April 25, 2014

BBB: Be wise when giving gift cards, flowers to Mom

In the run-up to Mother’s Day many of us are trying to come up with the right gift for dear old mom.

In the run-up to Mother’s Day many of us are trying to come up with the right gift for dear old mom.

When it comes to at least two standbys, flowers and gift cards, a bit of caution is in order. Here are some reminders regarding those gift choices.

Florist considerations

Ordering flowers from an online florist might seem temptingly convenient, but be aware that the Better Business Bureau receives a lot of complaints about them. Even if you plan to use a local florist, check them out first with the BBB.

Among the most frequent disappointments with online florists are late deliveries, wrong type of arrangements or no delivery at all. Here are things to keep in mind as you order those flowers for mom:

• Refund policy. Find out exactly what the policy is in case of late delivery or unsatisfactory arrangements.
• Be sure the florist knows how to reach you. Sometimes a deliverer will have last minute questions about an address and may need to contact you for clarification.
• Allow enough time. Some florists may reduce rates if you order a few days before the rush for events like Mother’s Day. Get a specified delivery date from the florist at the time you order the flowers. Ask whether the date is guaranteed. Be sure someone will be at the residence to receive the flowers at the time of the scheduled delivery.
• Always check out the florist with the BBB. Look at its history of complaints. References from friends and family can be helpful as well when choosing a florist.
• Pay with a credit card in case there is a dispute to be resolved later.

A frequently occurring scam is mass e-mails sent out randomly that state that you need to verify your credit card account number regarding your recent order. The scammer is hoping you will quickly panic and send them the information.

Instead, go to the florist’s website and verify whether there is a problem, but do not click on any links in the e-mail. It should be noted that this is a favorite tactic of online greeting card scammers as well.

Gift cards

Gift card convenience is hard to beat and they often are greatly appreciated by mom. But there are reasons to be careful with them, however.

Consider these tips when presenting mom with a gift card:

• If you get the card online, ask about shipping and handling fees.
• Watch out for fees. There could be a fee just for purchasing the card. Check about whether any fees can be deducted from the card’s value after purchasing.
• Inspect the card carefully before you buy it at a retailer’s site. Verify that none of the protective stickers have been removed and the PIN number has been revealed.
• You may wish to give the original receipt to mom in case there is an issue later regarding former use of the card.
• Be sure the business will still be there in the near future when the card is used. Bankruptcy of a business can effect whether the card is still useful.
• The card should be used soon after getting it to be sure it has its full value. Don’t let it get stuck away in a drawer and forgotten about. Millions of dollars worth of gift cards go unused every year. Keep from adding to that number by reminding mom to place the card where it won’t be overlooked.

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