The lines between Black Friday and Cyber Monday seem to be getting blurred. The National Retail Federation estimates that nearly one-quarter of shoppers plan to keep track of Black Friday deals by seeking out coupon websites and nearly a third plan to track coupons retailers email directly to them. And social media will play a large role this shopping season with nearly one-third of shoppers planning to check out retailers’ Facebook pages.
InMobi’s Holiday Mobile Shopping Study estimates that 60 million mobile users plan to shop on their devices, with 21 million planning to make purchases directly from their handset. Even more amazing is that 15 percent of shoppers plan to make a purchase on their mobile device while in a store.
Whether in the store or online, BBB offers advice to help you with your holiday shopping:
Budget your shopping money and stick to it. Avoid impulse buys.
Look for the details on every sale and understand the specifics.
Advertising can be tricky; don’t get stuck paying more for an item than you expected.
Credit card offers from a store will offer a discount on your purchase but may also carry high interest rates.
Keep all receipts and warranty information for each item purchased.
Fraudulent charges are easier to fix if you pay with a credit card than a debit card.
Return policies differ with every store. Make sure you know the conditions for returns and exchanges, including whether restocking fees are charged.
If you purchase a gift card, look for hidden terms that can decrease its value.
Don’t leave your wallet, credit card or purse on a counter or in an unattended shopping cart.
Ask for a store manager if any advertised offer does not match the price listed on an item.
Yelling at store employees and other customers won’t make the lines shorter.
Credit cards provide the most protection if someone steals the credit card number or if you don’t receive an ordered item. Keep an eye on your statements to detect suspicious or fraudulent activity.
You, the customer, are responsible for knowing and understanding each online retailer’s return/exchange policy.
Beware of deals that sound too good to be true, especially extremely low priced on hard-to-get items.
Ensure you’ve installed most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewalls.
Make a file to keep copies of all purchase confirmation web pages and e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
Only shop on trustworthy sites; look for the BBB seal and other widely-recognized “trustmarks.”
Never wire money to pay for a transaction and when on sites like Craigslist, only shop locally.
Delete phishing emails such as those claiming a problem with an order or account in an attempt to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information.
Ask how returns are handled, particularly if purchasing from a retailer that also has a brick-and-mortar store in your community.
You are your best protection! Make sure your online purchase is secure by looking for the “s” (https://) in the URL and the “lock” symbol in the lower-right corner before paying.
For additional information and advice you can trust this holiday season, start with bbb.org.