With More Ways to Shop Than Ever Before, Consumers Must be Wise and Savvy
As the holiday season approaches, the Federal Trade Commission encourages consumers to review shopping guidelines. Whether you're in the market for the latest high-tech gadget, a rare antique, or fine jewelry, you can shop by catalog, phone, online, or in a retail store. No matter which way you choose to shop, the FTC recommends the following tips in its consumer publication, "Holiday Shopping, Circa 2008: Tips from the Federal Trade Commission," available online at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt082.shtm:
- Know with whom you're dealing. Confirm an address or phone number to contact if you have questions or problems.
- While online, order only on a secure server.
- Pay the safest way. A credit card offers the most consumer protection.
Know Your Rights.
- Can you get your money back? Check out refund and return policies before you buy.
- Read the fine print. Take some time to click on any hyperlinks leading to warranty or rebate information, additional costs, or other key information.
- Check delivery dates. A Federal Trade Commission rule requires sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date, when no specific date is promised.
- Review Warranties. You have the right to review a warranty before you purchase a product. Reading the warranty before you buy can help you understand exactly what protection you will get if something goes wrong later.
Get the Best Deal
- Compare prices. Don't forget to factor shipping and handling fees into the order cost.
Keep Good Records
- Track your purchases. Keep records of your order.
- Keep receipts. You may need them to return an item or reconcile your credit card statement. Ask for gift receipts to include with your gift.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY:1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.