Attorney General Long’s Office Offers Holiday Shopping Tips
PIERRE, S.D.- South Dakota consumers are heading into the busiest shopping season of the year and Attorney General Larry Long would like to remind everyone to shop wisely and remember these important consumer tips.
Buying Online: 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: Understand the return and layaway policies 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.
Gift Cards: Take the time to read the fine print because gift cards come in many forms. Those that are associated with banks generally can be used at more retailers than store cards, but they're often loaded with fees and restrictions. It is also a good idea to hold on to the receipt because some issuers require the original receipt to replace a lost, stolen, or damaged card. 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.