Holiday Shopping: Buyer Beware

November 23, 2009 Gift Cards
- slated to be #1 gift this xmas season
- Consumers don't read fine print on back - possible fees for usage - or no activity on card-
-Big print on front giveth - little print on back taketh away!
- What if company goes out of business - you end in Bankruptcy court and may get 10 cents on a dollar
- Just like gift certificates - people throw them in drawer and forget about them

Refunds and Exchanges
- it is a privilege not a right!
-Companies are changing their policies to keep consumers in this economy - to exchanges only so you have to buy there. -Need to ask the policy BEFORE you buy,

Web Shopping
-online sales projected to hit 45 billion in Nov and Dec - 8% increase from 2009
-Do not follow link out of email as it may be a phishing scam - a fake website!
-Check all companies with the BBB first.
-Make sure they have a mailing address and contact info on the site and it is secured.
-Ask shipping policy as they have 30 days to ship the item if no date is promised - that may mean after xmas!

Door Buster Sales
-Consumers hear that word and believe it is a great deal - it may not be - it may be lower somewhere else!
-Know the prices ahead of time.
-Buy Practical gifts this holiday season and stick to a budget!

BBB Holiday Shopping Tips!

Gift Cards - gift cards are slated to be the top gift selection this year for this Christmas Season - PROBLEM consumers don't read the fine print on the back - the big print giveth the little print taketh away. Consumers need to investigate the charges for inactivity or a monthly charge before they buy it.

- Fees, Fees and More Fees

Fees may be attached to contacting customer service, loading more money onto the card, and inactivity. The card even had weekly base fees of $1.95-which ads up to more than $100 a year to use the card. BBB recommends paying close attention to all terms and conditions associated with Gift cards and is encouraging consumers to ensure they read the fine print and ask about and understand any "hidden" fees. Be careful giving gift cards because if the company goes out of business or file Bankruptcy you may be out of luck

REFUNDS AND EXCHANGES Always ask the refund or exchange policy of any organization. As refunds and exchanges is a privilege not a right!

PROBLEM - consumer think they can take anything back also with the recession stores want to keep customers so more and more companies are not giving refunds they are giving in store credits.

Know your rights buying online - Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days( which may be after Christmas). If the goods aren't shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it's defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it's the company's policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit. PROBLEM Consumer order merchandise online on December 15th - it may take until January 15th to arrive - consumers need to ask that important question.

Virtual shopping is only as secure as the sites you visit. To protect your personal and financial information from phishers (thieves who build fake Web sites that mimic legitimate sites), type the business's name into your browser rather than responding to e-mail advertisements. "

Try to make sure it is a legitimate site; not just a spoof of a real site. Only do business with reputable companies. If you're in the real world and you're going downtown to go shopping, you're more likely to trust an established store you know using normal payment means, you probably won't go in the corner alley to the guy telling you you'll get a good deal. When you're dealing with someone you don't know online, that's what you're doing

DOOR BUSTER SALES Make sure a Door Buster deal is a deal and no just their deal. PROBLEM - Consumer hear the word "door buster" and they think it is a bargain - you have to know the price ahead of time as it may not be a deal!

Charity Fraud is a big problem during the Holiday Season - and donators should be aware so they don't give money foolishly to phony charities.

PROBLEM Scam artists use the holidays as a cover to take advantage of the spirit of generosity. The holidays as a cover

Some interesting tidbits for the Holiday season,

For the 2009 holiday season, we're shopping early, we're shopping with a budget and we're shopping online, according to studies.

One in five Americans have already started their holiday shopping in October, according to a recent survey

The recession is prompting people to keep their cards in their wallets

As the global economy continues to recover from the worst economic crisis most retailers have ever seen, Americans will focus primarily on practical gifts and shop on a budget this holiday season

Some retailers have started Black Friday specials already in October.

For more info visit

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