Here's how to avoid wedding scams
Love is in the air as many couples prepare for their long-awaited wedding day this summer. When preparing for the big day, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) advises people to proceed with caution when it comes to buying a wedding dress online, choosing a photographer and selecting a wedding planner. Doing so will help you ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch.
Asking for referrals and doing a little research can make a big difference in helping your special day go smoothly. Last year alone, the BBB received more than 970 complaints against wedding-related businesses. Services like wedding planners, bridal shops, car or limousine rentals, DJs, wedding photographers, florists, and jewelers all made the list. Many of the common complaints were centered on the company's unwillingness to honor cancellation and refund policies after a deposit had been paid.
From choosing a florist to picking out the perfect wedding gown, more and more couples are opting for online retailers. While most venues have the brides' best interest at heart, it's important to recognize the danger signs before shelling out hard-earned cash to unreliable businesses.
"With the cost of today's wedding averaging around $28,000, you want to make sure you get everything you pay for," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB. "It's important to do your research before securing your wedding vendors and paying any upfront fees."
The BBB recommends couples consider the following when planning for their special day:
Research all online vendors. When choosing to go with an online retailer for your wedding services or products, start with a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can often lead you to unscrupulous websites or phishing scams. Also, look for the BBB seal and other widely-recognized "trustmarks" on retail websites. Click on the seals to confirm they're valid. Confirm that your online purchase is secure by looking for the "s" after "http" in the URL or the lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Be sure to check the company out with the BBB at www.bbb.org before doing business with them.
Review all terms and conditions. Whether you're dealing with an online firm or a brick and mortar store, review the terms and conditions of the contract carefully. What are the company's refund and exchange policies? What is their cancellation policy? What happens if the company can't hold up their end of the bargain? Who will perform the service on your special day? Be sure you understand your rights as a consumer before doing business with the company.
Keep documentation of your order. For online orders, save a copy of the confirmation page or e-mails confirming the order until you receive the item or service and are satisfied. If you're dealing with a company representative in-person, be sure to get all details in writing, including specific dates, products, prices, cancellation and deposit policies and signatures from both parties.
Pay with a credit card. Credit cards offer consumers the added protection of disputing any charge over $50 within 60 days of the purchase. Most established businesses accept major credit cards, so use them whenever possible, including payment for deposits Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on the card, and many card issuers have "zero liability" policies if someone steals your card number and uses it. Never wire money.
Consider purchasing wedding insurance. Wedding insurance can cover a range of prospective problems including vendor no-shows, cancellations, inclement weather, military deployment, medical emergencies, travel delays and more. Many policies start at $200 and can potentially save you thousands of dollars.
For more consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org/us/bbb-news.