While the holiday season is traditionally a time to be with family and friends, it also tends to be hectic times that can make any shopper feel harried. When shopping during the holidays, consider the following:
· Plan ahead. Set a realistic budget and stick to it. Also make a list of the gifts you would like to give. This helps you to avoid buying on impulse gifts that may be inappropriate or too expensive.
· Compare prices and shop carefully. Holiday "sales" and "markdowns" sometimes are not the bargains they appear to be.
· Before making a purchase, ask the merchant about its refund and exchange policy. A store is not obligated to accept items for refund, exchange, or credit unless the item is defective or was misrepresented.
· Be informed about your rights when placing orders through catalogs, mail order, TV shopping networks or online venues. Additional information on mail and telephone order shopping is available from the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov). Ask about delivery times, delivery costs and how returns are handled. Contact the Better Business Bureau to obtain a report on the company.
· Buy appropriate toys for children. Keep in mind the child's age and abilities. Use the age guidelines on toy packages.
· Be on your guard at all times when shopping. Never leave your wallet, credit card or purse on a counter. Do not get overloaded with packages. Shop with a companion or ask for a security escort to your car.
· Give but give wisely. If you are approached in person for a donation, do not give if you are pressured or if the solicitor is vague. Ask for written information to review. If the appeal is legitimate, your donation will be just as appreciated after the holidays as before the holidays.
Check with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance (www.give.org) for additional holiday giving advice and information on charities meeting CBBB ethical guidelines