The state Department of Consumer Affairs has some advice to help you be a savvy shopper on Black Friday – and beyond.
Department spokeswoman Juliana Harris cautions about agreeing to last-minute sales pitches, such as credit card offers.
“You might think, 'Yeah, that's a good deal. They're gonna give me savings,' or 'They're offering me rewards.' But instant offers of credit can sometimes get out of control because you get something that you didn't plan on and then you'd have to pay for that after the holidays,” Harris explains.
“So it can blow your budget. And a lot of times, the interest rates on those types of things are very high, and you could be paying a lot more in interest than you planned on initially.”
Harris says when making a big purchase like an appliance or an automobile, retailers may offer a service contract at additional cost. But she says you should consider what the contract covers.
Does it overlap with a warranty that's already included in the product's price?
Would it better to save the money you'd spend on the service contract and set it aside for possible repairs needed later?
Shoppers will purchase numerous gift cards as popular presents for the holidays.
But Harris warns to be careful that the card is issued by an established company.
She says every year, consumers lose money spent on gift cards from companies that go out of business before the card can be redeemed.
Harris says it's also important to check the gift card's usability.
“A lot of times they have packaging or some of the numbers are covered. Make sure that they are in good shape because sometimes, scammers can pull the numbers off those and get the funds before you've had a chance to spend them.
“Also, if it has an expiration date, you need to check that before you buy. A lot of times, it's on the packaging. Some of them don't expire, but it's just about knowing the terms and conditions before you purchase it for someone.”
If you'll be buying gifts on layaway, which allows you to pay for merchandise over time before picking it up, Harris recommends knowing the terms, conditions and the refund policy – all of which you can ask for in writing.
And she says be sure to keep good records of your payments and always get a receipt.
For more consumer tips on holiday shopping, you can visit the Department of Consumer Affairs website.