BBB Tips: Buying Guide For Father’s Day

June 04, 2014

Roanoke, VA  – “You shouldn’t have. No really… you shouldn’t have.” Dad’s big day is less than two weeks away meaning families have begun their annual tradition of buying every shirt, tie and bottle of cologne available on store shelves.  A new study, however, reveals that dad would much rather spend time with his family this Father’s Day instead of yet another pair of argyle socks! BBB has some tips on purchasing that perfect present in time for June 15th.

According to a study conducted by RetailMeNot and The Omnibus Company, 17% of dad’s said their top choice for Father’s Day 2014 was “quality time with family”. For many families this means taking dad on an adventure like whitewater rafting, a fishing trip or wilderness excursion. As these types of gifts come with a bit more paperwork than that bottle of Brut aftershave, BBB is advising that families consider the fine print before booking their adventure.

“Make sure dad’s day goes off without a hitch by going over the contract very carefully,” said Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of the BBB Serving Western VA. “Check out the company's BBB Business Review to see its BBB rating, complaint history and more before making that purchase.”

BBB buying tips on adventure excursions and other more common Father’s Day gifts:

Start with trust. Go to and check out the business or to find a BBB Accredited Business you can trust and to make sure you are dealing with a reputable business that will guarantee the sale prices they claim to have.

Check for additional fees and limitations before purchasing. Make sure you know if any additional fees apply for things like equipment rental, meals and transportation. Check for other limitations; some high adventure activities restrict those with certain health issues.

Make sure Dad’s schedule matches the times the activity can be done. Some outdoor thrills can only be done during a certain season or time of day; most require advanced reservations.

Check the refund policy and expiration date. When buying expensive items or gifts, get refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee policies in writing. Make sure you know the expiration date of the offer, and if a refund is available if Dad can’t make it for any reason.

Read rental agreements carefully. 
Make sure you have a written contract for any recreational rentals (cabins, all-terrain vehicles, campers, kayaks, motorcycles, etc.). The agreement should spell out base rental cost, daily fees, insurance, and other details such as time restrictions. If at all possible, visually inspect the rental prior to committing.

Get the details in writing. For things like tours, classes, sightseeing and lessons, make sure you get all of the costs and features in writing. What services and equipment are included? Ensure taxes, service fees and other charges are clearly disclosed. Asterisks are commonly used to indicate restrictions, such as additional charges and time requirements.

Ask for Gift Receipts - Gift receipts generally include a description of the item purchased but do not disclose the price paid. Without proof-of-purchase, the recipient may be turned down for returning or exchanging the item, or risk receiving an exchange at a lower price.

Gift Cards and Certificates: Check the terms and conditions of any gift card or certificate prior to purchase to ensure that the expiration date and any other conditions won’t be problematic. If you are giving a gift card to someone who will make online purchases, be sure the gift card is redeemable for internet shopping and not just for in-store use.

Electronics: Whether you plan to give Dad a camera, GPS system, phone, music player, DVD player or other electronic device, be sure that you don't remove it from its box before wrapping it up as a gift. Many electronics stores require the original packaging in order to process returns or exchanges.

For those shopping online:

Know the Website.  Before ordering any merchandise, check the URL link to make sure it starts with “https://” (the ‘s’ means it is secure). Also look for a small padlock icon usually located at the corner of the URL bar. These symbols tell shoppers that a website is secure.

Read and Compare.  When buying a product, read the whole description including the fine print. It is important to understand the details of the product being purchased so there are no surprises when it’s delivered.

Choose the Correct Payment Method.  Always pay with a credit card when shopping online. A purchase with a credit card is protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act. This allows customers to briefly hold payment while a problem is reviewed and resolved. This act also protects customers in the event that credit card information is stolen and used without permission.

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies and 11,000 charities, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit for more information.

If you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit  Follow us on Twitter at and on Facebook at