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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Trade Show Smarts Can Pay Off

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Trade shows, a traditional early herald of springtime, may bring welcome relief. While some shows have been canceled due to the pandemic, others are occurring while following strict safety protocols, or being held in a virtual format. Better Business Bureau has advice as you plan your outing to any upcoming trade show, or as you gear up to attend an online version.

Start smart. Preparing for your visit can help you to be efficient with your time, and can give the business representatives the information needed for accurate estimates. Research contractors and businesses that you anticipate visiting. When a map of the show’s vendors is available, use it to locate those businesses more quickly. Do whatever online searching you can to check them out. You’ll find retailers and contractors at the show that you didn’t anticipate, so remember to look them up afterwards as well.

Know your budget. Resolve to stick within an amount you can afford. Know that you’ll encounter unexpected innovations and attractive features you had not expected, at unanticipated expense.

Once inside or in the virtual space, some reminders. Resist the hard sell. Try to stick to your plan. Save all paperwork and receipts, emails and texts received later. Use comparative shopping. Be sure you give exactly the same information to competing businesses, so the estimates are more meaningful and easily compared. Tell them what you expect. Get info about warranties, guarantees and returns. Ask about license and insurance details. Look for scheduled workshops. Do not pay in full in advance for a service. One third of the total up front is standard. Get it in writing. Everything. Be careful sharing your personal information. Signing up for drawings and contests can lead to sales calls, email offers and snail mail advertisements later.