Don’t Get Left in the Dark on Black Friday

November 20, 2012

Denver, CO – November 20, 2012 – According to the National Retail Federation, more people than ever before shopped on Black Friday in 2011, with a record 86 million shoppers making purchases that day. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns shoppers to avoid disappointment during the annual sale event by being proactive and perceptive.

“Black Friday sales get people excited but sometimes fall short of their expectations,” said Hope Marie Sneed, vice president of development and PR for the BBB of Denver/Boulder. “Big-ticket, deeply-discounted items sell out quickly and offer restrictions aren’t always clearly advertised.”

Every year from now through Christmas, the BBB receives calls and complaints about confusion, deception, and outright fraud in the holiday sale market. On Black Friday, misleading advertising is common.

To avoid being ripped off on Black Friday this year, the BBB advises consumers to use the following five tips:

  1. Read ads carefully before shopping. Read and understand all of the fine print. If you have questions, contact the store ahead of time and get clarity on any policies or conditions they may affect your experience.

  1. Beware of unavailability and “bait & switch.” One of the biggest problems during Black Friday is the deceptive practice of offering a popular, expensive item for a great sale price, but only stocking a very limited number of these products. This is similar to “bait-and-switch” because when the product becomes unavailable, you are likely to stay at the store and take advantage of other, less-valuable sales. Contact the retailer before the sale and ask how many of that item they will have in stock. Also, ask about their rain check policy. Many ads clearly state “no rain checks.”

  1. Don’t assume you’ll get a rain check. Colorado State law doesn’t require stores to issue rain checks for unavailable sale items. This only applies to food retailers according to an FTC Rule. So ask about rain check policies ahead of time if it isn’t specified in the retailer’s ad.

  1. Beware of “up-to” savings claims. Exciting offers this Friday may state that certain items are, “Up-to 70% OFF!” or any large percentage off. The abuse of these claims is similar to the unavailability tactic: it says, “up to” because most of the products are usually marked at a much lower percentage off, such as 30 percent, for example. BBB Code of Advertising guidelines state that an advertiser should advertise the minimum and maximum amount of savings: “30% - 70% off,” so it’s clear that the savings are within that range.

  1. Keep your receipts. Though many retailers relax their return policies around the holidays, it is still a good idea to keep your receipts in case you discover a problem with a product or transaction. In addition, if a retailer advertises a “lowest price guarantee,” you will need the receipt to take advantage of the guarantee should you find the product cheaper with a competitor.

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About the BBB

The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Reviews , BBB Charity Reports and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, there are 114 local, independent BBBs across the U. S. and Canada. Please visit for more information.