Hoping for a Sweet Valentine's Day? BBB Offers Tips to Love Before You Buy

February 07, 2013

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and some consumers are still searching for the perfect gift. Whether you’re buying something as simple as flowers or as serious as an engagement ring, check the seller with BBB before you buy! BBB offers some additional tips about getting the most for your money whether shopping online or in store.

Florists –Valentine’s Day is a top holiday for florists. Unfortunately, not all florists are created equal. Typical BBB complaints around Valentine’s Day state the flowers were not delivered as promised (wrong flowers or arrangements), the flowers were delivered in poor condition, or they were not delivered at all.

  • BBB Tips: When you place your flower order, whether using a “brick and mortar” or online florist, be sure you allow enough time for shipping and verify directly with the florist that the date/time is specified and guaranteed. Obtain/request a written receipt for the order and find or ask about the business’s refund policy if the delivery is late, never arrives or is in bad condition. Confirm that the florist you contact is actually the florist fulfilling the order too. At this time of year it’s not uncommon for a 3rd party to be involved. Be sure you know the florist’s actual street address and phone number in case you need to adjust your order.

Jewelers – The National Retail Federation states that 19.7 percent of people will treat their special Valentine to jewelry, with total spending equaling more than $4.4 billion, the majority of which will be spent on the most precious gem of all - diamonds.

  • BBB Tips: Do some research on the criteria jewelers use when selling a diamond so when you go to purchase a ring you will know exactly what the salesperson is talking about. Diamond scales are established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and a diamond’s value is based on four criteria: color, cut, clarity and carat. BBB recommends you know how to buy a gem before you go to the store and GIA can get you started with their 'how to buy guide'. Ask your salesperson to write down any information you may rely on to make your purchase. Always ask for the store’s refund and return policy before you buy.

Gift Cards - The gift that keeps on giving will also be on the top of Valentine shoppers’ lists with 15 percent expected to buy gift cards for their loved ones, totaling to $1.5 billion.

  • BBB Tips: If the card is scratched or damaged it is virtually useless. To be certain your card will carry its full value, purchase cards that have no value until the store clerk loads on your amount. If a gift card is displayed on a public rack where anyone can reach it – be aware that scammers can sometimes gain access to such a card before you buy it, and once purchased, the scammer may be able to use the card’s value before you are able redeem it. Check to be sure that the protective stickers have not been removed and that the unique PIN number located on the back of the card is not exposed. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.

Phishing E-mails and E-Card Viruses – Cyber-crooks use this time of year to trick consumers into divulging personal and financial information through false alerts from fake greeting card websites, or through email messages stating there was a problem with the consumer’s gift order or credit card. These messages may actually download computer viruses to steal personal information.

  • BBB Tips: Only open emails, attachments, and links from people you know. Enhance email filters to block any such threats. Watch out for unsolicited emails with subject lines such as, “Someone just sent you an e-card” or “Send your loved one a Valentine's Day card today.” If you ordered flowers and receive an email indicating a problem, contact the florist directly to ensure the e-mail is legitimate – chances are it is not.

For more tips you can trust, visit www.newyork.bbb.org, and to sign up for our weekly scam alerts, visit https://cbbb.wufoo.com/forms/email-sign-up/.