Holiday Shopping Tips
The holiday shopping season is now in full swing and no matter the size of your holiday budget, it always pays to be a smart consumer. The following are shopping tips to ensure that you get through this holiday season in good cheer while keeping your finances intact:
A “sale” price isn’t always the best price. Some companies may offer a sale price on the item you want for a limited time, while other stores may discount the same item every day. When you’re comparison shopping, make sure to have the item’s manufacturer, model and/or stock number to accurately compare prices. Some merchants may participate in price-matching or even beat the competitor’s price – it’s always a good idea to ask.
Beware of Recalls
Before you go shopping, find out which toys or products have been recalled. The Consumer Product Safety Commission keeps a list of recalled toys at www.cpsc.gov. Be especially careful at thrift or resellers – often times recalled and unsafe products are resold without the seller or buyer even being aware. When giving to small children, it’s also a good idea to immediately discard plastic wrapping or other toy packaging before they become dangerous play things - be especially careful with balloons, small balls, scooters and magnets.
Buying Gift Cards
A 2010 Consumer Reports survey showed that four out of ten consumers named gift cards as their last minute go-to gift. Federal law now limits the ability of gift card issuers to enforce certain fees and expiration dates. Yet, some bank issued gift cards can charge activation fees and a fixed monthly maintenance fee following 12 months of inactivity. Another thing to consider,: if a retail store goes bankrupt, gift card holders may be restricted to where they can use the card and may have a limited time to use it.
Know Return Policies
The return policies of retailers can vary. Each retailer sets their own policies, so make sure to obtain their policy before you buy. The return policies for items that were purchased online or by mail order can also vary. Many electronics and special orders are subject to restocking fees which can vary from 10 to 25 percent if they are not returned in their original, factory-sealed packaging. The restocking fee should not be assessed when the product is deemed defective or has been misrepresented.
Keep Good Records
Keep all your receipts. Keep records of any online order and track your purchases. Make sure to always ask for a gift receipt to include with your gift.
Remember, we’re here for you. For any consumer related questions you can visit us online at www.800helpfla.com or call our Consumer Assistance Center at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) from within Florida, 850-410-3800 from outside of Florida or 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) en Español.