Black Friday is almost upon us, and many people are planning to line up for openings as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Retailers have been touting and teasing the upcoming deals for several weeks now.
But how do you know a deal is worth missing sleep - or skipping out on family gatherings? The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to take a hard look at their budgets and to research the deals before leaving home. Is the item really something you need or want? How are you going to pay for your purchase when the bills come after the holidays?
Here are our nine tips for Black Friday shopping, whether you do it in person or online:
- Protect your personal information. Check to see how your information may be used online. When shopping at stores, keep your card out of sight and make sure you get it back and safely in your wallet before you leave the store.
- Know the company’s refund and return policies. Are there restocking fees? Do you have to pay shipping costs on returns?
- Do not rely on pictures of a product. Read the description and check model numbers, if applicable.
- Be cautious of free or very-low-price offers. Often, free offers are followed by an open-ended enrollment in a program that automatically bills your credit card account. Before ordering anything online, make sure you click on and read all terms and conditions.
- Pay with a credit card. If you suspect fraud or don’t receive your order, you can challenge the charge in the event of a dispute.
- Obtain a tracking number for shipments. If you need the product before the holidays, find out when the seller intends to ship it and if possible, how it will be shipped.
- Print out the order or save it on your computer. Make sure you have the documentation page for online orders and save it until the order arrives.
- Be aware of phishing. Don’t respond to emails that ask for your credit card or bank account number or other personal information. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming there is a problem with an order or account to lure you into revealing financial information. Call the company or find the customer service form on the company website to confirm any problem.
Our release on Black Friday shopping is available online.