Are you counting down the days and hours until Black Friday shopping? It’s time to start planning! Remember, all deals are not created equal and the fine print is often the most important thing! Before you head out the door, and get caught up in the frenzy, BBB offers these tips:
Be Prepared. Many retailers will release their Black Friday deals online, in social media, in newspapers, and other publications. Research where the sales are and make a list of your gift priorities to compare prices and plan your day of deals. Build up a coupon collection, and remember to bring ads with you on Black Friday just in case the price is not what you expected.
Sign up for Email Alerts and Loyalty Programs. Retailers often use email alerts to encourage frequent shopping. By signing up, you get the latest deals and coupons!
Use Social Media. Before you decide to buy, visit the Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of your favorite retailers and see if they’re offering any incentives, like discounts, when you “like” their page or follow them.
There’s an APP for that. Download comparison-shopping apps that let you see special deals and compare prices while you’re in the store. Many include a bar-code scanner that lets you scan and compare prices.
Look for QR Codes. They’re square, black-and-white and funny looking – but they can take you straight to a deal. QR stands for Quick Response codes and they’re popping up in many ads and print materials. Several BBB Accredited Businesses use them to help you Start with Trust and they can bring you directly to a special offer or a BBB Business Review. Before you can scan one and view the offer – you’ll have to install a QR app reader on your smart phone.
Avoid Bait-and-Switch Tricks. These ads are designed to bring you in, but push you toward a more expensive item. Retailers will sometimes advertise great deals, but only have one or two of those deals in stock. Once you are in the store, they hope you will purchase a more expensive item.
Create a budget—and stick to it. Decide ahead of time how much you want to spend, and resist impulse buying in the store, especially if you don’t know how good a deal you’re really getting.
Store Policies. Understand the store’s policies. They can change on Black Friday! Read the fine print on return policies, final sales, and warranties. Some stores also charge restocking fees if products have been opened.
Comparative Shop Online. There are dozens of Black Friday websites that claim to capture the best deals around and they can really help you do your comparative shopping online. Before you pick your favorite site, BBB recommends consumers find a reputable site that’s not a fly-by-night operation by checking them out at bbb.org and see what others say about the site through an online search. When shopping, confirm the site is secure and be certain you have a phone number and physical address in case there are problems.
Shop with Trust. If you find a deal – don’t just jump at the first chance to get it. BBB recommends doing your research on the business – know how long they’ve been in business, look into their customer service track record, and check them out at bbb.org.
Shop Safely. While getting a deal is important, there are ways to shop safely without putting yourself or your wallet in jeopardy. BBB advises consumers to take their time and plan ahead for the best rewards.
- Make a list and prioritize where you should go and when.
- Bring friends. You can work together to get the best deals.
- Remember to get gift receipts and keep them organized.
- Keep all receipts so you can compare them with what you purchased when your monthly statement comes in.
- Keep your personal information to yourself and be mindful of where you are laying your credit card, driver’s license, wallet, purse, etc.
- If shopping online, confirm the security of your online purchases. 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, 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 revel if the site is not encrypted.
- Pay with a credit card. Under Federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don’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.
For more tips, go to www.bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222.