Thanksgiving is almost here and before the leftovers are put away many holiday shoppers will head out the door, or to their computer, for the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Shoppers will be bombarded with ads promising huge deals in the days leading up to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
For those shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas has this advice to help you make the most of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday:
Don’t rely on ads alone. Do price comparisons, examine the fine print, research companies and compare prices before opening your wallet.
Know store return policies. Check store or website policies on returns in advance. This can help you decide where to buy. Return policies may include restocking fees, shorter return deadlines and other terms and conditions. Also, keep your receipt in case you want to return the item.
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 value.
Consider buying local. Small Business Saturday is November 25th! Set aside some time to frequent small businesses in your community. Local shops may be offering special bargains that day.
Brick-and-mortar stores are only part of the equation as online shopping continues to be a popular option. According to software company Adobe, Cyber Monday brought in $3.36 billion last year, making it the largest online sales day in history. With online sales sharing a bigger piece of the holiday shopping pie, Better Business Bureau wants to remind consumers to be mindful of their online transactions during the holiday season.
Know your rights.
According to the FTC, orders made 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 whether the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.
Pay with a credit card. Using a credit card is recommended because the shopper can dispute the charges if the item is not received. 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 cardholder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
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. Save a copy of the web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
Watch for phishing emails: With all the promotional emails received during the holidays, scammers will be out in full force. It’s best not to click on links from senders you don’t recognize. You can also hover your mouse over links without clicking to see if the address is really taking you to where it says it is. Also, check the reply email address. The address should be on a company domain. Watch for look-alike domains.