Ask Andy: Holiday Sales - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ask Andy: Holiday Sales

(WMC-TV) - Another holiday weekend, another round of holiday sales.

Another opportunity for some retailers to rip you off -- if you're not careful.

Before I reveal the most common holiday sales gotcha's, allow me to make a suggestion. If you're considering a large purchase at a holiday sale - an electronics item or appliance -- charge it on your credit card, then immediately pay off the amount. That will protect the purchase (both your identity AND, in some cases, a warranty for the product...see below!).

It should also make it a lot easier to return the item (also see below!).

Here are the most common holiday sales gotcha's, according to Consumer Reports:

* THE DEEP DISCOUNT PRICE BAIT. Consumer Reports warns about those "door-buster" sales that beg you to come in at o-dark:30 because the sale's on a first-come, first-serve basis. It's not uncommon for those sales to be huge holiday mark-ups that are more realistically priced after the holiday.

* GIFT CARD FEES. Funny how retailers don't always reveal the fees that come with some gift cards:  purchasing & processing fees, transaction fees, inactivity fees and expiration dates. Read the fine print...or ask.

* EXTENDED WARRANTIES. Unless it's a laptop computer or a flat-screen TV, I generally shy away from extended warranties. They often overlap what the product's manufacturer's warranty already covers for free. If you're considering an extended warranty, make sure it actually extends the product's standard warranty or offers additional protections not covered by the standard warranty.

You should also check first with your credit card company. Your credit card may offer its own warranty protection on products purchased with the card.

Retailers often change their return policies, too, during holiday sales. There is no law - federal, state or local - that requires retailers to have refund/return policies. Stores can have any kind of refund/return policy they want, including no policy at all. Here's what you should know:@

* The only thing stores are required to do with return policies is POST THEM where every customer can see them. They're typically posted on price tags, the walls at the exits or check-out or the back of their sales receipts. That's it. That's all the disclosure that's required.

* Be aware of TIME LIMITS. Stores may only allow a return up to 30 days after the purchase. Some may go as long as 90 days.

* Be prepared for NO CASH RETURNS. Because of retail theft, more and more stores are allowing only store credit on returns...

* ... which means when you buy a gift, always request a GIFT RECEIPT. That will guarantee a return for the recipient, and maybe even cash back.

* If it's an electronic item, the store may charge up to a 15 percent "RESTOCKING FEE" if it has been removed from its original box. If you got an electronic item you didn't want, leave it in the box and the original packaging.

* Depending on where you live, your county or city's health regulations may prohibit the return of certain types of clothes, like intimate apparel, underwear, etc.

* You may find longer time periods for returns (90 days extended to 120, 30 days for electronics extended to 90 days, for example) and lower 'restocking' fees on furniture and other big-ticket items.

* Retailers have the right to request to see your driver's license in order to track your return history in case there's any return fraud in your past.

* Get to know your favorite stores' managers and employees. The more they know you are a loyal customer, the more likely they will be flexible with returns. 

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