A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB: Do your research before buying holiday gifts from pop-up shops; as about refund, exchange policies

The Better Business Bureau receives hundreds of complaints a year about temporary retail locations, reporting everything from poor quality merchandise to difficulty obtaining refunds after temporary stores have closed their doors. Pop-up shops can be fun.
Keep the following suggestions in mind when deciding whether or not to shop from them.

Research the store headquarters – especially when trying a new or unfamiliar online merchant. Ask the company for an address and phone number to verify they have a BBB Business Profile at BBB.org.

Ask how long the store will operate, especially if they are only seasonal. Then follow up with questions about the store’s refund and exchange policy after the holiday season ends. If they’re unable to provide a solid commitment on these policies or have a specific answer about a refund, question if there will be a problem with their products or service and reconsider making a purchase from them.

Shop around. Pop-ups often focus on unique or high-quality gifts that you may not find elsewhere, but some are simply mini versions of discount retailers, offering holiday-themed goods that may be available for less at a traditional retailer.
Pay attention to quality. Beware of advertised designer goods or the latest “must have” gifts that are priced dramatically lower than regular retail stores may be a red flag that the items are either stolen or counterfeit.
Understand the terms of any product or service guarantees. When purchasing anything that comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, ask how to redeem the product serviced if needed.
Consider whether the gift is for a hard-to-please recipient. When planning a gift for someone who might need to or want to return it, consider buying from a retailer with a long-standing business, strong reputation, and well-established return policies, instead of a pop-up shop.

Whenever possible, ask for a gift receipt that would make a return or exchange easier, if necessary.

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