Better Business Bureau offers tips to make Black Friday shopping adventure go smoothly

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday make up a busy weekend for holiday shoppers. Grab your shopping bags and compile your lists, the biggest holiday shopping days are almost here! With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all crammed into one long weekend, Better Business Bureau wants to help make your shopping adventure go as smoothly as possible.

Here are some tips:

Create a budget and stick to it. According to the National Retail Federation’s holiday consumer spending survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average holiday shopper will spend $737.95 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more.

Don’t fall for the too-good-to-be-true deal. On “Black Friday” (and every day), get to know retailers first by checking out their BBB Business Reviews. Compare prices before you hit the stores on Black Friday so you know if you really are getting a great deal. Newspapers will often include coupons that give discounts for Black Friday. When searching for coupons online, make sure to get them from the store’s website, not from an offsite deal promoter.

Shop small on Small Business Saturday. Nov. 30 is Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. BBB is teaming up with American Express, a BBB Accredited Business and National Partner, to spread the word on why small businesses are so awesome. Here’s a fun infographic at to show just how important small businesses are to our economy.

Watch out for scams. The new BBB Scam Stopper website can tell you all about the latest scams, and help you learn the most common tactics used by scam artists both in-person and online. Be especially careful of holiday related scams. Be sure that letter from Santa is from a legitimate site before you share your child’s personal information. And that friend or grandchild who was mugged while traveling and needs some cash wired ASAP? That’s a scam. Don’t fall for it!

Shop safely online. Dec. 2 is “Cyber Monday,” and there will be lots of online deals to be had. Before your surf the net, make sure your computer has the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Scammers use this holiday time to prey on online shoppers. Only shop on trusted websites, and look for the Ad Choices logo for sites that give you more control over whether advertisers can use your information for targeted advertising. It’s also best to use a credit card when shopping online because you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive the item you ordered.

Know your rights. Whether shopping retail or online, know your legal rights. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. Consumers also have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit, so be sure you understand return policies before you buy. Keep track of all receipts and documentation, too.

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