Shopping for holiday deals? State officials say make a list, check it twice

MADISON — Holiday promotions have kicked off at retailers throughout Wisconsin and the one-day deals and doorbusters are on their way. To help keep track of all of the deals and sale-specific terms, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) asks shoppers to pay close attention to the details of this season’s online and in-store promotions.

Over the holiday shopping season, most retailers will have different store hours, product inventories, and return policies than usual. Some discounts are only offered in stores while others may require the use of a retailer’s website or mobile apps. To minimize confusion and help set realistic expectations, shoppers should review the details in advertisements so they know about these limitations before they head out for a shopping spree.

Some tips to remember when you are shopping for deals this holiday season include:

  • If you use a retailer’s app, familiarize yourself with its operation in advance of your trip to the store so you can access discounts and promotional offers before you hit the register.
  • In-store promotions may require you to spend a certain amount on particular products and accept a text message from the business in order to receive a coupon or promo code. Read the fine print on posted signs for the offer.
  • If you use print ads, keep them available and take note of any special prices while you shop online or in store.
  • Print out promotional offers from retailers’ websites if you intend to buy a particular item in store.
  • Some one-day deals may require tickets that you receive at the front door of the store. These tickets may be limited.
  • A store’s price match policies may not apply to sale items listed in holiday ads.
  • Make sure you understand return/refund/exchange policies before you buy. Retailers may have alternative policies in place for holiday sales, and online purchases may not be eligible for in-store returns. Keep your receipts and remember to pick up gift receipts to include with your presents.
  • Be aware that clearance and “open items” may have different return policies or not be returnable at all.

Wisconsin law requires stores to charge their lowest advertised price for a product and to refund any overcharge, so it is important for consumers to keep an eye on the prices at the register or in the online shopping cart. Take note: special pricing may only apply to specific products, so make sure that you have the correct item, color, and model name or number before you start to checkout. Speak up if you believe that an item did not register at its advertised price.

If you are charged the wrong price on an item and the business will not correct the error, file a complaint with DATCP’s Weights and Measures Bureau, visit datcp.wi.gov, send an e-mail to datcpweightsandmeasures@wi.gov, or call 608-224-4942.