Watch Out for Petal Pushers this Mother’s Day

  
     
April 30, 2014

Mother's DayMarlborough, MA - With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it’s important to be a smart shopper for this special day. Whether you’re ordering flowers, shopping for jewelry, or arranging a spa day, BBB advises consumers to be cautious of unreliable businesses or scammers targeting Mother’s Day shoppers.

Consumers should take extra precaution when placing floral orders, especially online. Not all online florists are the same. While some people are extremely happy with their online flower purchases, others find themselves disappointed when the flowers don’t arrive on time or at all, or are in terrible condition. In 2013, consumers inquired over 133,520 times and filed 557 complaints against florists, restaurants, jewelers and online shops.

“It’s important for consumers shopping for Mother’s Day gifts to be aware of scammers,” said Paula Fleming, spokesperson for the local BBB. “Scammers use bait and switch tactics on consumers, sending emails with fake vouchers, coupons or discounts.”

Scammers employing the bait and switch tactic will email the consumer a voucher that will give their mother flowers on Mother’s Day, as well as once a month for the next year.  The only problem is, no florist will honor the voucher. The same scam can be applied to restaurants, jewelers, spas, etc. Remember it’s important to look for emails with spelling and grammar errors, and excessive use of caps lock are tell-tale signs of a phishing scam.

BBB recommends the following tips when shopping for Mother’s Day:

  • Research first. Check out the business’s BBB Business Review to see any history of complaints and additional details. Ask friends and family which florist, jeweler or retailer they recommend. Visiting the shop is another way to determine if the business is reputable. Be sure to check the quality of the flowers at a flower shop and the overall quality of the business.
  • Ask about guarantees. Request a written receipt for the order and ask about the business's refund policy if the delivery is late, never arrives or is in bad condition.
  • Look for signs that online purchases are secure. If shopping online and providing your payment information, the beginning of the website address should change from http to https, indicating that the information is being encrypted -- turned into code that can only be read by the seller. Never enter your personal information in a pop-up screen.
  • Allow time for shipping and delivery. Check with the florist, retailer or website to be certain that you have allowed enough time for delivery. Make sure that this date is specified clearly and guaranteed when you order. If you order ahead of time, delivery and other charges will be less than last-minute or overnight shipping. Some florists offer discounts for deliveries a day or two before a major holiday, since that helps them deal with the rush.
  • Have a back-up plan. Make sure you understand the store's guarantee. Find out how customer complaints are handled and what recourse you will have if the arrangement is not satisfactory. It's best to use a credit card when ordering online, because you can dispute charges if the vendor doesn't come through.
  • Make sure the business knows how to reach you. When it comes to flower delivery, there are times when delivery instructions need to be confirmed or a delivery driver needs additional directions. Make sure the florist has a call-back phone number or your cell phone to help make sure your mom gets what you expect.

For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org/boston.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2014, consumers turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB Serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont, founded in 1912, is one of 112 local, independent BBBs across North America.

Paula Fleming is VP of Communications & Marketing for Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT.  Find Paula on Google+.