BBB Tips for Back to School Sales

August 25, 2011

The summer is winding down, and soon students will be headed back to school! Chances are, you still have some major “back-to-school shopping” to do. Whether your child is headed to high school or university, Better Business Bureau serving the Atlantic Provinces has some Back-to-School basics.

“Shopping for the new school year can be exciting, but it is important to have a plan,” says Don MacKinnon, President and CEO of BBB Serving the Atlantic Provinces. “Don't get carried away - planning ahead and knowing what questions to ask can save time and money.”

When shopping for anything from new attire to electronic items, BBB has these tips to help you be a savvy back-to-school shopper:

1. Ask about returns and refunds. Shopping for new clothes, accessories and gadgets is one of the highlights of going back to school. When buying new gear, always take the time to ask the store about their refund, return and exchange policy and always keep the receipts.  

2. Don’t be fooled by misleading “bargains.” Back-to-school sales may not be the bargains they appear to be. Read ads and coupons; conditions, timeframes and restrictions must be listed. If an offer is misrepresented, see the store manager.

3. Expensive items: Ask about the warranty. How long is it in effect and what does it cover? Weigh the pros and cons of an extended warranty plan.

4. Shop smart online. Find out the physical location and phone number of the merchant. Read the refund and return policy, have in writing any warranty or guaranty details, be familiar with delivery/shipping costs and time schedules, feel comfortable that the merchant is reliable and not the subject of an unusually large number of consumer complaints, check the privacy policies, and be sure that any information you submit to complete the sale transaction (credit card number, etc.) will be treated with the proper care.

5. Carefully check out businesses and deals before signing anything, before paying any money up front, and before releasing any personal or financial information (this includes your Social Insurance number, mother’s maiden name, credit card, bank account number and other personal data). If unsure about a company, check out their report online at

If your child is in the market for a computer, BBB recommends doing your research:

· Determine what your child’s needs will be

· What is the computer going to be used for? Word processing, graphic/web design, gaming?

· Determine what type of hardware and software will be required

· Find out what you have to do if the computer breaks down

· Check out the warranty on the computer

· Call your school or university and ask what the school’s requirements are and what other students in the class use

· Compare prices, and check out the companies with the BBB at

If you are thinking about allowing your university-bound student to sign up for a credit card, do your homework.

· Shop around for the plan that best fits your student’s needs. There are often special offers for students

· Compare terms and fees before you agree to open a credit card for your student

· Find out the interest rate on the card. Is it an introductory rate? If so, how long does it apply?

· Are there annual fees?

· Discuss how and for what the credit card will be used

· Check into the transaction fees and any other charges that could be incurred