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How to Save on Black Friday Thursday 2013

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Top 10 Tips to Bag a Bargain

shopping bagsWith the best bargain shopping days of the year nearly here (Nov. 28-29), shoppers are advised to adjust their shopping habits to the reality of Black Friday’s new sale schedule.

"Black Friday now starts on Thursday in most states," explained Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org. And some stores are staggering the release of their doorbusters at different times. At Walmart, it is at 6pm and 8pm on Thursday and 8am Friday, while at Office Max it is 8pm, 11pm and 5am. "If you don't read their circulars carefully, you could show up either hours early or hours late," cautioned Dworsky.

Consumer World offers these holiday shopping tips to help bag the best bargains:

1. Read the Ads: Preview the Black Friday sale circulars now at bfads.net, and get a list of sale items at all stores by category, such as all HDTVs or digital cameras, at blackfriday.gottadeal.com . Check local newspapers on Thanksgiving Day. They will be chock-full of circulars and last minute deals. Friday's papers will include additional sales. Get on retailers' email lists, check their websites for additional unannounced bargains, and look for deals and coupons listed on their Facebook pages.

2. Evaluate the Deals: Not all Black Friday advertised items are great deals. Others will become available the weekend before Thanksgiving, on Cyber Monday, or in mid-December. To separate the ho-hum from the good deals, use several of Consumer World's pricing tools, such as the Price Checker at ConsumerWorld.org (to compare prices at many online stores instantly), and PriceHistories.com (to compare today's price for an item to what was charged over the past year). If shopping online, find out the total price including shipping and tax (if any), and what the reputation of the seller is using BizRate.com or ResellerRatings.com .

3. Research the Right Product: A low price on a lousy product is no bargain. Check websites where professionals evaluate products, such as Consumer Reports, Steves-Digicams.com (for cameras), PCMag.com (computers), best/worst toy lists, etc. Check the user reviews posted after most product descriptions at Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Walmart.com, and other retailers.

4. Save with "Triple Plays": To save the most, combine the primary ways to save: buy items at a good sale price, use percent-off/dollars-off coupons offered by some stores to lower that price even more, and look for items that also have a cash back rebate.

5. Be an Early Bird: On Thanksgiving, Kmart opens at 6 am, Toys "R" Us at 5 pm, Walmart and Best Buy at 6 pm, and Macy's, Sears, Target, Staples, and Kohl's at 8 pm. Plot your route from store to store to arrive before opening, since quantities of the hottest deals are very limited, with some items as few as two per store. Walmart is offering rain checks if certain doorbusters sell out in the first hour.

Look for better "doorbusters" including: a 55" LG HDTV for $499.99 (Best Buy); a Whirlpool 25 cu. ft. french door stainless refrigerator for $999.99 (Lowe's, Sears, Best Buy, Home Depot); Samsung Galaxy S 4 smartphone w/2 yr. contract for 99 cents or less (Best Buy, some Staples, Sam's); many toys 50% off (Toys "R" Us, Kohl's); Kenmore front loading washer/dryer pair for $799.99 (Sears); XBox 360 for $99 (Walmart); assorted small kitchen appliances under $10 after $10 rebate (J.C. Penney, Kohl's, Macy's, Walmart [no rebate]); Canon SX-160 camera for $79 (Walmart); Keurig K-145 coffeemaker for $49.99 (Staples, with 25% off coupon and after $25 giftcard rebate); Beautyrest Bromont queen firm mattress set for $599.99 (Sears); SanDisk 16-gig micro SD card for $4.99 (Toys "R" Us); and everything is 50% off at Old Navy.

6. Beat the Early Birds: Watch for pre-Black Friday sales. To plan for the real Black Friday, scope-out key retailers on Wednesday before Thanksgiving to learn each store's floor plan in advance. Some stores offer diagrams of where sale items will be located. Avoid the crowds by ordering online since some Black Friday deals may be available on Thanksgiving Day right after midnight. Be warned, however, that stores are generally terrible about indicating which items will also be available online.

7. Check the Return Policy: Before buying, find out the store’s return policy. While many stores have extended their return deadlines into January, others are clamping down by imposing restocking fees on certain categories of items, or by using a blacklisting database or returns tracking system to deny refunds to returns abusers.

8. Get a Gift Receipt: Make returns easier for gift recipients by asking the store for a gift receipt and include it in the gift box. Without a receipt, a refund may be denied outright, or may be limited to only an equal exchange, or to a merchandise credit for the lowest price the item has sold for in the recent past.

9. Use the Right Credit Card: Certain credit cards offer valuable free benefits. For example, don't be pressured into buying a service contract when you can get up to an extra year of warranty coverage free just by using most gold or platinum credit cards. Ask your credit card issuer what length warranties qualify for an extra year of coverage, if any. Some credit cards also offer a return protection guarantee (they will refund the purchase price within 90 days if the store will not), or a sale price guarantee (they will give you back the difference if an item goes on sale within 60 days of purchase).

10. Save More with Price-Match Guarantees: Keep checking the prices of the items you buy. Since many stores offer a price protection guarantee, you may be entitled to get back some additional money if the seller or a competitor offers a lower price before Christmas.

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Consumer World®, launched in 1995, is a public service, non-commercial consumer resource guide with over 2000 links to everything "consumer" on the Internet. Edgar Dworsky, an avid bargain hunter, is the founder of Consumer World, editor of MousePrint.org – an educational site devoted to exposing the fine print loopholes in advertising, and a former Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office.



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