BBB tips on graduation celebrations

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By Better Business Bureau

  As the school year ends, the festivities begin. From graduation get-ups to prom preparations, the expenses can quickly add up for parents.  Each year, BBB receives complaints from unhappy parents after the festivities.

According to a new survey by Visa, the average American family plans to spend $1,139 on prom this year, a 5-percent increase over 2012.

Limousines are among the most popular expenses for both prom and graduation festivities. Last year, BBB received more than 1,700 complaints nationwide regarding limousine services. Most complaints alleged the limo failed to arrive on time, or at all. Other complaints allege consumers had trouble receiving requested refunds.

Besides limo service, there are many other vendors involved in senior celebrations. BBB has advice this advice:

·        Prom Tickets –Tickets should be purchased directly from the school or official ticket seller rather than third parties to avoid receiving a counterfeit ticket.

·        Dresses – Buy from a reputable retailer. Be cautious of online merchants. What seems like a great deal online may be a counterfeit.

·        Beauty Services –If your child wants an overall makeover for prom or graduation, keep in mind other students may want one as well. Schedule appointments as far in advance as possible.

·        Limousines –Depending on the type of vehicle and the number of hours needed, parents should make sure they have a written contract that includes the hours of service, required fees including gratuities, and maximum capacity allowed.

·        Dinners– The key to preventing a disaster when the bill arrives is advance preparation. Review menus online, make reservations, and determine the payment method and gratuities beforehand. Some restaurants will not split checks for large groups and can charge a higher gratuity for a large party.

·        Flowers– Flowers for prom can range from a simple corsage or boutonniere to a bouquet of roses. If you are ordering flowers, make sure you use a reliable florist and have a written order that spells out delivery times and specific flower types.

·        Photography– If you’re hiring a professional photographer, make sure you have a written contract so that you understand what is included.

Parents can check out business reviews for florists, photographers, limousine companies, retailers, and salons online at bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222.