1. Ask about returns and refunds. Shopping for new clothes, accessories and gadgets is one of the highlights of going back to school. When you buy your new gear, ask the store about their return policy and always keep your receipts.
2. Find out the details about your new cell phone plan. You don't want to sign up for something that you didn't want.
3. Ask about the time commitment, billing details, replacement costs and how you can get out of the contract if you need to. It's time consuming but reading your contract carefully can really help you in the long run.
4. Read the fine print when getting a credit card. Credit cards can be very useful and we get offers for new cards all the time. Don't get yourself in a financial jam by signing up right away for a new card. Find out what the new card gives you and definitely make sure you know what the interest rates is, how long any introductory interest rates apply for and when interest begins.
5. Do your research before buying a new computer. Before you get that new computer, decide what your needs will be and what the computer is to be used for, such as word processing, graphic/web design or gaming. This will determine the type of hardware and software that will be required and how much you willpay in the end. Shop around for a good price and find out what you have to do (and pay!) if your computer breaks down. Consider leasing to reduce the costs of upgrading your system but make sure you know the details of your contract.
6. Ask yourself if you really need that free gift. Carefully consider offers of free gifts that come with a purchase. Do you need the item you are buying? If not, then this free gift may not be worth the investment in the end.
7. Consumers have rights and responsibilities under Ontario law, find out what yours are by visiting the Consumer Protection Ontario's website at www.ontario.ca/consumer. The key to being a smart consumer is to know what questions to ask and reading the fine print before entering into any kind of transaction. Happy shopping!