Nov. 15, 2012
While everyone has their own holiday shopping list, two areas that seem to be important to everyone when purchasing gifts are value and service.
"In today's economy it shouldn't come as a surprise that value and service are highly prized in the consumer's mind," explained Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Other factors that may have attracted a consumer's interest in better economic times are now way down on the list for most people faced with today's tougher economic reality."
In the BBB poll, more than 55 percent of respondents selected value and service aspects of a business as key attractions for holiday shopping. These were followed by "product selection" picked by 18 percent, "location" by 15 percent, and "ease and comfort of shopping at a business" by 12 percent.
"Value and service may mean different things to people in different economic categories. However, these two attributes appear to be a key focus for most shoppers," Bernas explained.
The BBB offers these other tips to consumers while holiday shopping:
Review the return policies. Before making a purchase, ask the merchant about its refund and exchange policy. A store is not obligated to accept items for refund, exchange, or credit unless the item is defective or was misrepresented. It is important to know if there is a time limit to the return, usually it is 30, 60 or 90 days.
Research the store. If you're interested in trying a new or unfamiliar merchant, check out its BBB Business Review. This will provide some detail about past company performance. These free Business Reviews are located at bbb.org.
Understand the fine print. Be informed about your rights when placing orders through catalogs, mail order, TV shopping networks or online venues. Additional information on mail and telephone order shopping is available from the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov). Ask about delivery times, delivery costs and how returns are handled.
Ask for gift receipts. When you are buying gifts there is always a chance that the item will not work out. Providing a gift receipt will make the return process smoother after the holidays.