As Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner, BBB advises consumers to plan carefully plan before shopping this holiday season.
Before filling up stockings, develop a budget and stick to it! Use ClearPoint’s holiday planning calculator to see how much you should be spending on gifts this year. The calculator even allows you to list each gift you plan to purchase and account for food, travel, and other expenses.
For Black Friday Shoppers:
Compare Deals. There are many Black Friday websites claiming to capture the best deals around. Comparative price shopping online, before you buy set out for the mall, can help make your Black Friday shopping more efficient.
Maximize Advance Alerts. Do you have favorite retailers? Sign up for their email alerts and take advantage of special social network opportunities. Many stores work to reward your loyalty and you may get a jump on special offers.
Know Store Return Policies. Knowing the store policies on returns can help you decide where to buy. Retailers may include restocking fees, shorter return deadlines and other terms and conditions. Be sure you understand the return policy on seasonal and sale items.
Ask for Gift Receipts. Gift receipts generally include a description of the item purchased, but do not disclose the price paid. Without proof-of-purchase, the recipient may be turned down for returning or exchanging the item or risk receiving an exchange at a lower price.
Online Shopping Tips for Cyber Monday:
Shop safely online. Online deals dominate on Cyber Monday. Whether you’re shopping on this day or any other day, be sure your computer has the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Only shop on trusted websites, look for the BBB seal as well as the Ad Choices logo for sites that give you more control over whether advertisers can use your information for targeted advertising.
Confirm that your online purchase is secure. Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, right-click anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This should let you see the actual URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal whether the site is not encrypted.
Pay with a credit card. Using a credit card is suggested because the shopper can dispute the charges if he/she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and some card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. Check terms and conditions with your cardholder.
Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail. BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
Know your rights. Whether shopping retail or online, know your rights. According to the FTC, orders made by mail, phone, fax, or online should be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods cannot be shipped on time, the shopper must be notified of the right to cancel and receive a refund. Consumers also have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit, so be sure you understand return policies before you buy.
Whether shopping in person or online, check with BBB for our rating on the business. Go to youngstown.bbb.org or call 330.744.3111.
NOTE: ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions is a nonprofit organization offering budgeting, housing and credit counseling services in all 50 states. ClearPoint is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, and is a BBB Accredited Business and a BBB National Partner.