BBB on Homes Buyer beware when home shopping at fall fairs

September 23, 2018

With fall upon almost here, fall fairs and carnivals will soon be kicking into gear.

Aside from delicious carnival foods, fall fairs usually offer the ability to purchase handmade crafts, home decor, or artwork from businesses, some of which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

While fall festivals present people with the opportunity to do some window shopping for their homes, the Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas is reminding fall fair attendees to use the same caution at these events as they would use day-to-day before signing a contract or making a costly purchase.

If you are attending a fall fair, consider the following before making a purchase:

Check with the BBB while you shop . BBB Business Reviews are optimized for smartphones, so while shopping, take a moment to check out the business at BBBHouston.org to review its rating or see if it has a pattern of complaints. Checking this information as you shop also gives you an opportunity to verify whether a company that displays the BBB seal is in fact a BBB Accredited Business.

Verify policies. Get the company’s refund and exchange policies in writing and obtain the company’s physical location and telephone number in case you need to return or exchange an item after the event.

Comparison shop. As with any purchase, shop around before buying, but remember that the least expensive item may not always be the best value. Collect information, marketing materials and ask questions. Engage with booth owners and obtain specifics on pricing and services.

Don’t feel pressured to buy. After the demonstration or sales pitch, give yourself some time to think about the purchase. Ask the vendor if a sale price will be honored after the event.

Know the limits of the “cooling-off rule.” It’s important to note that the Federal Trade Commission’s “Cooling-off Rule,” which allows people three days to cancel a purchase, does not apply to the following purchases at fairs: purchases under $25 for sales made at your home or under $130 for sales made at temporary locations, insurance, securities, or real estate, motor vehicles, or 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 you should obtain upon purchase of the item.

If you mail the form back to the company, be sure it is post-marked before midnight of the third business day after which you made the purchase.

Fall fairs and carnivals can result in impulse buying, but it’s important to take the time to check out the product and the individual or business selling it prior to making a purchase.

The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Visit www.bbbhouston.org or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is senior director of Investigative Services with the BBB of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send questions to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail lnapoliello@bbbhou.org. Include your mailing address and phone number.

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