Consumer protection division encourages residents to develop savvy shopping habits
With the approaching holiday season, Carbon County residents are starting to focus on finding perfect gifts for people on shopping lists.
When deciding whether to purchase holiday gifts by telephone, via catalogues, in traditional retail stores or online, the Utah Division of Consumer Protection encourages local residents to:
Last minute shoppers are more susceptible to high-pressure sales tactics and impulse buying.
Know with whom they are dealing.
If shopping by catalog, phone or online, savvy consumers confirm an address and phone number to contact with questions or problems.
People should be particularly alert when ordering online through auctions offering high demand items.
The more scarce the product, the more attractive it is for a scammer to place fraudulent sales advertisements, cautions the state agency.
Protect personal privacy.
Savvy consumers should provide personal information only if they know who's collecting the data.
People should determine why and how the information will be used.
While online, order only on a secure server.
Savvy consumers should look for an unbroken key or padlock at the bottom of the browser window to ensure transmissions are protected.
People should buy only from companies that protect financial information when for shoppers who are ordering online, emphasizes the consumer protection division.
Guard online passwords.
People should use different passwords to make purchases than when logging on to their computers or networks.
Pay with a credit card. It is safer than carrying cash and offers consumer protection.
Check out refund and return policies before buying gifts.
People should hang on to payment receipts in case documentation of purchases become necessary in the future.
Read the fine print.
When shopping online, savvy consumers should click on any hyperlinks leading to terms and conditions, warranty or rebate information, additional cost or other important information before purchasing merchandise.
Check delivery dates.
When people place orders, vendors usually tell consumers when to expect delivery.
State and federal laws require sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date.
If the vendor cannot ship the goods within the promised date or 30-day deadline, the seller must notify the consumer.
In addition to notification, the vendor must give people the chance to cancel purchases and provide full refunds.
Consumers have the right to review the warranty before purchase a product.
For online information, shoppers should search the websites for hyperlinks leading to the full warranty or to an address where consumers can obtain a free copy.
If the warranty is available online, consumers should print a copy when making purchases and keep a record of the information.
People should also print and keep copies of all purchase orders.
Develop budgets and comparison shop before purchasing items.
Some merchants promise to match or beat competitors' prices. But consumers should read the merchants' pricing policy carefully since the guideline may not apply to all items handled by the companies, points out the state agency.
Factor shipping and handling fees into the costs of orders.
Savvy consumers consider the information to choose the delivery option that meets shopping budgets, notes the state agency.
Allow plenty of time for shipping and delivery of online or catalog orders.
By considering the time constraints, consumers will reduce the risk of late deliveries.
For additional information, Carbon County residents may contact the Utah Division of Consumer Protection via telephone toll-free at 1-800-721-7233.