Boxing Day bargain hunters need to be smart shoppers, says BBB

Do your homework before jumping on purchases, bureau warns

Boxing Day is approaching and with the frenzy of sales activity consumers will again be facing long line-ups and limited quantities of products. Better Business Bureau would like to remind consumers to be smart shoppers before they rush out to get a deal.

“Retaillers are already publishing sales for Boxing Day and consumers are getting caught up in the excitement of finding a great deal,” says Lynda Pasacreta, BBB President and CEO. “We want consumer to be smart shoppers. Read the fine print in ads and know the store policies regarding Boxing Day sales.”

BBB advises consumers to be proactive and savvy. Consider the following before taking advantage of retailer sales this Boxing Day:

Read ads carefully before starting your shopping. Make sure you read and understand all of the fine print. If you have questions, contact the store ahead of time and get clarity on any policies or conditions that may affect your experience. Some retailers have price exemptions specifically for Boxing Day. This can affect 14-day price guarantees because retailers may not match special Boxing Day pricing.

Bait & Switch. One of the biggest problems during significant sale days like Boxing Day is the practice of offering a popular, expensive item for a great sale price, but only stocking a very limited number of these products. This is somewhat of a bait-and-switch because even if that product is unavailable, you are likely to stay at the store and take advantage of other less valuable sales. Our advice to avoid this problem is to contact the retailer before the sale goes into effect and ask what quantity of the featured item is in stock. Also ask if they offer rain checks to customers if they run out of the product unreasonably early.

Up-to savings claims. You may see exciting offers this Boxing Day stating certain items are “Up-to 70% OFF!!” or other similar claims. One item is 70 percent off and most of the products are marked at a much lower percentage off, perhaps at 30% off. That’s why BBB Code of Advertising guidelines state that a business should advertise the minimum and maximum amount of savings: “30% – 70% OFF”, so it’s clear that the savings are within that range. So be aware that if you see those kinds of claims, the product you want may not really be marked down as much as stated in the ad. If you come across this problem, please file a complaint with the BBB (at www.mbc.bbb.org), so we can contact the business and request that they modify the advertising.

Are deals really worth it? Consumers can often get caught up in the rush of a sale and sometimes forget to ask themselves simple questions such as, “Is this something I have planned to buy?” or “Do I need this item?” and “How much can I afford to spend?” BBB suggests going in with a budget and sticking to it, never buy because it seems like a good deal. 

Comparison Shop Online. There are dozens of comparison shopping websites, and now smart phone applications, that claim to capture the best deals around. Before you pick your favourite site or app, we recommend checking them out at www.mbc.bbb.org or see what others have to say about the site through an online searches and consumer reviews.

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