BBB Warning: Avoid ‘Black Friday’ Pitfalls

November 25, 2008

Better Business Bureau Serving Central Virginia








CONTACT: Tom Gallagher, President  & CEO, 804-648-0030



BBB Warning: Avoid ‘Black Friday’ Pitfalls


RICHMOND, Va. – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) today warned consumers to be careful before locking in that great holiday deal on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.  Many retail stores open very early on Black Friday and promote “door-buster” sales.


“We always get complaints following Black Friday from consumers who didn’t get the deal they thought they should have gotten,” said Tom Gallagher, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia.


He said one of the most common complaints relates to the purchase of so-called bundled packages.  For example, an electronic device may be offered for “free” if the consumer buys one or more video games.  “Don’t assume that all the components are included in one box or package. Double check to be sure you have all of the parts,” he said. “If it is a web transaction, be sure that all parts are in your electronic shopping cart.”


Consumers also complain about having to wait in line very early in the morning to buy an advertised special only to find that the special is sold out or otherwise not available.  Stores will often advertise that the sale applies only to a limited number of items, such as the first 50 computers.  Some distribute vouchers to those waiting in line.  If the consumer happens to be the 51st person in line, he or she may have to pay full price for the computer.


“Simply showing up at four o’clock in the morning and waiting in line for an hour will not guarantee that you will get the deal you expect,” Gallagher warned.


The BBB offers these additional tips for shopping on Black Friday:


·        Do your homework. Don’t assume that a particular Black Friday sale is a good deal.  Research the offers of other stores and retail Web sites. 

·        Read the store’s ad carefully, including fine print.  Be sure you understand what you are entitled to and what you are not.

·        Check the retailer’s Web site. Shoppers can often determine if the item they want is available locally.  Sometimes, the Web site offers coupons that shoppers can print out and bring with them.

·        Check the store’s return policy.  Some stores have instituted re-stocking fees on certain categories of items which can be as much as 20% of the purchase price.

·        Ask for a gift receipt Without a gift receipt, refunds or exchanges could be denied outright.

·        Keep checking prices. Many stores offer a price-protection guarantee, particularly on large ticket items.  Consumers may be entitled to additional money if another store or another manufacturer offers a better deal.   When making your purchase, be sure to ask if the store has a guaranteed low-price policy.


Complaints about Black Friday purchases can be directed to the BBB through its Web site at


The BBB in Central Virginia serves Richmond and Tri-Cities, as well as 42 surrounding counties, from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of the BBB include business reliability reports, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, consumer and business education and charity review.