Better Business Bureau’s Prom Season Dos and Don’ts

Molly Ringwals was Pretty In Pink in the 1986 flick, but don't get scammed at prom season.

Molly Ringwald was Pretty In Pink in the 1986 flick, but don’t get scammed at prom season.

It’s prom season and your high schooler has been dreaming of dressing up and stepping out for months, but you’re not sure your wallet will survive. Attending a prom can be expensive – the dress, the corsages, the transportation and more. What prom parent couldn’t use a little financial advice?

The Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Massachusetts, Main, Rhode Island and Vermont has some tips for prom goers and their parents to prepare for the big event.

Searching for prom dresses online is a popular and convenient way for teenagers to find the perfect dress. They can browse thousands of options and prices online, however, the BBB warns not all online businesses and websites are reliable. According to BBB Scam Tracker, hundreds of online shopping scams have been reported in the last few months alone.

“It’s very important to verify a website or online business before making a purchase,” says Paula Fleming, spokesperson for the local BBB. “It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of prom, but if a designer dress is offered at a deep discount or it seems too good to be true, it usually is.”

BBB Scam Tracker reported the issues with online shopping included items that never arrived, were not what was expected, discovery that the website was fake, hidden fees associated with a purchase and more.

To ensure a memorable evening, BBB offers the following prom tips for parents and students:

· Prom Attire: The average price for a prom dress or a tuxedo can range from $100 to $400, but a designer dresses can easily cost up to $1,000. If your daughter wants to wear a designer gown, buy it from a reputable local retailer, not online. What seems like a great deal online, may be a knock-off dress.

Prom hair and makeiup can set you back as much as $500.

Prom hair and makeup can set you back as much as $500.

· Beauty Services: The prom is a time to look glamorous, but beauty is expensive. The cost for tanning, nail salons, professional hair and makeup could range from $175 to $500. When scheduling appointments on prom day, be sure to leave extra time in case the hairdresser or nail salon is overbooked.

· Transportation: The average cost of a limousine on prom night can range from $200 to $500, depending on the type of vehicle and the number of hours needed. Parents should make sure that they have a written contract that includes the hours of service, required fees including gratuities and maximum capacity allowed.

· Dining: Dinner on prom night can range from upscale to extravagant with the cost ranging from $25 per person to $100 per person. The key to preventing a disaster when the bill arrives is advance preparation. Review menus online, make reservations, determine the payment method and don’t forget gratuities. Some restaurants will not split checks for large groups and they almost always charge a higher gratuity for a large party.

Don't forget the flowers!

Don’t forget the flowers!

· Flowers: Flowers for the prom can range from $20 for a simple corsage or boutonniere to $75 for a bouquet of roses. If you are ordering flowers, make sure you use a reliable local florist and have a written order that details delivery times and specific types of flowers.

· Photography: You have to have special photos of such a special night. Depending on whether you use the official prom photographer or hire a professional photographer, the cost can range from $30 to $250. If you’re hiring a professional photographer, make sure you have a written contract so that you understand what is included.

To find more information on florists, transportation services, retailers, photographers and more, check out

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