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Don't Fear Buying Halloween Costumes Online

13 Halloween Shopping Considerations, Provided By Your BBB

Anchorage, Alaska – Oct. 13, 2009 – Shopping online for Halloween costumes can often feel like a trick, not a treat. During October and November, Better Business Bureaus across the nation receive a surge of complaints related to costume and merchandise delivery, repair, and refund or exchange issues.

BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington asks consumers in search of Halloween costumes to consider the following advice:

  1. Plan ahead. Most consumers need a Halloween costume before Oct. 31. Order early, even if the company promises that it will arrive within days, in case the costume doesn’t fit. According to the FTC, by law a merchant should ship your order within the time stated in its ads or over the phone. If the merchant doesn't promise a time, you can expect arrival within 30 days.

  2. Browse around and check pricing. Comparison shop, online and offline, before you buy. The costume’s advertised price may differ from the final cost; certain states have sales tax, and if ordering online, shipping fees usually apply.

  3. Look up the seller’s name. Do research on an online search engine.

  4. Contact your BBB. Visit www.bbb.org to view their BBB Reliability Report. 

  5. Verify licensing. Find out where the seller is located and check for business licensing in that state.

  6. Confirm a point of contact. Look for full contact information on their Web site, including a phone number, e-mail address and a physical street address; be cautious of sellers that only provide a post office box.

  7. Locate the BBBOnline Reliability Seal. If the company claims to be a BBB Accredited Business, look for their BBBOnline Reliability Seal on their Web site and visit www.bbb.org to confirm.

  8. Inspect the return, refund and shipping policies. Pay close attention to time limits on returns (for example: 30 days) and other restrictions. Make note, some retailers only offer in-store credit for exchanging merchandise and some businesses refuse to refund or exchange seasonal merchandise, such as Halloween costumes.

  9. Review the privacy policy. Before handing over your contact and payment information, make sure you know the company’s data handling practices (avoid companies that sell or redistribute information to third parties).

  10. Ensure secure connections. Before submitting a payment over the Internet, make sure the Web page is secure. On secure pages, the Web address begins with "https:" instead of "http:" on the payment page; the browser displays the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen; or a lock icon appears on the status bar.

  11. Pay safely. Credit cards are the preferred method of payment for online purchases. You may be able to dispute the seller’s charges if the goods don’t arrive. If unsatisfied with the costume and the retailer denies a refund (even though all return instructions were followed), you may contest charges of $50 or more through your credit card company.

  12. Keep a record. Save a copy of the order confirmation page or request a confirmation e-mail to make sure the item, the quantity and the payment matches what you purchased. Also, print a copy of the return or refund policy, warranties or other relevant purchase conditions, and the company's full contact information. Those concerned with the safe arrival of their package can request that the shipper get a signature before delivering.

  13. Examine your purchase. If the costume arrives but is damaged, doesn't fit or match what was ordered, contact the company as soon as possible. Tell them your concern and what you're looking for: repair, exchange, or refund. Use e-mail, if available, and save a written copy of your correspondence.

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About your BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington:
Your Better Business Bureau is a not-for-profit organization funded by Better Business Bureau accredited businesses. The BBB’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. For more information about the services and products provided by your BBB, call 206-431-2222 or 253-830-2924 in Washington, 503-212-3022 in Oregon, 907-562-0704 in Alaska, or visit our Web site at www.bbb.org.

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