Black Friday – Deal Or No Deal? 5 Ways to Shop Smarter

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Are you already on the prowl for Black Friday deals or Cyber Monday sales? We all know that these days hold the reputation of fulfilling every bargain hunter’s dream because retailers slash prices on a limited number of items at or below cost. But are these Black Friday deals really a “deal”?Well, the day after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday” for a reason. For retailers, it’s all about boosting their sales “into the black” – into profitability. Profits are made not by offering goods at a loss, but by selling at super-low prices to lure you into their stores where they can try to use sneaky tricks to get your money.In order to survive this holiday season with your wallet intact and make “Black Friday” profitable for yourself, and not the stores, review these 5 shopping tips:1. Beware of Deep-Discount Sales and “Add-Ons.” As mentioned earlier, many retailers promote “door-buster” sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to lure you into the store or online so that you will spend, spend, spend. Frequently, stores offer a very limited quantity of the “door-buster” deals which may force you to purchase a similar item at the regular price. This is a classic “bait-and-switch” scam. Stores may also attempt to sell you an inexpensive product with a very expensive warranty. Or, a salesperson tells you that you need to purchase additional software, accessories or other over-priced add-ons as a requirement for the product but this information was not advertised or included in the price. Typically, you discover this information at the register. If the price at the register is higher than advertised for any reason, ask to speak to a supervisor and insist on the advertised price.2. Shop Early for “Hot-Items.” Don’t procrastinate and wait until the last minute for “hot-items.” Plan your shopping strategy days in advance and make sure that you have alternatives. Diligently use shopping comparison sites and sign up for email alerts from your favorite stores.3. Protect Yourself Online. Phony sales or “bait and switch” tactics happen online too. For example, a Web site might advertise an item at a very cheap price but the product is not in stock so they try to get you to buy something else at a higher cost. Or, if you try to only buy the sale item, the retailer either cancels the order claiming the product has been back-ordered or they send you a lower quality product that you did not order. If one of these practices occur, exercise your consumer rights including, seeking recourse if your order does not arrive on time or disputing questionable charges on your credit card. For more information on avoiding rip-offs and exercising your consumer rights visit http://www.ftc.gov.4. Don’t Buy Unnecessary Warranties. Appliance and electronic retailers always ask you if you want an extended warrant when you buy such items. In most cases, “just say no” Why? These stores keep 50 percent or more of what they charge you for the warranty and studies show that products seldom break within the period the extended warranty covers-which is after the standard warranty expires and within two to three years of purchase. Also, the standard manufacturer’s warranty covers many of the repairs included in an extended warranty. But if you are looking for peace of mind or the price to repair the product is extremely high after the standard warranty expires, check to see if your credit card offers similar coverage or try to negotiate a better price.5. Understand Return and Price Match Policies. You can get the best price without hassles if you know in advance a store’s price-match and return policy. Many stores offer price-match guarantees (if a competitor offers a lower price, they’ll match it). However,items purchased on Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be exempt from the store’s general policy. Some stores have a return policy that, in effect, is a price-match guarantee for the store itself (if they drop the price, the difference is later refunded to you if you ask for it). If you know which product you plan to buy, and find a store with a price-match guarantee that honors Black Friday prices, buy it in advance. When Black Friday rolls around, you can look for the best price, and not have to worry about whether the store is out of stock. If a store is willing to refund the difference between its own normal price and its Black Friday price, buy it early for the same reason.Remember, to get a jump on great Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday sales, start planning now, research your purchases and above all else spread good cheer.

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