Consumers don’t always have a lot of options when it comes to righting wrongs perpetrated by scammy, shady shopkeeps and service providers, so the best thing a person can do is take steps to protect him or herself from fraud before it happens. That goes double for brides and grooms, who in addition to spending gobs of money, are often dealing with leads times and options unlike any they’ve encountered in the past. I’m not saying that brides and grooms are all widdle biddy babies who need hand holding, but let’s face facts here. It’s easy to get starry-eyed when it’s planning a wedding we’re talking about, and the bad guys typically prey on people who aren’t paying attention.
The good news is that it’s not that difficult to protect yourself from the sort of unscrupulous wedding vendors who want to get between you and your wedding budget while doing as little work as possible. Unsurprisingly, the Better Business Bureau has some tips for planning a wedding safely. Here’s a snippet of the BBB-endorsed wedding planning tips that can help brides and grooms keep from losing money before or after the wedding, ending up with a sucky ceremony or reception, and maybe most importantly, choosing the wrong wedding vendors.
Pay With Credit Cards: Credit cards offer consumers added protection in the event of a problem, because you can generally have your card issuer “pull back” the charge and investigate any problems within 60 days of receiving your statement, even if you have already paid the charge. In some cases, they may extend you a longer “dispute” period. Unfortunately, checks or cash offer no such protection.
Get Contracts in Writing: Remember that all written contracts should include specific dates, products, prices, name brands, and be signed by all parties involved. Cancellation policies should also be included in the contracts. This includes any refund policies and returns on deposits. If these are not already included in the contract, insist that they are added before you sign. New York state law allows businesses to set whatever refund or cancellation policy they desire. Do not assume that if you cancel a contract, you will receive a 100% refund. Be sure that you are aware of refund or cancellation policies before you sign a contract and that the terms are completely spelled out in the written contract. Also, try to keep deposits as small as possible as they are often non-refundable. Smaller deposits may mean less money lost if there is a change in plans.
Don’t Be Lured By the Lowest Price: Your wedding is a once in a lifetime event, so you want to do it right. Be careful not to hire unknown companies simply because they advertise the lowest prices. First, research the company’s quality and reliability record.
Research A Company Before Using It: There are three simple ways to find a good company: 1) Ask friends for the names of companies that they have used with good results. 2) Ask for references. Any legitimate company will be pleased to provide previously satisfied clients. However, do not stop there. Follow through and actually call the clients to find out it they were satisfied and if they may have some suggestions about doing business with that particular company. 3) Lastly, check companies with your local Better Business Bureau before doing business with them. In the event you do have a problem, you can also contact the BBB to file a complaint.
Smart stuff! But also stuff that’s easy to forget when you’ve emotionally invested yourself in wedding planning and have a little money to spend. So be careful out there, brides and grooms. Stay starry-eyed, but keep those eyes peeled for scams. The only thing I’d add to the BBB’s advice is beware of the upsell, for wedding vendors have a knack for it and you may not even realized you’re being talked into something you really don’t want until after you’ve signed a contract. The upsell may not technically be a scam, but it is another sleazy way to part a bride and her bucks.
(Photo by Fotographix)