With the holiday shopping season is in full gear, everywhere you look — from the TV to your computer — retailers are trying their best to compete for your hard-earned dollar.
“Merchants can be aggressive when it comes to advertising. Ultimately, each consumer must educate themselves and research products and prices, before they buy,” says Joel Metter of the Broward County Permitting, Licensing and Consumer Protection Division. “Now is definitely the time to work smart, not hard, when shopping for those holiday gifts.”
Metter’s agency offers the following tips for coping with the shopping pressure:
1. Shop around and don’t fall victim to sales hype. A “sale” price isn’t always the best price. Be sure to compare the exact same product, including the make, model, and other identifying information. If you are purchasing a big-ticket item such as a big-screen TV, compare any delivery costs or installation fees that may need to be considered in order to get the product functioning in your home.
2. Can you get it on time? This is particularly important for Internet sales. Merchants are required to ship an order within the time stated. If there is no shipping date listed, the law requires that the merchant ship the order within 30 days or notify so that you have the opportunity to cancel your order for a complete refund.
3. Returns and refunds can be tricky. Make sure that you are clear about the merchant’s refund/return policy. According to Florida law, a seller who does not offer a cash or credit refund must post a sign at the point of sale, such as the check-out register, stating its policy. Stores that offer cash/credit refunds do not have to post a sign but must print the policy on the sales receipt. In all cases, ask if you are unsure about a store’s policy. For online sales, be sure to review the return policy before you buy.
4. Keep a paper trail. Keep all receipts, packaging, warranty information and advertisements. If you bought online, print all of the information regarding your order and keep the catalog or a copy of the webpage. File all of your documents in a safe place so you can easily access them if necessary.
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