The Federal Trade Commission offers shopping tips to help consumers get better deals.
First, shop around. Comparison shopping can make a big difference.
When comparison shopping, keep the travel time to a store and transportation costs, including gasoline and parking costs, in mind.
When shopping online, factor into cost the product’s shipping cost. Also remember delivery time.
Consider the details in sale advertisements. For example, a product may be advertised as “limited in quantity” or “not available in all stores.” Call ahead to make sure the product in is in stock. You also may want to ask if a seller is willing to hold a product for you, if supply is limited.
Inquire about price-matching policies, since some sellers may match or beat competitors’ offers.
Some bargain offers are based on consumers buying additional products, such as “buy one, get one free” or “free gift with purchase.” These could be good deals, but likely only if you want or need the related items.
If you buy something at the regular cost and it then goes on sale, the FTC suggests you ask whether you may “get a credit or refund for the discounted amount.”
Always understand before you buy terms for refunding a product and whether sale items can be returned.
For more information see “Shopping Tips,” available at www.consumer.ftc.gov.
Opinions are solely the writer's. Joseph Pellicciotti is a lawyer, professor and vice chancellor at Indiana University Northwest.