BBB advises consumers be cautious when shopping at seasonal Halloween stores

October 24, 2012
BBB advises consumers be cautious when shopping at seasonal Halloween stores

BBB tips on avoiding issues with seasonal and online retailers

According to the National Retail Federation, 170 million Americans will spend approximately $8 billion this year on Halloween candy, pumpkins, decorations and costumes. Better Business Bureau advises consumers to be cautious when shopping for Halloween goodies and be wary of fly-by-night costume vendors.

Because of the popularity of this holiday, many retail shops pop up in October and are gone by November. Because of the short window of operation, consumers could find it increasingly difficult to return an item if something is wrong or resolve any post-holiday dispute.

Nationwide, BBB received 357 complaints about costume stores and websites in the last year. Complaints allege deliveries were late or never arrived, products were poor quality or consumers had difficulty obtaining refunds because the store had already closed.

BBB offers these four tips to help you avoid fraudulent Halloween stores:

1. Research the store. If you're interested in trying a new or unfamiliar merchant, check out its BBB Business Review. This will provide some detail about pas company performance.

2. Review the return policies. Make sure to read through and understand the return policies, as many seasonal stores may have an “all sales final” policy.

If you’re renting a Halloween costume or props, make sure you understand the terms and conditions associated with the rental. Often, rentals require a down payment that you may not get back if you are late to return the item or if the item is damaged.

3. Ask how long a store will operate. Mainly, determine if the store will be open after the holiday and whether it will accept returns when the season is over. If not, take more time to be sure the item is exactly what you want before making the purchase.

4. Leave nothing to chance with online purchases. Make sure the total cost and any shipping and handling charges are clearly outlined. Find out how long it will take for your order to arrive. Federal law requires that goods and services be delivered within 30 days, unless a different delivery period is specified by the merchant.

To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit

About Better Business Bureau:
BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.

Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is the preeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses and charities.