Friday, May 24, 2013

Buyer Beware!

In the bridal business, we are seeing problems more often with gowns purchased online.  Many retailers try to put as much information out to customers as possible to help them make an educated decision about ordering special occasion gowns.  Unfortunately, too often, bad things happen.  So here is another attempt to give some sound advice about purchasing online.

Read this before You Order Your Prom or Bridal Gown Online.

Notification has been received from the A.B.P.I.A. (American Bridal and Prom Industry Association) of a serious situation that involves Homeland Security, U.S. Customs, Fed Ex, U.P.S. and DHL.
Governmental investigations have revealed that online shopping has proven more dangerous than ever to Prom and Bridal consumers. The A.B.P.I.A. and the U.S. Government, are working diligently together to inform the public of the illegal actions of counterfeit websites flooding the internet and offering and/or guaranteeing garments for deceptively enticing prices. The web sites are using the designers’ copyrighted photos without permission. If and when consumers receive any garments at all….they are receiving poor quality, inferior replicas made in China, not having used authentic patterns, quality fabrics and or workmanship known to be the standard abided by the authentic reputable U.S. companies.
Online shoppers are not only losing the entire amount paid for their garments, but are often charged bogus fees “guaranteeing arrival dates” and required to pay additional taxes on their garments that NEVER arrive.
The A.B.P.I.A. has just won a lawsuit over these counterfeit web sites. PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, AMEX and Google have all been contacted and advised of this lawsuit. The U.S Customs, Homeland Security and the A.B.P.I.A. are now working in partnership to seize, destroy, and stop the shipments containing these dresses. You will NOT be informed by the seller, Homeland Security or U.S. Customs that your money is gone or that the dress is not coming!
If it looks too good to be true, it is! Contact the manufacturer to verify that the seller/store is actually an authorized dealer. The designer’s website should have a “store locator” to help with this. Authorized dealers must adhere to a Manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). Dresses with an unrealistic discount are either illegally discounted or are counterfeit fashion items. Research the background of the company at the Better Business Bureau before purchasing the garment.
Lastly, identity theft and distribution of your financial and/or personal information are a reality when shared with a fraudulent seller. Protect yourself. The best advice is to buy from an authorized retailer that will ensure a genuine designer gown, and to shop early to ensure arrival of your gown amidst the chaos of illegal packages being seized.

The above letter was published for bridal stores and publications by the ABPIA. If you have a website where you are considering placing an order, check it out first.  The last thing a bridal store wants is a bride without a gown only days before the wedding with no budget because she was ripped off by an online site. As a fellow penny-pincher, I truly understand the need to find the best deal.  But I also know that your prom or wedding day is probably not the best time to be so conservative that you take unneeded chances and get burned by an untrustworthy website.