Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Scam Alert!

To all who attended the Long Beach Women's Expo, please accept my apologies. It was a total scam. Complete and utter, no doubt about it.

When selecting expos at which Sweet Abigail could exhibit, I consider myself a careful investigator. I always ask questions such as; "How many years has this expo been in existence?", "What was your attendance last year?", "Where are you marketing?", "How many vendors will be attending?" and so forth. The Exclusive Premier Women's Expo sounded amazing! Here is what I was promised:
- 1500 Vendors
-Expo has been around 10 years and has a massive following
-40,000 attendees last year, up to 60,000 expected this year
-Dr. Phil, Tyra Banks, Oprah and 10 other celebrities will be making appearances
-25 world-renound speakers lecturing on women's issues
-4000 tickets pre-sold by June
-Multi-Million dollar marketing campaign
-Product exclusivity promised (only one booth for each kind of product being sold, IE: no competition)

Sounds great, right? I arrived Thursday at the Long Beach Convention Center. Big name companies were there, and all the booths were awe-inspiring. "This is going to be amazing!" I though to myself.

Here is what actually occurred:
-120 Vendors (BIG difference)
-This was the Expo's 1st year EVER
-No celebrity appearances
-Speakers were cancelled
-0 tickets pre-sold, and a total of "22 tickets sold" as of Friday at closing (so they claim)
-No marketing, at least none that my mom saw... and she LIVES in Long Beach.
-No product exclusivity (just about every vendor had at least one competitor selling the EXACT same product: 2 selling Mary Kay, 3 selling Flat Irons, 2 selling Make-up Brushes, 4 selling eye glitter, 3 Psychics... you get the idea.)

It became apparent very quickly Friday morning that something was wrong. There were no people. NONE. Not one. All the vendors were there... waiting....and waiting. We were promised 15,000 attendees on Friday alone. We heard crickets. Finally, around 3 pm, some staff walked outside to the streets of down town Long Beach, and started handing out free tickets. They say they sold a total of 22 tickets. I think they were just people whom they convinced to attend the show for free, but either way, I didn't see them. I don't know where they went, but it wasn't by my booth.

Friday evening, all the vendors began to gather together and strategize. Saturday morning we all signed a petition stating we were defrauded to hand to our banks in an effort to fight for our money back. We also put down all our information in order to be contacted as plaintiffs in the group lawsuit someone was filing. Someone else called Fox News.

Sound extreme? I thought so too... until I began to talk to the other vendors. It became painfully obvious how much money was lost in all the empty promises. Some vendors paid up to $1400 for their booth. Many traveled across the country to be there, paying $6000 in freight alone... then there was flight, hotel, and car rental costs! The guy across from me paid for 3 booth spaces (totaling $4000), shipped product across country, flew himself and 3 employees to the show, rented hotel rooms, and hired 8 models to sell his products. Ouch! Had the show been what it was promised to be, he would have earned much more than what he lost. Needless to say, he was first in line for the lawsuit.

Saturday at noon, about 1/2 the vendors left, including me. I called American Express and disputed the charge on my card. Here is how the end of the conversation went:

AMEX Representative: "Mrs. Jones, we will get this dispute filed for you. Now, we always like to ask if you have made any effort to settle this on your own...?"

Me: "Well, yes, I tried. However it was rather difficult. You see, the organizer of the event was walking around drunk Friday morning, and when any of us tried to approach her, she told us to 'go jump in the lake,' except in not-so-nice words. Then she went up to the VIP lounge overlooking the arena, closed the blinds and put security at the door. A few hours later she left. The next day, she went right up to the VIP lounge again with security, and a few hours after that she was escorted out by the police and never returned. But I tried my best."

AMEX Representative: "Oh.... I see. I will get this filed for you right away."

So as you can probably infer, I am rather ticked-off about the whole thing. And it's too bad, but I probably won't be attending any expo in it's first year ever again. Before this I figured if it is in a good location and well marketed, I might as well try it. After this experience however, I have no faith.

If any of my followers attended, I apologize to you for cutting out early. I was so sick of the misrepresentation of the event and the lack of management, that I had to leave. Plus, I had been away from my babies long enough. I was more than ready to go home and tell them how guilty I felt for leaving them for 3 days for that ridiculous event.

Next time I will bring my computer so I can at least notify all of you. Actually, there won't be a next time, because I will be extra careful in choosing expos from now on.... let me know if you know of any ;) I could obviously use the input.

1 comment:

karla said...

My friends also attended as vendors and are pursuing legal action as well. There is no mention of this sham on-line )other than here on your blog). There is a lot of information still sitting on the web advertising it - no doubt in order to lure vendors. It's terrible that people can be so horribly deceitful. Hopefully, in the end, jail time will be served by the guilty party (ies).