Beware of Black Friday Fees

People shop at Target on Thanksgiving Day in Burbank, California

by Sarah G. Mason

 

Are you planning on splurging this Black Friday? As the deals hit the counters, it can be easy to go a little overboard. And yet, as long as you keep your receipts, you’re in the clear, right?

Not so fast. Retailers may charge a restocking fee when you return an item – a nasty surprise for buyers who’ve overspent. The amount of a restocking fee can range anywhere from one to over 50 percent of the full retail price of an item, so before you make a hasty purchase, keep a few tips in mind.

Know the Store’s Policy

Knowledge is power, as they say, and in this case, it’s money too. Most states have laws requiring that any restocking fees must be posted within eyeshot of the shoppers. If you don’t see a policy sign posted, speak with a manager before making a big purchase.

Keep it Intact

It’s important to keep all accessories, manuals and packaging intact if you think you may return an item. Ideally, you’ll decide on your returns before you start tampering with all the nuts and bolts of your new item. However, if you do happen to open the package, keep everything down to the last Styrofoam peanut.

Open Carefully

Retailers charge restocking fees for one simple reason: Cost. They lose money when an item is opened since it can no longer be considered “new.” In addition, revamping a “used” product’s packaging can be costly. When opening an item, do so carefully; the better the box looks upon return, the better chance you’ll walk out with a full refund.

Buy Gift Certificates

If you’re buying a gift for friends or family but feel unsure about your decision, buy a gift card
to avoid the hassle of a return altogether.

Did you open your shiny new e-reader or laptop only to find that it doesn’t work? Don’t pay a restocking fee. You may need to speak to management, but be firm; most stores will not charge a restocking fee for faulty merchandise.

 

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