ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Whether you are dressing up as a monster, movie character or even Donald Trump, BBB Serving Western VA says it's important to check on companies before you purchase merchandise this Halloween.
Halloween definitely isn't small potatoes, or pumpkins as it were. According to the National Retail Federation, spending on Halloween festivities, including candy, costumes, and decorations is expected to reach $6.9 billion. 157 million Americans are expected to celebrate Halloween this year, making Halloween the second largest shopping season of the year.
BBB advises consumers to spend Halloween shopping dollars wisely.
Complaints are received each year by BBBs regarding the temporary retail outlets that suddenly show up in our neighborhoods this time of year. Those complaints range from issues addressing unclear return and exchange policies to products that are damaged or have missing pieces. Some customers say that when they attempt to return a product or express a grievance, they find the store is packed up and long gone.
Here is what you should keep in mind when shopping at pop-up stores:
Check the company's Business Review at BBB.org before doing business.
- Buy from companies that have been around long enough to have a clear track record.
- Stores with a spotty past may change their name from year to year.
- Ask the store how long it plans to occupy the building. If you cannot get an answer, ask to speak with a manager.
- See if they have a website in case you need to contact them later.
- Inquire about the return policy in detail.
- Save your receipts.
- Use a credit card. You'll have the most protection if you must dispute a transaction with the card's issuer.
- Consider shopping closer to Halloween, if possible. Retailers often lower prices on candy, costumes and decorations to move them out.
It is getting late for online shopping but still possible if you pay attention to promised shipping dates. (It is unlikely, of course, that you would have time between now and Halloween to return an item and get a replacement sent.) Here is some advice about online Halloween shopping:
- Check the company's BBB record at BBB.org.
- Use your browser to search for the company's customer reviews by typing their name plus the word "review."
- Services like Pay Pal are useful because they do not disclose your credit card number to the seller.
- With reputable retailers, pay by credit card.
- Know the return policy and read it carefully.
- Print out and save all email notifications regarding the transaction.
- Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the price and any shipping and handling charges.
- Familiarize yourself with the website to ensure it is secure by either looking for a web address that begins with https:// or by verifying the legitimacy of any third-party company used for transactions.