CORONAVIRUS EXPERTS: BBB tips on Back to School shopping during a pandemic

Coronavirus

MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Monde Donaldson with the BBB serving central & south Alabama is giving tips on back to school shopping during COVID-19 pandemic.

Back to school shopping is here. Parents and students are expected to spend more than ever on back-to school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey. Many more purchases will be made online because of the pandemic. This means consumers should do a little research before they make purchases to make sure they are shopping with legitimate retailers or not paying a lot more than was being advertised. The Better Business Bureau Serving Central and South Alabama has some warnings for shoppers. 

BBB Serving Central & South Alabama

What should consumers be watching for?

Before purchasing big ticket items like a laptop or tablet, dorm bedding and small appliances,  or even clothes be sure to do your research. Research the brands, warranty, customer reviews and the prices at various stores to be sure you’re getting the best deal. As you start the check out process with the online store, you might notice an option to pay with a credit card offer with the opportunity to split up payments. While this might seem appealing, you may be paying more for the item. Most of the time, this option comes from a third party financing company that makes money by charging retailers a small percentage of each sale made through financing options and collecting late fees from consumers. Interest rates on pay in installment purchases can range between 0-30%, Read the fine print on financing.

What are some tips for shoppers?

  • When shopping from an online website the first step is to make sure the URL starts with “https” and includes a lock symbol. The “s” in “https” stands for secure, that way you know your information is being protected.
  • Look up the website’s privacy policy and contact information. If it is not clearly listed, or they only have an email as the point of contact, take that as a big red flag and shop elsewhere.
  • Do your research. An unknown website may offer a similar product at a lower price. The lowest price isn’t always the best route. Check for user reviews and badges for consumer protection agencies. Remember if it looks too good to be true it generally is.
  • Be sure to use your credit card instead of your debit card, as credit cards not only provide additional protection, but it’s also easier to dispute a fraudulent charge.
  • Be extremely wary of any website or store that asks for your child’s personal information in order to access special deals.
  • If you’re buying supplies through a website like Craigslist, make sure you don’t wire money to someone you’ve not met. Use PayPal if possible, but if you are using cash, make sure you meet in a public place and bring a friend.
  • If you use Facebook you know banner ads are all over the place and many ads are even catered to what you like. Some of them, however, are just click bait ads to drive you to a different website where you could potentially be asked to input personal information. Take note of the ad and go to the store’s website directly.
  • Look for discounts. Many stores and software companies offer discounts. Some are available to students with an .edu email address or student ID. There are several stores at the outlet mall in Foley that offer this discount pricing.

For more tips, watch the video above.

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