Prom season is here, and you deserve to look and feel amazing for your big party! Whether you are attending prom for the first time, are a prom pro, or a parent of a prom-goer, all young ladies know how important it is to find the dress that makes you feel beautiful…like royalty on your special night. Let’s face it, prom can be stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to have the right date, attend the best after-party, have glamorous hair, nails, and makeup, and of course, to find that perfect dress. Purchasing a dress online can save you time and money, as well as provide access to a host of dresses you might not find in your local shop. Nonetheless, as shown by prom dress site reviewers on Sitejabber, an online prom dress purchase can go tragically wrong.

1. Fitted and Fabulous? More like Flawed and Frightful

A common potential disaster: the beautiful dress online is nothing like the dress the company delivers. Andreea N shares, “I ordered a beautiful dress but received an ugly was nothing like with the dress I saw in the picture on their site..”  

Another dissatisfied parent, T D,  writes, “These people deserve a NEGATIVE ZERO rating. I ordered a dress for my daughter’s school  dance, and the dress I received looks NOTHINGGGGGG like the dress my daughter and I found and purchased on their website.

Unfortunately, misleading expectations of dress quality and style is a common deceptive tactic some online dress companies regularly practice. It’s best to have a backup plan in case the dress you order doesn’t quite meet your expectations.

2. Custom-Ordered Nightmare

Typically, when you order a custom dress, you expect it to fit like a glove and have superb details.  In some instances, when the dress arrives, it doesn’t fit appropriately and will cost additional money to correct. L S tells us, “I ordered a custom made dress. When it came, I was appalled! The craftsmanship was horrendous.”

Choosing the right prom dress can be hard enough as it is.  But when you add in an “iffy” factor to whether the dress you order is going to be all that it appears to be, you might end up very disappointed.  If you order a dress from an online company you are not familiar with, allow extra time in case alterations need to be made or you need to return the dress and shop elsewhere.

3. Left with Nothing

Reviewers have shared instances of their dress never arriving, as well as some companies actually refusing to provide a refund when the dress does not arrive.  One reviewer, Zikrayat T, recalls, “They didn’t ship my dress, they took my money and they didn’t refund it. Be careful!”

A common scheme you may encounter when ordering from overseas is the company not accounting for additional customs fees, which can result in no dress and no refund! Sitejabber reviewer Saoirse K says, “I placed an order for my  dress and before I received the item I was not allowed to take it unless I paid a 50 customs charge which I was not informed about.”

Situations like these will undoubtedly infuriate any customer as both your money and the item you thought you purchased disappear into thin air.  Be sure to check customer reviews or ask friends and family if they recommend any particular site before you make your purchase.  If you are doubtful about an online company’s policies or ethics, it may be best to shop elsewhere.

4. Fraud Frenzy

There’s also potential for credit card fraud if purchasing a dress from an overseas company.  If you do purchase a dress from an overseas company, check your credit card statement in the following months for any unauthorized charges. Some credit card companies will deny the charges before the transaction even goes through due to the charge coming from potentially high-risk companies. Cynthia A reports, “My bank notified me right away that this company is fraud!”

Major credit card companies can help prevent fraud, but if the transaction does go through, this can lead to serious aggravation.  It’s a good idea to find out where the company is located and if any other consumers have shared reviews or concerns prior to submitting your credit card information. Also, as always, when buying online, try to use a major credit card with good fraud protection. Debit cards, Western Union, and other money transfer schemes often make it difficult or impossible to get your money back if something goes awry.

5. Overseas Companies Appear to be in the US

It used to be simple to spot a company that is based in a foreign country. The bad spelling, the contact information, listing the company in China, or a poorly designed website were red flags. But the overseas companies have become smarter. The websites have U.S. addresses, U.S. phone numbers, and perfect English, making it next to impossible to determine that they are foreign companies potentially sending U.S. customers poor-quality prom dresses and defrauding them in the process. Clearly do your research first and check them out on Sitejabber.  If there is no information available on Sitejabber, be sure to ask our community about the company. You can also call the company in advance and ask them detailed questions about both the dress and the company. If no one is ever available to speak with you, then it could be a sign the company is not really based in the US. Another sign is if they encourage you to use Western Union or MoneyGram to complete your transaction, as most companies in the U.S. prefer credit cards over wiring funds.

6. The Bait & Switch

Aaaahhh yes, the good ol’ bait ‘n switch.  This occurs when you place an order and the company says they can make and deliver the dress on time.  Yet, the following month you receive a notification that the dress you wanted is not available, and you are forced to pick a new one. Leanne D reveals, “I emailed the company prior to placing an order to make sure that 3-months’ notice would be enough to get the ‘dream dress’ for my prom. It turned into a nightmare… By the time it registered what was happening, I knew this was going to be a major problem. The company emailed me an alternative, which looked absolutely nothing like the dress I ordered. 1 day later I responded to them and told them to cancel the order… I had to buy another dress and am still waiting to receive credit for a dress I never received from this unreliable, foreign company.”

Just a Small Snag in Your Big Night

Ordering a dress from some of these online companies can cause added anxieties, but don’t fret, there are plenty of sites and stores that offer great service and high-quality dresses. If you purchase your dress online, make sure you leave ample time for arrival, alterations, or return. So, whether you are ordering a prom dress online to get a unique, inexpensive, custom fit or to save time, do your homework and find out more about the company you are ordering from, so you can make a well-informed purchasing decision that will ensure prom night goes off without a hitch!