(UNDATED) - Looking to buy or rent a costume for Halloween? You are not alone!
According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween spending is expected to reach $6.9 billion this year.
When shopping at seasonal, temporary Halloween stores, and especially last-minute, it's important to exercise caution. Better Business Bureau is advising shoppers to know the red flags and read the fine print to avoid fly-by-night costume venders. Even if the store has a returns policy, you should go in with the assumption that whatever you buy is yours to keep, no matter what.
Here are some Better Business Bureau tips to make sure your Halloween is "spooktacular!"
Research the company. Look for full contact information on the seller's web site, including a phone number, e-mail address, and a street address. Always check out the company on www.bbb.org before doing business.
Read all terms and conditions carefully before you buy. Know the refund policy. Some stores may have time limits for returns and may not allow refunds for seasonal merchandise such as Halloween costumes. Others may only provide store credit for returns.
Ask how long a store will operate. If you're buying from a seasonal store, ask them whether they will be open after the holiday and whether they will accept returns when the season is over. Remember that seasonal and temporary stores have the same responsibilities as those who serve shoppers year round: they must display their refund and return policies prominently.
Read the fine print when renting a costume. Understand the liabilities if something happens to the costume, if it must be cleaned before return, etc.
Pay by credit card. If something goes wrong, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company.
Guard your personal information. If you are buying a costume online, only provide your credit card information in a secure environment. Look for the prefix "https://" in the URL box which lists the website's address to be sure that the site you are using is secure.
Keep documentation. Save copies of the order confirmation and receipts.
Examine your costume as soon as it arrives. If it doesn't fit, or isn't what you ordered, contact the seller as soon as possible.
If you're not satisfied with your purchase and have already contacted the company, you may file a complaint with the BBB at www.bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222
Have a question or comment about a news story? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org