The following is a Press Release from BBB:
Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving, are the most popular holiday shopping days of the year. According to a survey conducted by National Retail Federation, 212 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend last year.
Whether shopping at a local store or online to avoid the crowds, Carmen Million, BBB President urges consumers to take precautions to insure a great holiday shopping experience.
BBB offers consumers the following tips to help save time, stress and money on this busy shopping weekend:
- Create a realistic budget. Know whom you are buying gifts for and how much you are willing to spend. As you buy gifts, keep track of the cost and avoid impulse purchases to prevent over-spending.
- Watch out for tricky advertising. Read the fine print on all advertised sales to make sure you are truly saving money, and bring the ad with you. Watch for discrepancies in advertised prices and the prices on the shelf. Verify the real price before checking out.
- Read the fine print on gift cards. These can be found on the back of the card and will let you know the terms and conditions for using the card. There could be limitations to in-store purchases or exclusions on certain items.
- Ask about return policies. While many stores offer a 30-day return policy, it is important to read the terms and conditions associated with each purchase. And remember that the refund policy usually applies to the day you purchase the item not when you give the item as a gift.
- 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 for the current selling price of the item.
- Shop locally. Save your gas money and your time when you stay close to home. The Better Business Bureau is encouraging consumers to support small businesses in their community.
BBB offers online shopping tips for Cyber Monday:
- Shop on trustworthy websites – Shoppers should start with the BBB to check on the seller's Business Review for customer satisfaction at www.bbb.org Always look for the BBB seal and other widely-recognized "trustmarks" on retailer websites and click on the seals to confirm that they are valid.
- Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a "deal" that might cost them dearly in the end.
- Confirm 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, the BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select "Properties." This will let you see the real URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.
- Pay with a credit card – It's best to use a credit card, because under Federal law, the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn't receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and many card issuers have "zero liability" policies under which the card holder 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. The BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.