Ask Andy: Black Friday Deals - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ask Andy: Black Friday Deals

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By Andy Wise - bio | email

*** BREAKING *** Consumer Reports just released its recommendations on Black Friday deal sites:  www.fatwallet.com, www.walletpop.com, www.gottadeal.com, www.theblackfriday.com.

MEMPHIS (WMC-TV) - Two sites, www.blackfriday.info and http://bfads.net/, have leaked the Black Friday deals of nearly all of the major big-box retailers.

You can bulk up on the offers, compare and research the suggested retail prices a week ahead to see if the offers really are "door-busters."

Oh, and about those "door-busters"...

CNN/Money.com says you need to be wary of what it calls the "dirty secrets" of some Black Friday "door-busters":

* LIMITED QUANTITIES. Action News 5 noticed a "door-buster" on the Best Buy Black Friday ad posted on blackfriday.info. It's an Insignia digital camera -- normally $79.99, but on sale Black Friday for $59.99.

But the fine print says "...minimum 10 per store.  No rainchecks."  Read "minimum 10" to also mean there may only be 10 models in the store. You could wait in line before 5 a.m. only to find all 10 have been gobbled up before you even get to the aisle.

Speaking of rainchecks...

* RAINCHECKS are often EMPTY PROMISES. "A raincheck doesn't guarantee that you will eventually get that elusive Black Friday deal," said retail consultant Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, to CNN/Money.com.

"Consumers can go weeks waiting and hoping, and the retailer may never get more of the product shipped to its stores."

* DERIVATIVES. If you see a Black Friday offer for an electronic item noted as a "derivative," that means it's missing some features that are normally standard. 

Also, beware of TIME RESTRICTIONS on some Black Friday sales. The store might open at o-dark-30, but that product's sale may not be available until noon or later.  

* ONLINE DEALS. Some of the big-box retailers will be posting their Black Friday deals online, so you don't have to camp out at the stores. Best Buy announced it will post its regional BF deals on its site Friday morning. Toys R Us will leak its own circular Tuesday, Nov. 23, on its site.

If you're shopping the online deals, use price comparison sites to see if another e-tailer offers a better deal on the same product.  I recommend www.mysimon.com and www.dealpilot.com. Consumer Reports recommends www.bizrate.com, www.nextag.com, www.pricegrabber.com and www.pricescan.com.

Click here for a link to Consumer Reports' Money Blog about Black Friday savings:  http://blogs.consumerreports.org/money/2010/11/nine-tips-to-black-friday-savings-and-sanity.html?CMP=OTC-NEWS4.

"TAKING IT BACK" - ANDY'S RULES OF HOLIDAY RETURNS & REFUNDS:

There is no law - federal, state or local - that requires retailers to have refund/return policies. Stores can have any kind of refund/return policy they want, including no policy at all. Here's what you should know:@

* The only thing stores are required to do with return policies is POST THEM where every customer can see 'em. They're typically posted on price tags, the walls at the exits or check-out or the back of their sales receipts. That's it. That's all the disclosure that's required.

* Be aware of TIME LIMITS. Stores may only allow a return up to 30 days after the purchase. Some may go as long as 90 days.

* Be prepared for NO CASH RETURNS. Because of retail theft, more and more stores are allowing only store credit on returns...

* ... which means when you buy a gift, always request a GIFT RECEIPT. That will guarantee a return for the recipient, and maybe even cash back.

* If it's an electronic item, the store may charge up to a 15 percent "RESTOCKING FEE" if it has been removed from its original box. If you got an electronic item you didn't want, leave it in the box and the original packaging.

* Depending on where you live, your county or city's health regulations may prohibit the return of certain types of clothes, like intimate apparel, underwear, etc.

* You may find longer time periods for returns (90 days extended to 120, 30 days for electronics extended to 90 days, for example) and lower 'restocking' fees on furniture and other big-ticket items.

* Retailers have the right to request to see your driver's license in order to track your return history in case there's any return fraud in your past.

* Get to know your favorite stores' managers and employees. The more they know you are a loyal customer, the more likely they will be flexible with returns.

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