If you are in the market for any product or service—such as a car, clothes, stereo system, or educational course—there are several simple rules to keep in mind. If you follow them, your dollars will go further and you will be more satisfied with the results.
- Shop and compare. Compare products on the basis of features, warranty protection, and price. The best buy is not always the cheapest. Use the internet and magazines like Consumer Reports to help you.
- Do not fall for deceptive advertising. Advertisements can provide useful information. Too often, though, ads appeal to your emotions rather than your intelligence. Although there are laws against deceptive advertising, it still is best to avoid a problem by watching out for deceptive ads. Look at each word in the ad to find any exceptions.
- Ask for promises in writing. Contracts do not have to be in writing to be binding. It is easier, of course, to make someone stick to something that is in writing rather than something that is based on your recollection of what was agreed upon. If a salesperson makes important claims about a product that are not in your contract or warranty, get it in writing and added to or attached to the written contract or warranty.
- Read the terms of your contract or warranty carefully. Know what you can expect and what is expected of you. Certain contracts, especially form contracts, may contain language not easily understood and that may be unfair to you. If you do not understand something, ask questions or seek help from a friend, parent, teacher, or lawyer. Never sign a contract or agree to terms and conditions without reading the provisions first, very carefully. If you don’t understand them, then don’t sign them!
- Never sign a contract with blank spaces. Fill in blank spaces or draw a line through them.
- Keep good records. Keep copies of all contracts, receipts, warranties, and all notes or letters you have written regarding the product or service and records of payments, maintenance, repairs, and other services.
- Returning Merchandise. Remember that a merchant is free to establish a policy concerning refunds, credits, exchanges, and layaways. A merchant is not required to refund your money for returned merchandise unless it is defective. Even then, the merchant may decide to correct the problem or replace the defective product instead of giving your money back.