- Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
This week we officially start the holiday season with one of the biggest shopping weekends right around the corner. In 2021, shoppers spent almost $9 billion on Black Friday according to the National Retail Federation. This year spending is predicted to rise!
Black Friday allows eager consumers to start on their holiday shopping while enjoying some of the best prices of the year. However, in the rush to get the latest toy or electronic device, consumers may forget the protections provided to them under Massachusetts Law.
To assist the millions of consumers shopping this weekend, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation compiled some important tips to keep in mind:
Terms to know:
- Sale: For the term “sale” to be used in an ad when the actual savings are not stated, the law requires the savings to be at least 10% for items regularly priced $200 or less, and at least 5% for items over $200.
- Rain Check: A store that has run out of an advertised special must allow you to buy the product at the advertised price when it is in stock again, unless specified in the ad that quantities may be limited or unless the demand was more than could reasonably have been anticipated. The store can also offer a comparable substitute for the out of stock item.
- Layaway: A store must disclose its policy on layaway plans, including cancellation and return (or non-return) of payments already made. Merchants cannot change the price of merchandise by increasing payments or by substituting lower priced merchandise.
- Warranty: In Massachusetts, all goods are covered by an implied warranty of merchantability, meaning the item must reasonably conform to an ordinary buyer’s expectation for a reasonable amount of time. A toaster that does not toast would not conform to this warranty and would be eligible for a repair, refund, or replacement.
Tips to Save Big:
- Make a list. Going into the Black Friday abyss and purchasing items at random can turn big saving into big spending very quickly. Have a plan of what you need to buy to avoid purchasing things that you don’t need simply because they are at a good price.
- Plan a budget. The goal of all stores participating in Black Friday sales is to compel shoppers to spend money at their store. Although it may seem like it at the time, credit cards aren’t free money, and you will need to pay your balances.
- Put credit card rewards to use. Cash back credit cards can give you big returns on your purchases. But be sure you know your spending limit and your interest rate.
- Compare prices. Spending a little time upfront to research prices can make a huge difference. Don’t be afraid to ask a retailer if they will match a competitor’s prices either (provided the stores are reasonably similar). It may be beneficial to bring a copy of the ad with you as proof!
- Understand return policies and save your receipts! There is no set law on return policies in Massachusetts. Make sure you know if you can return items that don’t fit or aren’t needed before you purchase them so you don’t get stuck spending money on things you can’t use!
For more information on your shopping rights, visit the Office of Consumer Affairs’ shopping guide: www.mass.gov/guides/a-massachusetts-consumer-guide-to-shopping-rights.