Americans spend millions on Halloween every year, and while it might be a bit different this year, Halloween 2020 will likely not be an exception to the rule.
Many families are ready to have some fun and celebrate this holiday in a big way. They want to go all out with Halloween costumes. They want over-the-top Halloween decoration ideas.
But just like every occasion when people are spending money, there are some companies and individuals who try to profit in unethical ways. Many of the Halloween scams that show up every year are variations of the same thing – misleading advertising, fake event tickets, fraudulent website activity, or shopping scams. As you start to celebrate this holiday with your family, be sure you don’t accidentally fall for a Halloween scam.
Top 5 Halloween Scams
Ready to make good on pumpkin decorations and Halloween costume ideas? Skip the drama by avoiding these common scams.
1. Shipping Scams
You find the perfect Halloween sale. You order a great costume or Halloween mask for the year. Then something goes wrong. You paid your money, but the new costume or mask never arrives.
You might have even received a shipping confirmation. But the company doesn’t seem to be able to do anything about it.
This sort of shipping issue happens at all times of the year. For example, among the Light in the Box Halloween complaints, one customer (review #1903470) explained that he “ordered a Halloween costume for my granddaughter on April 20th and its saying that I don’t have any order.” He is confident he placed an order however, because “they took money out on April 20th.”
How to handle a shipping scam
If a Halloween store doesn’t deliver an item you’ve purchased, you have a couple of options for recourse.
- Check the shipping policy on the website before ordering, see if the company warns customers about extra long delivery times.
- If a company failed to deliver items and did not refund your money, you can report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- If a company doesn’t deliver your Halloween make-up or costume after paying with your credit card, you can report the scam to the credit card bank, and have the company even refund the payment.
- Try to avoid the drama of delayed shipping by ordering as soon as possible. The longer you wait to order, the more likely the order is to be delayed, ruining your Halloween events.
2. Return and Refund Scams
Some companies are glad to take your money and send you items, even if they aren’t exactly what you expected. When that happens with a reputable company, you can return the item for a refund or at least a store credit to buy something else.
Other companies, however, use their return and refund policies as a chance to potentially scam customers or at least make it extremely hard to get money back when something goes wrong.
Sometimes even well-known companies have special refund policies when items are sold from a third party through their website. Among the Sears Halloween reviews on PissedConsumer, one customer was frustrated that Sears would not honor a return or refund his money when he received a damaged Halloween decoration.
In his review (#2142657), he explains that “Ive spent over 3 hrs on chat, I called, and emailed about this cheap Halloween yard stake that is made of foam for over $17!” All of this was to get a free return label which Sears promised but did not deliver. According to the customer, “Weeks later, sears says they will refund my money - again ONLY if I pay for shipping.” Finally, the frustrated reviewer was able to get a refund from PayPal, but “SEARS still REFUSED!! Even after sending pictures of the damaged item.”
How to handle a return or refund scam
Avoid these issues with careful reading.
- Read the exchange and return policies carefully on the website before you hit Buy Now to avoid problems that can’t be resolved.
- Check for reviews before buying - sometimes a company will disregard its policy, and customers will share this in reviews on sites like PissedConsumer.
3. Misleading Advertisement Scam
Halloween is a fun collection of traditions and specials. We watch a favorite Halloween movie. We create special Halloween crafts. We buy special Halloween décor based on the special offers we find in advertisements. But what happens when the “special offer” isn’t so special?
One customer left a review (#1710093) about a “bait and switch” type advertisement among the Halloweenstock.com complaints. In his review, he explained that he ordered “a Skully Life Skeleton from an ad I saw on Facebook.” The skeleton was supposed to be life-size, but the reviewer received “a tiny (14 ½”) cheap skeleton,” and it was “definitely not what is pictured in their ad!”
Sometimes the ads are not about the products as much as they are about what to expect in a store. One shopper found Michaels to be less than satisfying after she followed an ad claiming that certain Halloween items were in stock.
According to her review (#2123455), she found “no Halloween out at all the store is a complete mess metal stick things all over floor I found a blade on floor no employees.”
How to handle misleading Halloween ad scams
Your first step when you see a good deal is to consider the source.
- Check the website for the company offering the special. Is the special valid? What is actually included in the special offer? If you can’t find specifics, be skeptical.
- Compare the special offer pricing with other websites or companies.
- Sometimes a “special price” isn’t as special once you add in shipping. It’s better to order from a known, reliable website if the pricing is essentially the same.
- Review your cart before clicking Buy. Before you click the Buy button, really look at the cart and the charges. Look for extra charges that pop-up. Do you see the special pricing you were promised in the ad? If not, go shop on a different site.
4. Fake Event and Ticket Scams
Halloween 2020 is a bit of an off-year in terms of group activities and special entertainment, but there are still events. Many families are itching to leave the house and find fun outdoor activities during the Halloween season. Be mindful that the events and tickets might not live up to your expectations.
Sometimes ticket prices are inflated. Other times you are sold fake tickets for a real event. Unfortunately, plenty can go wrong if you aren’t paying attention when you arrange event tickets.
How to handle a fake event and ticket scams
Not to spoil your Halloween mood and to know for sure that you’ll attend the desired show or theme park:
- Buy tickets in advance;
- Purchase the event ticket online, buy directly from the company website;
- Research carefully a ticket broker. Read the people’s feedback on review platforms like Pissed Consumer and on the net;
- Do not buy downloadable tickets and electronic passes from the suspicious sources like sellers on different Internet marketplaces. It is highly possible to receive a counterfeit copy;
- Check printed tickets from the third party vendor. There should be no spelling mistakes, the dates must be correct and the paper shouldn’t be too thin and flimsy;
- Secure your payments, and ensure that you do not give your credit card information and pay by cash or PayPal.
5. Fake Website Scams
We have many platforms for selling from vendors like E-Bay, Amazon, Etsy, and many more that allow anyone to set up a dedicated “store” and sell their products.
A fake website scam is just that. Someone sets up a fake “store” or website. They accept orders from customers after luring them in with special offers and promotions that are time-sensitive.
Customers order, the website owner takes their money, and then never delivers anything. Eventually, word gets out about the scam, and the owner just closes the fake store and walks away to set up another one. Unfortunately, these little pop-up sites are difficult to track and stop since they appear and disappear practically overnight.
One reviewer found out that things can get messy with small online retailers. In the Olivieres Halloween complaints, he left his review (#2185805) about a $70 order.
How to handle fake website scams
In general, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. To avoid fake websites:
- Look at the prices from well-known and trusted retailers. If their prices are all much higher than the unknown promotional store, chances are good something isn’t right.
- Look for contact information and locations on a website. If there is no information about how to contact the company, and where the company is registered to do business, be suspicious. You should be able to find some sort of physical address for a legitimate business.
- Look for a secure website when it is time to make a payment. 'https://' should be in the URL to be sure your payment information is protected. But even then consider using PayPal or another Wallet app to protect your credit card information.
- Look for reviews and feedback. A legitimate store is going to have more than a handful of reviews. Look for reviews and ratings among sellers on a platform to understand what you’re getting into.
Here at Pissed Consumer, we wish you a very happy Halloween this year! We hope you enjoy the holiday and avoid real-life horror stories and scams. Keep in mind that it is always far better to be safe than sorry!
If you'd like to share your Halloween shopping experience with consumers, you're welcome to leave a review.
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