Columbus (October 18, 2017) – With Halloween right around the corner, websites and pop-up stores seem to appear overnight. According to the National Retail Federation, consumer spending this Halloween season will be at an all-time high with an estimated total of $9.1 billion dollars spent. Since the average person is predicted to spend over $85 this October, BBB doesn’t want consumers to fall for any shopping tricks.
With the anticipated increase in marketplace activity surrounding Halloween this year, BBB urges consumers to check on all companies before purchasing costumes or decorations, and follow these tips for shopping and fall fun this Halloween season:
Search for the company at bbb.org to find any past complaints or customer reviews. Make sure the business has been around long enough to have a clear track record. Stores with a spotty past may change their name each year.
While shopping, ask the store how long it plans to occupy the building. If you cannot get an answer, ask to speak with a manager.
Before buying anything, ask for a clear return and exchange policy. Save your receipts.
If they do not accept returns, make sure the item is exactly what you want and understand you’ll be stuck with the purchase if something were to happen.
Ask about the best way to contact them if a need arises in the future. Do they have a website?
See if you can try on costumes before buying. Some Halloween stores have dressing rooms to see if the costume fits before purchasing.
Use a credit card. You’ll have the most protection if you must dispute a problem.
If you shop closer to Halloween day, you might find lower sales prices. Retailers may decrease prices on candy, costumes and decorations.
Check the company’s Business Profile at bbb.org.
Search online for customer reviews. Look for different names and a variation in the reviews. Untrustworthy companies will sometimes leave their own.
When purchasing anything online, look for an “https://” address and a lock in the address bar.
Always pay by credit card. Do not mail cash or wire money. If you have an issue with your transaction, you’ll have record of the payment.
Print out and save all email notifications regarding the transaction.
Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the price and any shipping and handling charges.
Find out about shipping time frames. Know how long it should take before you receive your order and what recourse you have if the company fails to uphold its delivery date promise. Obtain this information in writing. Federal law requires that goods and services be delivered within 30 days, unless a different delivery period is specifically stated by the merchant. This is important to keep in mind if you want your purchase to arrive in time for Halloween.
Fall Themed Activities and Events
Buy tickets from reputable sellers instead of going through third-party companies that aren’t associated with the event. Before paying or giving any personal information, research the company or event at bbb.org.
Be especially cautious if purchasing tickets from an individual you don’t know. Research the person’s name online with the words “scam”, “fake tickets” or “counterfeit tickets”. Even if there are no complaints, do not assume the seller is reputable.
Familiarize yourself with the venue’s/event’s ticket policies. Find out how tickets are being sold and which kinds of tickets will be accepted at the event. Some events require electronic tickets only.
Be skeptical if an offer seems too good to be true. Third party sellers or websites like Craigslist may offer cheap, fake tickets for events in high demand or that are already sold out. Beware of any ticket sellers who pressure you into buying tickets quickly. If it doesn’t feel right, move on.
Pay with a credit card as opposed to cash or a money transfer. Do not use prepaid money cards or gift cards as payment.
When searching for a fun pumpkin patch or spooky activity, ask family and friends you trust for referrals. Where have they had good experiences in the recent past?
Be aware of inclement weather policies. Will a festival or haunted forest reimburse money if there is a rain-out? Ask beforehand and familiarize yourself with their policies.
For more information, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.