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Office of Consumer Protection

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


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