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How to Save during Black Friday Week 2016

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Top 10 Tips to Bag a Bargain

shopping bagsWith the best bargain hunting days of the year nearly here, shoppers are advised to do their homework in advance to find the best products at the best prices and to check the circulars of their favorite stores to see when their Black Friday sales begin.

"While Black Friday and pre-Black Friday sales are occurring all during November, some stores this year will be closed on Thanksgiving day reversing the trend of the past couple of years," explained Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org. "If you don't read their circulars carefully, you could show up on the wrong day or the wrong time," 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 "hidden" bargains, and look for deals and coupons listed on their social media sites.

2. Evaluate the Deals: Not all Black Friday advertised items are the best deals. Some great sales have already occurred. Others will become available the weekend before Thanksgiving, on Cyber Monday, or in December. To separate the ho-hum deals from the good ones, use several pricing tools, such as the Price Checker at ConsumerWorld.org (to compare prices at many online stores instantly), and camelcamelcamel.com (to compare today's price for an item to what was charged over the past year at Amazon and other sellers). 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/ratings_guide 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, LCDTVBuyingGuide.com (for televisions), 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/bonus points 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: Go when the store first opens because quantities are limited and no rainchecks will be given generally. On Thanksgiving, J.C. Penney opens at 3 pm; Best Buy, Toys 'R' Us, and Macy's open at 5 pm; Sears, Target, Kohl's, and Walmart open at 6 pm. Most stores in states with blue laws open Friday Midnight - 1 am. Some stores will open between 6 am and 9 am on Friday including Costco, BJ's and others.

Look for better "doorbusters" including:

  • Best Buy : Samsung 55" smart UHD/4K television - $479.99, LG 40" HDTV - $149.99, Dell Inspiron 15" laptop with i5 processor - $349.99; and Ring HD video doorbell - $124.99.

  • Small appliances $4.99, $7.99, and/ or $9.99 after rebate at J.C. Penney, Kohl's, Sears (100% back in points), Walmart (no rebate), Shopko, Macy's.

  • Sears : Men's/boys Roebuck jeans $9.99 with $9.99 back in points; iCoffee "K-cup" coffee maker $24.99 (100% back in points); KitchenAid 5-qt mixer $199.99 ($50 back in points); and men's & women's boots $19.99 and Reebok sneakers $29.99 (100% back in points).

  • Target: 3-foot stuffed bear - $10; $50 off $100 holiday decorations (Sat.).

  • Toys-'R'-Us : Over 100 toys are at least 50% off.

  • Walmart: Lenovo 10.1" tablet - $99, PNY 32-gb flash drive - $5.

  • Bed, Bath & Beyond: 20% off everything coupon.

  • hhgregg: fitbit - $59.99, 4-pc Frigidaire kitchen suite - $1499.99.

  • Dell .com: i5 desktop & 24" monitor - $479.99.

  • Old Navy - 50% off everything Nov. 23-25.

    6. Beat the Early Birds: Watch for pre-Black Friday sales before Thanksgiving. Some Black Friday prices are available now or early next week. Avoid the crowds by ordering online since some Black Friday deals may be available on Wednesday (e.g. Target, Macy's, J.C. Penney) or late that day or right after midnight (e.g. Walmart). Be warned that stores are generally terrible about indicating which items will also be available online. To maximize efficiency on store visits, scope-out key retailers the day before Thanksgiving to learn each store's floor plan in advance. Some stores offer diagrams to locate sale items.

    7. Check the Return Policy: Before buying, find out the store's return policy and if return shipping is free for online orders. While many stores have extended their return deadlines into January, others online may impose restocking fees on certain items. Some retailers use a 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 (or two years on some Citi cards) of warranty coverage free just by using most gold or platinum credit cards. Ask your credit card issuer what length warranties qualify for free additional 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 offer 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 money if the seller or a competitor offers a lower price before Christmas.

    ========================================================

    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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