Love is in the air as many soon-to-be brides prepare for their long-awaited wedding day.Every bride deserves to have her big day go off without a hitch. When preparing for the day of your dreams, the Better Business Bureau advises brides to proceed with caution when buying a wedding dress online, choosing a photographer and selecting a wedding planner.
Doing your research and asking for referrals can make all the difference in helping your special day go as smoothly as possible. Last year alone, the BBB received more than 970 complaints against wedding-related services. Wedding planners, bridal shops, car or limousine rentals, DJs, photographers, florists and jewelers topped the list.
Many of the common complaints were centered on a 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 soon-to-be brides are opting for online retailers. While most venues have the brides’ best interest at heart, it’s important to recognize red flags before shelling out the cash. With today’s weddings averaging about $28,000, don’t gamble on unreliable vendors. Before paying any up-front fees it’s important for all couples to do their research. The BBB recommends the following when planning:
Research all online vendors. 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 “trust marks” on retail websites. Click on the seals to confirm they’re valid. Confirm that your online purchase is secure. Look 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 before doing business with them.
Review all terms and conditions. Online or in-person, find out what the company’s refund and exchange policy is. What is its cancellation policy? What happens if the company can’t hold up its end of the bargain? Who will perform the service? 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 face-to-face, 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 more than $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 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, visit www.bbb.org/us/bbb-news
Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia & the CSRA Inc., serving 41 counties in central Georgia and the central Savannah River area. For questions or complaints about a company or charity, contact the BBB by phone at (800)763-4222; website, www.bbb.org; or e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.