November 30, 2009 by USA Post
The Fixer just couldn’t screw up the courage to brave the crowds of last week’s Black Friday shopping extravaganza.
Not to worry, though. Today is Cyber Monday, which means “screenbusters” will replace “doorbusters.” If you’re planning to shop online today, here are a few tips:
Some fave Web sites
• CyberMonday.com. We like this site for its mind-boggling array of ads, specials and coupons from hundreds of retailers. You can search by category, merchant, special deals and who has free shipping. You also can sign up for e-mail alerts about Cyber Monday deals.
• Like.com. The Fixer followed the recommendation of Shop Smart magazine and checked out this site, which lets you search multiple retailers according to the type, color, material, details, shape, pattern, etc. of a particular item. So when Aunt Millie says she wants a “purple-and-black wool sweater with long sleeves, gold buttons and front pockets,” you can instantly see which stores have such an item and for how much.
• Savings.com, RetailMeNot.com and CouponCabin.com (among others). All have online coupon codes and/or printable coupons for many merchants. Don’t click the “order” button on any shopping site until you’ve first searched sites like these for a discount.
• Bargainist.com. This site frequently updates deals (and “hot deals”) from around the Web and also has a “freebies” tab for samples and other goodies that won’t cost you a dime.
Read the fine print
• Shipping time. Make sure you understand the online seller’s time period for shipping. If no shipping date is given, they must ship within 30 days, according to federal law — and if there’s a delay, you’re allowed to get a full refund. There’s an exception, though: If a company extends you credit to make the purchase, they have 50 days in which to ship.
• Returns and exchanges. Read the company’s terms carefully. Can you return an item for full credit or store credit, or do they state that “all sales are final”? Is there a deadline for returns, and will it come before the holidays? Is there a fee to ship the item back? Is there a restocking fee?
• Use credit, not debit. Credit cards offer more protection and less liability if your number falls into the hands of a thief.
• Stay organized. Keep your shopping list, order confirmations and tracking numbers in one folder.
Beware online scams
• Protect your computer. Install updated spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.
• Know your seller. Just because someone has a fancy Web site doesn’t mean they’re reputable. If you’re dealing with an unfamiliar name, take 30 seconds and plug them into the Better Business Bureau’s search function at www.chicago .bbb.org. Make sure they have a physical address and a clean complaint record.
• Order securely. Make sure you submit your order through a secured Web site. Look for “https:” (rather than http:) in front of the site’s URL and a lock symbol in the lower-right corner. Never shop on an open wireless network, such as at an airport or coffee shop.
• Check your credit statements. The Better Business Bureau recommends frequently checking your statements online, rather than waiting for a paper bill.
Canceled policy a mystery
Dear Fixer: We sent in our insurance payment for our policy with Globe Life and Accident Insurance Co. of Oklahoma City.
After that, we received the check back with a note stating that the policy had been canceled by me on July 17. That is not true. I have never contacted the insurance company for any reason.
Can you find out where we stand on this?
Albert Hendon, Hebron, Ind.
Dear Albert: Well, first Team Fixer had to rule out the existence of an insurance-canceling evil twin. Once we did that, we went to Mike Majors, vice president of investor relations at Globe Life’s parent company, Torchmark Corp.
Majors looked into it and said a premium notice had been mailed to Globe Life with the word “cancel” on it. We have no idea how that happened, and you didn’t remember doing that. The good news is the company would rather keep you. Majors helped get you in touch with someone who could straighten this out, and you’ve since gotten a phone call confirmation that your policy has been reinstated.
Web chat at noon
Take a 15-minute break from your cyber shopping at noon today and join The Fixer for a live, online chat at www.suntimes.com. We’ll chat some more about online holiday shopping, and you can share your tips, too.
Thanks to contributor Jon Seidel.
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