Holiday shopping: Tips to remember

  • Published
  • By The Sheppard Law Center
  • 82nd Judge Advocate
The holiday season means gift giving, and that means shopping. Whether shopping is done on the Internet or at the local store, there are a number of ways to run into problems.

Keep these shopping tips in mind when shopping this holiday season:

· Be cautious about financially overextending yourself by adding bills and debts you cannot afford. Pay in cash instead of credit whenever possible. Remember, if you've purchased something using credit, you will then begin making payments, sometimes at high rates of interest.

· Know who you are dealing with. Do some research if necessary. If shopping online, confirm the seller's physical address and phone number so you can contact them if you have questions or problems. If you haven't heard of the seller, check its reputation with the Better Business Bureau or state attorney general.

· Know exactly what you're buying. Read the seller's description of the product. Words like refurbished, closeout, discontinued or off-brand may indicate that a product is in less than mint condition.

· Read what you sign. Before you agree to anything know the commitments you are making, understand your rights, and know whether there are any limitations to the agreement.

· When shopping online, pay with a credit card versus a debit card. Credit cards offer you the most protection as a consumer.

· Keep records of your transactions. Save your receipts, product descriptions, and any correspondence you may have with the seller. This may be particularly important for online, phone or mail orders.

· Understand the return policy before you buy. Determine whether you can return the item for a full refund if you are not satisfied with the product, and who pays for the shipping costs.

If you believe that you have been misled or deceived, please make an appointment with the Sheppard Law Center by calling (940) 676-4262.