As you gear up for the start of the holiday shopping season, state consumer protection officials are reminding you to read the fine print this Black Friday.
Retail stores are looking to pull in customers with deeply discounted doorbuster deals, but Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection spokesperson Jerad Albrecht says you need to do your research both before you get to the store and while you’re shopping inside. “There’s going to be a minimum amount in the store that’s going to be listed in the advertisement, and as long as they have that there, they’re up to what they need to have for documentation.”
Administrator Sandy Chalmers adds that there’s lots of fine print this weekend. “Look for disclaimers on limited quantities, internet-only prices, special sale hours, and return/exchange policies.”
Wisconsin law requires stores to charge their lowest advertised price for a product and Albrecht says you can challenge them to stick to it. “If something in a flyer for a particular price, or if something is advertised on the shelf at a particular price, it needs to ring up at that price at the register.” If there is a discrepancy, make sure you’ve got the right model and item that’s advertised, and bring your documentation with you.
You’ll also need to be conscious on what sort of deals are advertised on your Twitter or Facebook feeds this week. Albrecht says plenty of scammers will be trying to throw out phony ads and phony websites for coupons in the next several days. “Scammers are able to build pretty elaborate and pretty trustworthy looking sites, so again just be careful what you click and be reasonable what your expectations are, and you really shouldn’t have much of a problem.” As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Other basic tips from DATCP include making sure you keep your receipts for all purchases, and get gift receipts. Be aware that any sort of clearance or “open item” may have different policies on returns and exchanges and make sure you find out what those are before you go through with your purchase.
If you do run into a problem, call DATCP at 608-224-4942.