One of my recommendations was purchasing discounted gift cards to use for your holiday shopping. I like to walk my talk so I purchased a Starbucks gift card from ABC Gift Cards. I had the gift card loaded onto the Starbucks card I regularly use. Everything was great for a couple of weeks until my Starbucks card was suspended without notice. After several calls to Starbucks customer service I learned my card had been closed because the discounted gift card had been bought with a fraudulent credit card. I immediately contacted ABC Gifts Cards to request a refund. I’m happy to report ABC Gift Cards responded to my request quickly and within a few days my PayPal account was refunded. I want to share what I learned about purchasing discounted gift cards:
- You are purchasing gift cards from a secondary market.
- Keep documentation of your purchase. Not only should you keep the receipt, but also copy the front and back of the gift card.
- If you discover the gift card was previously purchased fraudulently, immediately contact the Gift Card Company and keep documentation of your correspondence.
Shopping online is a great way to skip the crowded malls. It’s quick, easy and depending on where the company is located you don’t have to pay sales tax. Many companies also offer free shipping depending on your amount of purchase. More than 1,000 merchants participate in Free Shipping Day, which is Monday, December 17, 2012. The companies offer free shipping and other discounts with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve (in the contiguous U.S.). www.freeshippingday.com
Additional tips for online shopping:
- Check out the return and exchange policies. These policies vary widely so it’s wise to take the time to research them before your purchase. Many online companies will allow you to return your purchase to a physical store in your area. It’s also important to determine who pays the cost of shipping for a returned item.
- Save yourself the cost of shipping by having the company ship directly to the gift recipient.
- Before completing an online purchase, double check all the information – shipping and billing address, total cost and credit card information. And, don’t hit SUBMIT more than once or you might get double your purchase.
- Keep documentation of your purchases. Print the receipts and keep them in a safe place. I don’t want to rely on my memory so I use the Microsoft Outlook Task feature to set due dates for when orders should arrive.
- When you’re shopping keep your purse and packages close by at all times. It’s easy to set them down and briefly walk away, but this is exactly what thieves are looking for so don’t do it.
- If you have packages in your car put them in the trunk. When you’re shopping at night, if possible park near a street light.
- Before you go shopping, clean out your wallet and purse. Only take the things you need. Photocopy the contents of your wallet before you go shopping just in case it gets stolen or lost.
- Don’t say YES to department store offers to open an account to receive extra savings. Every time you open an account the department store is requesting your credit report. This is considered a “hard inquiry” and can reduce your credit score. Just say “no thank you”.
Shopping during the holidays can be stressful, but it can also be fun. If you’re shopping online, put on some holiday music and sip a cup of tea, hot chocolate or eggnog – enjoy the experience. Enjoy shopping at the mall with your favorite warm drink, a smile on your face and spread holiday joy. Compliment the sales clerk or another shopper. Take extra Christmas cards and hand them out. Hold the door open for shoppers loaded down with packages. Enjoy your holiday shopping experience.
President, Money Wise Women Educational Services