Consumer Services Division

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday

TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 433
Fairfax, VA 22030

Rebecca L. Makely,

Cyber Monday Shopping Tips

The term Cyber Monday stems from the fantastic online sales offered following Black Friday. Cyber Monday generally starts off 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 can help keep you organized and on task this holiday season, especially if you intend to make multiple purchases through several websites. You are encouraged to find items you are interested in well before Cyber Monday, and monitor the prices on websites where the items are available. This way you can see the general price, standard sale price, and compare those to the Cyber Monday price.

Start a File Folder

It is always a good idea to screenshot, take a photo of, save, or print all order confirmations. These confirmations will come in handy if you need to inquire about your purchase, change your order, or reference it later in general.

Sign Up for Newsletters

If you plan to shop at a particular retailer, or shop at a retailer often, be sure to sign up for their e-newsletter a few weeks before the sales begin. You can usually do this by entering your email at the bottom of their webpage. Not only will they send you emails of deals, sometimes they send subscriber only coupons.

Follow On Social Media

Similar to the above, follow retailers on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Sometimes they post promo codes or sales you can only find if you follow the retailer.

Use Common Sense

A golden rule of online shopping is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is and you should avoid it. Shop with retailers you trust. If you aren’t familiar with an online retailer, do a quick search online of the retailer’s name followed by “scam,” “legitimate,” “real,” etc. If any reports of an issue with the company have been made, you can usually find those reports by following those steps.

Seek Out Coupon Codes

Once you are ready to make your purchase, it does not hurt to open a separate search page and search for the name of the store followed by “coupon code” or “promo code.” Sometimes you can find legitimate coupons codes on third party websites; however, just be careful that you do not download any software or enter any personal information to obtain the coupon code. You should simply have to click to reveal the code.

Order Through a Rewards Site

If you have a rewards program you know and trust, don’t forget to take the time to access a store's website through that rewards site. Rewards sites allow you to earn points or even cash back for shopping through their site.

Compare Prices

Before you place an order, do a quick search to make sure the item you are purchasing is truly at its best price. Some stores may even honor a competitor’s price. In addition, if the item you are purchasing is at a significantly lower price than competitors, it may be an indication that the item is faulty, refurbished, or from a fraudulent website. Comparison shopping will generally uncover this.

Know retailers’ Return and Exchange Policies

Return policies vary, so knowing ahead of time whether or not you will be responsible for return shipping for returns or exchanges may influence your decision to make that particular purchase. In addition, some stores may only offer store credit, exchanges, or may be final sales.

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 at the bottom of the website.

Pay with a Credit Card or Third-Party Vendor

Retailers place a tremendous importance on keeping their websites safe and protecting customers’ information. It is always recommended to pay with a credit card because of the built in dispute feature. If you do not receive an item, or receive a faulty item, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company. Your credit card company will investigate the claim, and if you are successful, you will receive your money back. For shoppers who are uncomfortable paying by credit card, you can check for other options such as using a third party vendor you know and trust to pay. You will know if a retailer allows payment via a third party if it is an option on their checkout page.

“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 a specific holiday date.

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. You can even ship an item with a receipt that does not show the price by selecting “this item is a gift” on the website’s check out page.

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.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant