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Educational Consumer Tips

Before You Buy

Author: Better Business Bureau
Category: Finance

To avoid problems, use this checklist BEFORE you make a purchase:

*Decide in advance exactly what you want and what you can afford.
*Don't buy on impulse or under pressure. This includes donating to charities. Do your research.
*Ask family, friends and others you trust for references and advice based on their experience.
*Gather information about both the business or seller and the item or service you are purchasing
*Know who you are dealing with. Where is the company located? Who is the owner? Obtain this information before choosing to do business. 
*See Consumer Information Sources. Get estimates and price quotes from several businesses. Make sure that the company or seller has all appropriate licenses.
*Doctors, lawyers, home improvement contractors and many other service providers must register with a state or local licensing agency.
*Check out a company's complaint record with your local consumer affairs office and the Better Business Bureau.
*Get a written copy of guarantees and warranties.
*Get the company's refund, return and cancellation policies. 
*Ask whom to contact if you have a question or problem.
*Be sure to get the company's complete contact information (address, phone, website, e-mail address and owner/manager's names)
*Read and understand any contract or legal document you are asked to sign, before signing.
*Make sure there are no blank spaces. Insist that any extras you are promised verbally be put in writing.
*Pay by credit card, if possible.  Credit cards offer the most protection should you run into a problem later.