Based on the information found on thebalance.com, in 2018 people are going to spend around $ 9.0 billion to celebrate Halloween. Even though it is slightly less than they did in 2017 ($9.1 billion), the sum is still impressive. The most common items consumers are still spending their money on are sweets, costumes (for themselves and even for their pets), and holiday decor.
Looking for the new ways to save some bucks on the celebration or in a quest for something extraordinary, people may stumble over the popular Halloween scams. Such as a shipping scam, a return/refund policy scam, a misleading advertising scam, a fake ticket, a fraudulent website scam. Find out what can be done not to fall for any of these tricks below.
Top 5 Halloween Scams
Here are listed five most common Halloween scams and ways how to avoid them as well as what to do if you have already been scammed.
1. A shipping scam
The excited consumer places an order on the websites and is given a tracking number. The person waits, waits and waits for an order that is supposed to come at the stated time. But suddenly the delivery date turns out to be postponed. Or, even worse, the order is canceled without any notification.
You may also receive an empty bag instead of the item. It is especially disappointing when it happened right before the holiday and you haven’t prepared the plan B.
Some of these issues happened to Pissed Consumer users. For example, a consumer stated in his/her Jersey Champs review :
"My boyfriend bought a customized Tune Squad jersey for halloween. It was supposed to come on time because he paid for EXPRESS shipping. I did not come in at the time stated so he sent an email. They explained how they sent it and it should arrive on Saturday. You know what they sent him? AN EMPTY BAG..."
A Newegg client received the letter that the order was canceled.
"I ordered a $200 costume from Newegg.I received an email from them that stated: We regret to inform you that your order was auto-voided by our system because it was not shipped in a timely manner. ?????..."
Another case of Halloween shipping issue was described in a Screaming Owl complaint. His/her shipping was significantly postponed:
"I ordered a Halloween dress In August 2017. I sent request to cancel in October since item was never received for a refund. I got a e-mail yesterday 10/24/2017 that order has shipped today and will not arrive before it was need. I have ordered numerous item from them and. It one item has been received as promised..."
How to deal with a shipping scam
Not to turn Halloween fun into a dramatic tragedy:
- Place online orders several weeks in advance, ideally in mid to late-September. That leaves a buffer if the delivery failed and you didn’t get the item in a particular time frame.
- Check shipping policy on the company website. Is there a money return guarantee if the order arrives late or doesn’t arrive at all? US law claims that goods and services must be delivered within 30 days. But merchant can set a different delivery period on its website that you should be aware of. If the company failed to perform the service in a particular timeframe - report the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
2. A return/refund policy scam
Even if you order from a reliable store there is always the chance that something may go wrong. The item can be not as you wanted to purchase or the size doesn’t fit. And here may come the return/exchange Halloween scam into action. Some companies refuse to refund at all.
For instance, our poster had such a problem with Party City :
"My wife bought our 16month old a Halloween outfit two days before the 31st.She returned the unopened item, but the costume wasn't age appropriate. So, she went return the costume and PARTY City has a no refund policy!!??..."
Or require return shipment at buyer’s expense that can cost more than the item itself. Another Party City customer had such an issue:
"…Initiated my return weeks before Halloween as required, and the refund on my $40 item, after their BS DHL shipping charge?!? $4-effing-dollars back. Really, $36 to ship it back, hey?..."
How to deal with a return/refund policy scam
What to do to prevent it from happening to you?
- Read carefully the return/exchange policies on the company website before the purchase. Usually, it’s either a separate block or is included in the Terms of Services/Terms and Conditions page.
- Check the reviews and posts on online review platforms, for example, Pissed Consumer, for hidden return policies or their violations.
3. A misleading advertising scam
Halloween rush is rich in various holiday sales. It is the second major holiday in terms of the number of complaints about deals, after Black Friday complaints. Businesses try to push their goods and services in bundles or at a favorable price to attract even more customers.
They design intriguing advertising and commercials to grab people’s attention and to make them visit their shop and buy their products. But, unfortunately not all the advertisements are entirely fair. Some deals may have hidden requirements or not applicable to all the locations. And holiday kits can be not as described or at a different price.
One of our posters posted a Elf Cosmetics Halloween Kit review:
"Ordered some of the "Halloween Kits" because they looked cool, and was expecting a "kit" as they advertised, maybe with some instruction on how to achieve the look…OH- and it is not a "kit" it is simply the products to complete the look, no instructions, no picture tutorial thing, nothing that would indicate this being a "halloween kit" (yes i know one was a cat and its simple enough but some of us are "makeup dumb")…"
You may find out about pricing mismatch only when you receive the product or are ready to pay and see that your receipt looks different from what you’ve expected. Our user bought some Halloween decorations at Lowe’s:
"I have to tell everyone with my experience with Lowes.I bought a Halloween decoration that was 119.99 for 19.99 and ordered 3 of this item.I received a confirmation for the items to be picked up.3 hours later I received another email cancelling my order.When I called Lowes to find out what was up, they told me they cancelled the order due to advertising at the incorrect price…"
A rebate scam can be also considered as a part of a holiday deals/offers fraud. The main aim of it is to sell as many products during the holiday season as possible. To boost the sales the consumers are offered a favorable rebate for the purchases in bulk. But in reality, this deal turns out to be a crooked deal. For example, Pilot Flying J executives were charged with a massive fuel rebate fraud.
How to deal with a misleading advertising scam
Before running to the shop or supermarket the first time you see advertising or a commercial:
- Read the information on the company website. Where this offer is valid? What does the bundle/kit include? What is the exact price of the deal and is a real bargain? May be other businesses have even more affordable pricing?
- Ask a shop assistant if you are already at the shop before purchasing anything.
4. A fake ticket scam
If you’re planning to go out on Halloween, be aware of the ticket and pass Halloween fraud. Especially, if you’re going to purchase them from third party vendors. This Halloween scam is quite common at the peak week before the holiday when most tickets are sold out.
At that time scammers come into action. First, the brokers charge exorbitant commissions, that can be twice or three times more than the original cost. Second, the ticket can be simply not valid.
It happened to one of Vivid Seats consumers:
"We bought Disneyland Halloween ticket form Vividseats a month before the event, the reason we bought from Vividseats but not directly from Disneyland because the night was sold out and we only one ticket short for families so we paid almost double for one ticket, we booked flight, hotel take kids to Disneyland, the ticket we got form Vividseats was not valid..."
How to deal with a fake ticket scam
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. Do not give your credit card information and pay by cash or PayPal.
5. A fraudulent website scam
Halloween is high time for impostors who earn their money on people’s desire to get the best goods for nothing or almost nothing. The scheme is very simple. Scam websites appear for a specific period of time before the holiday and offer the "only today, only here" offers ridiculously low prices and wonderful discounts.
Then get orders and mysteriously disappear. Especially such websites are blooming on different e-commerce platforms and Internet marketplaces, where it’s difficult to trace them.
One of the Pissed Consumer users fell for this trick with Etsy website:
"Was told i would have my order in time for Halloween. Ordered in plenty of time. Now the owner of the shop will not return my messages and her site is no longer up. I have no idea if rhe item will arrive or not. Other reviews complain of the same thing…"
How to deal with a fraudulent website scam
Listen to your intuition first. If the offer seems too good to be true, it usually is. To avoid such a website scam:
- Compare prices on similar stores that deal with seasonal sales.
- Examine carefully the site you’ve found the offer on. First, check the physical location. There must be a clear address, where the business is registered and the phone number for inquiries.
- Make sure if the site is secure in case you want to pay with your credit card. The company URL should contain prefix "https://". However, it’s better not to share your card information with unknown sources and to pay via PayPal.
- Check the seller’s feedback rating, if the website is on the e-commerce platform.
Our Pissed Consumer team wishes you lots of fun on Halloween and not to be involved in any horror shopping story. Always remember, that it’s better to be safe than sorry and to be careful every time and everywhere.
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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal, medical, accounting, investment, or any other professional advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.