Aussies looking forward to a love-struck Valentine’s Day in February should take a few simple precautions to ensure the day isn’t disaster-struck instead.
According to Western Australia’s ever-vigilant Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Penny Lipscombe, flowers and gifts that don’t arrive in time, or arrive but are not what was ordered, are the main consumer issues that can dampen the love.
In past years, for example, shoppers have complained that, instead of red roses, they get another colour or even a different type of flower. Sometimes the flowers don’t turn up at all, or are dead on arrival.
Find a reliable supplier, not a fly-by-night
Kind-hearted Penny is now advising shoppers to seek delivery guarantees, especially if ordering online. The secret, she says, is to find a reliable supplier rather than a fly-by-night seeking to make a quick buck from unwary Romeos (and Juliets too, of course).
“Check with product review websites and ask your family and/or friends for recommendations,” states Lipscombe.
“If you are buying online, make sure the website you use is secure, take a screenshot of the photo of the flowers you’re buying and keep a copy of the receipt. Also consider paying by credit card or PayPal as you can request a chargeback if the flowers don’t turn up.
Find out about extra fees and delivery terms
“Take the time to read the terms and conditions to make sure you’re aware of any additional fees, delivery deadlines and trader policies.”
And if things don’t work out and your loved-one is left empty handed on the big day, you still have consumer rights to fall back on.
Under the Australian Consumer Law, you have a right to redress if there is a major issue with the product. This could potentially include if the flowers aren’t what you ordered, look significantly different to the photo or sample you saw, are wilted or aren’t delivered by an agreed time, Lipscombe explains.
Among her other advice is to avoid social media businesses that display few or no contact details. If they offer only a mobile phone number, email address, or have no details at all, reconsider purchasing from the business.
Don’t direct deposit money into an account
Avoid businesses that ask you to direct deposit money into an account. Payment services like PayPal and most credit cards give you options to dispute or request reversal of charges if you don’t receive your goods.
And gather evidence in case you need it. Take screenshots of the items you buy, the contact details provided, payment confirmation and any other promises – such as guaranteed shipping or delivery timeframes.
A final warning for those who may to be too in love to think clearly: Shop around to avoid spending more money than necessary!