BBB: Beware Of Online Halloween Shops That Pop Up Overnight

Like the fly-by-night carnival in Something Wicked This Way Comes, seasonal Halloween costume and decoration sites that pop up on dirty online street corners are irresistible to bargain hunters. Although you can find good deals at the retailers, the Better Business Bureau warns you to beware of poorly-constructed materials and shady return policies.

The BBB put out a press release that offers some things to check out before you buy:

*Verify the physical location of a business and its phone number.

*Track down the seller’s refund/return policy. If you can’t find one on the site, get someone to commit to potentially accepting a refund in advance.

*Confirm the final price, including shipping and handling prices, as well as the date you can expect to receive the item. “Federal law requires that goods and services be delivered within 30 days, unless a different delivery period is specifically stated by the merchant,” the BBB says.

*Safeguard your personal info and check for a “https://” at the beginning of a URL to make sure the site is secure.

If you’re haunted by an awful online Halloween purchase, let us know about it.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Darrone says:

    The poor quality is no worse than something you are going to find at Party City. It’s all bottom-grade and overpriced.

  2. Mulva says:

    Given the plethora of Halloween stores that pop up in all of the empty strip mall stores, why shop online? Then again, a few years ago my then 7 year old wanted to be an Egyptian queen and for some reason no one was carrying that for children (of course, now they do) so I did have to order her dress online, but I was able to get the accessories in stores. These stores do have a no return policy, that’s the only bummer.

    Seems like the general direction of Halloween costumes for women is risque, so you could definitely want to try those on before buying.

  3. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Track down the seller’s refund/return policy.

    I’d be surprised if they had one beyond “No returns” if all the site does is sell Halloween stuff. The stores that pop up around Halloween just to sell Halloween stuff don’t do returns. They don’t want people buying the costume and then just returning it because the holiday is over.

  4. Hoss says:

    I don’t see any press releases on this Did they really release this mid-oct? Too late for shipping, I would think

  5. aloria says:

    I make my own costumes at home.

    No really. I don’t want to be one of a hundred “sexy [nurse | maid | cop | angel | vampire | zombie | pirate | ninja | rainbow brite | alice in wonderland | tree surgeon]” you see roaming around Manhattan every year.

  6. FatLynn says:

    One year, I had a brilliant plan to find one of these places on November 1st, and buy a costume for the following year at a huge bargain.

    No dice…they were all gone/closed just one day later.

    • Michaela says:

      I tried a similar thing. The local pop ups were already Christmas stores, and the chains didn’t lower prices.

      Luckily, I ended up finding a Dorothy costume this summer for two bucks. :P

    • Tokarev_Makarov says:

      I’m genuinely surprised – the major one near me always has about 36 hrs of clearance after Halloween…but yes, it turns into a Christmas shop very quickly, too.

      I often wonder about these places – does the leftover merch get sold to a rackjobber, or do the operators of the pop-up stores warehouse it themselves? I would imagine that other than “hot” or “current” costumes, fake skulls, makeup kits, etc can simply be stored for re-display ad infinitum until they’re sold…

  7. JulesNoctambule says:

    I used to work for a costume shop that had been in business almost as long as I’d been alive. There was absolutely a policy of no returns during Halloween — if you wanted a rental, we had a section for that, but a purchase was a purchase (barring things like allergic reactions to makeup/latex, of course).

  8. polizzi82 says:

    Bought a banana costume online for less than half the price of the seasonal rip off RIP and SPIRIT Halloween costume stores. Came in quick and fits like a charm. The return policies are usually better online. Just like any online business make sure they are reputable. If you’re not sure if it’ll fit try it on at a store and order it online. The online stores are actually pretty specific on the sizing and some of the seasonal stores won’t even let you try them on. All the costumes are crap and made in China, may as well save some money and buy it online cheap ;)

  9. sjgarg says:

    So a seasonal Halloween store is required to commit to accepting refunds?

    This is the scariest thing about the Halloween season for people like myself with an established online costume store, the people who try to return merchandise November 1st and later.

    You used the costume, had your fun dressing up and then want to return it after you’re done with it? No.

    I can understand returns/refund for defective merchandise before Halloween’s come, but it’s fishy to have to process any refunds on November 1st and later. I’m not running a rental shop… let alone virtually free rentals.
    I’m also not Walmart and can’t take everything back because the holiday is over. We’ve all seen the returns lines there after Christmas with people bringing back trees and ornaments..

  10. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I’d rather visit a brick and mortar place for a costume anyway. That way I can see and feel the costume and know if I’m going to have to buy extras for it so I don’t freeze to death under flimsy material.

    I haven’t bought one in a while, though. Most of the ladies’ costumes now all look like hooker outfits with a theme. Not what I was going for.

  11. Tokarev_Makarov says:

    Inexpensive costume idea: jumpsuit and overalls; dirty baseball cap; toy wrench in the pants pocket. Side pockets pulled out to indicate that there’s nothing of value in them.
    Put some fake grease stains on the face.
    The costume: honest mechanic.