PRESS RELEASE - Summer is a popular time for weddings, but as brides prepare for their big day, the Better Business Bureau advises future brides to proceed with caution when making arrangements.
In 2010, the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois received 261 complaints against bridal shops, compared to 182 in the previous 12 month period, a 43% increase in complaints. Other wedding services also high in complaint numbers include wedding planners, car or limousine rentals, DJs, wedding photographers, florists, and jewelers. Many of the common complaints were centered on the company's unwillingness to honor cancellation and refund policies after a deposit had been paid. Doing your research and asking for referrals can make all the difference in helping your special day go as smoothly as possible.
"As weddings become more costly, it's important to review that your money is being spent with a trustworthy and reputable business," said Steve J. Bernas, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. "Before securing your wedding services and paying any upfront fees, it's important for couples to do their research. As always, free business reviews are available at www.bbb.org"
Also, there is a new trend among brides. From choosing a florist to picking out the perfect wedding gown, more and more brides are opting for online retailers. While most venues have the bride's best interest at heart, it's important to recognize the red flags before shelling out the cash.
The BBB recommends that newlyweds consider the following when planning for their special day:
- Research all vendors. When choosing a wedding service vendor, whether it is done face-to-face or online, research the vendor. If you decide to shop online, start with a trusted site rather than using a search engine. Also, look for the BBB seal and other widely-recognized "trustmarks" on retail websites. Click on the seals to confirm they're valid. Confirm that your online purchase is secure; look for the "s" after "http" in the URL or the lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
- Review all terms and conditions. Whether you're dealing with a company online or in-person, review all terms and conditions carefully. What is the company's refund and exchange policy? What is their cancellation policy? What happens if the company can't hold up their end of the bargain? Who will perform the service on your special day? Be sure you understand your rights as a consumer before doing business with the company.
- Keep documentation of your order. For online orders, save a copy of the confirmation page or e-mails confirming the order until you receive the item or service and are satisfied. If you're dealing with a company face-to-face, be sure to get all details in writing, including specific dates, products, prices, cancellation and deposit policies and signatures from both parties.
- Pay with a credit card. Credit cards offer consumers the added protection of disputing any charge over $50 within 60 days of the purchase. Most established businesses accept major credit cards, so use them whenever possible, including payment for deposits.
- Consider purchasing wedding insurance. Wedding insurance may cover a range of prospective problems including vendor no-shows, cancellations, inclement weather, military deployment, medical emergencies, travel delays and more. Many policies start at $200 and can potentially save you thousands of dollars.
For more information on finding businesses and consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org.