By Rachel Newman
Whether it is prom, a wedding, or another formal gathering, chances are if you are pulling on a satin gown and strapping your feet into 5-inch heels, you are heading for a special night.
A recent study by Visa reported that, on average, parents with teens will spend upwards of $300 on the dress alone in 2012, which has risen dramatically in just a year. As families look for ways to cut their spending, many have taken to the Internet for some discounted, overseas shopping.
And why not? The prices are lower, it’s delivered to your doorstep and if you know you’re size, nothing can go wrong, right? Wrong. Special Occasion dress scams are on the rise and run the gamut from non-delivery of product, to false advertising, to poorly made or sized.
Worst of all, because these purchases are made overseas, there is very little recourse for the consumer. Often times, the victim is simply out the hundreds of dollars they paid and must start again from scratch.
To avoid a disaster on your upcoming special day, follow these BBB tips:
Choose Actual Over Virtual. While it can be tempting to order designer dresses at half the price online, there are inherent risks in doing so. Your BBB recommends looking for similarly-priced gowns in dress shops in your community.
Compare Prices. Not all shopping websites are created equal. Make sure you do enough research to understand the mean price for the item for which you are looking. If you are well informed, it’s unlikely you will be oversold or fall victim to “too good to be true” offers.
Know Your Back-Up Plan. It is even more crucial when you are shopping online to read and understand the exchange and return policies of the business from which you are buying.
Call Customer Service Before You Buy. If you can’t get ahold of a real person at a company, that is generally a red flag. If you are considering buying a dress online, give the company’s customer service department a call and go over with them their return, exchange and delivery policies.
Check With BBB First. We have a myriad of reports on online companies, but even if the company you are considering isn’t listed on our website, we can give you advice and industry tips to help you make a decision.
For more information about the BBB and online shopping tips, visit BBB.org or give us a call 858.496.2131.