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Improve your Black Friday experiences with these tips

American shoppers are expected to spend nearly $1,000 during the 2017 holiday shopping season.
American shoppers are expected to spend nearly $1,000 during the 2017 holiday shopping season. Bloomberg

The day after Thanksgiving was originally dubbed “Black Friday” as a negative due to traffic, crowds and hostile behavior. It’s now a positive for many people who get excited for the lines, the crowds, and especially the deals. American consumers plan to spend an average of $967.13 during the holiday shopping season this year, according to National Retail Federation’s survey conducted by Prosper Insights.

Retailers are gearing up for the big day, especially the “big box” stores that sell name brand appliances, housewares, electronics, and other popular gift items. Newspapers are stuffed with sale flyers, commercials are promoting the “door buster” deals, and online ads promise the best bargains.

Better Business Bureau offers these tips to make your Black Friday shopping experience productive… and maybe even enjoyable:

▪  Do your research. Read product reviews, check out BBB Business Reviews, look at the sales flyers and ads, compare prices, look for early promotions and “flash sales.”

▪  Read the fine print. Some stores only honor sale ads during a certain time frame, or on certain days. Some stores may only allow you to purchase one item, particularly large, popular and/or deeply discounted products.

▪  Check return policies. Electronics may have a restocking fee, especially if you decide to return after taking it out of the box. You can often find a store’s return policy on its website or at the cash register. Consider looking up policies days before the event and not relying on asking a busy cashier dealing with frantic customers during a long checkout line.

▪  Ask for gift receipts and save warranty information. Request a gift receipt, and be sure to pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs and warranties to the person who will use the item.

▪  Find the best deals. Many stores release their best Black Friday deals to people who have signed up to receive their emails. Just make sure it’s the real business and not a scammer.

▪  Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. Look for “https” before entering any personal information.

▪  Learn about advertising tricks and gimmicks. The ads may flash big “30% off storewide” claims, but understand what that really means. Certain items only? Full price items only? How does the full price of the item compare to other stores? The holiday weekend is a good time to teach youngsters about advertising. The BBB #AdTruth campaign highlights bad ads and helps you learn to identify the most common schemes and cons. Check it out at bbb.org/adtruth

Emily Valla, emily.valla@thebbb.org, is the Idaho marketplace director for the Better Business Bureau Northwest. To check a business or report a scam, go to www.bbb.org or call (208) 342-4649.

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