Cyber Monday Shopping Tips Podcast Transcript


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Welcome to the Informed Consumer, providing the latest tips and tools to assist consumers in making informed decisions, from the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch.

Today’s topic: Cyber Monday Shopping Tips.

Cyber Monday immediately follows Black Friday and it is the official kick-off of the holiday online shopping season.  Here are some tips that will help you get more for your money and receive your gifts on time.

Plan Ahead.

Having a set list of gifts you intend to buy helps minimize confusion, especially if you intend to make multiple purchases through several websites. Shop.org encourages consumers to start their online holiday shopping at www.cybermonday.com, a site that will offer current promotions, throughout the holiday season, of more than 500 online retailers.

Start a file folder.

First, print and save all confirmations of your purchases. This will help in many ways, from returning or exchanging items to verifying credit card or bank statements. Also, write down each purchase. It’s easy to forget how much you’ve spent if you don’t keep track. This will help both holiday spending on a budget and balancing your checkbook.

Sign Up for Newsletters.

If you plan to shop at a particular retailer, be sure to sign up for their e-newsletter a few weeks before the sales begin. It's a good way to stay abreast of special deals and promotions, and a great way to obtain special subscriber-only coupons.

Use common sense.

A golden rule of online shopping is “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is and you should avoid it.” Shop with retailers that you trust. If you aren’t familiar with an online retailer, look for privacy and security seals, which indicate that their security and privacy measures have been verified, or use a site like BizRate.com to determine other peoples’ shopping experiences from that merchant.

Track the Deals.

Use CyberMonday.com and dealio.com to stay on top of all of the Cyber Monday deals across the web, including information about free shipping offers and coupons.

Shop at Sites that Offer Free Shipping.

Many, but not all, stores offer free shipping on Cyber Monday, so spend some time looking for those free shipping deals. Don’t see free shipping offered on the site that you're on? Then check a competitor's site.

Seek Out Coupon Codes.

Head to currentcodes.com, retailmenot.com or one of the many other sites dedicated to finding and posting coupon codes. You may just find a deal – free shipping, free merchandise, a percentage off your order – to sweeten the pot.

Order through a Rewards Site.

Access a store's website through a rewards site, and you'll earn points or even cash for your efforts. Some rewards sites worth checking out: Upromise.com, MyPoints.com, Fat Wallet t.com and Ebates.com.

Compare Prices.

Before you place an order, use a price comparison website like pricegrabber.com to make sure you're getting the best deal.

Know retailers’ return and exchange policies.

Return policies vary, so knowing ahead of time whether or not you will have to ship back returns or exchanges, or if you can return them to the physical store in your area, will help in the long run. Also be sure to find out who covers the cost of shipping if you need to return or exchange an item.

Read the fine print.

Retailers list important information such as privacy policies, warranty information, item descriptions, terms of agreement and company information on their websites. Much of this information is very useful, but is displayed in a smaller font. 

If you aren’t comfortable paying with a credit card, research other payment options.

Retailers place a tremendous importance on keeping their websites safe and protecting customers’ information. But for shoppers who are still nervous about paying by credit card, other options are often available. Online retailers offer a variety of services, from letting customers fax in an online order to accepting third-party payment options. Some retailers also allow gift cards to be redeemed online.

“Check it Twice” before confirming purchase.

Before you complete an online purchase, double-check billing and credit card information, shipping address and total cost of the order. This will eliminate any potential panic after you’ve hit the final “confirm” or “submit” button. And remember not to click “submit” twice.

Ensure your gifts arrive in time.

Check retailers’ shipping deadlines, which are featured prominently on most retail websites. The information often lists the last day that customers can place orders for arrival by Christmas or Hanukkah.

Ship gifts directly to the recipient.

Most online retailers can ship items to a different location than your billing address. During the holiday season, when many people are traveling, take advantage of this feature by sending gifts ahead of your arrival. Some companies can even ship pieces from a single order to multiple locations so you don’t have to lug holiday gifts all across the country.

For instant gratification (or holiday procrastinators), buy online then pick up in the store.

Many retailers offer a “buy online, pick up in store” option. Check with your favorite retailers to see if this is a service they offer, then skip the crowds and head straight to the customer service counter where your items will be waiting.

Thanks for listening to the Informed Consumer. For more information on this topic or if you feel that you’ve been a victim of a scam, please contact the Consumer Affairs Branch at 703-222-8435 or visit our web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer. Informed Consumer is produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia, government.

 



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