Many Central Virginia retailers will kick off the holiday season with early and extended hours. With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all crammed into one long weekend, Better Business Bureau serving Central Virginia wants to help make your shopping adventure go as smoothly as possible. Here are some tips from BBB serving Central Virginia:
- 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. That amount is up slightly from the $740.57 they spent last year. How can you keep from overspending? BBB serving Central Virginia President and CEO Tom Gallagher suggests, “Create a budget that is realistic for the way you celebrate, entertain, travel and give gifts this holiday season.” For an easy-to-use online tool visit http://video.bbb.org/clearpoint-holiday-tips/clearpoint-holiday-budgeting-calculator.html.
- Don’t fall for the too-good-to-be-true deal - Get to know retailers first by checking out their BBB Business Reviews at www.richmond.bbb.org. Compare prices before you hit the stores so you know if you really are getting a great deal. Newspapers will often have coupons that give discounts for Black Friday. When searching for coupons online, make sure to get them from the store’s website, not from an offsite deal promoter.
- Shop small on Small Business Saturday – November 24th is Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year.
- Watch out for scams – BBB’s new Scam Stopper website 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. Be especially careful of holiday related scams. Be sure that letter from Santa is from a legitimate site before you share your child’s personal information. And that friend or grandchild who was mugged while traveling and needs some cash wired ASAP? That’s a scam. Don’t fall for it!
- Shop safely online – November 26th is “Cyber Monday,” and there will be lots of online deals to be had. Before you surf the net, make sure your computer has the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Scammers use this holiday time to prey on online shoppers. Only shop on trusted websites, and look for the Ad Choices logo for sites that give you more control over whether advertisers can use your information for targeted advertising. It’s also best to use a credit card when shopping online because you can dispute the charges if you don’t 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 aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. A consumer also has the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s 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. Keep track of all receipts and documentation, too.
For more advice on safe shopping this holiday season, or to check out a business before you spend your money, visit www.richmond.bbb.org or call us at 804-648-0016.