By Rita R. Robison
More consumers are expected to celebrate Halloween this year than ever before and spending is estimated to reach $6.86 billion, reports the National Retail Federation.
The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to use caution when shopping with seasonal stores and fly-by-night websites for costumes and other merchandise. Complaints about late delivery, poor quality, and difficulty obtaining refunds are common at the BBB.
“A costume may look great, but it pays to check into a store’s reputation and consider return policies and shipping schedules before making a purchase,” said Dale Mingilton, president and CEO of the BBB Serving Denver/Boulder. “Otherwise, you could find yourself waiting for your order when it’s too late or stuck with something you can’t return.”
The BBB advises consumers to avoid costume troubles by considering the following:
- Complaints. Get the store’s BBB Business Review by visiting www.bbb.org.
- Customer satisfaction policy. Determine the company's refund and return policies before you buy. It’s best to be able to try on the costume and accessories first and have enough time to return or exchange them if they don’t work out.
- How long the store will be in business. If you’re buying from a seasonal store, ask them whether they’ll be open after the holiday in case you need to make a return or exchange or come across a billing issue.
- Leave nothing to chance. Be sure you have a thorough understanding of everything involved before making an order online. Be clear on the price and any shipping and handling charges. Know the terms of any product or service guarantees. Find out how long it will be before you receive your order. Federal law requires that goods and services be delivered within 30 days, unless a different delivery period is specifically stated by the merchant.
- Guard your personal information. Only provide your credit card number online in a secure environment. Look for the prefix “https://” in the URL box which lists the website’s address to be sure that the site you’re using is secure.
Following these tips will help you be consumer savvy so your Halloween won't be spoiled.