Every now and again, I become aware that it is necessary to remind consumers that they have a certain responsibility while doing business in the marketplace.It is the ethical duty of a business to deal fairly and honestly with their customers. It is the wise consumer who realizes this may not always happen and ventures into any transaction with eyes wide open and observant.It does the purchaser no good to read the contract after he or she signs it. It does the “previously owned vehicle” buyer no good to find out the car they just bought “as is” is defective in several aspects. Once you have given an out-of-town traveling repairman the money, you are not going to find anywhere to complain when the job is not done or not done correctly.Believe me, the marketplace is full of quicksand. There are plenty of honest and ethical companies doing business, and they are just as easy to find as the unscrupulous. That is not to say a consumer cannot have a bad experience with any business. Things happen, but being aware and skeptical can save you a lot of money and grief.Let's go over some BBB suggestions:1. Know who you are dealing with. Do research before you plunk down money for a major purchase.2. Ask a lot of questions. Before you ask questions, know what answer you want otherwise, you cannot know if the source is lying.3. Always get at least two or three estimates for any construction or repair project requiring a contract.4. Read every word on every contract or work agreement. If there is something you do not understand, get it explained, even if you have to ask a third party. 5. Don't expect anything more to be done than what is listed in writing on the contract. Verbal promises, in this day and age, won't hold up in court. Always get it in writing.6. Make sure you have a clear understanding about any warrantees or guarantees.7. Never assume.8. If it's a vehicle, test drive it, show it to your favorite mechanic and don't get emotionally involved with the vehicle in the process. Lyrics from an old song say it best, “When your heart's on fire, smoke gets in your eyes.”9. It is always best to deal with an established business that has a track record, especially if it's a major purchase. You need to know where they are and where to go if there is a problem.10. Remember, companies can make their own policies regarding the way they do business. As long as they meet the law, they can enforce them. You need to know what they are before you write the check.Sure, there are laws, regulations, and rules that our government has enacted designed to protect the consumer. But in America, free enterprise is our basic tenant, and it is therefore consumers' responsibility to protect themselves from the unethical who have found a loophole in those laws.Neil Winget is the president of the Better Business Bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.