The holiday season is a time of generosity and gift giving. For those shoppers who are getting ready to enter the buying rush, the Better Business Bureau offers the following advice.
ü Set a realistic budget and stick to it. Also, consider making a list of the gifts you would like to give. This can help you to avoid buying on impulse gifts that may be inappropriate or too expensive.
ü Compare prices and shop carefully. Holiday “sales” and “markdowns” sometimes aren’t the bargain they appear to be. Read catalogs and advertisements to compare prices for the same similar merchandise to determine whether a holiday sale price is really a bargain.
ü Be sure to ask a merchant about its refund and exchange policy, before making a purchase. A store is not obliged to accept items for refund, exchange or credit unless the item is defective or was misrepresented. Refund and exchange policies vary from store to store, so before making a purchase, inquire about and completely understand the store policy. To make the process easier, be sure to save all tags and receipts, and bring the merchandise back in good condition and as soon as possible.
ü Be informed about your rights when placing orders through catalogues, mail order, TV shopping networks, and online venues. Ask about delivery times and costs, and how returns are handled. Check the company out with the Better Business Bureau.
ü Use caution if you are considering playing “cyber-Santa” this year. More products are available online this holiday season than ever before. If you are not familiar with the merchant or company, contact the BBB for a report. If you are shopping online, and you are not comfortable entering your credit or charge card account number online, call it in to the company or fax it.
ü Be on guard at all times when shopping. Never leave your wallet, credit card, or purse on a counter. Don’t get overloaded with packages or lose track of your children if they are accompanying you. Shop with a companion or ask for a security escort to you car.