Do Your Homework Before School Starts

August 22, 2012

School bells will be ringing before we know it. 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, plan ahead and stick to a budget”.

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

Set a budget. Decide how much you are willing to spend per child, and know what your child’s school allows. Schools will often provide parents with a list of required items for the school year, which can help determine what you need to purchase. After taking inventory, create a shopping list and stick to it. This will help you avoid costly impulse purchases and ensure nothing is forgotten.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Carefully check out businesses. Check with the BBB before doing business with any retail store or online website that you are unfamiliar with. A company Business Review can be found at or by calling 1-877-663-2363.