It’s officially May and that means prom season is here.
Between dresses, makeup, hair, tickets and a limousine, prom can cost a pretty penny.
The Connecticut Better Business Bureau has some suggestions on how students and parents can avoid money problems.
When buying gowns or suits online, always check the website’s reputation, and look for hidden costs and policies.
The bureau also advises to stick with a safe payment method like with a credit card or online payment, and make sure you find the seller’s address or phone number.
BBB's tips to Prevent Prom and Grade Dress Disasters:
Check their reputation - A BBB Business Review can tell you whether a seller has a solid reputation for its products and services, a record of complaints, or government actions.
Look for hidden costs and policies - Before you pay, keep in mind that your purchase may have associated shipping and handling fees. These are often added before completing your transaction. Ask whether you can return the garment for a full refund if you're not happy with it as well as who would pay for the cost of shipping and handling for a return. Don't assume verbal promises are accurate. Check websites' policies as you shop around.
Stick with a safe payment method - It's a bad sign if a company demands payment by wire transfer or prepaid gift cards. Whenever you shop online, BBB recommends using a credit card or online payment processing service. These methods help protect you if there's a dispute or unauthorized charges. Keep in mind that a debit card does not offer the same protection.
Make sure you can find the seller - Has the website listed a physical location and working phone number? Call customer service before you make the purchase to verify that you will be able to contact them in case of a problem. You will likely spend several hundred dollars on your purchase, so if you can't reach a live customer service agent, consider it a red flag.
Look for HTTPS:// - You should see this in your browser's address bar along with a padlock icon in the corner. When you enter your payment information, the "S" and the padlock tell you that a website is taking precautions with its payment processing systems.
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