Better Business Bureau: Tips for jolly holiday shopping

Contact: Lisa Schiller, Media Relations
PHONE: 414- 847- 6055
FAX: 414-302- 0355
E-MAIL: [email protected]

Milwaukee, Wis. – It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season while shopping for friends and families. Bargains! Extreme markdowns! And that nagging feeling that if you don’t buy it today it’ll be gone tomorrow.

Consumers will spend on average $737.95 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more, according to the National Retail Federation. To retain control over your checkbook and credit cards, make a holiday budget and stick to it – no matter what. A list of people and how much you want – or can – spend on each is helpful as well.

The BBB offers these additional tips:

Compare prices and shop carefully. “Sales” and “markdowns” are not always bargains. If you put items on layaway, be sure to understand store policies about payments.
Ask retailers about refund and exchange policies. Make sure you have a receipt and tuck it in with the gift should it need to be returned.
Check out the business. Whether shopping online or on Main Street, check out the business first at
Be informed about your rights when placing orders through catalogs, mail order, TV shopping networks or online venues. Ask about delivery times, delivery costs and how returns are handled. Before making an online purchase, look for trustmarks such as the BBB Accredited Business Seal and click to confirm that it’s valid.
Check a website’s security settings. If it’s secure, the URL (Web address) will start with https:// The “s” stands for secure. You also may see a closed lock icon in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
If you’re shopping online, make sure your computer has the most recent antivirus and security updates.
Always pay with a credit card should the need arise later to dispute charges.
Keep the order confirmation and tracking number until the item is received.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin). Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.