Holiday Shopping Where Every Day is Black Friday
As the holidays approach, money will be tight for many families. To reel in the shoppers retailers have moved up the start of the holiday shopping season to November 1st with enticing deals and discounts. The December issue of Consumer Reports talks about how to avoid retailer traps that can cost you instead of save you money. The article discusses five areas where consumers can be lured in with expensive consequences:
- Just because a store advertises a super sale doesn’t necessarily mean it offers merchandise at the lowest price available. Before buying any item for yourself or as a holiday gift, do some online research to check the prices at retail and discount stores. Don’t forget to include shipping and handling in the product’s cost.
- There have been recent changes in the laws regarding gift cards that limit fees and extend expiration dates. You do have to pay to buy a gift card, but there’s no assurance that if something happens to the retailer, like bankruptcy, the gift cards will still be honored. In addition, my people either don’t use their gift cards, don’t use all of the credit on the card or buy an item that is more expensive than the card value. So if you’re unsure of what to buy a relative or friend, sending a check makes more sense.
- A gift that is an electronic or special order item needs to be in its factory sealed box or packaging to be returned for a refund or there may be a restocking fee. So don’t open the gift if you don’t want it. You can return an item with no fee if it’s broken or defective.
- Extended warranties on electronics and appliances are often pushed by salespeople because the retailer makes a lot of money on the warranty. Most products carry a standard warranty and if there is a problem it generally shows up during the standard warranty period. Plus if the product needs a repair after the standard warranty expires the repair is usually the same cost or cheaper than the cost of the extended warranty. Check with your credit card issuer to find out if they automatically cover the item for a period after the standard warranty expires.
- Before buying an item as a gift, understand the retailer’s return policy for store-bought, online and mail order merchandise. Always hold on to the receipt, return label and if it was mailed, keep the bag or box. Give the gift receiver the gift receipt if there is one and explain the merchant’s return policy.