Smart Shopping Tips for Halloween

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COLUMBIA - Losing money unneccessarily can haunt anyone during the Halloween season. To keep this from being a problem for consumers, the St. Louis Better Business Bureau issued tips for shoppers when buying costumes.

In the past people looking for costumes have sometimes turned to either temporary stores or online retailers. Complaints filed through the BBB nationwide contain problems like poor quality outfits, trouble receiving refunds, or costumes never arriving. The BBB does not suggest that online shopping is bad or that temporary stores are crooks. However it does advise that when shopping through those avenues consumers should exercise extra care. One Columbia costume store owner says he hears horror stories every year.

"This time of the year we get one or two of those everyday." Aaro Froese said. "Some people order a costume and what they get doesn't match with what they ordered or what they get doesn't match the sizing they were provided with."

The BBB warns shoppers to watch for a few things. First, make sure the website or temporary store has a permanent location you can contact. Next don't give out too much personal information like credit card numbers or other identification information that isn't essential. When ordering online, make sure to read through the entire sale overview to avoid paying for unneccessarily high shipping and handling fees. Check with the store to make sure it will be open days after Halloween in case of returns. Finally, make sure the store has some form of customer policy that outlines business practices.

City of Columbia Business Services Manager, Janice Finley, said each business that sells any retail within the city limits of Columbia is required to have a business license. A Colmbia business license ensure a background check, something a 14-day temporary license doesn't. Finley said if someone feels they were taken advantage of the city of Columbia can look up the store's parent company's information.