With Mother’s Day around the corner on May 9, many consumers are searching for that perfect gift that symbolizes their appreciation for that special person in their life. In a recent poll, 44% of consumers indicated that finding a unique or different gift is the primary consideration when shopping for Mother’s Day. Following closely at 40%, consumers reported that finding a gift that creates a special memory was the second-highest consideration. While some individuals have the foresight to purchase gifts months in advance, which is far from the norm, the week of Mother’s Day creates a surge of online purchase activity and frantic browsing on specialty websites.
Seeking out specialty gifts often leads consumers to niche websites and businesses, arenas in which fraudulent actors can operate under the guise of legitimacy. This is especially true of online purchases, where businesses can portray any number of specialty services that entice thoughtful consumers to part with their money.
During Mother’s Day last year, one Texas resident reported to BBB Scam Tracker that he never received an engraved jewelry piece that was paid for online. Despite multiple attempts to contact the company, the Mother’s Day gift was “lost” and the money he paid would not be refunded. After researching the company, the consumer discovered it was headquartered in British Columbia. Unfortunately, he reported that his package had never left New York City, despite assurances from company representatives that his purchase was sent to his address. The consumer said he regrets losing what was supposed to be a sentimental gift for his mother more than the money.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the impact of COVID-19 may have made Mother’s Day more meaningful this year. Data from NRF’s annual Mother’s Day survey indicated that 78% of consumers say that celebrating Mother’s Day is important to them, given the current state of the pandemic. Additionally, consumers are willing to spend an average of $220 for a Mother’s Day gift, with total spending expected to be over $28 billion.
To protect yourself from falling victim to Mother’s Day gimmicks, follow these guidelines provided by your Better Business Bureau:
• Shop with a credit card. It is easier to dispute charges that were not approved or get your money back when using a credit card than with debit, prepaid or gift cards.
• Beware of deals that seem “too good to be true.” Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer "amazing" discounts on specialty items. Make sure to read these offers carefully; there may be hidden costs or monthly subscriptions disguised as purchases.
• Check a site’s security. Secure sites should start with “https://” and include a lock icon on at least the purchase or shopping cart page.
• Shop local. Search for local florists for floral arrangements rather than using online stores. If the person who is receiving the flowers lives in another city, check for florists in that area. Make sure you order the arrangement with enough time for delivery and ask about any additional fees. Use BBB.org to find florists in your area.
• Verify affiliation. It is not uncommon for local flower shops to be affiliated with third-party entities. BBB recommends consumers spend the time to confirm that the business they are placing an order with is affiliated with the intended third-party resource.
• Beware seasonal advertisements. The Society of American Florists reports that Mother’s Day remains the second busiest time of the year for florists, next to Valentine’s Day. Between 2017-18, Florists reported a 60% growth in sales during the week leading up to Mother’s Day. The popularity of the floral industry at this time creates an opportunity for fraudulent businesses to attract attention by using the same tactic seen in online purchase scams, “too good to be true” deals. Be sure to pay close attention to the terms and conditions of the purchase when buying arrangements at an advertised discount. For more tips about purchasing from florists, visit BBB.org.
Guides, Tours and Classes
• Pay attention to the details. While art classes, wine tastings and cooking lessons are excellent choices for a unique gift that can create a lasting memory, make sure that these activities' details are in writing. Guides and tours are also very personalized gift ideas. However, carefully review the physical demands of these events and the safety precautions in place. Some guides and tours may be more physically demanding than others. If the guide or tour is in an enclosed space, review their COVID-19 safety guidelines and policies. Pay particular attention to whether reservations are needed and any restrictions, special requirements or cancellation fees.
For more information on how to securely shop this Mother’s Day, visit BBB.org.
If you are someone you know has been a victim of a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Information provided could prevent another person from falling victim.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico.