Better Business Bureau warns of Mother’s Day scams

Millions of families splurge on gifts for moms every year for Mother’s Day.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, U.S. consumers are expected to spend a record high of $23.6 billion total and an average of $186.39 per person this year, according to a Better Business Bureau (BBB) media release.

Because this is the highest spending for Mother’s Day in the survey’s 14-year history, Better Business Bureau Serving the Northwest warns shoppers to look out for scams when looking for that perfect gift for mom. Scammers will often take advantage of consumers shopping for their mothers, especially through online purchases during the holiday.

BBB recommends these tips to help consumers steer clear of scams when purchasing Mother’s Day gifts:

• Floral Arrangements. Since Mother’s Day is the second highest sales period for florists, it’s important to find a trustworthy business. Your BBB received more than 4,200 inquiries to florist shops in the BBB Northwest region alone. Complaints filed include late delivery of flowers, arrangements not delivered at all or they don’t look like what was advertised. If sending mom flowers in another city, it is best to check online for a florist in her area. Check out the florist’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org and then place the order directly with that shop.

• Gift Cards. Check for any fees, expiration dates and terms and conditions of any gift cards. Some stores limit gift cards to “in store only” purchases, making it useless for online shopping. When buying the card by phone or online, verify whether there will be any shipping and handling fees.

• Jewelry. This year, 36 percent of shoppers will be purchasing jewelry, spending a total of $5 billion. Jewelry shoppers should make sure to request a receipt for the piece, ask about the business’s refund and exchange policy, and make sure to leave enough time for shipping and delivery, if applicable.

• Electronics. Planning to buy mom a new phone, tablet or other electronic device? Make sure to leave it in the original packaging to make sure returns and exchanges can be made. When shopping online for these devices, watch out for significantly lower prices than other merchants. These could potentially turn into a bait and switch scam.

Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to shop at neighborhood florists and other businesses. In-person visits will eliminate confusion and guarantee the quality of the products. To find local accredited businesses this Mother’s Day, visit bbb.org/northwest.