Summer weddings are common in Arkansas, and brides and grooms are currently making final preparations. However, couples need to take proper precautions to avoid having their big day turn into a big pay day for con artists posing as vendors.
Reports of these types of scams have surfaced across the country. Recently, a Colorado couple purchased their honeymoon online, only to have their plans cancelled when the booking company disappeared. More than 80 Massachusetts couples were victims of a videographer who never provided their video footage. Another scammer victimized 73 Missouri couples promising them a renovated historic venue for their wedding but he did not acquire the proper permits to update the property, then kept the couples’ money.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to help Arkansas consumers avoid being taken advantage of by wedding scammers.
“A wedding day is a cause for celebration,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But consumers need to know about the potential of wedding vendor fraud. A photographer, baker or florist could take the order and money, then never deliver services.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for brides, grooms and families who are booking wedding vendors to ensure they are working with reputable and experienced merchants:
- Research and compare vendors, get multiple estimates and check references for all.
- Pay with a credit card because it is a more secure form of payment than cash or check.
- Avoid paying in full before receiving services.
- Get everything in writing and make sure contracts include dates, times, promised services, details, cancellation charges and overtime charges.
- Establish a timeline of when the vendor is expected to show up and perform the job.
- Stay in contact with vendors throughout the planning process.
- Consider consulting with a professional, reputable wedding planner.
- Consider purchasing wedding insurance that would mitigate problems if a vendor does not show up and cover cancellations due to weather or sickness.
- Read each contract in full and look for hidden costs like cake cutting, corking fees, additional taxes and gratuities, and employee overtime.
Couples who paid for a service on a credit card and are victims of a wedding scam are advised to file a fraud dispute with the credit card company. The company should investigate the claims and could retrieve the lost money. Fraud victims should also file complaints with the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau.
For more information on tips to avoid getting scammed, as well as other consumer related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.