Ocean County: Beware Of Holiday Shopping Horrors

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OCEAN COUNTY – If you’ve ever been on a mission to return gifts throughout the holiday season, you know what a nightmare it can sometimes be. Freeholder Director Joseph Vicari advises that all shoppers be proactive and aware during their holiday shopping this season to avoid return mayhem.

“To make after-holiday returns as painless as possible, always review a store’s return policy,” said Vicari.

All stores are required to disclose their refund policies. This is especially important during the season of gift-giving, where not every gift is the perfect one. Whether it is printed on your receipt, posted on the cash register, or a sign posted inside or at the entrance of a store, return policies must be made known to the public. As a part of these return policies, employees must also make known the various methods of repayment that accompany a return; such as a cash refund, a credit to your card, or store credit.

Shoppers must remember that items that are used or damaged can’t be returned. The process of returns running smoothly requires efforts from both the seller and the buyer.

Vicari noted that shopping locally might also make things easier for consumers in the event of a return.

“Buying local not only supports our many Mom & Pop businesses, but ensures that if you do have a problem, our Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs can help,” Vicari said. “Our office may have more jurisdictions when dealing with a nearby business than it would with a mail-order company or website located out of state.”

Aside from returns, holiday shopping season can be fraught with scams. Be on the lookout for those pesky credit card “skimmers” that might be re-swiping your card on a handheld device to gain access to your money. Vicari noted that everyone should remain vigilant and actively check receipts and bank accounts for discrepancies.

“Unfortunately, the holiday season also sees an increase in scams,” Vicari said. “The good news is alert consumers can often stop a scam before it starts.”