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Holiday Shopping Tips



Be a smart consumer!  Here are some tips to help you survive the holiday shopping season without breaking the bank:
  • Make a List  Keep a list of who you plan to buy for, gift ideas for that person and your maximum amount.  This will help you stay focused when shopping.
  • Research Big Ticket Items  If you are splurging on yourself or a loved one, research the items you plan to buy  before going to the store.  This will help you identify the best price in town (or online).
  • Start Early  Last minute shopping may cause you to incur expedited shipping fees, have limited access to high demand items, and allow you to find the best deals.
  • Research Retailers  Get information on the retailer or service provider before making a purchase.  This is especially true with online retailers.  Here are some things to check:
    • ​Do they have a toll-free customer service number?
    • Do they take credit cards?  It is not a guarantee but you may be able to protect yourself through your cards' dispute process.
    • Do they use encrypted HTTPS protocols in their checkout process?
    • Is there a physical address posted under their "Contact Us" page or is it a P.O. Box number?  Search the address online.
    • Check fraud and scam report sites.
    • Check OCP's  Merchant Disclosure database for complaints.
  • Return Policies  Know a store or online seller's return policy before you make your purchase.  It may be worth it to spend a little more at a store with a more liberal return policy.  Be wary of "restocking fees."
  • Restocking Fees  Restocking fees are what a retailer may charge you if you decide to return an item.  A typical restocking fee may be 15-20%.  Always check the retailer's policy before making a purchase.
  • Shipping Fees  When comparing prices, calculate shipping fees into the price of your purchase.  Shipping fees may sometimes be more than the price of the item!
  • Save Your Receipts   Save all of your receipts; they will be needed if a product has to be returned, exchanged or if you have to make a warranty claim. 
  • Use Credit Cards  Credit cards give you maximum protections while shopping.  Debit cards, payment apps , and cash have less legal or procedural protections for consumers.
  • Scam Alert Whether dealing with Porch Pirates , fake merchants, stolen gift cards, Mail Marauders, and cyber(in)security,  The Holidays Bring More than Festive Times...They Bring Scammers (newsletter).
COVID-19 Tips: With the 2020 "shipmageddon" expected, please make sure all online orders are placed early and that if you're shipping gifts, to give it extra time to arrive.  Check with the carrier for expected delivery dates when deciding how to ship and when. If shipping anything of value, research insurance options (and exclusions). 

For more information on fiscal responsibility through the holiday season, please see our Newsletter and Consumer Alert video.