Buyer Beware Be A Savvy Consumer

Buyer beware is something we have all heard before. Learn how to be a savvy protected shopper.

We as consumers should be wary of many things before we buy. After all, we are spending our hard earned money and we do have rights. Use this checklist BEFORE you make a purchase to avoid problems and make informed choices.

  1. Decide in advance exactly what you want and what you can afford.
  2. Do your research. Ask family, friends, and others you trust for advice based on their experience. Gather information about the seller and the item or service you are purchasing. We’ve all seen those online trading groups or Etsy shops and we get what we pay for. Be vigilant and vet these sellers before you buy,
  3. Review product test results from consumer experts and comments from past customers. That is exactly what I do when I shop on Amazon. I don’t care how many reviews there are, I read them all before I buy that product.
  4. Get price quotes from several sellers.
  5. Make sure the seller has all appropriate licenses. Doctors, lawyers, contractors, and other service providers must register with a state or local licensing agency.
  6. Check a company’s complaint record with your local consumer affairs office and the Better Business Bureau.
  7. Get a written copy of guarantees and warranties.
  8. Get the sellers refund, return, and cancellation policies.
  9. Ask whom to contact if you have a question or a problem.
  10. Read and understand any contract or legal document you are asked to sign or give agreement to online (by clicking “I Agree”). Make sure there are no blank spaces or incomplete terms. Insist that any extras you are promised be put in writing.

Quick Tips For Avoiding Fraud

There are many varieties of consumer fraud, but the most common ones are variations of fake check scams, credit repair, free trip offers, and sweepstakes. Here are a few tips to help you avoid being a victim.

  • Don’t give out personal information. Be suspicious of anyone you don’t know who asks for your Social Security number, date of birth, credit card number, bank account number, password, or other personal data.
  • Don’t be intimidated. Be suspicious of calls or emails that want you to provide or verify personal information immediately. Answer that you are not interested and hang up or don’t reply to the email.
  • Monitor your accounts. Review bank and credit card statements carefully, and report unauthorized transactions to your financial institution immediately.
  • Use a shredder. Tear or shred credit offers, bank statements, insurance forms, and other papers with personal information.
  • Ignore unsolicited offers. Don’t respond if someone you do not know asks you to send money or money orders to claim a prize, lottery, credit card, loan or other valuable offers.

When Prices Aren’t Final

Retailers, both online and brick and mortar, sometimes use aggressive strategies to change the price of an item. It’s called drip pricing and it’s a pricing strategy where a seller adds fees, some of them mandatory, to the advertised price for the product or service. This practice makes it difficult for you to determine the full cost and compare similar options when all the fees are not disclosed up front. You can protect yourself by asking questions of sales personnel about fees before you buy, or asking for a complete price list.

Another strategy is dynamic pricing, when a retailer adjusts an item’s price multiple times over a few days, or even within hours. The changes may be based on inventory, changes in demand, your browsing history, and even your personal information. Dynamic pricing is common with online retailers and airlines. Make dynamic pricing work to your advantage by using price tracker websites to compare the prices at different retailers. Use price predictor websites to track if the price is expected to go up or down. Clear your internet cookies so online retailers cannot use your browsing history to adjust prices.

Look for Grey Charges

Have you ever seen charges on your credit card statement that you can’t figure out? These very well may be grey charges and there are several common types.

  1. Unintended subscriptions. You thought you made a one time purchase, but it was really a subscription.
  2. Zombie Fees. Membership fees that you previously canceled but the fees will not stop.
  3. Free trial to paid. When a free trial is over the seller converts it to a paid subscription.
  4. Negative option. You bought one product but did not realize you were buying others at the same time.

Take the following steps to protect yourself from grey charges:

  • Read the terms of service before you buy. Disclosures about fees may be hidden or near the end, so read the entire document.
  • Mark your calendar as a reminder to cancel free trials by a set date.
  • Read your credit card statements closely. Pay attention to the names of companies and charges for small amounts.
  • Contact the seller to have the grey charges removed.
  • Dispute charges with your credit card company.

After You Buy

Even careful buyers can run into unforeseen problems after the purchase. Just in case, save all of the papers that come with your purchase. Keep all contracts, sales receipts, canceled checks, owner’s manuals, and warranty documents. Read and follow produce and service instructions. The way you use or take care of a product might affect your warranty rights. You may be able to get a refund for the difference if the price of the item you bought has decreased within a certain number of days. Find out how to dispute a purchase, based on if you paid with cash, credit, or a mobile app, or payment device.

Remember, be a savvy PROTECTED shopper

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

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on Buyer Beware Be A Savvy Consumer

  1. Wendy
    March 7, 2018 at 6:10 am (5 months ago)

    I do like the idea of using a price tracker to make sure you’re getting the best prices for things. I have seen the swings and don’t appreciate it. We have a shredder at home and always shred our statements and such.

    Reply
    • tracie45
      March 7, 2018 at 9:54 pm (5 months ago)

      We have a shredder as well Wendy. After the appropriate timeframe, we shred all of our statements and such. The ones we need we keep them in a safe place. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  2. Catherine Sargent
    March 7, 2018 at 10:04 am (5 months ago)

    Thanks for the great tips and checklist. I always try to price compare before I hit the stores.

    Reply
    • tracie45
      March 7, 2018 at 9:53 pm (5 months ago)

      Great idea Catherine. Comparative shopping has saved me thousands upon thousands of dollars as well. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  3. christine
    March 7, 2018 at 4:05 pm (5 months ago)

    Very good information. Thanks. I always mark in my calendar two days before a free trial will end so I have time to cancel before the charges!

    Reply
    • tracie45
      March 7, 2018 at 9:47 pm (5 months ago)

      I am glad you found value in this post Christine. I am also glad that you have a plan in place for your free trials! Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  4. Mary Jingjing Mortos Lopez
    March 7, 2018 at 4:17 pm (5 months ago)

    There’s a lot of facts in this post, so informative! All are good points and its definitely saying to be wiser consumer.

    Reply
  5. Mary Jingjing Mortos Lopez
    March 7, 2018 at 4:19 pm (5 months ago)

    Its definitely saying to be wise consumer. Nowadays its hard to trust especially in the online world where there’s a lot competition.

    Reply
    • tracie45
      March 7, 2018 at 9:45 pm (5 months ago)

      So true Mary. You can never be too careful nowadays. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  6. Neely Moldovan
    March 7, 2018 at 8:32 pm (5 months ago)

    I think I must be an overly paranoid person because Im so skeptical to give any info out. Its amazing how much I didnt used to think about it though

    Reply
    • tracie45
      March 7, 2018 at 9:44 pm (5 months ago)

      Neely, I don’t give out any information either. I don’t think you or I are overly paranoid, we are just looking out for our best interests. It is crazy how we used to not have to think about things like this. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  7. Alicia
    March 8, 2018 at 2:37 am (5 months ago)

    I love price comparison websites for traveling. Oh! And don’t even get me started on “Zombie” fees. I had a gym do that to me one time.

    Reply
    • tracie45
      March 14, 2018 at 6:17 pm (5 months ago)

      I have gotten caught by those zombie fees before as well Alicia. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  8. Tami
    March 8, 2018 at 7:35 am (5 months ago)

    I admit I am not as thorough as this list in my research. I do need to be more intentionally smart with my money, though.

    Reply
    • tracie45
      March 14, 2018 at 6:14 pm (5 months ago)

      I am glad you found value in this post Tami. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  9. Alicia
    March 10, 2018 at 10:02 am (5 months ago)

    I really like the idea of price checker for looking around for prices. That is important to me as a buyer for many things.

    Reply
  10. Janella Panchamsingh
    March 10, 2018 at 5:43 pm (5 months ago)

    Very informative post. thankfully I have never been a victim of fraud I always research what I am going to buy before I do to make sure its the best for what I am looking for

    Reply
  11. Femme Frugality
    March 11, 2018 at 2:25 pm (5 months ago)

    Such an important post, Tracie! With all the ways our identities are up for grabs for reasons outside of our own control, ours important to mitigate the risks that are in our control.

    Reply
    • tracie45
      March 14, 2018 at 6:02 pm (5 months ago)

      Yes Femme! Take action on the front end so you won’t be messed up on the back end. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  12. Gary @ Super Saving Tips
    March 11, 2018 at 2:26 pm (5 months ago)

    Great post! I know the free trial to paid snares a lot of people up. I always make sure that if I’m starting a free trial, I mark on my calendar when I have to cancel to avoid these kinds of fees.

    Reply
    • tracie45
      March 14, 2018 at 6:01 pm (5 months ago)

      Thanks Gary! I steer away from free trails just to make sure that I don’t get caught in that trap. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply

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