Tips for Shopping Smartly and Safely This Back-to-School Season
Keeping a few simple tips in mind can help the hunt for school supplies go more smoothly
It's the most wonderful time of the year, well, for parents and caregivers anyway. It's back-to-school season!
All across North Carolina and beyond, parents, students, and teachers are preparing for the beginning of a new school year, which means stocking up on clothes, shoes, pencils, notebooks, backpacks, computers, and other necessary school supplies.
During the hectic weeks ahead, keeping a few smart shopping tips in mind can help the hunt for school supplies go smoothly, or at least as smoothly as possible.
Back-to-school shopping tips to keep in mind:
- Shop around.
- Buy from stores you know.
- Shop safely online, too.
- Consider buying used or second-hand.
- Learn about refund and return policies.
- Consider paying by credit card.
Many retailers offer promotions on popular back-to-school items but compare prices to be sure you're getting a good deal. Ask if the retailer offers a price matching policy if you find a product you've purchased offered or advertised for less at another store. This can save you time and money if it keeps you from driving around in search of the lowest price.
Buying from reputable, well-established retailers improves the odds that you'll be able to return or exchange a purchase if needed. To check out a company's track record, call the North Carolina Attorney General's Office or contact your local Better Business Bureau.
If you shop online, stick to well-established companies with secure websites (look for a lock icon on the site and a web address that starts with "https"). Get the company's street address and telephone number and verify them before you place an order.
Buying certain items used, especially expensive text books and electronics such as graphic calculators, can save you a lot of money. Check out local resale stores as well as websites such as eBay or Craigslist for second-hand deals.
Stores aren't required by law to accept returned items, so ask about refunds and return policies before you buy. Many retailers offer store credit instead of a cash refund, and some charge a "restocking fee" for returns. Hang on to receipts, including printed receipts for online purchase. If your purchase came by mail, you may have to pay shipping to return it.
This will improve your chances of getting a refund if the retailer goes out of business. If you order supplies that never arrive, you may be able to dispute the charge.
To check out a company's hisotry of consumer complaints or legal action, contact the North Carolina Attorney General's Office.