Some Halloween retailers may offer more tricks than treats

Halloween girl with pitchforkBBB offers advice for avoiding shady Halloween stores or websites

Halloween will be celebrated in record numbers in 2014, according to the National Retail Federation, with more than two-thirds of Americans buying Halloween costumes this year. Total spending for the holiday on costumes, decorations, candy and more is estimated to be $7.4 billion.

Halloween costume shops pop-up all over during this time of year. Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin advises shoppers to research unfamiliar stores or websites with BBB first before buying.

BBB has received hundreds of complaints against Halloween costume stores, both online and in-person in recent years. Complaints from consumers shopping online range from undelivered orders to difficulties obtaining refunds for cancelled orders. Complaints regarding in-store purchases involved unclear return and exchange policies, damaged products and missing pieces. In some cases, customers found stores closed when they returned to report a problem.

BBB offers this advice when shopping for your spooky supplies:

  • Do your research. If you’re interested in trying a new or unfamiliar online merchant, check the company’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org. This will give insight into the company’s history, how they handle complaints, and any customer reviews.
  • Purchase safely and securely. Only provide your credit card number online in a secure environment. Look at the websites URL, it should contain an “s” in https://. This indicates that the site is secure.
  • Understand their policies. Determine the company’s refund and return policies before you buy. If companies can’t offer information on how they handle problems with their products or services, reconsider doing business with them.
  • Look for clear shipping information. Consumers purchasing Halloween costumes have just about a week to get their orders in. Consider the shipping times. 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.
  • Seasonal issues. If you’re buying from a seasonal store, ask how long it will be open for in case you need to return the item.
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