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By Contributed photo
BY BLAIR LOONEY Contributing columnist
Editor's note: Action Line is a weekly column from the Better Business Bureau answering consumers' questions and concerns about money and business issues.
Dear Action Line,
I recently got a traffic ticket. I was in a hurry and was going too fast. I have never gotten a speeding ticket before and am considering going to traffic school.
How much does it cost and how do I find a good school? I think I want to use an online course and don't know whom to choose. I found lots of them online and some of them had a logo on their site that said they were a BBB-accredited business.
Can they do that? How do I know if the site is a good site?
Traffic school is a great option if you are eligible to go that route. The very first thing you need to do is click on the logo. Only accredited businesses can use the BBB Dynamic Seal on their site. If the seal is authentic, it will take you to the company's BBB Business Review, where you can find factual information on the background of the company. This information is free.
BBB provides background on millions of companies that can help you make wise buying decisions. As always, my best advice to you and all other consumers is to go to bbb.org and check the Business Review on the company.
If the BBB website says they are accredited, then it is true. The BBB dynamic seal includes a link to the company's Business Review. If there is no link, then you really need to check to verify at bbb.org.
In the case of traffic schools, they must be licensed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and you can check their license online at www.dmv.ca.gov. You should also do comparative shopping. Make sure you are getting a fair price.
You should ask if the certificate of completion is included in the class fee or if there is an additional cost. A little extra time spent before you purchase can save you time and money later.
More and more business is being done on the Internet each day. Here are more simple tips that you can use to make sure that your next surfing excursion is a safe one:
* Make sure there is a physical address and customer service phone number for the company.
* Check the return policy carefully; watch for return shipping fees, refund policies and restocking fees.
* Look for the "s" in the URL address on the checkout page. If it doesn't say 'https:,' run the other way. You are sending money to an unsecured site and that is always a red flag and a major risk.
* Make sure you read carefully and understand all instructions before you complete the transaction.
* Keep a record of your online purchase. Print out the page with the seller's name, address and phone number. Print out the page about the item you ordered. Print any email confirmation messages you get and any follow-up messages about problems in shipping.
Blair Looney is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 1601 H. St., Suite 101, Bakersfield, CA 93301 or email@example.com.