Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, is quickly approaching and shoppers everywhere will be looking for the perfect holiday gift at a great price. And, retailers will try to out-do each other with deals to lure cost-conscious shoppers who are still watching their wallets. Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is reminding holiday shoppers to do research and ask questions before making a purchase to ensure they get the best value.
"The holidays are a time of giving, but dealing with hidden fees or unauthorized charges can really put a damper on the holiday spirit," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "By being proactive and alert, consumers can get a head start on one of the most popular New Year's resolutions: to save money."
To help keep consumers merry – and their finances bright – Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin offers the following tips:
• Bring ads with you while shopping to be sure prices charged match advertised prices. • Before making a purchase, ask if the store charges a restocking fee, and if so, how much. Some stores will charge a restocking fee for "restocking" an item that you return for a refund or credit. • Businesses that charge a restocking fee are supposed to disclose the fee. The notice should be clearly visible to consumers before purchases are made. • Before making a purchase, ask what the return policy is. Return policies vary. • Refund policies must be posted at the point of display, at the cash register or at the store entrance. • When checking out, watch the cash register display to be sure the scanned price matches the posted price. • Check your receipt for accuracy before leaving the store. • Ask for a refund if you have been overcharged. • Check your credit card and bank statements often. By the time you receive your credit card bill or bank statement in January, a thief may have already made unauthorized charges.
If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Department of Rhode Island Attorney General at (401) 274-4400. You can download a consumer complaint by visiting our website at www.riag.ri.gov. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit The Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit investigates and mediates consumer complaints concerning unfair and unlawful business practices and misleading advertising arising out of alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If groups of people are victimized by a deceptive trade practice, this office may file in the Superior Court a civil investigative demand, which is a formal investigation. In appropriate cases, a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice may be initiated.
Apart from carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the Unit also provides information and referral services to the general public. Consumers are directed to the appropriate governmental or private agencies for help in answering specialized questions or resolving disputes that are not within the Unit's jurisdiction.
The Consumer Protection Unit is available to speak to community groups on how to prevent being a victim of identity theft and other scams.