How to Save Money and Plan for the Perfect Prom

It’s a special time that high school students look forward to all throughout the school year – prom! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should be relished. Unfortunately, it can also be very expensive! From tickets and formal wear to transportation and flowers, the bill can add up.

A great way to save money? Shopping with trustworthy BBB Accredited Businesses and avoiding scams! Follow these tips from your BBB to avoid prom mishaps:

  • Ride in style. Who wouldn’t want to show up to prom in a limo? Unfortunately, it may not go according to plan. Consumers nationwide filed more than 600 complaints with BBB on limousine service businesses in 2016. The leading cause for complaints was poor service, and many consumers complained that limos showed up late or not at all. When choosing a limo company, start with trust and choose a BBB Accredited Business. You should have a written contract that includes the hours of service, required fees including gratuities, maximum capacity allowed and amenities of the vehicle. The service should also be licensed and insured – you can check that they have the required TCP license here.
  • Stop and smell the roses. Compare prices and do your research when looking for a florist. In 2016, consumers nationwide filed nearly 3,500 complaints with BBB on retail florists. Consumers reported late deliveries and receiving products that didn’t look like what they’d ordered. Another common complaint involved florists falsely advertising as “local”. Look up a business on org to see where it’s headquartered and its rating, complaint history and reviews from past customers. It’s often better to visit the florist in person than to order online. Make sure to get your order in writing; it should include cost, delivery or pickup details, and the type of and amount of flowers.
  • Think before buying your outfit. Nationwide, around 450 counterfeit product scams were reported to BBB Scam Tracker in 2016. Prom dresses can be incredibly expensive, so avoid knockoffs and use the BBB Accredited Business Directory to find a trustworthy business. It’s also important to be careful buying clothes and accessories online. More than 2,800 online purchase scams were reported to BBB Scam Tracker in 2016. Over 50% involved a monetary loss, and the median loss was $106. Consumers frequently report buying items online, paying for them and never receiving them. Click here for a guide to safe online shopping. Whenever you make a purchase, make sure to understand the refund and exchange policies. If you rent a tuxedo, get the contract in writing and be aware of when and in what condition you’ll have to return it.
  • Choose the right photographer. Some prom-goers may hire a photographer to take photos before the event. However, it’s important to do your research on org before hiring one. Consumers nationwide filed around 800 complaints on photographers with BBB in 2016. The most common cause for complaint was receiving the pictures months after the event – or sometimes never! Consumers also complained about late photographers and poor quality photos. Get everything in writing: time, price, timetable for getting the pictures and whether they’ll be edited. Read the fine print and make sure there aren’t any hidden fees.
  • Plan ahead. If you’re getting your hair or makeup done, make appointments far in advance and leave room in your schedule in case they go late. Make reservations for dinner, photographers and transportation far in advance as well – prom season is busy!

If you have a poor experience with a business, let BBB know! File a complaint or leave a customer review. If you encounter a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker at whether or not you lost money.


Pearl is the Communications Specialist for Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California (BBB Oakland). She works to advance BBB’s vision of an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers trust each other by being proactive in the community and developing relationships with business and consumer groups. Pearl represents BBB at events throughout the Bay Area to educate a wide variety of people. Pearl also manages BBB Oakland’s social media channels.

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Posted in Consumer Tips, Scams

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