Black Friday shopping can be overwhelming: The sales flyers, the commercials, people lining up before the crack of dawn to get a crack at discount prices. In some instances people have risked their lives trying to fight off trampling crowds vying for the season’s hot new toy item. Some love it--others think it’s a nightmare.
If you’re gonna go for it, what are some ways to navigating day after Thanksgiving sales? We asked consumer expert Edgar Dworsky of www.consumerworld.org for advice. Take it away Ed:
Read the Ads:
Check local newspapers on Thanksgiving Day. They will be chockfull of circulars and last minute deals. Friday’s papers will include additional sales. To preview some of the items now that will be on sale on “Black Friday”, visit www.bfads.net or www.blackfriday.gottadeal.com websites with advance copies of store ads.
Evaluate the Deals:
Not all advertised items are great deals. To separate the ho-hum from the good deals, use several of Consumer World’s pricing tools, such as the Price Checker at www.ConsumerWorld.org (to compare prices at many online stores instantly), www.DealAlerter.com (to get notified when an item’s price drops) and www.PriceHistories.com (to compare today’s price for an item to what was charged over the past six months). If shopping online, find out the total price including shipping and tax (if any), and what the reputation of the seller is using www.Shopzilla.com or www.ResellerRatings.com.
Research the Right Product:
A low price on a lousy product is no bargain. Check websites where professionals evaluate products, such as www.ConsumerReports.org, www.Steves-Digicams.com (for cameras), www.Ecoustics.com (TV/hi-fi equipment), www.PCMagazine.com (computers), best/worst toy lists, etc. Also, nothing beats reading customer reviews by real owners of the products you are thinking of buying.
Save with “Triple Plays”:
To save the most, combine the primary ways to save: buy items at a good sale price, use percent-off/dollars-off coupons offered by some stores to lower that price even more, and look for items that also have a cash back rebate.
Be an Early Bird:
Plot your route from store to store based on store opening times, and since quantities are very limited, arrive before the doors open. Send family members to different stores if opening times conflict. Look for “doorbusters.”
Check the Return Policy:
Before buying, find out the store’s return policy. While many stores have extended their return deadlines into January, others are clamping down by imposing restocking fees on certain categories of items, or by using a blacklisting database or returns tracking system to deny refunds to return abusers.
Get a Gift Receipt:
Make returns easier for gift recipients by asking the store for a gift receipt and include it in the gift box. Without a receipt, a refund may be denied outright, or may be limited to only an equal exchange, or to a merchandise credit for the lowest price the item has sold for in the recent past.
Use the Right Credit Card:
Certain credit cards offer valuable free benefits. For example, don’t be pressured into buying a service contract when you can get up to an extra year of warranty coverage free just by using most gold or platinum credit cards. Ask your credit card issuer what length warranties qualify for an extra year of coverage, if any. Some credit cards also offer a return protection guarantee (they will refund the purchase price within 90 days if the store will not), or a sale price guarantee (they will give you back the difference if an item goes on sale within 60 days of purchase).
Save More with Price Guarantees:
The bargain shopping process does not end with a product purchase. Keep checking the prices of the items you bought. Since many stores offer a price protection guarantee, you may be entitled to get back some additional money if the seller or a competitor offers a lower price before Christmas.
-Thanks for helping us out on that Ed!
Other expert tips include:
If you’re standing in a store and want to check out other retailer’s prices for the same item, there’s an app for that ! Check out price comparison smart phone applications like “Pricegrabber” http://www.pricegrabber.com/ipad-iphone-android-app.php
Soon you’ll start hearing what ungodly hour major retail stores will be opening their doors, but if you really want to start walking off all the turkey you ate-- Premium Outlets across the country will open their doors at midnight on November 26, kicking off Black Friday.Several stores will open even earlier at 10pm! Check out http://www.premiumoutlets.com for complete details. For more discounts, sign up for its VIP SHOPPER CLUB to score more deals, online coupons and exclusive savings: www.premiumoutlets.com/vip