As the main season for tying the knot approaches, Monmouthshire’s trading standards officers are warning residents to avoid falling victim to scams while they make preparations for weddings.
According to online bridal source www.bridesmagazine.co.uk/ the average cost of a wedding is over £30,000 which includes the services of multiple vendors like photographers, caterers, reception venues and travel companies. Many of these require booking several months in advance with an immediate obligation to pay a deposit or even the full balance. All of these transactions are potentially liable to fraudulent action by scammers.
Some companies run their businesses entirely via social media sites, offering low cost services. Most are genuine though some may not be insured or may even be fraudulent. But being aware of the potential risks and following the following prevention advice could minimise the likelihood of fraud:
- Obtain a physical address and contact details for the vendor and verify this information. This will allow the opportunity to make a complaint to Trading Standards or consider pursuing via the Small Claims Court.
- Obtain a contract before paying money for services. Fully read and understand what is offered before applying a signature and note the terms of cancellation.
- Consider purchasing wedding insurance – policies vary in cover and can be purchased up to two years in advance. They can provide protection from eventualities not covered under the Consumer Credit Act.
- Research each vendor, ensuring they represent a bona fide person or company. Explore the internet for reviews and ratings and ask the vendor to provide details of past clients you can speak to. This course of action is recommended by trading standards officers even if companies have been proposed by a trustworthy friend or source.
- For services such as wedding photography, beware of websites using fake images. Look for inconsistencies in style, meet the photographer and ask to view sample albums.
Trading standards officers further advise that paying for services by credit card provides protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act for single item purchases above £100 and below £30,000. Even if a company goes into liquidation before the big day, a refund can be claimed through the credit card company.
Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for public protection said: “If something appears too good to be true, it probably is! Always take precautions and research that the options available are genuine when spending large sums of money on services.”
For further advice or to report any problems to Trading Standards call 03454 04 05 06.