I went to a trade show recently with my friend who is a caterer. The trade show was dedicated to those in the food industry. I went with her because she was pregnant and didn’t want to go alone. This was a 3 day show. We went for 2 days total. Now outside the convention, there were companies giving out free samples. It was a good thing as it was hot outside, June weather and all.
Once inside there were long lines to get your badges so you could enter the actual convention. Once inside there were various vendors and exhibitors giving out free samples of food. Some gave us bags to hold our samples in. These were snack sized samples, think of those snack bags you get at the deli’s for a quarter and such. There were also lots of vitamin and flavored water bottles being handed out. We walked around the show, talked to people, made some contacts and were very satisfied.
Upon trying to show, we were stopped by a very rude employee. He stated we could not leave the show with a bag full of full sized samples. Clearly the samples we were given were snack sized and he knew it, but felt the need to harass us. He claimed that we had to give up our full sized samples to the food bank. Now I asked which food bank in question and he had no idea. Not a good sign. Rude employee and not knowledgeable. I put something into the box, and he goes you have to donate more than that. That was just incredible rude. He was not satisfied until I had put in 4 items into the box. And they were not full sized samples of anything.
Then he moves onto my pregnant friend. She opens her bag and realizes in her pregnant nature that she drank most of the bottles, which were empty or half full, and eaten most of her snack sized snacks. She had cravings throughout the show. This rude employee then has the nerve to touch her, and put his hands on her shoulders to move her out of the way so others may pass by! I was angry that he had singled us out and let others pass. He then made my pregnant friend stand there as he went through her bag to find something for her to donate. It was highly inappropriate of him to do that, and my friend was getting upset.
I was infuriated. Why were others allowed to walk by and not donate but we were forced to? I said something to him, mentioning that he did not ask the other people who walked by for donations. He ignored me and said we could go. I was going to press on because his behavior was just plain rude. My friend who was already upset wanted to get out of there, and I went with her not wanting to cause a scene.
We had gone to the other level, and upon leaving they said we could not leave with any full sized samples. This was getting ridiculous. I had already “donated 4 items upstairs. Now they wanted more. We were trying to leave, but the staff had blocked the only exit for that level, and we were desperately trying to catch the shuttle bus back to the train station to catch the train. They didn’t care. They reached into my bag and grabbed out the biggest item they could find. They did the same to my pregnant friend. I wondered if they were just taking these items for themselves, as they seemed pretty greedy about it.
My friend was so upset, and just wanted to go home. I didn’t want to start an argument at the exit. Several other people were angry and annoyed at their forced donations that they got off the line and went to find someone. I should have done the same. But my pregnant friend wanted to leave, and I went with her.
I am all for donating to charities. Of your choice. Being forced to donate something is just plain tacky. Its rather presumptuous of them to think everyone wants to donate to the same charity. Maybe I wanted to give it to my church, or a children’s hospital. The staff didn’t even know what charity they were donating to, a clear indication that they were most likely taking it for themselves.
I emailed the trade show to ask them exactly what charity/food bank they were allegedly donating these items to. And I told them about the rude staff and how they treated us. I received a short 2 sentence email response. It was very cookie cutter and they stated they picked a well known charity. I asked them why they just didn’t ask the vendors there to donate directly to the food bank rather than harassing each and every person. Or why certain people were selected to be forced to donate while others didn’t. And I asked if this was going to be an ongoing thing, where forced donations were going to forced at every trade show they hosted. I received no response.
All I can say is that I will not be going back there again. The vendors were very friendly, and making contacts was very helpful in the catering business. But does the food bank really need an orchid infused extract to infuse the flavor of their champagne? Whether they were racist, sexist, or judged me on my economical social class, I am telling everyone I know not to go to this horrid trade show. 0701-10