Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Paranoia Can Destroy You But A Little Precaution is the Recipe for Success

When I first came into the world of gluten-free/allergen-free and celiac disease, I wondered why so many of the community were distrustful of outsiders. I can remember thinking that paranoia was rampant - That was before I spent eight years planning events and running support groups. The truth is that you and I are a captive audience to those who can think of ways to manipulate for financial benefit.

I have learned a whole lot from experience and am now not as trusting of a soul as I once was, obviously. The following will perhaps open your eyes and hopefully will keep you from falling victim to a price tag you can't afford:

1. Anyone on the planet can claim they are a "leader in the knowledge of celiac disease or auto-immune related disorders". There is no legal ramification to doing so unless they claim a slew of fake credential letters beside their name. I have known many speakers who try to claim so on social media and web sites. Some chiropractors have been known for doing so, not that there are not chiropractors who actually do make it their mission to be knowledgeable and provide scientifically based information because they do exist. But, we all know there is a fine line between scientific factual information and non-factual.
How To Avoid: Check the credentials presented to you thoroughly and/or look for peer reviewed journals written by anyone who claims bits of information and the title of "leader" or "expert". Current and past patients are an excellent way of getting great info on a medical reference. Do Google searches as they will give you the good and bad in reviews so you make an informed decision.

2. Anyone can run a webinar or self publish a book. Heck, I even run webinars! Just because someone does so does not make them an expert. I have also been a part of planning events with someone who I did not know was a sham artist, until I have done the event and felt the blow-back. Therefore don't always assume that if a panel has only one real expert that the expert is aware the rest of the "experts" are charlatans. They just used the real expert to make their product viable to you.
How To Avoid:  Seek out information, events, classes, and books which are backed by well-known organizations and professionals in the business. Do background checks on a presenter or author and always double check information given to you and don't take it at face value.

3. Buyer Beware: If you visit a web site full of alarmist statements or promises of cures and every three inches there is a "Buy Me" button to sell you information which is readily available elsewhere, you may want to exit stage left. There are a slew of these web sites now and navigating them makes my skin crawl.
How to Avoid: Just click out of that site immediately and don't give your contact information or they will hound you with alarmist emails to sway you into re-thinking your decision. Doing searches on information that makes you pause to question its accuracy is also advised.

4. Just because a restaurant has a gluten-free menu does not mean your meal could not be cross-contaminated. This rule is especially true with chain restaurants. I have worked with lots of restaurants all over the country who do take making your food very seriously, but for every one I find that does, there are at least a dozen who do not. Lastly, be leery of those that provide a menu without pricing in case they up-charge for special requests and if there is a disclaimer, find out what pre-cautions they do take.
How to Avoid: Talk to your food producers and establishments. If you get the feeling that tugs at your gut and says you can't trust it, 9 times out of 10 you are right. Eating out is a risk assessment we are left to make because they are not regulated by an outside entity to make sure their food is safe.

5. Speaker fees are running amok these days in our community, so if you are planning events/meetings/webinars, be sure to get the facts straight before agreeing to a speaker who may try to charge you an exorbitant price. If they are only speaking for 30 minutes, at what point does their fee become too much? $1500.00? $10,000.00? $25,000.00? Believe it or not, I have seen all of the pricing listed in email requests. So, if you wonder why some events charge a large ticket fee to attend, this could be why.
How to Avoid: Discuss with the speaker realistically what your budget is. Weigh out how well-known the speaker is and if they are going to bring enough attendees to your event to offset their expenses and fees. See if they can solicit any sponsorship to cover the fees. If not, tap into your local professionals and see if you can't avoid these fees altogether and keep your event affordable for attendees to attend.

I hope you have enjoyed this run down of some of the pitfalls that can happen when people or companies are trying to make a little money by selling to you. If even one tip helps one person, then I think it was worth it.

Until next time, keep on truckin' and keeping your allergen-free life as stress free and positive as possible.