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Better Business Bureau ®
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Minnesota and North Dakota
BBB Offers Tips to Black Friday Shoppers
November 25, 2013

Burnsville, Minnesota – November 20, 2013 – The Thanksgiving holiday is fast-approaching, and both retailers and shoppers are making plans for what comes after that: Black Friday. While some stores are even opening their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday – remains the biggest shopping day of the year. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is offering advice for people planning on taking advantage of Black Friday sales offers.

“Whether you’ll be setting out at midnight or setting your alarms for sunrise on Black Friday, we’re reminding people to maintain their perspective,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Even when you find a great deal, be sure to take the time to ensure you understand all the terms and conditions.”

According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season can represent 20-40% of annual sales. Given that, many stores will be competing for your business on Black Friday and beyond.
Shoppers should be sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Check out the company. Visit bbb.org or call 800-646-6222 to obtain free Business Reviews. Remember, BBB Business Reviews have been optimized for smartphones.
  • Getting the real deal. Do you know if a sale is really a sale? Many times companies boast “70 percent off,” but 70 percent off what? It always pays to comparison shop. If a company is advertising a “Going out of Business” sale, don’t automatically assume they are offering the best prices in town. Take the time to check prices on the same items at other stores. 
  • Search for Black Friday Ads Ahead of Time. Newspapers often have coupons that give discounts for Black Friday. Black Friday ads are also posted on the Internet.  Some sites post ads for Black Friday before they are published. 
  • Return policies, restocking fees and refunds.  Ask for the store’s return policy before you make your purchase. Companies are not required to give you your money back, but they need to post their return policy prominently near the cashier. Also, always ask about restocking fees, and save your receipts in one place so you don’t lose them. Many companies will require you to produce a receipt for a return. Ask for a gift receipt.
  • Gift cards. Gift cards regularly top consumers’ wish lists. Federal rules govern gift card sales, and those rules state:
    o An inactivity fee cannot be charged until the card has not been used for 12 months.
    o Gift cards cannot expire for at least 5 years.
    o No more than one fee (of any kind) can be charged to the cardholder in a single month.
    o Information printed on the card must disclose fees and expiration date and provide a toll-free phone number or website where you can get more information.
    o A one-time fee can be charged when you buy the card, though this generally only applies to gift cards purchased through your credit card company – not those purchased directly from stores and restaurants.
    Note: These rules do not cover reloadable cards, such as prepaid phone cards or debit cards from the big credit card companies. Rebate and loyalty reward programs are also exempt. If you receive a gift card, you should redeem it promptly if possible.

Lastly, consumers are encouraged to have fun, be safe and do their best to stick to their budgets. There will be many more opportunities for savings as we go through the holiday season.

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