BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - As Black Friday quickly approaches, shoppers are preparing to scope out good deals and find the must-have items of the season. The Better Business Bureau is reminding consumers to be smart and remember, not all deals are created equal.
Here are the tips from the BBB:
Tip 1 – Know before You Go.
Retailers often release their Black Friday deals online, in social media and other publications. Research where the sales are keeping the cost of gas in mind and make a list of your gift priorities. Compare store locations, prices and make a plan for your day of deals. Remember to bring ads with you on Black Friday just in case the price is not what you expected.
Tip 2 – Comparative Shop.
Not only are there are dozens of Black Friday websites claiming to capture the best deals around, your smart phone can really help you be smart about comparative price shopping in stores and online as well.
As you look for your favorite Black Friday web site, BBB recommends consumers find a reputable site that's not a fly-by-night operation and check them out first at bbb.org and do a Google search to see what others say about the site. If you decide to buy online there are a host of security measures to abide by, chief among them to know you're dealing with an experienced, reputable retailer; confirm that the site is secure and be certain you have a phone number and physical address should problems arise with your order.
As for those smart phones, shoppers can simply scan a product's barcode in stores with an app to pinpoint the lowest prices, see ratings and reviews from other shoppers. Some stores may even honor prices you find. If you're looking for an app, check out this list from SmartMoney.
Tip 3 – Don't Fall for False Advertising.
Despite BBBs effort to advance trust in the marketplace, some companies will resort to advertisements that are untrue, misleading, deceptive, or plain fraudulent. Black Friday advertising will be abundant and BBB urges consumers to watch for red flags.
Many consumers have experienced frustration and lost money they can't afford to lose after being lured by prices too good to be true, bait and switch ads designed to bring you in but push you toward more expensive items, fine print return policies, final sales, and deals that end before the day is done. To protect you on Black Friday, BBB advises consumers not to believe all they see or hear without doing their own research to confirm the claims being made. For details and help to decipher truth in adverting, consumers can review BBB's code of advertising.
Tip 4 – Maximize Advance Alerts.
Do you have favorite retailers? Now is a good time to sign up for their email alerts and "like" their Facebook page. BBB Accredited Businesses and other stores are working to reward your loyalty and you may get a jump on special offers.
Tip 5 – Shop with Trust.
If you find a deal – don't just jump at the first chance to get it. The BBB recommends doing your research on the business – know how long they've been in business, look into their customer service track record, check them out at bbb.org. If you have concerns about the type of gift or the right 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 missed out or the clerk may have handed one over. Black Friday deals may have strict restrictions with no sharing allowed. Make sure you have reward cards with your favorite stores and keep them with you. Check your credit card rewards program as well for special 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 app reader. Most smart phones are equipped to scan QR codes and if you're a mobile shopper 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 can change too. Make sure you know what the return and exchange policy is for your Black Friday special and that a return is even possible – especially if you're buying online. 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
Save your gas money and your time when you stay close to home. The Better Business Bureau is encouraging consumers to support small businesses in their community on Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. Check your neighborhood retailers for their weekend deals and gain some goodwill by knowing you've done your part to help them thrive during the holidays. Although a price match may not be applicable for some items - your neighborhood store may be able to guarantee a price for you – even if you decide to buy later.
10 – Shop Safely.
While getting a deal is important, there are ways to shop safely without putting yourself or your wallet in jeopardy. BBB advises consumers to take their time and plan ahead for the best rewards.
Make a list and prioritize where you should go and when.
Bring friends into the mix to help sort through your options, two cars can go in two directions making it easier to get limited quantities and some pals will even wait in line as you trade off shopping in the stores.
If you're loading up the car, keep your packages undercover. No one need to become a theft victim during the holidays.
Remember to get gift receipts and keep them organized for those moments when the thought wasn't quite enough.
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