BBB Offers Christmas Shopping Tips

As the holidays rapidly approach, BBB is offering practical advise for shoppers. In this joyous season, it is alarming to realize how many thieves and con artists are out there to dampen our goodwill. Follow these suggestions though, and you should survive the season unscathed.
November 17, 2017

Safe Shopping:

  • Shop with a friend and don’t load yourself down with items.
  • Try to park in well-lit areas if you will be leaving or returning to your vehicle in the evening.  Shop before dark, if possible.
  • While walking in a lot or a store, be alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • After making purchases, store your gifts in the trunk of your car and not in plain view. 
  • When at a store register, do not open your purse or wallet exposing your cash.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.  Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.  Don’t carry excess credit cards.  Make sure you have recorded the numbers of all credit cards and keep this information in a safe place at home.
  • Hold on to your purse.  Do not leave it in the cart, especially when the cart is unattended.
  • When loading purchases into your vehicle, place your purse in the vehicle first so it is not in a cart while your back is turned.
  • When loading your vehicle, do not place things on the roof. 
  • Keep credit or ATM card pin numbers in a separate place and not near or on your card.
  • When using an ATM, do not concentrate totally on the screen, but look up to be aware of your surroundings.
  • After Christmas, avoid putting gift boxes out to trash in plain view advertising what you have inside your home.
  • Teach your children to go to a store clerk or security guard to ask for help if you become separated in the store or shopping mall. 


  • Shop Wisely:
  • Plan ahead.  Set a realistic budget and stick to it.  Make a list of the gifts you would like to give.
  • 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.
  • Read the fine print when shopping online.  Sometimes key restrictions on a sale are contained in the “fine print” on a website.  Take some time to click on any hyperlinks leading to warranty or rebate information, additional costs or other key information you should know about before buying online.
  • Check delivery dates.  The vendor usually tells you when to expect a delivery.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date, when no specific date is promised.  If the seller cannot ship the goods within the promised or 30-day deadline, the seller must notify you, give you a chance to cancel your order and provide a full refund if you've chosen to cancel.
  • Review warranties.  Many high-tech gadgets and appliances come with warranties.  For warranty information online, look for hyperlinks leading to the full warranty, or to an address where you can obtain a free copy.
  • Order early to allow plenty of time for shipment and delivery.
  • If you’re tempted to buy merchandise from a sidewalk vendor or parking lot peddler, be cautious!  They might be hard to locate if you have provlems with your purchase.  Low prices aren’t bargains if you end up with poor quality merchandise or defective goods.
  • Ask about sale adjustments.  If you buy an item at regular price and it goes on sale the next week, can you get a credit or refund for the discounted amount? 
  • Carefully consider bargain offers based on purchases of additional merchandise. 
  • Take time and travel costs into consideration.  If an item is on sale, but it’s across town, how much are you really saving once you factor in your time and the costs of transportation and parking?
  • Look for price-matching policies.  Some merchants will match, or even beat, their competitors’ prices. 
  • Keep good records.  Keep printouts of the web pages where you placed your orders with details about the transaction, including any emails from the retailer.  Keep all receipts.
  • File a complaint if you suspect a business has broken the law.  Contact your BBB.

The Better Business Bureau wishes you wise and productive shopping.  Have a blessed holiday season.


For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2017, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB of South Central Louisiana, Inc. has been serving the local community since 1950 and services the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. James, Tangipahoa, West Baton Rouge & West Feliciana.