Avoid a scary shopping experience


Sandra Guile - Better Business Bureau



Halloween is the second largest shopping holiday of the year, which gives some pop-up shop goblins plenty of opportunities to terrorize seasonal shoppers. These stores usually open several weeks before Halloween and vanish immediately after the holiday or linger for a few months to give shoppers the opportunity to stock up for next year’s spookfest.

According to the National Retail Federation, over 171 million Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year, spending an average $86.13 per household, up from last year’s $82.93. Overall, Americans are expected to spend $9.1 billion on candy, costumes, and decorations, an all-time high in the history of NRF’s annual survey.

While Halloween supply pop-up stores fill shoppers’ needs – from superhero capes, princess dresses and adorable pumpkin costumes for the family pet – Better Business Bureau warns some stores that are frightening customers for the wrong reason. Every year, shoppers report missing or damaged goods from stores with unclear return policies. Since many of the stores pack up and leave in the middle of the night, visiting the store to exchange something or report a problem usually results in locked doors and a strict no refund policy.

To avoid becoming a victim, BBB recommends buying from companies that clearly post a refund or exchange policy, researching new stores that come out of nowhere, and asking for year-round contact information for seasonal stores. Shoppers should also save receipts, ask about return policies, and use companies with a good reputation, if possible.

Finally, if the store allows, it’s always wise to try on the costume while at the location in order to avoid future problems. You can ensure that the costume fits well and check that all of the pieces advertised on the package are included.

BBB offers the following tips to avoid problems shopping at seasonal Halloween stores:

  • Buy from companies that have been around long enough to have a clear track record.
  • Ask the store how long it plans to occupy the building. If you cannot get an answer, ask to speak with a manager.
  • See if they have a website in case you need to contact them later.
  • Inquire about the return policy in detail.
  • Save the receipts and use a credit card – they are the safest option if a dispute comes up.

Have fun this Halloween and indulge in a few extra treats, but sure that you’re not being tricked into buying something that will haunt you later – visit bbb.org.

Sandra Guile

Better Business Bureau

Sandra Guile is the Community Outreach Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Tune in Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. with Scott Sloan on 700WLW for The Scam of the Week and every third Thursday with Brian Thomas on 55KRC. In the Greater Portsmouth Area, tune in Tuesdays at 8:05 a.m. on WIOI AM for BBB Chat with Chip Maillet and every third Monday on WNXT AM for Community Corner. Contact Sandra at (513) 639-9126 or sguile@cincinnati.bbb.org. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.

Sandra Guile is the Community Outreach Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Tune in Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. with Scott Sloan on 700WLW for The Scam of the Week and every third Thursday with Brian Thomas on 55KRC. In the Greater Portsmouth Area, tune in Tuesdays at 8:05 a.m. on WIOI AM for BBB Chat with Chip Maillet and every third Monday on WNXT AM for Community Corner. Contact Sandra at (513) 639-9126 or sguile@cincinnati.bbb.org. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 - to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.

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