves on what to look for when buying at a big blowout sale. Consider the following questions to ask:

▪  Do you run a showroom in my local area?

▪  How long have you been in business?

▪  Who do I call for a service or repair issue?

▪  What is your cancellation policy?

Popular items sold at these events are spas and hot tubs. If you are seriously considering buying a hot tub or spa, check with friends, colleagues or neighbors who own or have used them. Ask for their impressions and whether you can try out their facilities. Keep in mind that when you attend an expo or sale, you probably won’t be allowed to jump into a spa to try it out.

It is a good idea to find several dealers and arrange to try out several models. Most dealers will set up a trial soaking. Ask several dealers to give a written list of contract specifications.

The contract should include: an installation date, completion date with allowance for delays, schedule of payments, explicit specification for size, shape and materials to be used.

Be cautious of out-of-state sellers that set up temporary shops in Idaho. Retailers that are based in other parts of the country may not be able to give the same level of service after the sale.

When shopping with a company outside of their brick and mortar, keep the following tips in mind:

▪  Take your time when making a decision about a purchase. Walk around a bit. Talk with companions about it. Don’t let the high-pressure tactics overpower you.

▪  Ask how long the vendor has been in business and where the business is located. No address and no phone number are red flags.

▪  Ask about warranties, and refund and exchange policies, and get everything in writing.

The Federal Trade Commission’s “Cooling-Off Rule” means you can change your mind after the purchase. When “buyer’s remorse” kicks in, you may be able to undo the transaction.

The rule allows you three days to change your mind. That means you have until midnight on the third business day after the purchase to postmark your cancellation notice, or to bring it in person to the business. This applies to purchases of $130 or more that are for personal, family or household use. Arts and craft purchases are not covered.

Always research businesses by going to and making use of the business profiles there. Along with customer reviews found there, the information can be a valuable tool for assessing whether the company in question is reliable.

Veronica Craker,, is the content and communications director for Better Business Bureau Northwest & Pacific. To check a business, do research or report a scam, go to or call 208-342-4649.