(Phoenix, Ariz. - Nov. 24, 2009) With the first big day of the holiday shopping season coming on “Black Friday,” November 27, followed by “Cyber Monday” on November 30, Attorney General Terry Goddard today offered his top five tips for holiday shoppers.
“In this time of tight budgets for most Arizona families, it is especially important to be alert to scams and other consumer pitfalls this holiday season,” Goddard said.
Goddard also said that his Office has launched its holiday Web page on www.azag.gov which provides answers to common questions about holiday shopping, charitable giving and other consumer concerns. Shopping tips and alerts will be released and posted on the site each week throughout the season.
Attorney General Terry Goddard’s Top 5 Tips for Holiday Shopping
- Check recall notices before buying children’s products
Monday’s recall of more than one million drop-side cribs is an unfortunate reminder of the need to pay close attention to federal recalls when buying toys and other children’s products this holiday season.
How to protect yourself: Visit www.recalls.gov before purchasing children’s products to ensure the item has not been recalled. You can sign up to receive federal recall notices at www.cpsc.gov . Also, check the manufacturer’s suggested age restrictions before purchasing a toy or other gift for a child.
- Bring ads for sales and “special deals” with you to the store
Advertising a set of sales or “deals” and then refusing to honor the terms of the advertisement is deceptive advertising and illegal in Arizona. Consumers using holiday sales and coupons should be careful that the specials advertised are the same in the stores.
How to protect yourself: Bring ads with you to the stores to see if prices charged match advertised prices. When checking out, watch the cash register display to be sure the scanned price matches the advertised or posted price. Check your receipt for accuracy before leaving the store. If you have pricing questions, ask to see the store’s pricing error policy. If you feel you were misled or deceived by a company, file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at www.azag.gov .
- Do online shopping at secure Web sites
Using “secure” Web sites will help ensure that personal information, such as your name, address and credit card number, is transmitted to the merchant safely, without being intercepted by a third party.
How to protect yourself: Identify secure Web sites by looking for Web addresses that begin with “https” and look for a small padlock at the bottom of the page. Credit cards are still preferred over debit cards for online shopping security.
- Watch out for restocking fees
Some stores will charge you a percentage of the price for “restocking” an item that you return for refund or credit. These fees most often apply to larger purchases such as furniture, electronic equipment or appliances. If a business charges a restocking fee, it should disclose the fee in print advertising and promotional materials as well as post a clearly visible notice disclosing the fee and how consumers can obtain the full restocking fee policy.
How to protect yourself: Before making a purchase, ask if the store charges a restocking fee. If so, make sure you understand the full cost and restocking policy.
- Save all receipts, warranties and service agreements
Having printed copies of receipts, warranties and service agreements helps you negotiate any refunds or exchanges should you have a problem or decide to return the product.
How to protect yourself: Request warranties and service contracts in writing and save receipts from all of your purchases. Bring them with you if you need a refund, exchange or repair.
Attorney General’s Holiday Consumer Web Page
The Attorney General’s Office just launched its holiday shopping Web page dedicated to helping consumers get the most enjoyment and value out of their holiday season shopping.
The site, which can be found by going to www.azag.gov , includes a list of resources for holiday gift giving, tips to protect yourself from identity thieves and tools to research your charitable donations and ensure the gifts you buy are safe for those who receive them.
“Black Friday” is the day retailers hope to start turning a profit for the year, going from being in the “red” to the “black.” And “Cyber Monday” recognizes the high volume of Internet sales that customarily happen the Monday following Thanksgiving.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please contact the Attorney General's Office in Phoenix at 602.542.5763; in Tucson at 520.628.6504; or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at 1.800.352.8431. To file a complaint in person, the Attorney General’s Office has satellite offices throughout the state with volunteers available to help. Locations and hours of operation are posted on the Attorney General’s Web site, www.azag.gov . Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the Web site.