Shopping: Is a Sale Price Your Best Deal?
sale ads: they blanket the airwaves, jam your mailbox, and add another pound to your
Sunday paper. Soon you'll be bombarded with ads for pre-holiday sales, preferred customer
specials, early bird sales, midnight madness events, coupon savings days, and, don't
forget, post-holiday sales. Sure you want a good deal, but just how do you decide if the
deal is real? The Federal Trade Commission offers some tips to help you get the most for
A "sale" price isn't always
the "best" price. Some merchants may offer the sale price on the item you want
for a limited time; other merchants may discount the item you want everyday. Also, when
you're comparison shopping, make sure you have: the item's manufacturer, model number,
stock number or other identifying information.
Read sale ads carefully. Some may say
"quantities limited," "no rain checks," or "not available at all
stores." Before you step out the door, call ahead to make sure the merchant has the
item you want in stock. If you're shopping for a popular or hard-to-find item, ask the
merchant if he'd be willing to hold the item until you can get to the store.
Take time and travel costs into consideration. If an
item is on sale, but it's all the way across town, how much are you really saving once you
factor in your time and the costs of transportation and parking?
Look for price-matching policies. Some merchants
will match, or even beat, their competitors' prices. Read the merchant's pricing policy
carefully. It may not apply to all items.
Go online. Check out Internet sites that compare
prices for items offered online. Some sites also may compare prices offered at stores in
your area. If you decide to buy online, keep shipping costs and delivery time in mind.
Carefully consider bargain offers that are based on
purchases of additional merchandise. For example, "buy one, get one free" or
"free gift with purchase." If you don't really want or need the item, it's not a
Ask about sale adjustments. That is, if you buy an
item at regular price and it goes on sale the next week, can you get a credit or refund
for the discounted amount? What documentation will you need?
Ask about refund and return policies for sale items.
Merchants may have different refund and return policies for sale items, especially
For More Information
The FTC works for the consumer to
prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the
marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and
avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free information
on consumer issues, visit
call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related
Consumer Sentinel, a
secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FOR THE CONSUMER