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Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping tips

Posted by Mitch Lipka  November 19, 2012 03:42 PM

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The holiday shopping deluge is upon us – and a bit sooner than in the past. If you plan to engage it, you need to be prepared.

Retailers and manufacturers are all about creating buzz. So, now Black Friday is creeping back to Thanksgiving Day at some major retailers. And they want consumers thinking they’ll get the latest and greatest at incredible prices piling through their doors.

Don’t miss the finer points of these deals in the frenzy. Trouble spots for consumers tend to be not understanding return policies, the terms of offers, whether the price is really a good deal and even when, exactly, the sale begins. Timing could prove to be particularly tricky this year, said Edgar Dworsky, who runs the consumer website ConsumerWorld.org

Major retailers will roll out different deals at different times; some might come when the doors first open, others later in the day. “It is unusual to have goods coming out at different hours,” said Dworsky, a former director of consumer education in the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. “People, in essence have to choose one or the other time to visit, or be forced to visit twice, and give up a whole night’s sleep.”

So, for bargain hunters it’s good practice to plan. That will help avoid at least some confusion. If you’re intent on getting into the late Thanksgiving or Black Friday mix, review the deals and dig into the fine print.

Be particularly careful when a sale price includes a rebate. Rebates typically make the consumer take an extra step – and when that happens, a significant number of people leave money behind. Consider how good the deal would be if you didn’t factor in the rebate. And are you willing to wait for that check to arrive a couple of months down the road?

In addition to traditional newspaper ads, more deals are being offered via email, on Facebook and Twitter. Take a look. It helps to know what you’re looking to buy in advance rather than get sucked into impulse.

As Dworsky said, “A low price on a lousy product is no bargain.”

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com

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