From a reader: I have owned and operated a local business for the past six years. Like many other business owners, I search for ways to promote my business and attract new customers, so I decided to turn to a local graphic design company. I placed an order for magnetic business cards and paid in advance. I was then told the business cards would arrive in two weeks, and was promised additional graphic design work for my website. When the two weeks were up, no business cards. I called the company several times and got no response. It's been over a month and I still have not received anything in return. I demanded that I get a full refund from the company in writing, but again the owner was not responsive. The cards were under $100 and that might not seem like much but what if this guy is doing this to other people too? What are some tips so that I can keep this from happening to me again?
Action Line: Unfortunately, I cannot tell you that this will never happen again. What I can tell you is that there are many things that you do prior to purchase to make your life easier.
- You can protect yourself by doing research on the company before you place an order. Check with bbb.org to see if the company has any complaints. Check licensing on the company. If they are not licensed properly, they are not operating legally.
- Before making a purchase decision, make sure you get everything in writing. Before you sign anything, make sure that you read and understand what you are signing for.
- Before doing business with companies, search the Internet for the owner's name and the company's name. You may find customer reviews.
- Ask for references.
- Shop around. Get bids from more than one designer. Doing comparative shopping gives you a better understanding of the going rate for the product you need. Remember that the lowest price doesn't always mean it's the best for you.
Again, the BBB website shares information with consumers and businesses to help both parties make wise buying decisions before a purchase. Here you'll find background information on the company including: name of the business owner, office location, licensing information, and length of time they have been in business.
Be wary of promises that sound too good to be true, because if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And if you have an experience like this one and the company does not respond, you can file a complaint at bbb.org as well. BBB offers dispute resolution services, too.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.