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The Twin Falls County Fair is almost here. It’s a tradition — a corn dog in one hand and cotton candy in the other. Who doesn’t look forward to the endless entertainment and loads of family fun? The annual event is filled with amusement rides, carnival games and deep fried everything; there is so much to do and see. Just don’t leave the consumer caution at home.

After funnel cakes and farm animals, you may wander over to explore vendor booths full of gadgets, gizmos and potentially great deals. Some fair-only specials could be a good opportunity, and you may want to make a purchase.

But in all the excitement, don’t be pressured to buy. Even though vendors generally go through an application process to display at the fair, you should still take time to research independently. After listening to the sales pitch, walk away and do a quick search on your smartphone. Is the deal as good as it claims to be?

If you decide to move forward, ask the salesperson some important questions first. Get the company’s physical location and phone number, as well as the refund and exchange policies. Will they honor the promotional price after the event? Are you able to ask for his or her business card and think about the purchase for a few days? Get this in writing.

Buyer’s remorse rules, and whether the rules apply in each situation, can be confusing. The Federal Trade Commission’s “Cooling Off Rule” gives consumers a 3-day right to cancel purchases when made under special circumstances. These include sales made at your house, workplace or a temporary location (fairgrounds included). But, as with most rules, there are exceptions. Here are a few situations that are not covered, so proceed with caution:

  • Sales made at your home for under $25
  • Sales made at temporary locations (like fairgrounds) for under $130
  • Transactions made entirely online, by mail or via telephone
  • Motor vehicles sold at temporary locations if the seller has at least one permanent place of business
  • Arts or crafts sold at fairs, shopping malls, civic centers, schools, etc.

If you wish to cancel a purchase, cancel in writing, preferably using the notice of cancellation form provided by the seller at the time of purchase, within three days. Don’t forget to keep a copy for yourself. The seller then has 10 business days to refund your money, cancel any contracts and let you know the process of returning the product(s).

It’s obvious this can become quite cumbersome after the fact. Therefore, as a rule, be proactive in your purchases- research before you buy: Check out the company on bbb.org, read reviews and complaint history. Ask about the refund/return/exchange policy upfront and get it in writing at the time of purchase. Don’t let your fair experience get ruined by an unfair transaction.

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Jeremy Johnson is the Eastern Idaho marketplace manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific.

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