Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are quickly approaching, and Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina offers tips to help make your shopping adventure as smooth as possible:
Create a budget and stick to it. According to the National Retail Federation, the average holiday shopper will spend $749.51 on gifts, decor, greeting cards and other seasonal items. How can you keep from overspending? BBB has once again teamed up with Clearpoint Credit Solutions to offer the Holiday Planner Calculator. This easy-to-use online tool will help you create a budget that is realistic for the way you celebrate, entertain, travel and give gifts this holiday season.
Do not fall for the too-good-to-be-true deal. Get to know retailers first by checking out their BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org. Compare prices before you hit the stores on Black Friday so you know if you really are getting a great deal.
Shop small on Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday, which takes place on November 24, is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. BBB is teaming up with American Express, a BBB Accredited Business and National Partner, to spread the word on why small businesses are so significant. Here’s a fun infographic to show just how important small businesses are to our economy.
Watch out for scams. The BBB Scam Stopper Web site can tell you all about the latest scams, and help you learn the most common tactics used by scam artists both in-person and online. It is important for consumers to be especially careful of scams this holiday season. Popular holiday scams include:
- Hackers send phishing e-mails, with phony tracking numbers, from shipping companies claiming that there is a problem with delivery of merchandise. The e-mails instruct consumers to open an attachment to print out the correct delivery label. Upon opening the attachment, their computers are infected with malware.
- E-cards are used by scammers as a disguise for phishing e-mails. With typical e-cards, the recipients receive an e-mail with a hyperlink that will take users to the e-card, which is housed on a Web site. Unfortunately, this is an easy way for scam artists to direct consumers to their Web site, which will install a virus on their computers.
Shop safely online. Before you surf the Internet on Cyber Monday, make sure your computer has the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Scam artists use this holiday time to prey on online shoppers. BBB recommends shopping on trusted Web sites, and looking for the Ad Choices logo for sites that give you more control over whether advertisers can use your information for targeted advertising. It is also best to use a credit card when shopping online because you can dispute the charges if you do not receive the item you ordered.
Know your rights. Whether shopping retail or online, know your legal rights. U.S. law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods are not shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. Consumers also have the right to reject merchandise if it is defective or misrepresented. Otherwise, it is the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit, so be sure you understand return policies before you buy.
For additional advice this holiday season, visit www.bbb.org.