Halloween is the second-largest shopping holiday of the year, which means unscrupulous businesses have plenty of opportunity to cash in. In the rush to purchase a costume or decorate the house, consumers can miss red flags. This Halloween, watch out for pop-up store confusion, online shopping scams, haunted events and other seasonal hazards.
Halloween is getting very popular with grown-ups, and there are numerous haunted theme events you can attend with your friends. Be cautious of events that advertise only online or in social media, or that don’t provide information on how to contact the event organizers. When in doubt, contact the venue and see if they have a paid booking for the date and time listed, or if they have heard of the organizer. One company that came to the Better Business Bureau’s attention has a stated “No Refund” policy - which applies even when they are the ones to cancel the event! Talk about scary.
Each fall, pop-up Halloween stores appear in empty storefronts across the United States and Canada. These shops can be a great way to purchase costumes, decorations and other themed merchandise. But their temporary nature can leave consumers in the lurch.
The BBB provides the following tips to for shopping at a seasonal Halloween store:
- Know the return policy. Ask whether the store will be open after the holiday and whether it will accept returns when the season is over.
- Use a credit card. Save your receipts and use a credit card. If there’s a problem with your purchase, your credit card company will help handle the dispute.
- Check for contact information. Make sure the store has a website with contact information in case you need to reach them later.
- Check the shop’s BBB Business Review. Search for the store on BBB.org to see past complaints and ratings information.
A popular alternative to pop-up shops is ordering Halloween costumes and decorations online. When shopping online, make sure the website is secure before entering your credit card information (look for URLs that start with “https ://”). Read the fine print, making sure you understand the return policy and shipping times. Also, ensure the shop has working contact information, so you can follow up in case of problems.
Check bbb.org/shoppingonline for more tips about shopping online.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, use BBB Scam Tracker or call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373.