BBB offers tips on flower, jewelry purchases for Valentine's Day

(Mandy Olszewski/freeimages.com)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Better Business Bureau is offering tips for people who want to get their special someone gifts for Valentine's Day.

Whether it's jewelry or flowers, the BBB urges people to do their research beforehand.

Flowers are a common purchase on the day of love and consumers are expected to spend $2 billion on them this Valentine's Day, according to the National Retail Federation.

People using a local florist should check for reviews and complaints to the BBB and even ask friends and family which businesses they have used before and liked. Visiting the shop is never a bad option. That way, you can see the flowers and choose exactly what you want.

Can't get to a flower shop? There's always the option of placing orders online and having a beautiful bouquet delivered to the door.

The BBB offers the following tips for consumers purchasing flowers online:

  • Do your research. Go to bbb.org for BBB Business Profiles on more than 20,000 florists. Read what previous customers have to say, and see how the business responds to complaints. This information may help narrow down the list of online and local florists.
  • Know when to place your order. During the holidays, orders for floral arrangement increase dramatically, and often prices go up, as well. Order early to ensure your order arrives on time.
  • Be a savvy shopper. When shopping online, take your time and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return policy and be sure you understand the delivery process. Look for added fees, such as shipping, handling and delivery. Review your order and verify the total before confirming your purchase. Find out how the business handles customer complaints and what recourse you will have if the floral arrangement is not satisfactory.
  • Pay with a credit card. Credit cards provide additional protections and it’s easier to dispute charges. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.
  • Know the delivery method. Some online florists have different delivery methods: same-day, international, standard, guaranteed delivery. Be sure you know which delivery service you are paying for and that you have allowed enough time. Some florists may offer a discount if you send your flowers to arrive a few days early, since that helps them with the rush on the actual holiday.
  • Make sure the business has your contact information. When it comes to flower delivery, there are times when a driver will need additional information or directions. Make sure the florist or retailer has a callback phone number to help them reach you and ensure your loved one gets what you expect.
  • Read the description. Online photos use a perfect setting and professional lighting to make the products look as attractive as possible. Your final product may not look quite the same. Make sure you know what you're getting. 
  • Don't be deceived by promotions. Valentine's Day is a popular time for online promotions and most have terms and conditions. Check that you're getting the savings you expect.
  • Track your purchases. When using a third party to deliver flowers, it's hard to tell when, and if, they were delivered. Sign up for confirmation emails so you have proof the order was placed and receive an alert when the order is delivered.
  • Take a photo. Ask the recipient to send you a photo of the delivered arrangement so that you can compare it to the online photo or what was promised in the shop. If the product differs considerably, you may want to ask for an adjustment in the price.

Consumers who want to give their Valentine jewelry need to cautious, as well.

People can buy and sell jewelry through a jeweler, a pawnbroker or even the public. The BBB wants to make sure people do their research to ensure a successful and satisfying transaction.

 In 2017, consumers nationwide filed nearly 3,500 complaints with BBB against jewelry stores and hundreds of complaints against pawnbrokers.

The BBB offers the following tips to keep in mind when buying or selling jewelry:

Buying Jewelry

  • Do your research. Common complaints to BBB against jewelry stores allege poor craftsmanship, issues with returning items and problems with guarantees and warranties. Before you visit any store, check bbb.org to find a trustworthy BBB-accredited jeweler near you. Read through a business's complaints and customer reviews to see what others have experienced. You can also ask family members and friends for recommendations.
  • Visit more than one store. Your first step should be to decide on a budget and expectations. Some jewelry stores are very high-end, while others have great deals. Be clear with store staff about how much you’re willing to spend and what you want to buy. This will help you stay in your price range and avoid making extra purchases. Shop around to find the best prices and most appealing styles.
  • Read the fine print and ask questions. Before making a purchase, read the refund, warranty and guarantee policies carefully. If you, or the gift recipient, doesn’t like the item or realizes it doesn’t fit, how long do you have to return it? What happens if your watch breaks or a stone on your ring comes loose? If the store advertises a “lifetime guarantee” policy, ask for the details. If you’re buying jewelry online, first check out BBB’s guide to savvy online shopping.
  • Keep the receipt. Just in case something goes wrong, ask for and make sure to keep a receipt. You can also ask for a certificate of replacement cost or an appraisal listing the qualities of your gemstones or precious metals to accompany your receipt. If your jewelry comes with a gemological certificate, be sure to get the original and keep it with your receipt. This can help with reselling in the future.

Selling Jewelry

  • Shop around. Research every business at bbb.org. If you’re considering a pawnbroker, find out if they need a special license in your state or province. Take your time, and consider it a red flag if you’re being pressured to rush into a transaction. Get four or five estimates to determine the market value of your piece. 
  • Be careful using a mail-away service. Understand all of the terms and conditions before you mail your jewelry. Take photos and make a list of your items and insure them before sending. Know how long it takes to receive an offer and how long you have to accept or reject that offer.
  • Know your worth. Keep in mind that jewelers and pawnbrokers intend to resell your piece. You may be able to make more by selling to the public, but it comes with additional risk. Don’t let your jewelry of different karat value be weighed together. Separate your jewelry by karat value before selling and be wary of dealers who weigh all jewelry together and pay you the lowest karat value. Ask the buyer what the melt value of your items is so you can make an informed decision.