BBB Tips for Holiday Shopping

Thanksgiving is upon us once again and with it comes the inevitable weight gain as the beginning of non-stop holiday gatherings (which all involve food of course!) and shopping ensues. Every year I start out with the best of intentions, but alas, I just “must” try that dessert, or that new stuffing looks yummy. Back down to the basement to haul out my “big clothes” containers.

Anyway, back to the holiday shopping. Retail shopping for the season is starting earlier and earlier. Some stores are opening at 6:00 P.M. on Thanksgiving Day. Then there is Small Business Saturday followed by Cyber Monday with all of the online Holiday deals. Wherever consumers choose to shop, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers the following:

BBB Tips for Holiday Shopping:

Research before you shop – Check out BBB Reviews and Customer Reviews at www.bbb.org to make sure you are dealing with a reputable business that will guarantee the sale prices they claim to have.
Find out what policies the stores have – Knowing return policies can help you decide whether or not to buy. Check for restocking fees and return deadlines.
Request 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 less value.

BBB Tips for Safe Online Shopping:

Protect your computer. Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus and malware scans regularly.
Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with https://. You also may see a picture of a small closed lock in the lower right corner of the screen or to the left of the https:// in the address bar.
Shop trustworthy websites. Look for the BBB Accredited Business seal on websites and click to confirm that it’s valid. BBB dynamic seals will take you to a site’s BBB Business Review.
Protect personal information. Read a site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If a site lacks a privacy policy, it could be a red flag that the site could sell your information without your permission.
Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may display free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.
Beware of phishing. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order, account or a package to lure the buyer into revealing financial information. If you receive such an email, BBB recommends that you pick up the phone and call the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm a problem.
Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive an item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are any unauthorized charges on the card, and many card issuers have zero-liability policies if someone steals and uses your card number. Check your credit card statement regularly for unauthorized charges. Never pay with pre-paid debit cards or wire money to someone you don’t know.
Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page of an order or emails confirming the order until you receive the item and are satisfied.
Obtain a tracking number for shipments. If you need the product before the holidays, find out when the seller intends to ship it and, if possible, how it will be shipped. The tracking number can help you find a lost order.
Know your rights. Federal law requires that orders made by phone, mail or online be shipped by the date promised or within 30 days if no delivery time was stated. If goods aren’t shipped on time, shoppers can cancel and demand a refund. Consumers also may reject merchandise if it is defective or was misrepresented.

We hope these tips assist you in a safe and wonderful Holiday Season. For more information, contact your BBB at contact@evansville.bbb.org or 812-473-0202.

About Cathy 26 Articles
Cathy is the President and CEO of the Tri-State Better Business Bureau.

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