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Beware when shopping this Halloween | Better Business Bureau

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American plans to spend around 80 dollars on Halloween costumes and products in 2013. Screaming deals are everywhere, but Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be careful when shopping at pop-up retail stores and online “bootiques.”

“Time-sensitive purchases can cause big problems for shoppers,” says Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. “And since many of these stores close shortly after the holiday, gathering as much information [about vendors] as possible can prevent issues down the road.”

Don’t be haunted by low-quality products and spooky service:

  • Comparison Shop: While many pop-up retailers offer wider selections of costumes and products, shopping online or at thrift stores can provide substantial savings; never settle without comparing prices first.
  • Check Return Policies: Some retailers will only offer in-store credit for exchanges or refuse refunds on seasonal merchandise, such as Halloween costumes. Pay close attention to time limits on returns and other restrictions.
  • Plan Ahead: Ordering costumes online is a great option for busy shoppers, but may require additional time for shipping. Review the Federal Trade Commission’s Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule for additional information on consumer rights and allow plenty of time for merchandise shipping and return shipping if necessary—remember that costumes do not always fit as described.
  • Inspect Costumes: Before making purchases, make an attempt to try on costumes and accessories. When shopping online, contact businesses immediately if merchandise is damaged or arrives significantly different than described.
  • Pay by Credit Card: Cash purchases are nearly impossible to refund, but credit transactions can be easily canceled if products are misrepresented or never received. Pay with credit whenever possible.

For BBB Business Reviews, shopping advice and other Halloween consumer news, join BBB’s “fang” club at bbb.org.

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