By Mary Schwager, GalTime Consumer Watchdog
It's the holiday that sparks fear deep into the soul of every guy: Valentines Day.
"There are all these commercials that make you feel like if you don't go all out, come up with two dozen roses or sparkly jewelry then you're some dolt!" That was the exact quote this author heard from a good-looking guy recently when talking about February 14th.
Ladies, perhaps you want to share this article with the man of your dreams, or even if you're just hanging with "he may not be Mr. Right, but he's Mr. Right Now", in case he decides to venture into the Valentine's Day shopping zone. Oh sure, you may tell him, "don't worry about a gift, it's just a holiday created by florists, jewelers and candy makers to keep sales alive until Mother's Day!" But many wise men know that when your co-worker gets two dozen roses from her boyfriend and nothing shows up for you it equals one thing: dog house. So don't let him get overcharged or ripped off this Valentine's Day. Condition him now to enjoy giving presents. If this transaction goes smoothly, like Pavlov's dog, he'll be more likely to do the same in the future!
SAVE MONEY ON ROSES:
There's no disputing it, and even industry insiders admit, the prices of roses rises around Valentine's Day. Sometimes those lush red petals will cost you 40% more than they would in mid January. It's simple supply and demand. If your honey wants to send you a bouquet and save, it may be a good time to check out other types of flowers. (Attention men, if you read this article, helpful hint: don't send carnations!)
Sounds weird, but there are actually fake florists out there. It's a huge problem in the floral industry and the owner of your corner flower shop would probably talk your ear off about it.
"Flower brokers," which are actually just call centers, not actual flower shops, buy up local phone numbers and sometimes even swipe local addresses and advertise online like they are the corner flower shop. These petal pushers try to deceive callers into believing they are your local florist, and are much different than the well know national "1-800-orderflowers" services.
How does this scheme work?
Let's say your guy does an online search and plugs "Boston florists" into a search engine. A bunch of flower shop listings will pop up. He will see local numbers and addresses but mixed in with the legit florists will be some flower frauds. In some cases flower brokers have used an address of let's say, "105 Main Street, Your Town". Your husband may think, "Oh that's the florist right down the street..." But 105 Main Street is really the address of the local pizza place. The call center simply hijacked the pizza place's address in its online listing!
If your man decides to spend $80 on flowers but gets tricked into calling a flower broker--the call center will take his order, keep about $20, then call the order into a legit local florist for $60 in flowers. After the local florist takes out its profit and delivery charge, you end up with an arrangement that is not the impressive one he thought he paid for!
How to make sure the florist is really a local flower shop?
Ask questions like: Can I come see the selection in your store? What is your address? If the person on the other end of the phone mumbles and says "what city are you in?" Or comes up with some story about limited hours or not having a store that's open to the public--hang up!
AVOIDING A VALENTINE'S DAY CREDIT CARD HANGOVER:
So he ordered the flowers, a beautiful arrangement arrived, your co-workers were jealous, you're thrilled and all is well in relationshipville. But soon what appears to be a flower refund check for about $9.25 arrives in your boyfriend's mailbox from the place he ordered your bouquet.
He thinks, "Cool, I thought those flowers were darn expensive, they must have overcharged me!" And he cashes the check. Right now there are now complaints all over the internet from people saying once they deposited that check, they were unknowingly agreeing to enroll in a travel club---and the credit card they used to pay for the flowers got dinged once a month for a fee of $19.99.
Give your fiancée a Valentine's Day gift and tell him if a check shows up to read all the disclaimers and little fine print on any so called "refund" check that shows up!
THE eCARD TRICK
Okay, you know times are tough; your man is job hunting and on a tight budget. He's warned you to only expect his undivided love and kisses on Valentine's Day. But then an electronic card shows up in your inbox with a cute sounding subject line!
Before you click "open" with excitement, thinking he least he sent you an eCard, STOP! There are huge spam and phishing schemes out there sent by scammers who aren't trying to steal your heart. They're trying to sweep you right out of your identity and bank accounts.
If you aren't absolutely sure you know who sent you an eCard don't open it! You could infect your computer with malware, viruses and other evil computer junk.
LOOKING FOR LOVE IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES: ONLINE DATING SCAMS
If you're single this Valentine's Day law enforcement agencies are warning women looking for love online to watch out! Sure, there's the usual warnings like: Meet in a public place and let your friends know where you're going in case he turns out to be Mr. Creepy. But con-artists are now creating fake profiles to lure vulnerable ladies into revealing their personal information. Sometimes these crooks operate on free dating services, which may have less monitoring, and protection for subscribers.
WATCH OUT !
Tell your Valentine to always, always, always pay with a credit card. If the jewelry store where he anti-up'ed a deposit for your diamond ring goes out of business, he can dispute that purchase with his credit card company. If he paid cash, he may be out of luck. No matter what he buys if it ends up being scam, a rip off or what he ordered does not show up he'll have a much easier time getting his money back if he paid with plastic!
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