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Shopping, shopping, shopping.  Whether it is online shopping, Internet shopping or even making a trek to the local store, you need to get your shop on in a serious way, or else you are going to have some very angry people sitting around the Christmas tree.  You don’t want to ruin Christmas do you?  Do you?!

I didn’t think so.

The following are some helpful hints provided by the FTC, to help you get the most out of your shopping time and money.  This year, shopping can be easier than ever, and you can be the hero of Christmas instead of the heel.

Shop With Maximum Knowledge

  • You must know whom you are doing business with.  This is most important with online shopping.  While the Internet has proved itself to be a very secure place (in general) to do your holiday shopping, there are still some shady organizations out there, cloaked under the fog of a price war, will take your money and leave you with an empty bag, and many weeping children. If a company looks dodgy, just assume it is.

Protect your privacy

  • You have no idea how evildoers are planning on stealing your personal information.  So you must be extra vigilant when buying anything.  Whether it is online or in a store, never give out information that you can imagine people misusing.

While online order only on a secure server

  • Most online retail sites are very secure, and those that are not should be avoided.  Obviously, never order over an insecure server.  If you think that a secure server might not be so secure, check their guarantees, this should give you some idea if you can trust them.

Guard your online password

  • This is a big one.  Because of new Internet shopping tools like password savers, or cookies, your online shopping password is more vulnerable than ever. If a site asks you if you want it to remember your password, just click ‘never for this site’.  There is a slim chance you will forget your password, but that is a whole lot better than being ripped off.  Also, try and vary your password, an online crook knows that most people are creatures of habit, and they will exploit that.

Pay the safest way

  • This always means cash.  Once you put cash in someone’s hand, that transaction is done.  Plain and simple.

Check the refund and return policy

  • Although you may think of yourself as an experienced shopper there is still the chance that a gift might not work out as planned.  Therefore, be sure you know that the gift can be returned.  If you are really concerned you should make sure that a gift could be returned and exchanged.  You never know, shoes from Daum’s House Of Leather might not go over too well with your vegetarian niece.

Read the fine print

  • This is very important when it comes to products that require refills, batteries and rebates.  The last thing you want is to give someone a gift that ends up costing them money.  Or if you buy a gift that requires a mail in rebate to get the full savings, who gets that.  IT might be a little more than embarrassing if you have to go to that person later on and ask them for some sticker or something off of the box you can get your fifty bucks back.


Check delivery dates

  • Christmas morning is go time, and your family might not be impressed with color cut outs of the gifts they will be receiving in 6-8 weeks. Just make sure that you order your gifts well in advance and that they will arrive in time to be wrapped and placed under the tree.  This is very important.

Review warranties

  • Today, there are warranties on most decent products, but all warranties are not created equal.  For instance, a good warranty involves a quick exchange for a new unit.  A bad warranty involves the recipient of the gift to track you down, get the receipt, mail the product to Moldova for repairs, get the product back, then mail back to Moldova for a shipping rebate that will be credited to you future purchases with that company.  Sure this is an extreme example, but you get the idea.

Get the Best Deal

  • It seems obvious, but there is a matrix that involves factors like time, price, stress and quality and you want strike the perfect balance.  For instance, is it really worth it to drive 20km in a blizzard just to save 20% on a gift for your father?  It is if that gift is a new set of golf clubs.  But, if that drive is going to ruin your holidays, then neither you, nor your father wants that.  So get the best deal for you, not the best price.

Check shipping and handling fees.

  • Along the same lines as the above, you should know exactly what the end price of your gift is going to be.  This includes shipping, receiving, processing and taxes on shipping receiving and processing.  These can all add up and eventually the gift just won’t be worth it anymore.

Keep receipts & website printouts

  • You never know what horrible things will happen to your gifts.  Keep track of all warranties and receipts that way you have solid proof.
Please remember berore buying  anything on the net make sure you compare prices from a couple of different sites.