It’s almost Mother’s Day. Whether you are ordering flowers, shopping for custom jewelry or arranging for a special spa day for the wonderful women in your life, the Better Business Bureau is encouraging you to be a smart consumer.
The BBB said it sees lots of scams that focus on holiday shopping and is warning consumers to proceed with caution before falling victim to a Mother’s Day vendor scam, especially when shopping online.
The bureau is urging consumers to take extra precautions when placing floral orders, especially online.
Officials said many are happy with their online floral purchases but others find themselves disappointed when the flowers don’t arrive on time or don’t arrive at all.
When finalizing gifts and shopping online, the BBB has a few warnings for consumers:
1. Do your homework. Before ordering flowers, jewelry or any other gifts for Mother’s Day, check out the company’s BBB Business Review. This is a great way to help prevent disappointment with the product or customer service.
2. Allow time for shipping and delivery. Check with the retailer or website to be certain that you have allowed enough time for delivery. Make sure the date is specified clearly and guaranteed when you order. If you order ahead of time, delivery and other charges will be less than last-minute or overnight shipping. Some florists offer discounts for deliveries a couple of days before a major holiday, since that helps them deal with the rush.
3. Look for signs that online purchases are secure. When you are providing your payment information, the beginning of the web address should change from http to shttp or https, indicating that the information is being encrypted – turned into code that can only be read by the seller. Your browser may also signal that the information is secure with a symbol, such as a broken key that becomes whole or a padlock that closes. Without this assurance, do not enter any of your personal information.
4. Never enter your personal information in a pop-up screen. When you visit a company’s website, an unauthorized pop-up screen created by an identity thief could appear with blanks for you to provide your personal information. Legitimate companies don’t ask for personal information via pop-up screens. Install pop-up blocking software to avoid this type of scam.
5. Keep documentation of your order. When you’ve completed the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page and/or you might receive confirmation by email. Print or save that information and keep it handy in case you need it later.
6. Have a back-up plan. Make sure you understand the store’s guarantee. Find out how customer complaints are handled and what recourse you will have if the arrangement is not satisfactory. It’s best to use a credit card when ordering online, because you can dispute charges if the vendor doesn’t come through.
7. Make sure the business has your information. When it comes to flower delivery, there are times when delivery instructions need to be confirmed or a delivery driver needs additional directions. Making sure the florist has a call-back phone number or your cell phone to help them make sure your mom gets what you expect.