Q: I think my dad has every tool and tie available, and I would rather buy him something different for Father's Day this year. Are there any tips the BBB has to consider to find him that perfect gift?
A: Is Dad an adventure seeker? Is he up for the thrill of skydiving, whitewater rafting or other exciting adventures? How about golf lessons, a fishing trip, or a wilderness experience? Signing Dad up for an activity is great for the Dad who has every knickknack already. But with Father's Day on Sunday, Better Business Bureau recommends that shoppers consider the fine print before purchasing high adventure activities or gift certificates for Dad. The following are some tips to consider when searching for that perfect gift:
• Ask around for recommendations. Ask friends, verify references, and be sure to check out the BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org before handing over any money.
• Check for additional fees and limitations before purchasing. Make sure you know if any additional fees apply for things like equipment rental, meals and transportation. Check for other limitations; some high adventure activities restrict those with certain health issues.
• Make sure Dad's schedule matches the times the activity can be done. Some outdoor thrills can only be done during a certain season or time of day; most require advanced reservations.
• Check the refund policy and expiration date. When buying expensive items or gifts, get refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee policies in writing. Make sure you know the expiration date of the offer, and if a refund is available if Dad can't make it for any reason. Some gift certificates and discount coupons are transferable and some are not. Are there any cancellation penalties? What is considered a valid cancellation reason for the buyer or the operator? Under what conditions is a full refund available?
• Read rental agreements carefully. Make sure you have a written contract for any recreational rentals (cabins, all-terrain vehicles, campers, kayaks, motorcycles, etc.). The agreement should spell out base rental cost, daily fees, insurance, and other details such as time restrictions. If at all possible, visually inspect the rental prior to committing.
• Get the details in writing. For things like tours, classes, sightseeing and lessons, make sure you get all of the costs and features in writing. What services and equipment are included? Ensure taxes, service fees and other charges are clearly disclosed. Asterisks are commonly used to indicate restrictions, such as additional charges and time requirements. Look for a "conditions" clause. Read the small print to see if it alters the original offer. Get a gift receipt and enclose it with the present.
Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau of Chattanooga.