Each year more than $18 million events are produced. From those events comes $280 billion in spending and another $66.8 billion in labor cost according to Meeting Professionals International.
Could you imagine having a chunk of those billions being sent to scam artists posing as Event or Wedding Planners? I previously talked about how I almost got scammed as a DC Event Planner. Now it’s time to talk about how you as the client can avoid falling victim to a fake DC Event or Wedding Planner.
Lynn Mcgregor from Florida fell victim to a so-called planner under the name of “Lilly’s Creations” who she found on Facebook. Fortunately, she was able to get her money back via her credit card company, but I want to save you from the hassle.
Here’s how to avoid being scammed by an Event or Wedding Planner
1 – Look at Event and Wedding Planner Websites
If a company doesn’t have a website they are not serious enough about their product or service. I personally don’t care if they have a Facebook page or Instagram account with thousands of followers. That means nothing and many people buy followers to make it seem as if they are relevant.
Visiting an event planning website allows you to see the type of work a planner is capable of. It also allows you to get to know them and develop a level of trust. If you like what you see and read, then you can move on and inquire about their services and price.
Note: Scammers do create fake websites. Simply going off of a website is not the best way to avoid being scammed.
2 – Make Sure You Ask For References
When you ask for references you can further eliminate a planner who is a fraud. Ask for both email addresses and phone numbers for at least 3 previous clients. If the planner does not have any, that should send a red flag. But what if it’s a new planner? Ask for references from their past job. Speak to their past boss or colleagues.
Don’t settle for reviews on a company’s website. These can be fabricated. For us, we like to list the name of our clients with a photo. I also encourage you to look at the reviews on Google, WeddingWire, Yelp and other platforms that require verification. It really is about conducting due diligence to ensure you are hiring the right wedding or event planner.
3 – Don’t be Fooled by Photos
While a few photos are great to look at to get a better understanding of the style of a planner, a fake planner will steal photos. It’s tough to track down every single person that uses another planner’s images without credit. I personally see it all the time from my colleagues who post on Facebook about people using their images to profit.
To avoid being scammed, ask a potential planner to see a photo gallery of any given event. We never show all of our images on our website. It would simply be too much to do, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have them in reserve. If a planner cannot show you more images than what’s on their website, be cautious about booking them.
TIP: Ask them for the name of the Photographer they booked for that DC wedding or event. You can easily talk to them to get more details on the planner and see more images.
4 – Never Pay Any Wedding or Event Vendor in Cash
Photo: Sarah McCutheon
Credit card companies have more power to get your money back than you do. If anything ever happens between you and a company, contact your credit card company and file a claim. Let them do the heavy lifting to figure out what is going on. Hopefully you’ll be out of your money for a few days until they can refund you and deal with the issue themselves.
When you pay an Event or Wedding Planner in cash, there is no way for you to prove you gave them money. Unless they give you a payment receipt, it’s hard to prove they were paid. If someone demands cash only, consider this another red flag.
5 – Make Sure You Have a Sound Contract
I cannot tell you how many times a vendor has approached me to do work and never provided a contract. That’s bad business. A contract is such a helpful tool to get so much information from to send to authorities. A few key things a contract has to help you fight off fraudulent vendors are:
Full name of Vendor or legal entity name (which you can check)
Mailing address (which you should confirm)
What you are agreeing to
What state the contract can be handled in
Even if the planner or vendor is a close friend of yours, never start work unless you have a contract.
The same way you investigate buying a car, doing online shopping, and fact checking every time Trump lies, should be the same effort you put into hiring DC wedding or event vendors. Sadly we live in a world where people take advantage of those who may not be as informed. I do hope this blog post helps you to make the best decision you can to hire the right people and avoid being scammed.