Are you ready to shop? Better Business Bureau past experience tells us all Black Friday deals are not created equal and the fine print is often the most important thing. Before you head out the door for a block buster and get caught up in the frenzy, the BBB offers the following tip sheet to help you save time and money.
Tip 1 – Know before You Go.
Retailers often release their Black Friday deals online, in social media andother publications. Research where the sales are keeping the cost of gas inmind and make a list of your gift priorities. Compare store locations, pricesand make a plan for your day of deals. Remember to bring ads with you on BlackFriday just in case the price is not what you expected.
Tip 2 – ComparisonShop.
Not only are there are dozens of Black Friday websites claiming to capture thebest deals around, your smart phone can really help you be smart about comparativeprice shopping in stores and online as well.
As you look for your favorite Black Friday web site, BBB recommends consumersfind a reputable site that’s not a fly-by-night operation and check them outfirst at bbb.orgplus a Google search to see what others say about the site. If you decide tobuy online there are a host of security measures to abide by, chief among themto know you’re dealing with an experienced, reputable retailer; confirm thatthe site is secure and be certain you have a phone number and physical addressshould problems arise with your order.
As for those smart phones, shoppers can simplyscan a product's barcode in stores with an app to pinpoint the lowest prices, seeratings and reviews from other shoppers. Some stores may even honor prices youfind. If you’re looking for an app, check out this list from SmartMoney.
Tip 3 – Don’t Fall for FalseAdvertising.
Despite BBBs effort to advance trust in the marketplace, some companies willresort to advertisements that are untrue, misleading, deceptive, or plain fraudulent.Black Friday advertising will be abundant and BBB urges consumers to watch forred flags.
Many consumers have experienced frustration and lostmoney they can’t afford to lose after being lured by prices too good to betrue, bait and switch ads designed to bring you in but push you toward moreexpensive items, fine print return policies, final sales, and deals that endbefore the day is done. To protect you on Black Friday, BBB advises consumersnot to believe all they see or hear without doing their own research toconfirm the claims being made. For details and help to deciphertruth in adverting, consumers can review BBB's codeof advertising.
Tip 4 –Maximize Advance Alerts.
Do you have favorite retailers? Now is a good time to sign up for their emailalerts and “like” their Facebook page. BBB Accredited Businesses and otherstores are working to reward your loyalty and you may get a jump on specialoffers.
Tip 5 – Shop with Trust.
If you find a deal – don’t just jump atthe first chance to get it. The BBB recommends doing your research on thebusiness – know how long they’ve been in business, look into their customerservice track record, check them out at bbb.org. If you have concerns about the type of gift or theright fit – make sure you ask about their return policy too.
Tip 6 – Bring Reward Cards.
Have you ever stood in line with out your store rewards card? You either missedout or the clerk may have handed one over. Black Friday deals may have strict restrictionswith no sharing allowed. Make sure you have reward cards with your favoritestores and keep them with you. Check your credit card rewards program as well forspecial points that could add up on Black Friday.
Tip 7 – 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 in many ads and print materials.Before you can scan one and view the offer - you’ll have to install a QR appreader. Most smart phones are equipped to scan QR codes and if you’re a mobileshopper you could really have some fun.
Tip 8 - Check Return and Exchange Policies.
All bets can change for Black Friday deals which mean the store policies canchange too. Make sure you know what the return and exchange policy is for your BlackFriday special and that a return is even possible – especially if you’re buyingonline. Final sales, a very short return window (like before December 25th)or in-store or online only credit could leave you with deal gone wrong.
Tip 9 - Shop Small
Saveyour gas money and your time when you stay close to home. The Better BusinessBureau is encouraging consumers to support small businesses in their communityon Small Business Saturday, theday after Black Friday. Check your neighborhood retailers for their weekenddeals and gain some goodwill by knowing you’ve done your part to help themthrive during the holidays. Although a price match may not be applicable forsome items - your neighborhood store may be able to guarantee a price for you –even if you decide to buy later.
Tip 10 – Shop Safely.
While getting a deal is important, there are ways to shop safely withoutputting yourself or your wallet in jeopardy. BBB advises consumers to taketheir time and plan ahead for the best rewards.
· Make a list and prioritize where youshould go and when.
· Bring friends into the mix to help sortthrough your options, two cars can go in two directions making it easier to getlimited quantities and some pals will even wait in line as you trade offshopping in the stores.
· If you’re loading up the car, keep yourpackages undercover. No one need to become a theft victim during the holidays.
· Remember to get gift receipts and keepthem organized for those moments when the thought wasn’t quite enough.
For more advice on how to be a savvy consumer this holiday season, follow us onFacebook at www.facebook.com/BetterBusinessBureauofUpstateNY.