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December 2003
Helpful Holiday Shopping Tips
Comparison Shop On the Internet

   With the Holiday Season upon us, many of us will spend hours searching for the right gift at the right price. Now there is a way to save some time—and money—by using comparison-shopping search sites on the Internet.

   Two online sites are www.dealtime.com and www.pricegrabber.com. Both compare prices offered by a variety of retailers on the most popular consumer products including clothing, books, toys, music, jewelry, and cameras. You can also check product reviews on www.consumersearch.com.

   Be careful when conducting an online search. The Federal Trade Commission has warned owners of numerous web search engines that they should let you know when they rank a site higher because it has paid to advertise. Look for the notation that the search result is a “sponsored search” or “sponsored link.”

   One last word about holiday comparison shopping—remember one store’s “50-percent off” sale price can actually be higher than another store’s regular price. Online search sites can help you determine the real price difference.

Pay By Credit Card Where Possible

   Consider paying by credit card rather than using a check, cash, or debit card because you can dispute a purchase through your credit card company within 60 days of receiving your credit card statement. Also, some credit card companies automatically double any warranty you might receive from the manufacturer. However, make sure you carefully track how much you are spending by credit card to determine if it fits within your holiday budget. You don’t want to have a really unhappy January when the bills arrive.

Be Careful When Using Online Mail Order Stores

   Many online retailers this past year appeared to have improved on their poor 2001 delivery performance. However, I still strongly recommend you keep printouts of the web pages where you placed your order. Also remember that you should click on the “order button” only once, otherwise you may be placing multiple orders.

   Shop only with websites that are secure; look for the padlock icon at the bottom of the website’s front page. If in doubt, call and order your item on a regular landline telephone.

   Finally, remember that federal law requires all retailers to ship an order within the time stated in their website or at the time you placed an order. If no time period is specified, the retailer must ship the order within 30 days of receiving it from you. If the company cannot deliver within the promised time, it is required to contact you and ask whether you agree to a delay or to cancel the order and receive a prompt refund.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

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