BBB Gives Parents and Students Tips on Back to School Purchases and Deals

  
     
August 01, 2011

BBB Gives Parents and Students Tips on Back to School Purchases and Deals

With August officially here, we’re already seeing the ads for “back to school deals.” 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 college, the Better Business Bureau has some Back-to-School basics.

BASIC SHOPPING DEALS

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, ask the store about their return policy and always keep the receipts. Stores are not legally required to exchange an item or give a refund.

2. Keep the item in its original box. Many retailers will not accept returns on opened video games, CDs, software or DVDs. And health regulations prohibit returns of hats and other intimate apparel.

3. Ask about restocking fees. Some merchants charge a restocking or "open box" fee — sometimes as high as 20 percent of the original cost — for returns of electronics products or large-ticket items. Ask if that is the policy so that you know before you buy.

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 consumer complaints, and be able to trust 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 Security number, mother’s maiden name, credit card, banking account number and other personal data).

COMPUTERS

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

· Decide 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 that 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 other students in the class use;

· Compare prices, and check out the companies with the BBB at www.bbb.org.

CREDIT CARD PLANS

If you are thinking about allowing your college-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, are they introductory rates, and if so, how long do they apply?

· Are there annual fees?

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

APARTMENT RENTALS

In 2011 alone, your regional BBB has seen an increase in online rental scams: rental apartment and house opportunities posted by scammers using fraudulent information to lure you in.  The scammers sometimes lift complete profiles from legitimate sources (such as online real estate sites) and use them to purport scams against potential renters.

BBB knows that with the surge in college-bound students returning to school coupled with a surge in first-time renters this time of year, there will be an increase in fraudulent posts.

Red flags are:
*Spelling errors in ads placed
*All correspondence done by email ONLY
*"Required" Upfront fees for "background checks," "IQ tests," "criminal background checks" and/or "deposits" to secure or hold your place
*Wire transfer used as ONLY required method of payment.

BBB issued a warning about this type of activity in the past: http://spokane.bbb.org/article/the-rental-office-of-az-and-canada-posts-questionable-ads-for-rentals-throughout-united-states-24251 

BBB urges students and their parents to do their homework prior to making a hasty deal. Make sure that your renter is legitimate. Protect your personal information, and don't give into pressure to act now. Consider doing business with a trusted accredited property management team. Pull a roster here:   
http://www.bbb.org/spokane/accredited-business-guide/

For more consumer information, go to www.bbb.org or call 509-455-4200 or 800-356-1007.