Halloween is quickly becoming the second most popular commercial holiday next to Christmas. Millions of dollars will be spent, this year, on treats, decorations and costumes. We are seeing more and more websites and temporary shops popping up to accommodate the need. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises shoppers to check the businesses out with the BBB before patronizing unfamiliar stores or websites.
Consumers filed 378 complaints about costume stores and websites last year with BBBs across North America. The complaints included deliveries that were late or never arrived, poor quality and difficulty obtaining refunds. Some customers found the stores closed when they returned to report a problem.
“A costume may look cute and the price may seem right, but it pays to check into a site’s reputation and consider return policies and shipping schedules before placing an order online,” said Don MacKinnon, BBB president and CEO. “If you’re buying from a temporary store, ask about return policies and how long they will be open before making a purchase.”
The BBB offers these tips to help you avoid being haunted after Halloween is over:
- Location. If you're interested in trying a new or unfamiliar online merchant, ask the company for its physical location (address and phone number) so you can check its BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org.
- Customer satisfaction policy. Determine the company's refund and return policies before you buy. If online companies can’t offer concrete commitments on how they will handle any potential problems you may have with their products or services, reconsider doing business with them.
- Leave nothing to chance. Be sure you have a thorough understanding of everything involved before placing an order. Be clear on the price, currency and any shipping and handling charges. Know the terms of any product or service guarantees. Find out how long it will be before you receive your order.
- Guard your personal information. Only provide your credit card number online in a secure environment. Look for the prefix “https://” in the URL box listing the website’s address to be sure that the site you are using is secure.
- Ask how long a store will operate. If you’re buying from a seasonal store, ask them whether they will be open after the holiday and whether they will accept returns when the season is over. If not, consider buying elsewhere or taking more time to be sure the item is exactly what you want before making the purchase.