Keep These Consumer Tips in Mind This Christmas

Keep These Consumer Tips in Mind This Christmas

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The busyness of the holiday season can add pressure to shoppers who may find themselves attempting to juggle multiple responsibilities including shopping for gifts. On average, consumers spend more than $700 on Christmas gifts, hard-earned money that few of us give fritter away.

As you go about your Christmas shopping, consider the following tips to protect yourself financially:

Ads, circulars and web promotions. Likely, you heard about a sale through promotional material including a newspaper ad, a mail circular, or perhaps a web notice. To ensure that you get the sale price, bring that ad with you when you shop. If there is a price discrepancy, you can show the ad to the sales clerk to receive an immediate adjustment.

Restocking fees…what are they? If you return an item with receipt in hand, you expect a full refund. Right? Well, some stores charge a restocking fee to place the item back in its inventory, especially expensive household appliances, furniture and electronic equipment. That fee is allowable by law, but it can surprise you if you are not aware that it exists. So, before buying that big ticket item, ask the sales clerk if a restocking fee applies and how much.

Save your receipts and warranties. Save your receipts until after the gift has been given and your credit card statement has arrived for verification. Keep receipts longer if there are “X” number of days to return an item, no questions asked. Applicable warranties and service agreements should be kept and placed in a convenient file for future reference.

When shopping online, do this. So many of us shop online, we may take this perk for granted. Trouble is, not all websites are the same nor are all websites secure. You want to shop a secure website so that your credit card information is encrypted to keep identify thieves from stealing those details. You will know a site is secure when the web address starts with a “https” and a closed padlock appears in the corner or top or bottom of your screen.

About those gift cards. Giving gift cards is a popular option for many consumers and an easy way to finish up your gift giving for the season. There are certain fees and expiration dates that apply to many cards, including for those that are not used immediately. To help your recipient avoid charges, encourage him or her to use the card right away. To forget could mean annual charges and an eventual expiration of that card.

Consumer Protection Tips

What if you have a dispute with your retailer? Most disputes can be handled directly as merchants are usually loathe to turn a faithful customer into an unhappy former customer. Moreover, if you bought something with your credit card, there are certain consumer protections that can withhold payment to merchants until a complaint is resolved. Notify your credit card provider if a dispute remains unsettled.

Consumers also have recourse on the state level. If you believe you have been victimized by fraud, you should contact your state’s Attorney General’s Office by phone. You may also have the option to file a complaint in person at an available satellite office. Make your complaint known if your other options for relief have not been satisfied.

See Also 5 Last Minute Christmas Shopping Tips!

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