Attorney General Larry Long Offers Holiday Shopping Tips
PIERRE, S.D. - Attorney General Larry Long said today that the holiday shopping season is in full swing and shoppers should be careful and smart, and know their rights as they search for the perfect gift. Here are some important shopping tips:
Buying Online: Be sure to shop with reputable companies. Make sure the seller lists an address or toll-free number just in case there is a problem. Get all details on shipping and handling fees, refund and return policies, and complaint procedures. Print out and keep records of your purchase. Use only "secure" web sites. Pay by credit card so you can dispute the bill and withhold payment if necessary.
Return policies: Make sure you know a store's policy on returns or layaways before you make a purchase. Remember, there is no state law that requires stores to give a refund, exchange, or credit for merchandise that is returned or taken off layaway. Retail stores can set their refund policies as they like and the policies can vary greatly from one business to another. If a business’s refund policy is not displayed, ask for information about it. Three-day-right-to-cancel law only applies to door-to-door sales, or sales made away from the seller’s usual place of business.
Keep all receipts: Most stores will not make refunds without them. If you make an online purchase it would be wise to keep the online confirmation and invoices in a safe place.
Mail orders: All retailers, including online businesses, are required by law to ship orders within the time their advertisement states. If a timeframe is not stated, the company must ship the goods within 30 days of receiving the order. If the company is unable to ship the order within the timeframe given, it must alert the consumer and give them the option to cancel the order.
Gift Certificates: Always check the store's policy. Find out if the store will give a credit or cash return if the purchase price is less than the value of the gift certificate, and any other terms the store places on the certificates. Remember that most gift certificates have a date of expiration as well. Some even have fees that will decrease the value of the gift certificate over time.
If you are not satisfied with your shopping experience, you are encouraged to contact the retailer you are dissatisfied with. If you believe the company has taken advantage of you or is breaking the law, contact the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986.
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